Thursday, November 22, 2012

A Companion's Guide: Rory Williams

Name: Rory Williams
Portrayed by: Arthur Darvill
Number of episode as a companion: 24
Home Planet: Earth
Doctor(s): 11th Doctor

First Impressions
When we are first introduced to Rory he comes off as the goofy male nurse. To me he seemed like a throw-away character the way Mickey was for Rose. Because if we are being honest, how could Amy stay with him when her childhood imaginary friend comes to life and sweeps her off to different times and planets? There is no competing with that and it's something Rory struggles with over the seasons. Because of his mild manner personality and goofy nature, I just wasn't too impressed.

The other thing I thought about Rory was that he and Amy didn't make a sensible couple. Amy seemed untamable (perfect personality for a companion, not so great for a bride) and he didn't seem wild or strong willed enough to try. Their differences seemed too opposite to click so I kept waiting for him to get booted out of the picture. That's why I was so pleasantly surprised to see Rory step up in the next few episodes and go from doting fiance to a fierce, valued member of the Doctor's team.
The Throw-Away
We first meet Rory in "The Eleventh Hour" in his pair of blue scrubs. He swept up into the adventure the Doctor and Amy are having a more than a little shell shocked to find out the Doctor is real. We see how deeply Amy's obsession with the Doctor Goes when Rory exclaims that the Doctor looks just like the man she used to make him dress up as when they were kids. Throughout the entire episode, Rory was always struggle to catch up and being left in the dust.

I kept shaking my head watching through this because my mind immediately jumped to Mickey the Idiot. True, Mickey got way cooler as the series went on but for quite a while, Mickey was just the guy that was left behind and sometimes he was the comic relief. Rory felt exactly like that type of character. You could see the amazing chemistry Amy and the Doctor had on screen and how boring Rory must have seemed compared to that and I couldn't help but be ready to leave him behind with Amy. That is until the Doctor decides to give Rory a second look.

Tagging Along
After Amy pounces on the Doctor and tries to make out with him and the Doctor finds out Amy is suppose to be married, he insists on taking the couple on an early romantic getaway to rekindle their relationship. Thus, all three of them end up in Venice in the episode "The Vampires of Venice". Though Amy and rory stay together in this episode and the Doctor is a bit on his own, they come to the same conclusions and face the same dangers. Rory is even talked into giving up Amy as her "brother" to the vampires so she can see what is really going on.

What I found so interesting about Rory in this episode is how relucant he was to do anything the Doctor or Amy suggested. He was the only character who was horrified by what they were seeing and doing and really saw the danger involved with traveling with the Doctor. In the end, the Doctor asks Rory to stay and travel with them partly because he wants to keep Amy and Rory's relationship going. I got the general sense that while traveling with the Doctor might not be something he wanted, he went along because he wanted his future wife to be happy and he wanted to look out for her along the way. Darvill, the actor who portrays Rory, said about his character in this season that he was "on the outside looking into this world he was desperately trying to save Amy from" (Wikipedia). I think this perfectly describes the vibe I got from Rory in this and the following few episodes.

A Dangerous World Indeed
It is probably because Rory can see how perilous traveling with the Doctor is that he has to pay the biggest sacrifices. For the rest of the season, Rory is killed off and brought back to life through tricks of time travel and other miracles. I find it ironic that Rory signed on to protect Amy and he ends up being the one that needs protecting most of the time. Perhaps he is killed off so many times because he isn't a particularly useful part of the team but it is even more likely that he dies so often to remind Amy what she would be living without if she really had left him.

In "Amy's Choice", the trio are thrust into two separate worlds. One where Amy and Rory live in a little town and Amy is about to have a baby. The other is the world we know with them all traveling on the Tardis. They are forced to decide which is real and Amy only decides the other is real when Rory is killed in the life where she is pregnant. Likewise, in the two parter, "The Hungry Earth" and "Cold Blood", Rory sort of bumbles around until the very end when he takes a bullet for the Doctor and gets sucked up into the crack of time and space and completely forgetten.

It is in "Cold Blood", watching Amy try to rip herself away from the doctor to get to Rory before he absorbed in the crack that I realized how tragic their relationship is and her love for him forced me to re-examine my evalution of him. All of a sudden, I saw Rory as less of a tag along and more as a selfless man who is willing to follow the love of his life into the depths of darkness just make her happy. Rory was never cut out to travel with the Doctor but he does it anyway in stride because he knows it will make Amy happy. It makes it all the more sad that I found this beauty in him and then he is completely forgetten. The crack swallows him whole, Amy can't figure out why she would even need to be crying and the Doctor slips Amy's engagement ring sadly into his pocket.
Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder
Or more accurately, Rory's absence not only made me like him better but it gave him a chance to be reinvented as a character. When we next meet him in "The Pandorica Opens", he is a soldier in the Roman army and though he recognizes her, she does not recognize him. Neither Rory or the Doctor can explain how he got there, the only thing the Doctor can do is assure him that Amy will remember him eventually. Unfornately, things spin out of control in a very Doctor Who fashion and it is revealed that Rory is an Auton just as Amy remembers who he is. As they reunite, his Auton idenity takes over and he reluctantly shots Amy.

This might be the only time I can remember Amy dying and it is so tragic that it is by the hand of the man who has always been trying to save her. Luckily, he proves he is still the man he always was in the next episode when the Doctor goes to him in "The Big Bang". There the Doctor tells Rory how to open the Pandorica and how he can put Amy's body in there and it will restore her. But he reveals that she must stay in there for close to 2,000 years and Rory decides to stay with her and guard her even though he could go with the Doctor and just be in the future. Thus the legend of "the Last Centurion" is born. Since Rory is an Auton, he is ageless and stays with Amy, guarding the Pandorica from any type of danger and waiting for it to open again. When it does, Amy is greeted with this amazing grand gesture. Rory stayed by her side all this time even though he was unable to share the burden of being alone while he waited with anyone.

For me, this took Rory's character from cute in that puppy way to full fledged hero. He became something more than the tag along with good intentions. With this one huge act of love for his soon to be bride, he became the man he might hanve never gotten to be in his other life. There are so few times we get to be real heros in life and traveling with the Doctor allowed Rory to prove that he was. He might not be built like a hero and he might not look like one but on the inside he is a million times over. I think this is the moment that Amy realizes this too. She doesn't have to go to the ends of the earth to find the perfect person because he has always been right in front of her. That moment when Amy relaizes the huge sacrfice Rory made for her is the moment they build their relationship on.

Fears Resurface
At the end of season 5, Rory and Amy get married and decide to continue traveling with the Doctor. But it isn't long into season 6 when Rory's old fears resurface. Though he's done this big grand gesture, when he hears Amy confessing her love for one of the group in "Day of the Moon" after she has been captured by The Silence, some of his old fears about not being good enough for Amy come rushing back. He can't help but question if she is calling for him or the Doctor. Amy is quick to smash his fears telling him it will always be him and probably calling him stupid for good measure.

It is my theory that because these old fears return, that in the next few episodes Rory is killed again. It's to get it through his head that Amy is only in love with one man and it also allows her to make some grand gestures for him. In both "The Curse of the Black Spot" and "The Doctor's Wife", Amy is tested about her love for Rory and always fights to bring him back. A lot of people had a problem with Rory's death, especially in "The Doctor's Wife", some people going as far to call him "Kenny from South Park". But I think this one is particularly important because they are seperated from each other and tested in the way that only time can. Seeing Amy turn that corner in the hijacked Tardis and having to see Rory's skull with "die Amy" all over the walls is absolutely horrifying and I think it really showed us one of Amy's biggest fears. At one point Rory yells "I can't believe you did this to me again. You left me for a thousand years!" which showed to me that Amy might feel she can never really repaay Rory's sacrifice accept by loving him.

The Almost People
After exploring about people making temporary clones of themselves in "The Almost People" and having the Doctor reveal that the Amy from season 6 has always been one, Rory gets yet another chance to prove his undying love to Amy. In "A Good Man Goes to War" Rory dons his Roman soldier helmet and comes to rescue the real Amy and their child. Though their child is stolen, Rory is able to get Amy back and fights bravely to keep her safe.

This is another turning point for the character. For me, it seemed like the writers were saying that they could make Rory go back to the way he was but they are choosing for him to follow down that action hero path. They are reasserting this persona that is important not only for Rory but for the group. Rory is strong and brave and he is here to stay that way.

This persona is tested again in "The Girl Who Waited" when Amy gets trapped on another planet and Rory must go look for her only to discover that they are about 30 years too late. Now Rory is faced with a much older and much more hardened Amy. Though his love for the girl he lost, he is able to convince the new Amy that she still loves him and refuses to choose between the younger version of Amy and the older. I think this is an important thing to note because it shows that Rory doesn't love Amy because she is really pretty or because of the way she acts. He loves her for the person she is, whether she is young or old and that person is buried.

Final Thoughts
Rory graviates to Amy even when he doesn't know why and it is because of this and meaning reasons that he changed my mind about his character and his relationship. I think we were supposed to liken him to Mickey because that is how Amy felt about him in the beginning. Rory was this really nice place holder for the Doctor and through his travels with him, he became something he never could have been in real life. This made Amy see him differently and his adventures allowed him to view himself in a different light.

I love that Rory transformed from someone I wanted to skip over to someone I came to care about through his love for Amy. It allowed him to realize his own potiental and it allowed me to get to know an unlikely hero with a very different story to tell. On Wikipedia, it says that Rory might be the companion we are most like. We want to think we are all Roses but we might be more timid to jump in like Rory and I have to agree.
Great Rory-centric episodes:
  • The Vampires of Venice
  • Amy's Choice
  • The Hungry Earth/Cold Blood
  • The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang
  • The Impossible Astronaut
  • The Doctor's Wife
  • The Girl Who Waited
So what do you all think of The Last Centurion (I can't even type that title without smiling)?


  1. I kind of felt the same way about Rory. At first, I didn't even think he was going to be any part of the series, just there for the beginning of Amy's journey. So I was surprised when he started tagging along as well.

    Like you, I loved what they did with his character, him going from the sensible one (seeing that he was the only one who thought any of what was happening was completely insane), to being the hero who not only was brave and acted heroically, but was loyal and true to Amy the entire time. Every time they killed Rory it was like a punch to the gut.

    I haven't seen the latest season yet, but I'm anxious to see how they wrap up Amy and Rory's journey and I just cross my fingers that there are no more Rory deaths.

  2. Rory is one of my favorite companions, so thank you for this great post explaining why! :)


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