Companions of New Who: Rory Williams
Guest contributor Mark Spurdle continues his companion retrospective, this time with Rory.
Companions of New Who: Rory Williams
Since Doctor Who’s revival, we have been graced with a number of companions, some gaining high praise from fans, and others not. In my series of articles I will be talking about the key moments for the companions and giving my overall views.
“There’s someone coming. I don’t know where he is, or what he’s doing, but trust me, he’s on his way. […] There’s a man who will never let us down. And not even an army can get in the way.[ …] He’s the last of his kind. He looks young but he’s lived for hundreds and hundreds for years. And wherever they take you, Melody, however scared you are, I promise you, you’ll never be alone. Because this man is your father. […] He has a name but the people of our world know him better as… the Last Centurion.”
-- Amy Pond describing Rory Williams, A Good Man Goes to War
Rory Williams didn’t become a TARDIS crew member until he was whisked off by the Doctor and Amy in The Vampires of Venice. However, he first joined our screens in the Series 5 opener The Eleventh Hour. Since then, he’s always been etched onto my heart as one of my top 3 New Who companions.
From what I’ve seen in the Doctor Who universe, Rory doesn’t get anywhere near the acclaim he deserves. He has the attributes that are vital to making good companions successful: knowledge, wit, courage and humanity. His love for Amy is pure and unquestionable.
There are, of course, a few negatives I gained about Arthur Darvill’s character. However, as Rory’s story progressed, these negatives slowly evaporated.
There’s no point denying or avoiding it: when Rory first joined the TARDIS, I wasn’t as amazed or dazzled as I was when Amy did. His full debut episode The Vampires of Venice left me feeling that our lovable Centurion was far from impressive. He felt bland, wooden in some parts, and looked awkward. In retrospect, I realise that my disliking stemmed from the fact I wasn’t ready for another companion to join the Doctor and Amy; an old mistake.
Another negative was the lack of attention given to Rory. This, of course, was from the fiery ginger Amelia Pond, who would later become his wife. By this, I’m not being negative towards Rory’s character, but rather how he was treated. I’m not sure if Moffat intended for this to happen, but it appeared that Rory existed simply to be laughed at and mocked by the other characters. Amy’s treatment of him was appalling when he first joined. It appeared that she held no attraction to him. This is evident when she refuses to call him her partner (or attempts to seduce another man on her wedding night!) Thankfully, she realised how wrong she was!
“Oh look! Rory’s died again!” – Mine, and many other viewers’ reactions when seeing Rory die:
- He was killed by an Eknodine in a dream created by the Dream Lord. Amy and the Doctor committed suicide in the dream, and were returned to another dream, in which Rory was still alive. The Doctor then killed all three of them in the dream by blowing up the TARDIS, having figured out that the Dream Lord had created two dreams. (Amy’s Choice)
- He was killed by the Silurian Restac. Soon after, his body was consumed by the Time Field, and he was erased from time. However, due to Amy’s subconscious memories of him, he was resurrected as an Auton duplicate. (Cold Blood, The Pandorica Opens)
- His duplicate was erased from history when the Doctor restarted the universe and the real Rory was brought back to life. The Auton Rory lived on in the real Rory, as he remembered the 2000 years he’d spent waiting. (The Big Bang)
- He drowned after being thrown off a pirate ship, and was only kept alive by an artificial alien doctor. Amy was able to resuscitate him. (The Curse of the Black Spot)
- Rory and Amy both sacrificed themselves to kill the Weeping Angels, after Rory had already seen himself die, by throwing themselves off a roof. He and Amy created a paradox which was poison to the Angels. The paradox negated the timeline, so Amy and Rory both came back to life. (The Angels Take Manhattan)
- Rory and Amy both died of old age after being sent back in time by a surviving Weeping Angel. This time they died permanently. (The Angels Take Manhattan)
Rory’s deaths go into my Bad list for one reason: they became a joke. When Rory died for the first time, in Amy’s Choice, I was devastated. This was due to the fact that, just as I was beginning to appreciate and like Rory – BAM! He’s dead! I was delighted to see this reversed, but was equally devastated when he was subsequently murdered in Cold Blood. A dose of wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey, combined with Amy’s subconscious, and Rory returned in Steven Moffat’s debut finale The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang, as our Lone Centurion.
As Series 6 progressed, so too did the number of deaths that Rory faced. I’d lost my ability to care. Every time he died, I would respond by thinking: “Nah, it’s fine, he’ll come back”. His multiple deaths were even addressed by the Silents in The Wedding of River Song. I refer you to this magnificent quote: “Rory Williams. The man who dies and dies again. Die one last time, and know she will never come back for you”.
In my humble opinion, Rory’s demise in The Angels take Manhattan would have been far more tear- jerking, and left a greater impact, if Rory hadn’t died so many times. Nonetheless, I was still deeply wounded by his leaving.
The Good, the Great, and the Marvellous
Rory Williams has so many positive attributes and moments, it’s frightening! But in a good way, of course. Rory Williams is so down-to-Earth, so honest – so human! It really is a joy to watch him in any episode.
The major attribute of the large-nosed wonder is, of course, his undying love for his wife Amelia Pond. Now, I’m not a massive fan of love in Doctor Who (mainly because it’s used too much), but Rory’s love for his wife is so pure, so wonderful, and so heart-warming, it’s nearly impossible to see it without bringing a smile to one’s face. Of especial note is The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang. The Lone Centurion protected Amelia for 2,000 years (although the Doctor warned him 2,000 years alone would drive anyone mad)! This, my friends, was the crux of Rory’s development. It made me realise how much the Centurion truly loved Amy.
Rory’s humanity is a key aspect in his development, and throughout his tenure. I always say this: any companion that has humanity invariably ticks the box for me. Rory possesses such a caring attitude, which is evident in many episodes. For example: in The Doctor’s Wife, Rory is truly affected and remorseful regarding Idris’ death, which to the Doctor, is being human; the best thing one can be.
Another aspect that I love about Rory is his respect for the Doctor. Rory and the Doctor failed to hit it off when they first met; Rory feeling insecure about the Doctor’s relationship with Amy, and the Doctor feeling as if Rory was a bit of a, well, dunce. But it’s clear Rory respected the Doctor, and always trusted his judgement, when in peril, or when a decision was to be made. This is evident in A Town Called Mercy, when Rory refuses to allow Amy to stop the Doctor from killing Kahler-Jex to save the town’s residents.
Now, I suppose you all are wondering: “Why on Earth hasn’t he mentioned The Girl Who Waited yet?!” Calm down. You have your wish.
My favourite performance from Mr Arthur Darvill is his stunning turn in The Girl Who Waited.
The story has all the ingredients an episode needs to be a huge success. Rory, in particular, has all of those ingredients. Like the episode, he made us laugh, feel tense, cry, smile, and, most importantly, fall in love with the episode.
Perhaps it’s Rory’s love that really shines in this episode. He’s faced with the impossible choice: which wife does he choose? Does he choose the wife that has waited years for him; or the younger Amy, who’ll never have waited if he saves her?
Rory’s constant attempts to redeem himself to Old Amy, and gain her assistance, really does make my heart warm. It illustrates his undying love for Amy, but also his sternness towards the Doctor (“Then I do not want to travel with you!”).
Furthermore, there is one scene that really makes me shed a tear; a scene that makes the episode so great, a scene that placed Rory and Amy in my heart, and consequently high up in my companion list. The wonderful scene below:
This scene never fails to bring a tear to my eye. The sheer power of the scene furthers Arthur and Karen’s acting abilities.
The Goodbye: Together, or Not at All
The inevitable day had arrived: it was confirmed that Rory and Amy would be leaving in the final episode of the first part of Series 7. I was heartbroken at the time. The idea of Rory and Amy leaving had never occurred to me. I was concerned for Matt Smith, as he started with Arthur and Karen. I don’t many of us were ready for a time when the Doctor would no longer say: “Come along, Ponds!”
The only way to make Rory and Amy’s goodbye a success was to make it an epic story. It also had to be a heartbreaker – and Steven Moffat did just that!
Poor Rory went to get the Doctor and Amy a coffee, and was sent back in time by the horrid Weeping Angels. Little did he know what would happen or where he was.
As Amy and the Doctor rushed to Rory’s rescue, events unfolded in a way only Steven Moffat would do. Rory saw an older version of himself die in Winter Quay, a battery farm for the Weeping Angels.
This lead to Rory and Amy deciding to go together. That, or not at all…
The scene “Together or not at all” doesn’t need describing, just watch it below. Lie down, try not to cry, and then cry your eyes out.
Moffat couldn’t let them leave this way. In my opinion, this was a big mistake. It would have been more heart-breaking to see Rory and Amy leave through suicide, knowing that they defeat the Angels. It would have created more of an impact on their departure, and would have surely shown how serious Doctor Who can be.
However, the way they did leave was still a tear-jerker. The Angels were defeated, Rory and Amy had survived, and it seemed, to the Doctor, that all was well. To the Doctor’s and Amy’s surprise, one Angel remained, and sent Rory back in time once again. Amy left her raggedy man behind, as well as her daughter, to be with the man she loved.
Like the Doctor, I was stunned. The scene certainly produced a tear. But I couldn’t help feeling that Rory was cheated out of a proper farewell.
Rory Williams was a magnificent companion, and one that deserves more acclaim and attention. He managed to defy death, marry the love of his life, and leave me feeling empty when he left. The Lone Centurion is, and always will be, incredible.
Other articles in this series: