Analysing The Ponds #5: The Man Who Wasn’t Real

We’re looking at Rory now! There’s a lot of interesting things going on with him in S6. They’re rather subtle, but definitely there.

Poor old Rory. He goes through so many identities-

-Amy’s sort-of boyfriend
-Amy’s boyfriend
-Amy’s fiance
-Amy’s ‘brother’ (Vampires Of Venice)
-A nurse
-A doctor (Amy’s Choice)
-A policeman (The Hungry Earth)
-A plastic soldier
-The Last Centurion
-Amy’s husband
-The Doctor himself (“You’re turning me into you”) – who is the other man who wasn’t real, in a way
-A human soldier (unmarried)
-A father to a baby girl
-A father to an adult woman

…that it’s not surprising he doesn’t know what’s real and what’s not anymore. That’s not to even mention all the times he was dead or non-existant! This forms the crux of Rory’s character arc, I feel. A lot of it is actually terribly sad once you unravel it, making me feverently hope that Rory leaves the TARDIS happily in the end.

The Almost Person

Rory meets Jen in The Rebel Flesh, and she’s a parallel to Amy. Both lost girls, in red wellies…

A lot of people picked up on the fact that Jen’s situation- What am I, am I even human?- mirrors Rory’s in TPO. “I’m Rory!” vs “I am Jennifer Lucas.” It’s no wonder he became attached to her- not only is she someone he can nurse, she’s someone who’s going through the same thing he went through. She has to be real, because that means he was real, that everything he went through as the Last Centurion was real. It’s not just behind a door in his head, it’s something he can take out and process…

Jen betrays him, of course. But less than an hour later, the stakes are even higher, as Amy’s reality/humanity is called into question. She’s a Flesh avatar.

It’s not just in The Almost People that Amy’s called ‘not real’, either. Rory wants all the people in his life to be real-

The Rebel Flesh:
RORY Don’t be like that. Listen, she’s real, okay?
AMY I said I agree with you, so drop it. [This can only be heard in the background, listen out for it!]

The Girl Who Waited:
DOCTOR No, she’s not real.
RORY She is real. Let her in!

Rory wants things to be real again. But it keeps ending in death. Jen betrays him, Amy is a Flesh avatar, Old Amy dies…

And then there’s the worst thing of all. Rory wanted to be a father…look at him tenderly touching the mobile over the cot. And then he is, and then in no time at all he isn’t– he has River, true, but she doesn’t really need a father. Like Jen, like himself for a while, Melody wasn’t real. He never even got to hold the ‘real’ her, only the Flesh her. He has River, and he had Mels…but he’ll never have Melody, not really. No-one will ever sleep in that imaginary cot, in that yellow room…

It is made clear that Rory cares deeply for Mels and River, though. When Mels is dying, Rory’s expression shows frantic desperation. On seeing River shot he cries “No!”, and on seeing her dancing with Amy in the garden, he’s pleased. That can’t have been the first time River’s visited her parents, either, as neither Amy nor Rory are surprised to see her. So Rory did get to be a father in some sense, I guess, which is something. We’ll see how it plays out in Season Seven…

That’s Your Weapon, Prayer?

Now, I always thought Rory was a Christian, or had some kind of religious faith at least. This little deleted scene from Cold Blood is what ignited the idea:

Rory to Alaya: I want to understand you. You’re our predecessors here. You’re our history. I want to know what it feels like. I’m not going to harm you. (gently touches her face) What do your people believe? I mean, do you have a god?
Alaya: A deity for simple-minded apes.
Rory: I should’ve put you in a room with my dad. He’d soon put you right on that.
Alaya: We see how you live your lives. The beliefs you cling to for comfort. And now we laugh at you. Aren’t you confused now, ape? Doesn’t my existance disprove your ape religion?
Rory: People’s beliefs aren’t that fragile.
Alaya: What do you believe, ape?
Rory: I never used to believe in anything. Except the healing power of sweet, strong tea. But being with the Doctor, the wonders he’s shown us, it’s given me…faith. I see why Amy kept waiting for him. Cos now I believe there are far greater things in the universe than we can ever imagine.

(The fact that we’re due to meet Rory’s dad, possibly, has me very excited.)

But by the time we get to The God Complex, Rory’s lost all faith. He’s got nothing for the Minotaur to latch on to, and when I think of that deleted scene it makes me so sad for him. But for a man with no faith, he still clasps his hand in prayer when witnessing death…

And only when kneeling (as if in prayer) does he find what he seeks: a exit-

Travelling with the Doctor, Rory lost so much. His child, his identity and his faith. No wonder he wants a way out…

The Warrior Nurse

Faith or no faith, Rory suffers through a terrible thing. He’s a healer, and a cruel twist of irony made him part of the greatest military machine in the universe- he became a soldier trained to kill and kill cruelly. Being in the Roman army can’t have been fun:

Being held personally responsible for the training and discipline of the legionaries under their command, centurions had a well-deserved reputation for dealing out harsh punishment. In The Annals, Tacitus tells the story of one known as ‘Cedo Alteram’ – which roughly translates to ‘Gimme Another’: “The mutinous soldiers thrust out the tribunes and the camp-prefect; they
plundered the baggage of the fugitives, and then killed a centurion, Lucilius, to whom, with soldier’s humour, they had given the nickname ‘Gimme Another’, because when he had broken one vine-stick across a soldier’s back, he would call in a loud voice for another… and another.” (from Wikipedia)

Makes ya wonder. (I do actually have a fanfic in the works about Rory’s time in the Roman army.)

It’s oddly fitting that Rory ended up in the Roman era. Of course, it happened because Amy was a fan of Roman history to begin with (and the Alliance extracted that from her brain), but also Amy’s father/Rory’s father-in-law is named Augustus, which is the name of the first Roman emperor. And on a meta level (which I love), Karen Gillan first appeared in an episode set in the Roman era:

In the episode A Good Man Goes To War we see Rory develop a kinship with Strax the Sontaran, who’s a soldier (from a race where military might determines worth) forced to be a healer. That isn’t the only time we see a Sontaran as a mirror of Rory:

Heck, that isn’t the only time we see a member of a soldier-race as a mirror of Rory:

There’s always gonna be a soldier- a killer– in Rory, and sure enough, when The Wedding Of River Song rolls around he’s a soldier again. The Doctor notices it too. “Always the soldier, waiting to be noticed, why is that?” Interestingly, though- unlike the Sontarans and Judoon, Rory doesn’t blindly follow orders. His commander, Amy, tells him to take his eyepatch off, but he doesn’t – he needs it on so he can save her life. And Amy realises, by his willingness to die for her (and note, he doesn’t even really know her, in this universe!) that he’s the One True Love she’s been searching for.

All through Day Of The Moon to The Doctor’s Wife, Rory repeats that “I’m a nurse,” in times of stress or tragedy. Almost like he’s clinging to it. But in A Good Man Goes To War, when Rory’s daughter is gone, his wife is devastated and his friends are dying, he can’t bring himself to say those words. Actually, from then on he doesn’t bring up his career at all…he never says “I’m a nurse” again.

You’re Turning Me Into You

In The Girl Who Waited Rory dresses almost exactly like the Doctor, even mirroring his movements. Heck, with the glasses on, he looks a little like Ten:

And the Doctor sees through Rory’s eyes (much like he will later see through the eyes of the Tessalecta- are his companions still weapons?) but he can still only see himself, rather than Rory. “Hello, handsome man!” Our Doctor, bless him, is so very selfish- and yes, he did just turn Rory into him…

And of course everyone noticed this-

But in The Girl Who Waited, although Rory fears he’s becoming the Doctor, he actually turns into Amy. All that talk of faces- Amy calls Rory ‘stupid face’, but when she tells her older self how beautiful her husband is, it’s his face she references.

Amy won’t save herself, so Rory tells her to “Look me in the face and say that now.” Amy looks at his stupid face and sees herself:

So in the end- just like he did when he married her and became a Pond- Rory shared his identity with Amy. She’s what keeps him real…