Thursday, February 21, 2013

Why Rory Williams is the Best Companion

Note: Most of this was written before The Snowmen, so Clara isn't in the running here. Also, spoilers.
“…you are always going to have the same sort of person, just because it’s the same man choosing them, and it’s the same person being chosen.
I think the function of a companion is pretty simple. I don’t think that’s very difficult. It’s just a question of who credibly is going to agree to go in the TARDIS? Who’s going to do it? Is it going to be a mother of 15 children? No. Is it going to be someone in their 60s? No. Is there going to be a particular age range? I mean … who’s going to have a crush on the Doctor? You know, come on! It’s more than a format. It’s evolved from good, dramatic reasons.”
-Steven Moffat in Doctor Who Magazine

Moffat makes an excellent point about what makes a companion. It's true that the different companions add their own flavor, but ultimately they have basic common traits. It's worth noting that Rose, who is unemployed and Donna, who is a temp, plan to travel forever, only checking in on occasion, while Martha, who is on her way to being a doctor, and Amy who is getting married the next morning, travel only after confirming that they can return to their lives as though they never left. They all want to escape their "boring" lives, either forever or just to see what else is out there.

Then there's Rory. Rory has no desire to leave the little town he lives in. We see that his dream is to be settled down with Amy, having a family and a career as a doctor (Amy's Choice). He craves responsibility and stability, essentially the opposite of the Doctor's life. Rory travels with the Doctor, not to fulfill his own dreams, but to be with the love of his life. However, while traveling with the Doctor isn't the life he would choose for himself, he still participates fully. He is ready for the next adventure, but would always be fine with a stop and rest at home. In The Power of Three, we see a slight shift to Rory. This Rory is more excited and willing to travel with the Doctor, but he stays true to himself and enjoys his stability. He is the one to bring up the option of choosing not to travel to Amy, though ultimately he does happily join in on the adventure.

Some of Rory's greatest moments come from the fact that unlike these other companions he doesn't idolize the Doctor. The Doctor does not represent all his greatest hopes and dreams, and as such he can see the flaws much more clearly. He chastises the Doctor for putting other people in danger (Vampires in Venice). In  The God Complex he reminds the Doctor that "everyone is important" not by quoting that belief back to the Doctor, but by simply mentioning that the dead boy in front of them had gotten over his stutter. 

Like many of the female companions who've traveled with the Doctor, Rory is able to gain more confidence in himself and his abilities through knowing the Doctor. And yet, Rory really was amazing before he met the Doctor. He was the one to notice that the coma patients were up and about and he took video footage of it (The Eleventh Hour). After meeting the Doctor, rather than just go along with things, he started doing research and thus was completely unimpressed by the TARDIS (Vampires in Venice). He is an incredibly self aware character from start ("Did he just save the world from aliens, and then bring all the aliens back again?"-The Eleventh Hour), to middle ("Can you ride a motorbike?" "I expect so it's that sort of day."-Let's Kill Hitler), to end ("You think you'll just come back to life." "When don't I?" -Angels Take Manhattan).

Just as TV shows' best episodes tend to be the ones where they break from the format (Buffy has "Hush" and "The Body", and Blink is considered one of the stronger episodes of Doctor Who), Rory is the best companion because he is different. He doesn't thirst for adventure and he isn't in love with the Doctor.  Donna, the first companion of the new series not to be in love with the Doctor is also considered one of the better companions. But he does it anyway. He makes the best of a not ideal situation.

This isn't to say that the other companions haven't been good. They have. But Rory is the best. Of the new series at least. 

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