While I enjoyed Night Terrors in a broad sense, it highlighted a problem that only gets bigger with each subsequent episode. It's becoming impossible to ignore Rory/Amy's complete passivity in scenes that don't involve the Doctor. Whenever they're left to themselves, they simply let things happen to them instead of acting to control their own narrative.
You know, if these two weren't so charming, they would have literally nothing going on. I've watched Doctor Who since the beginning, and through good companions and bad companions, there's one constant: a persistent curiosity, a desire to learn about the universe and explore and just live in a different way.
I've never seen two characters with less curiosity. Case in point, Rory's reaction to the copper pan being made out of wood: "That's stupid." It was a line that sort of worked because of Arthur Darvill's always wonderful delivery, but come on. No interest in why/how these doppelgangers exist? As in The Doctor's Wife, they are left to run around corridors and be manipulated. They lack agency.
It makes me think back to Girl in the Fireplace. Even Mickey the Idiot, while freaking out at the body parts on the ship, wanted to know why the body parts were there.
Not these two. Giant glass eye? Time to get out, despite the fact that the Doctor specifically tasked them with finding the source of the distress call. They don't know about George, so it would be reasonable to conclude that the weird house is involved somehow, and therefore they ought to stay and investigate. But they make their decision to hightail it before they find out that people are turning into dolls, before there's any palpable danger at all.
Which brings us to the next issue. Amy's plan belongs in the annals of dumb plans. Creatures that convert you through touch? LET'S BARREL THROUGH THEM! But even that's forgivable, because at least they're being proactive. What's not forgivable is that there was literally no consequence to Amy being turned into a doll. The only follow-up was a lame quip at the end.
Have the writers lost interest in these two now that they're married? I thought that at the end of the first half of the season the writers would take advantage of the renewed purpose that the Ponds had, to find their daughter. I know this episode was aired out of order, but they could have and should have shot an extra scene to convey that they still care about their missing kid.
But no. I think Kate Beaton perfectly expresses my frustration with their continued lack of reaction to their disappeared child in her dramatization of The Great Gatsby (seriously, go read the whole comic, then browse the archives):
I'm not saying they should turn into Michael from Lost (repeat after me: "MAHHH BOY!!!!!") But as they continue to behave like they don't care about their daughter, we are forced to wonder what, then, they do care about. So far, the answer is "nothing in particular, but occasionally each other." And that's disturbing.
TWO WAYS TO FIX THE PROBLEM
This episode suggests two ways for their character arc to resolve itself satisfactorily. George's story has a seemingly happy ending, but what would happen if it didn't? Perhaps we'll find out through Melody. What if her abandonment by her parents causes her to turn to the dark side? What happens to George can only have happened if his parents weren't giving him the love that he needed. (This may seem like a chicken or the egg question, but George's fear of rejection must have come before those fears physically manifested, no? Which means there must have been an inciting incident, or an ongoing rejection of George).
Or, if Moffat wants to go really dark, what if their knowledge of River Song has left no space in their hearts to love their child, causing them to willfully reject Melody just as George is very nearly rejected in this story?
Remember in the previous episode, when the Doctor asks Sexy to show her someone he hasn't screwed up, and it brings up young Amy? I wonder if it somehow turns out that he feels guiltiest of all about what happens to Amy, that by taking her time traveling, he not only spoiled her youth but deprived her of the ability to even love her own daughter.
While I have general faith in Moffat's control of the River Song story arc, it would be a real shame if the Ponds' remaining storyline only exists in service to that story, which increasingly seems to be the case. They've become like post-college slackers, happy to continue on as they have been, hanging with their buddy The Doctor, but don't really have any desires or ambitions of their own. Hopefully this changes soon.
It's worth noting the lyrics to the creepy Doll Song (courtesy of writer Mark Gatiss's twitter. He wrote this week's episode.):
Tick tock, goes the clock, and what now shall we play?
Tick tock, goes the clock, now summer's gone away?
Tick tock, goes the clock, and what then shall we see?
Tick tock until the day that thou shalt marry me.
Tick tock goes the clock, and all the years they fly
Tick tock and all too soon, you and I must die
Tick tock goes the clock, he cradled her and he rocked her
Tick tock goes the clock, even for the Doctor....