The constant threat of death may be part of a Doctor Who companion's job description, but for Rory Williams, it's not just a threat. He's died, or at least appeared to die, so many times in the series, he's been compared to South Park's Kenny.
"I think it's gotten a bit much for him, all the dying," Arthur Darvill, who plays Rory, told reporters on a call to promote Saturday's Doctor Who episode, airing at 9/8c on BBC America. "I kept seeing it as a running joke. A lot of times it happens because he puts himself in the way of danger for other people. He's a hero, he's a bumbling hero. I have no idea if it's going to keep happening. I personally hope that Rory just stops dying."
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In "The Girl Who Waited," Rory had better stay alive: His wife Amy (Karen Gillan) and the Doctor (Matt Smith) will suddenly find themselves dependent on him to save the day. Amy becomes trapped in an eerie, white facility in another time stream. Although the Doctor can use the TARDIS to break in, he doesn't dare to enter because the facility quarantines victims of an alien plague that's fatal to the Doctor.
"The Doctor's left on the TARDIS. Rory's kind of sent off to go to help Amy on his own, which I think is quite a big responsibility for him," Darvill said. "He doesn't really want to put himself in danger, but as soon as it's anything to do with Amy being in danger, he'll just throw himself in straightaway."
One of the menaces Rory encounters are faceless white robots known as Handbots. When he and Amy do battle against them, Amy arms herself with a sword while Rory has to rely on the Doctor's sonic screwdriver and a less intimidating, non-traditional weapon. "It's kind of funny," Darvill said. "It's not really anything I considered before I got this job — that I'd be running around, flying through the air and doing big fight sequences, but they've been quite a joy to do."
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In the world of Doctor Who, however, the threats are not just physical, but emotional. Rory has to make a decision that guarantees heartache for all parties involved. Gillan told TVGuide.com in July that "last series we had an episode called, 'Amy's Choice. This episode is called, 'The Girl Who Waited.' I actually think it should be called 'Rory's Choice.'" Darvill teases: "Something goes drastically wrong. It's a real [problem] that tests Rory and Amy's relationship especially."
Check out Rory and Amy taking on the Handbots:
Combat with Handbots is the relatively easy part of being a companion it seems. Rory still hasn't quite gotten a handle on his latest challenge: being a father. Only recently has he learned that he and Amy are the parents of the enigmatic time traveler that they've known as River Song (Alex Kingston), who they've somehow missed out on raising.
"He's a bit freaked out by the whole thing to be perfectly honest," Darvill said. "The thing is with everything that happens in Doctor Who, there's never really time to sit back and consider everything because it moves at such a pace. ... It's kind of funny because I think Rory and River's relationship has been quite strained. I think he's been quite nervous of her. And now, obviously, their relationship is going to change because Rory's her parent. I'm quite intrigued to see how that develops."
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His relationship with the Doctor has also weathered some tension, mainly stemming from trying to share Amy, who was the Doctor's companion first before they shared the privilege. "Before, he was always jealous of the Doctor, but I think that's gone now," Darvill observed. "I think Rory and the Doctor's relationship has grown so much over the last season. They've got a real bond, they've got a real true friendship. ... The Doctor constantly seeks good people, and Rory's up there with the best."
Rory brings a steadiness to this group's dynamic, countering Amy and the Doctor's rather impetuous, risk-taking natures. This groundedness has served him well, whether he's facing the monster of the week (Darvill said his favorite is The Silence because "the psychological element of what they can do and how they affect people is brilliant") or standing guard as an Auton over Amy for nearly two millennia. "It's not anything he expected to happen in his life," Darvill said. "I think when he started traveling with the Doctor, he didn't think he'd be there very long. After he's been waiting for 2,000 years and has a strange, Alex Kingston-shaped child, it completely changed him I think. He is completely in this world."
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And even though Rory is now in his original timeline, he still retains 2,000 years' worth of Auton memories. Mentally, he's older than the Doctor and no doubt has a different outlook on these adventures from when he first began. "It's made him more assertive and more heroic," Darvill said. "It's also tired him out. The weariness of that just made him a bit wiser but also even more determined to stay out of danger. He doesn't want anything like that to happen again.
"It's proved to him that even though all of these incredible things have happened, these horrible things have happened," Darvill continued. "That his relationship with Amy is — if it's not the strongest thing in the world — then it's very real and very good. And he's still completely, wildly in love with her."
Rory proves the depth of his love once again in "The Girl Who Waited," airing Saturday at 9/8c on BBC America.