We’ve known for months that Doctor Who’s companions will be swapped out this coming season, marking the first change of primary companion for the Eleventh Doctor.
It will be a bittersweet change for many fans, especially in the US where much of the audience has only ever known this Doctor and these particular companions - as BBC America only began carrying the show at the beginning of Matt Smith’s tenure as the lead.
The assumption has been that the departure of the two stars would likely coincide with a mid-season finale, as major plot points on Doctor Who tend to drop at mid-season or season end.
This weekend, however, Karen Gillan revealed, while answering questions at a press event, that she will actually be in far fewer episodes.
"There’s going to be a few episodes," she confirmed when asked about how many she would appear in. "A few really good episodes."
Granted, ‘a few’ is definitely open to some interpretation, but likely not a half-season of the show. Gillan went on to talk about how she feels about leaving Doctor Who behind.
"I feel sad because I am gonna leave, but with any story, it has to come to an end. It was a mutual decision with me and Steven Moffat. We had this lovely dinner and decided when the best time for me to go was, and it’s been decided. So I’m excited and slightly scared."
American audiences aren’t used to losing characters on their television shows at all, but UK audiences have long been familiar with the mutability of Doctor Who. A major theme of the show is change, and since the Second Doctor so long ago, a significant part of the plots have focused on the regeneration of The Doctor, and the inevitable swapping of his companions. Amy and Rory have already had a particularly long ride, and their story has been told. Thus, it’s time to move on to a new tale, but fans don’t always want to let go, even if it’s best for the plot.
Personally, I think that the goodbyes at the end of the sixth season were enough, and should have been left there. The characters discovered the mystery of the impossible astronaut, got around it, and celebrated. They resolved their personal problems with The Doctor’s help, and have grown closer together than ever. Anything else the writers do with these characters is pure fluff to keep them on the show a little bit longer.
The seventh season of Doctor Who begins this fall.