It has always seemed to me that this episode should be called Vincent and Amy because they both go through a journey of self discovery with the Doctor as their tour guide.
This is a gorgeous episode featuring Vincent’s artwork, lovely scenery, and even Amy in a perfect blue coat and red scarf combination that looks fantastic as she moves through the episode. But underneath the beautiful exterior is a story of mental torment.
Amy is sad, but Vincent is depressed. Depression is a complex mental illness and this episode presents that to us without judgement. Amy, showing one of the ways she’s still so young and innocent, truly believes she can save Vincent from himself, but the Doctor knows it won’t be that easy.
Interestingly, Vincent senses in Amy (who has just lost Rory) the sadness and inner turmoil he feels in himself. Amy was confused and lost before Rory died, but without him, Amy is missing the most important person in her life and she doesn’t even realize it. Rory meant the world to Amy and not just because he was her boyfriend, but because he was the person who was there for her throughout everything and truly loved her unconditionally.
Rory was Amy’s family in all the ways that really matter. That unconditional love is a role a person’s family should play, but Amy’s never did. Amy’s aunt insisted she was insane and grew increasingly frustrated with her which left Amy feeling even more alone than she already did growing up in a strange village without parents, but Amy always had Rory. Now that she doesn’t remember Rory, you have to wonder about the ramifications that had on her view of her entire life.
Amy wasn’t really ok even when she had Rory - she still spent her whole life as an emotionally distant outsider who was deemed insane by her family - but she doesn’t suffer from the kind of clinical depression that Vincent does. Amy is the type of person who picks herself up and fights back when she’s kicked. Life has kicked her so many times and she’s still fighting, so she simply doesn’t understand his depression. In many ways she relates to him and he to her, but in this one, she naively thinks he can pick himself up the same way she can.
The bond between these two, Vincent’s characterization, and ultimately, Amy’s failure to save him from himself is what makes this episode so special. In the end he dies, but as the Doctor says, “the bad things don’t necessarily spoil the good things or make them unimportant.” Even though they couldn’t save him, they did make him happy while they were there and that matters so much. They couldn’t save Vincent, but for a moment in time, they made him happy and left him with memories he would never forget.