Doctor Who "The Angels Take Manhattan" Review: It's Called Marriage

  • 120comments

Doctor Who S07E05: "The Angels Take Manhattan"

And so it goes, the end of the Ponds on Doctor Who. This story was not one of the Doctor's sacrifices, not one of loneliness and corruption resulting from a lifetime of time travel, not even one of monsters, even though there were monsters in the form of the famous Weeping Angels. This story, the Ponds' last, was one of love and choices, and it rested almost entirely on Amy and Rory.

Like most of you, I absolutely adored "Blink," the episode that introduced us to the Weeping Angels. It's the episode that I insist people who "don't get" Doctor Who should watch, as it is a tremendously told, standalone tale of romance and mystery, of secret messages and terror. Plus there are statues that only move when you're not looking at them, and who doesn't love that?

The thing that I love about the Weeping Angels that somewhat got lost in their subsequent episodes, "The Time of Angels" and "Flesh and Stone," is that the Angels don't kill you. They simply send you back in time to "live to death" and feed off of your time energy. It's a somewhat bleak and interesting way to damn someone, and it got a lot of attention in this episode.

The basics are that the trio was reunited with River Song and the Angels in New York City, and weirdly, their exploits were being tracked and foretold in a book that the Doctor was reading. The Doctor, we learned, always rips out the final page of a book so that the story never ends. No surprise there—he hates endings, he hates seeing his companions age, he hates anything that reminds him of how timeless he is and how mortal the rest of us are. He especially hates that he can do nothing about it. When Amy skipped ahead in the book to check on Rory, who'd gone missing, the Doctor was horrified and insisted she stop. You cannot rewrite time once you've read it, it seems. This is the new "no spoilers."

Side note: I was so happy to see River return! She is such a dynamic powerhouse of a woman.

After River freed herself from an Angel by breaking her own wrist and then lying to the Doctor in an attempt to convince him that they'd changed the future foretold in the book, she clued us in to what marriage means in one of the most moving scenes of this series. Why did she lie about her wrist? "When one's in love with an ageless god who insists on the face of a 12-year-old, one does one's best to hide the damage." "It must hurt." "Yes, the wrist is pretty bad too."

The Angels' newest tactic, it turns out, is to zap their victims into a hotel, where they live out the rest of their lives and the Angels can continually feed on their time energy. Rory, who had just seen himself die alone in the Angels' hotel as an old man, without his Amy, wanted to make a run for it and change his future, but the Doctor insisted that it would take a lot of power.

Not to be cheesy and quote Huey Lewis, but the power of love will do. The love of firecracker Amy and faithful Rory. They ended up committing suicide together in a dark but powerful scene, and given that we all knew the Ponds would be leaving, the mega-happy double date/family picnic scene that followed just felt foreboding and eerie. Especially when the Doctor casually mentioned that going back to the Angels' hotel might rip NYC apart and could never be done. An Angel appeared and sent Rory back to the hotel—you can't undo certain fixed events, and they'd seen Rory die in that hotel. Some things are inevitable, and the Doctor hates that too.

In an emotional scene where no one could take their eyes off the Angel, Amy decided that she would willingly let the Angel take her, in the hopes of seeing Rory again, even though it would mean never seeing the Doctor again. The Doctor begged her to reconsider, a fairly selfish thing for him to do, but she merely asked River to take care of him, tears streaming down her face. (Karen Gillan has said that those tears were completely real, and I believe her.) She said goodbye and was gone.

The episode closed with Amy's afterword to the book the Doctor had been reading, and to her story. She reassured the Doctor that she and Rory were happy, she pleaded with him to not travel alone, and she reminded him to visit the girl who waited. It was the story of Amelia Pond.

For me, this was an extremely touching episode that really highlighted the best parts of Amy's character—her feistiness, her sense of adventure, and her love for Rory. There were great performances all around, but I especially liked hers. I loved that she didn't struggle with her decision to choose Rory over the Doctor—she made her mind up and that was it. Her end wasn't a result of the Doctor's negligence, a quirk of time travel, or her weariness of leading a double life; her end came because she had to choose, and she chose her marriage.

My only complaint about the episode, outside of a few nit-picky time-travel/storyline issues mentioned below, was that the plot was barely affected by the Doctor. He seemed powerless to fix the problems that came up, from River's arm to Rory escaping the Angels, but perhaps that was for the best. It was Amy's story, and it came to a satisfying close for me. Sometimes it's not about the complexities of endless time travel—sometimes it's just about a girl faced with two men she loves and a choice to make.

We'll miss the Ponds, and now that they're gone, we're alone with our ever-unpredictable, damaged Doctor. I can't wait.



NOTES


– Yes OF COURSE the Statue of Liberty would be a Weeping Angel, how could the show resist? I'm willing to bet the writers set this whole thing in NYC just to show that shot of a gaping, fanged Lady Liberty. It might have been a little silly, but try not to think about the huge issues it creates (did no one notice the Statue of Liberty had moved?!)—it wouldn't be Doctor Who without touches like this.

– How about a hand for the amazing evolution of Arthur Darvill's Rory? He went from being a mulleted afterthought of Amy's to being a fully developed, badass, hilarious character worthy of being chosen over the Doctor. His small gestures and reactions often stole the show, and I'm somewhat sad that we didn't get to say goodbye to him directly.

– The creepy giggling cherubs were a fantastic new addition to the Weeping Angels. I don't want the Angels to get overused and become the new Daleks, but I would like to see more of those little guys.

– Was River kidnapped at the exact moment she decided to show herself to Rory? I was a bit confused about why Rory was involved in her kidnapping, perhaps because River and her kidnappers were all wearing the same hats.

– Best line: "What are you doing?" "You know, texting a boy."

– An interesting side note, and possibly a set-up for future storylines, that the Doctor continues to be nonexistent in the databases of the universe. Did he do it so River would get out of prison? Why is he keeping such a low profile now? Why does the show keep bringing it up?

– I also found it interesting that River said she would travel with the Doctor for a bit, but not too long, because there should only be one psychopath per TARDIS. It's nice to see someone acknowledge the reality of how insane a timelord she would actually be. I'd love to see a bit of the two of them, left unchecked by companions. Maybe a Doctor Who After Dark?

Doctor Who "The Angels Take Manhattan" Photos




Are you satisfied with how the Ponds made their exit?






Like TV.com on Facebook

  • 8:00 pm
    Dateline NBC
    NEW
    NBC
  • 9:00 pm
    What Would You Do?
    NEW
    ABC
  • 10:00 pm
    Crossbones The Return
    NEW
    NBC
  •  
    20/20
    NEW
    ABC