The Doctor's heart-breaking farewell to Amy and Rory - a race against time through the streets of Manhattan, as New York's statues come to life around them...
With Rory's life in danger, the Doctor and Amy must locate him before it's too late! Luckily, an old friend helps them and guides the way.
Following SERIES 4’s epic ‘companionship’ of Donna Noble, Amelia Pond had a very hard act to follow, and, for me, she never quite reached those heady days let alone match them.
Whether it was the convoluted plotting for the character or the acting, by Karen Gillian, for it, but Amy never did anything for me and with this was multiplied exponentially with the regular application of Rory Williams and the perpetual inclusion of the hideously bland River Song. I found Amy as flat as week-old unopened bottle of Soda Pop, so with her/their irreversible demise I am as happy as pig lolloping in warm summer mud.
Steven Moffat’ mid-season finale, DOCTOR WHO – THE ANGELS TAKE MANHATTAN concludes their story arc with aplomb, a thrilling rollercoaster that genuinely delivered a series of chills and threats that ensured my full attention even though that I wasn’t “emotionally heartbroken” as other fans have been (or had been expected by its writer).
For the third episode in a row and it’s becoming an overused format, an opening monologue effectively reveals the “time paradox” that our heroes will be afflicted by, and, sadly, is regrettable as the horror of the Weeping Angels’ reckoning should have remain a thread for the viewer to tantalisingly coach from the very episode of the episode. The old version of the Private Detective should have remain out of shot, with the revelatory face of its younger version being the ‘reveal’ as this would have left the viewer considering what he saw. Therefore, when it is revealed that the Rory has succumbed to the same enduring fate it would/may have been more shocking or intriguing.
The conceit that the Weeping Angels have leased 1938’s New York as a city wide farm – farming time energy for the lives that would have been lived upon which they lap from like a stalking cat – is gloriously audacious (but how extensive is they influence as relating to time?) and plausible based upon the entity’s established background, as is the “action figure” expected Weeping Angel variant, the match-extinguishing baby that sounded, probably accidentally, like a Peking Homunculus (see 1977’s DOCTOR WHO - THE TALONS OF WENG-CHIANG).
Doctor: I hate endings.
Predictably, littered throughout the episode were charmingly erudite, eccentric and visceral simultaneously that continue to define the key antagonists, combined with character conflict that drove that a coach-and-horses through ‘a point of no return’.
Amy Pond: Time can be re-written.
Doctor: Not when you’ve read it. When we know what is coming, it is written in stone.
(Camera pans to read a grave’s headstone. It reads ‘In loving memory. Rory Arthur Williams’).
Like a poet, Matt Smith’s recital continues to beguile with his almost ethereal on-screen personality, handling his character’s inevitability of losing ‘his’ companion with deftness of an accomplished actor twice his age. Both Gillan and Darvill match the raising of the stakes (relating to the development of scene causality) with the raising of their own game (read: acting skill), although the writing of Rory Williams remains irksome (writers waiver from portraying him from being a strong, independent, brave to a ham-fisted, hapless, down-trodden husband as if he has been scolded for wetting his bed) and consistent. At least that you knew where you were with Adric but with Rory if the wind direction changed during filming then the character would to. In ‘poisoning the time well’, their joint sacrifice was intelligently scripted and acted but it’s tumbling direction was poor executed (if a falling body tips forward it continues in that orientation and does not correct itself upright as we saw on screen. However, that might have been too traumatic for viewers to witness on a Saturday tea-time).
Naturally, Gillan’s final goodbye is worthy of comment as it was pitched superbly with emotions torn between the two men that she has grown-up with. One a bumbling but big-hearted lump called Rory, and the other a babbling but two-hearted Lord (of Time) bafflingly called The Doctor she has always known as the ‘raggedly man’. The balance of the scales tipped as she knew within her own heart that the Doctor will never be alone, and, cajoled by her own daughter, to keep travelling across time and space.
Once again, the production team deserve to be recognised as they delivered a creatively observed series of set designs (preciously ‘dressed’ with period artefacts), special effect prosthetics (the aged Rory was as diligently observed as was the aged Tenth Doctor from LAST OF THE TIME LORDS), and suitably evocative incidental music (and whoever suggested Sting’s AN ENGLISHMAN IN NEW YORK deserves a BAFTA).
Overall, DOCTOR WHO – THE ANGELS TAKE MANHATTAN was atmospherically accomplished and a fitting epithet for the departing companions, and, as we “…remember…” from the opening episode of this series, establishes a relatively clean slate for new adventures to be scrawled upon.
And, as Rory is thrown the basement stairs, the lingering camera focus on a seemingly innocuous box of BRIGHTWATER & HYMAN matches... what's that all about?