TV Review: Doctor Who [SPOILERS]
Doctor Who – “The Angels Take Manhattan”
Season 7, Episode 5
It seemed like things were just getting going and we’re already done with the Doctor until Christmas, and the Ponds forever.
The bigger of the two issues is the departure of the Ponds, the first and only ongoing companions of the Steven Moffat-run era of Doctor Who. The decision in “The Power of Three” that Amy and Rory were going to go off with the Doctor indefinitely was a bit unimpressive, since anyone even remotely aware of what was happening behind the scenes knew that Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill were leaving next week.
While I went on record saying they’re my favorite companions in the show’s history, Amy and Rory always had one foot out the door. From their first episode, we knew Amy had to stop running around with the Doctor to get married the next day. And after the wedding, they too often brought up leaving and starting their family to be around forever. So I wonder why a series that could have easily just had them stop traveling and live normal lives felt the need to make the break so final. To get that final resolution, an incredible amount of time is dedicated to moving the pieces into place and establish the proper consequences to make it permanent.
Matt Smith and Gillan had as much platonic chemistry as I’ve seen on the series (right up there with the Doctor’s pseudo-sister Donna Noble), and both were perfect in the tear-jerking final moments of the episode. Like Donna, Amy’s farewell was painful in its finality, but at least she gets to live a full life with Rory, so there was some sense of the lovers getting a happy ending to soften the blow.
The visceral pain Smith offers and Gillan’s sorrowful resolution in their final scene together make up for whatever other flaws the episode had. The main battle against the angels was just an excuse to reinforce the fact that while Amy doesn’t want to leave the Doctor, she can’t leave Rory. It was more in service to the characters’ emotional journey to that one scene in a cemetery than actually defeating a bad guy.
Which I was fine with, since the absurdity of the Statue of Liberty being an angel was so disjointed from the incredibly serious tone of the rest of the episode. The angels and the fear they inspire was more enjoyable here than in their series five appearance (“The Time of the Angels”/“Flesh and Stone”), but the pure terror of the creatures will never be as impressive as their debut in my all-time favorite episode, “Blink”.
The Doctor has always played with the rules about changing fixed points in history and crossing your own timeline. Things are never really set in stone. I refuse to believe that the Angels have now locked the Doctor out of New York City for most of the 20th century. Some timey-wimey excuse has allowed the Doctor to hang out with different versions of himself on multiple occasions, so there is never really a never with this show.
If you accept all that, does Amy’s farewell justify the finality Moffat establishes for it? Or would they have been better served just to leave Amy and Rory to continue the everyday lives they found so comfortable just a week beforehand? When does somebody break the bad news to Mr. Weasley? And is anybody worried about the Angel that the Doctor just left haunting some New York cemetery?