Nicholas Goodchild

Historic and Pared Down

Doctor Who – The Angels Take Manhattan

3 October 2012 by Nicholas in TV

The current run of Doctor Who took a break with the episode “The Angels Take Manhattan” which had been widely trailed as featuring the final farewell for the Doctor and his current travelling companions, Amy and Rory Williams/Pond.

It featured the return of the Weeping Angels, who are arguably the finest Doctor Who villains, but have been less effective with each appearance. I was struck, on reflection, about how similar they are to the Alien trilogy in implementation: Blink (their introduction) was effective horror against a small number of villains of unknown capabilities and motivation. Their second appearance had them as a known quantity in much greater numbers facing against a trained squad dedicated to killing them. This time they’re facing against the unarmed but desperate, a smaller and less epic tale heavy with personal sacrifice and fittingly final. Until someone brings them back and botches it utterly.

The main story, arguably, is incidental compared to what is happening to the characters. The Angels have been chosen because of their capabilities and the way that this leads to dramatic moments. Or the dramatic moments are catered around the Angels. Or Moffat knows that it is time to bring all his best creations together. It doesn’t matter, it is a real high spot for the show as a whole in a way that the largely mediocre episodes of the recent demi season could never manage.

The story ties back to both the Ponds’ own, with references to how Rory perpetually waits for Amy and also the fact he has died for her in the past, as well as the introduction of the Angels themselves in Blink. In Blink the best moments (besides the sheer terror elicited by stone statues, a menace that Doctor Who has never managed as effectively before or since) deal with how the Angels actions are predicted and how best to deal with them. In Manhattan, the Doctor is once again dealing with tips from the past (which is also the future), although this time he is receiving rather than giving them. It’s a clever inversion and helps to tie everything together.

The Ponds story also finishes, but not in a way that ties up every lose end or is as neat as I was expecting. There are possibilities left open, although the coda at the end gives everything a rosier glow than a more ambiguous ending would. Part of me feels it is a cheat, but then again I have to remember that it is a kids’ show and that it did make me feel emotions I never thought it could. And the very end also ties back to the introduction of both this iteration of the Doctor and Amy Pond herself. It’s an emotionally satisfying end for Amy, the end of a chapter for the Doctor, has some great ideas and makes the Angels special and scary again.