Monday, August 25, 2014

Doctor Who--"The Time of the Angels"

“The Angels Take Manhattan” is the mid season finale--I have been saying that a lot lately--of Doctor Who seventh series. It is also the long anticipated swan song for Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill as Amy and Rory. Speaking of song, River Song also makes her return. The easiest way to describe ’The Angels Take Manhattan” is emotionally dark. Savor the first few moments of whimsy between the main characters, because they get put through the ringer afterwards.

I cannot underscore how important emotions over logic are in enjoying “The Angels Take Manhattan.” The plot is wafer thin--the Weeping Angels are taking over Manhattan by sending Rory repeatedly further back in time to feed off the energy. The doctor and Amy track him back to 1938 thanks to a noir detective novel which parallels events as they happen. It is later revealed the novel was written by Amy in the past after she and Rory become trapped in the late 19th century with an afterward by River, who guides TARDIS to 1938. The plot is filled out with our heroes suffering a very, very bad day.

Rory dies no less than three times, once by throwing himself in tandem with Amy off the roof of a hotel in order to create a paradox preventing the Weeping Angels from getting him the final time. Although it does not work…geez. Watching Amy agree to jump with her husband is tough viewing. River is forced to break her own wrist to escape a Weeping Angel. Ouch. The doctor stands helplessly watching virtually all of it. The most interesting aspect of the plot is how little of it features the doctor in control of the situation. The story is all in the hands of his companions.

There are several things we now know for certain about Steven Moffat due to “The Angels Take Manhattan.” . One, he is really proud of the weeping Angels. Two, he likes throwing people off buildings. (A little Sherlock nod, there.) And three, He believes whovians have a strong emotional attachment to Amy and Rory. The Weeping Angels were particularly disturbing here, so I must give judos for bringing them back to their original horror motif. The Baby Weeping Angel blowing out Rory’s candle before zapping him into the past us brilliantly. Ah…the jumping off buildings thing is a joke. As for Amy and Rory, I feel emotional at their departure. I had some fears one or both of them would die rather than have a lost to us, but relatively happy ending for them Their departure is done well, without maudlin, but best not dwelled upon considering if the book has an afterward, then River must have encountered her parents in the past. Why can the doctor not go back to them? Dramatic effect seems to be the answer. Best not to dwell. We have already had two consecutive episodes to say a long goodbye to Amy and Rory. Though one does wonder why river is not upset she will never see her parents again? She can be emotionally shallow, but surely not that cold?

Someone is erasing record of the Doctor from history. Not only have the daleks forgotten him, but River is no longer imprisoned for murder because the man she killed--the doctor, of course--no longer exists. Interesting little plot twist, no? Foreshadowing for the 50th anniversary story, perhaps/

You are going to have to take “The Angels Take Manhattan’ as a character piece. The plot is awfully thin, and if you think too much about the book’s place in the story, all logic falls apart. But thankfully, it is a great character piece. It is intense in both its horrific elements and it sad ones. I imagine the episode will go down as a fondly remember classic in the pantheon regardless of it flaws. I am going to award it four stars solely because it took two hours after watching to decide what I could even say about it even though amy and rory are far from my favorite companions.

Rating: **** (out of 5)

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