The Angels Take Manhattan – episode review & analysis

(…or Farewell to the Ponds)

guardian.co.uk

Ah, ah, ah spoilers: Episode summary

It is 1930s Noo Yoik and a Gumshoe is called to take the case of a man who wants to talk about statues that he claims move when you’re not looking at them. Amused, he takes the job and promptly makes his way to an apartment block, the address given to him by his client. Cue lots of ominous shots of stone statues, including one of an angel covering its eyes outside the apartment block. Inside, the Gumshoe finds the building deserted except for strange stone angels that appear to follow him around. He enters one of the rooms in this apartment and discovers… himself as an old man. Then he is trapped by the angels in the corridor, escapes to the roof only to be confronted by the largest stone angel ever…

Modern day Noo Yoik and Amy, Rory and The Doctor are in Central Park reading. The Doctor is reading an intriguing book by a Melody Malone, a Private Detective. As The Doctor reads aloud to Amy, we follow Rory returning with the coffees… but something is following him. Finally, The Doctor realises that the author of the book was River Song and they return to the TARDIS to chase after Rory who, it seems, has been taken to another time. The first person Rory sees is River Song. Despite The Doctor claiming that it would be easy to get back to 1938, it seems the TARDIS is having difficulty and ends up in a graveyard.

Back with Rory and River and the pair are taken to see the benefactor from the pre-credit sequence. Rory is thrown into to cellar (sorry – basement) with some cherub statues that don’t quite look as cute as they are supposed to and appear to only move when it is dark. Upstairs, the benefactor has a Weeping Angel chained up behind a curtain. River discovers this and sends a signal for The Doctor to lock the TARDIS onto. In a moment of darkness, the angel grabs River’s arm.

River: The Angels are predators; they’re deadly. What do you want with them?
Grayle: I’m a collector. What collector could resist these? I’m only human!
River: That’s exactly what they’re thinking.

Finally, The Doctor and Amy arrive in 1938. Hurrah! There is a bit of cheeky banter between River and The Doctor while Amy goes racing off to find Rory. River comments that she was pardoned because the man she killed never existed. She can’t understand how he has physically removed himself from every record file across the galaxy (but not UNIT’s from last week apparently). They discuss the book briefly, agreeing not to read it but to look at the chapter headings only… and then The Doctor spots the title of the final chapter: Amelia’s Last Farewell. The Doctor gets irate and demands that River gets her arm out without breaking it – if she can change the future then perhaps Amy can be saved.

The Doctor follows Amy to the basement but Rory is not there; the pair assume that he has been taken back in time until River informs them that he was moved in space but not in time. She knows where he is. He is now at the building that the Gumshoe was sent to investigate. As The Doctor grabs her arm, River’s deception is discovered – she did break her own arm after all.

The Doctor: Why did you lie to me?
River: When one is in love with an ageless god who insists on the face of a twelve year old… one does one’s best to hide the damage.

Then he stupidly uses some of his regeneration reserve to repair her arm. To thank him, River slaps him hard and Amy reprimands him too – pfft, women and their gratitude!

Rory has been tracked to Winter Quay and the trio race there in a car. Inside the building, they are reunited with Rory in a room that has his name tag on… and in the bed is an aged Rory reaching out to Amy. Rory dies – for about the twentieth time and only the first time this episodes.

By this time, The Doctor has figured out that this building is effectively a battery farm. They feed off of the energy of the people trapped in the building, constantly sending them back in time. Trapped in the room and the building, they realise that the angels are coming for Rory but Amy won’t let them take him.

Amy: Husband… run!
The Doctor: I’m not sure this can work
River: Husband… shut up!

Amy and Rory make it to the roof but ole’ Madam Liberty is there once again. Strange how nobody has noticed this 100ft statue disappear from its pedastal on Liberty Island? Never mind… Rory decides that the only way out of this is to jump. This will create the paradox that should kill the angels. Amy – after trying to talk him down – decided to jump with him. Cue a few in jokes about the regularity with which Rory has snuffed it throughout his tenure as a companion. And then they jump…

The paradox is created and the four find themselves back in the graveyard in the modern day. In the background there is one stone angel remaining but Rory spots a gravestone with his name on it. The penny does not drop and Rory is unfortunately zapped back in time. Amy suggests travelling back to create another paradox but it will rip Noo Yoik in two. Amy is left with no other choice if she wants to see her husband again…

The Doctor: Amy, what are you doing?
Amy: That gravestone… Rory’s… there’s room for one more name, isn’t there?
The Doctor: What are you talking about? Back away from the angel. Come back to the TARDIS. We’ll figure something out.
Amy: The Angel… will it send me back to the same time, to him?
The Doctor: I don’t know! Nobody knows!
Amy: But it’s my best shot, yeah?
The Doctor: No!
River: Doctor, shut up! Yes, yes, it is!
The Doctor: Amy
Amy: Well then… I just have to blink, right
The Doctor: No
Amy: It’ll be fine. I know it will, I’ll be with him like I should be. Me and Rory together. Melody?
The Doctor: Stop it, just, just stop it!
Amy: You look after him and you be a good girl, and you look after him
The Doctor: You are creating a fixed point in time. I will never be able to see you again
Amy: I’ll be fine; I’ll be with him
The Doctor: Amy, please, just come back into the TARDIS. Come along Pond, please!
Amy: Raggedy man, goodbye!

Upon returning to the TARDIS, The Doctor apologises to River. She tells him never to travel alone and he asks her to travel with him. She agrees… but states “not all the time… one psychopath per TARDIS!” The end of the story is wrapped up and so is the story of Amy Pond and Rory Williams.

Analysis

If there was a ever an episode in this short series that was clearly stand alone, it was this one. Aside from a promise of another return of River Song this was always going to be about the end of the companions and The Doctor moving on to the next, experiencing the anguish we have come to expect in recent years. At least it was a happy ending for the pair when speculation had been rife for months about how much tragedy this episode would contain – on reflection actually very little and the clip from the trailer of The Doctor carrying Amy’s limp body was a red herring as we discovered in Asylum of the Daleks.

There was so much focus and attention on how it was going to happen that perhaps Moffat decided not to bother setting down any threads for the future; that and the fact that this was a mid-season finale for a series not known for having US-style cliffhangers.

So it’s goodbye to the Ponds until Moffat decides to bring them back ad nauseum like with Rose Tyler and thereby remove the power of this departure (as much as I liked them – I hope they don’t come back).

Weeping Angels – are they or are they not one of the most terrifying of all of Doctor Who’s enemies? In time they could (if not already) become the most iconic of New Who’s enemies. I’ve already seen mugs and T-Shirts mimicking the other slogan Keep Calm and Don’t Blink.

Oh and stick around after the credits to see a very brief teaser for the Christmas special featuring Richard E. Grant looking suitably Dickensian and Oswin the not-Dalek looking rather smug. That’s what I like about Moffat, he likes to give so much away!

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2 thoughts on “The Angels Take Manhattan – episode review & analysis

  1. mrmonkey1980

    This was a rather brief analysis. Still, after all te speculation I feel satisfied. They had a happy ending. It doesn’t matter about the doctor. That couldn’t be changed. He was always going to suffer. But at least the ponds are ok. The statue was just used for shocks and novelty. It was poorly underused but probably because it was totally ridiculous. I think this is a great episode. Certainly the Angela best since Blink. It didn’t seem to break mythology and was creepy. I just wonder how do they make cherubs without looking t each other at all! 🙂

    1. Haha, yeah sorry. Didn’t really feel there was much to say about it seeing as the focus was on the Ponds leaving.

      Certainly that was a superb episode in so many ways (less said about Liberty the better) and easily the best in this sequence. Will the Christmas special be as good? I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

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