Sunday, September 30, 2012

HERE BE SPOILERS: Review of The Angels take Manhattan

Well, that's it, then. The Ponds have gone. There will be spoilers later on so don't read any further if you don't want to know what happens.

You know how soft I am, so it will come as no surprise to you that I bawled my eyes out at the end of last night's Doctor Who. Amy and Rory have been fantastic companions and the relationship between them and the Doctor, complicated by the revelations around River Song, have made fantastic viewing. I'm not so convinced that it really was time for them to go. I could have had them round for a year or two yet.

Steven Moffat promised he was going to break our hearts. That's one promise that's not going to need an autotuned apology. He fulfilled it in every possible way.

The scene was Manhattan, where the weeping angels controlled a building called Winter's Quay. Rather than the weakened specimens on the Byzantium, who broke people's necks then disturbingly used their voices to communicate, they were back to their original form in Blink, where they sent people into the past and lived off their potential life energy. It's a very weird concept.

Rory's a bit like Ianto Jones from Torchwood in some ways. There was more than a trace of irony for me that he was off fetching coffees when he was zapped back to 1938 by an angel. The Doctor and Amy knew what was going on because the Doctor was reading a trashy detective novel which we later found out was written by River using the pen name Melody Malone.

The weeping angels were creepy enough, but there was something very sinister about River saying "Hello, Daddy" in the same slightly lascivious tone as she says "Hello, Sweetie"to the Doctor.

As Rory is zapped again by weeping angels, in space rather than time, River and Amy have a conversation that really annoyed me. First of all, River spoke about the Doctor as if he were an emotionally immature child who couldn't cope with the idea that people aged and warned her against showing him signs of ageing because it would remind him that he must lose her. Well, excuse me, he's 900 years old and, yes, it's sad that he can't keep those he loved round him forever and his life involves a fair bit of grief, but there's no point in trying to protect him from it in such a patronising way.

She might well have fallen in love with someone "with the face of a 12 year old" but there are worse things than women ageing. We're only talking a few wrinkles in both of them. In the normal course of events, both could still have had decades with him. If I'm being generous, Moffat might well have been weaving in our double standards on ageing (men are allowed to, women aren't) into the story. The alternative is that he was just showing his own prejudices.

Taken by the Angels to Winter's Quay, Rory finds an elderly version of himself about to die. Joined by River and Amy, the quartet realise that young Rory will be caught and zapped further back in time so that he dies in 1938...unless he can outrun them, creating a paradox. This he decides to do by jumping off the roof to prevent the Angel in the Statue of Liberty getting him. The scene where Amy decides to jump with him is so emotional. There is no way she's going to risk being without him. My daughter thought it was Moffat trolling the Sherlock fandom. If you don't know why, watch the series. It's brilliant.

You know that they haven't really got away with it when the family is reunited in the cemetery. There's still too much off the episode to go and you know they have to part. Rory is found by an Angel who's survived the paradox somehow and very unobtrusively sent back. Despite being willing to sacrifice himself, to jump off a big building not knowing whether it'll work, he never got so much as a thank you or a proper farewell scene.

As Amy allows the angel to take her too, not knowing if she'd definitely be reunited with Rory for certain but desperate to at least try to live out her life with him, Moffat uses the "fixed point in time" line to make the ending final. I'm not sure why Rory and Amy couldn't have found some way of getting out of New York and finding their way back to River and the Doctor. Instead we find out from the gravestone that they are by now both dead of old age and that they lived out their days together.

Presumably River is going to be able to continue to see them with her time vortex thingy - and she has to get the book to Amy anyway.

And, of course, River gets to continue her life with the Doctor. We know how that ends and so does he. I liked the "you can't have two psychopaths in the TARDIS" line to explain why this is no conventional marriage.

It strikes me that there is potential for a whole new spin-off series covering Amy and Rory's life in New York. If there are angels in the city that never sleeps, there's bound to be other alien life forms who need either zapping or understanding. As an aside, you have to wonder how they'll cope going from iPad to manual typewriter, in the days before tv was in every house, and laundry was done mainly by hand.

The person I feel sorriest for is poor Brian. We've only got to know Rory's dad in the past few episodes. We know what he was like with those cubes. Will he be scouring the earth looking for Rory and Amy? Will the Doctor think to go back and tell him what's happened?

We know that Amy and Rory were thinking of stopping their adventures with the Doctor and living out their lives in their little blue house. Fans will be glad that they weren't killed or separated. Amy chose Rory twice over her daughter and her raggedy man. If it had all gone wrong, she risked the first time simply death, the second a lifetime of isolation from everybody she loved.

The Angels take Manhattan is the best episode of a strong series so far. Ironically, I had saved Karen Gillan's We'll take Manhattan, in which she plays 60s model Jean Shrimpton, to watch.

Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill have given us hours of pleasure over the last 3 years. Let's hope they have great success in their future careers, and have time to hit the convention circuit, too.

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