Doctor Who: 705 – “The Angels Take Manhattan”

Before I start this episode review, I just wanted to let people be aware that it contains massive spoilers about the fates of Rory and Amy, so please be warned. Also because of the dense and in-depth nature of this week’s plot line, I have broken it down to its bare essentials. Enjoy.

We start the episode in Manhattan (1938) where a private investigator is chased into a hotel called the Winter Quay by statues that appear to move. They send him to a room where he sees himself in a bed as an old man. In fear, he runs out only to be confronted by a giant Statue of Liberty Weeping Angel.  We leap to the future (2012) where Rory, Amy and The Doctor are enjoying some R and R in Central Park. Rory gets taken by the Weeping Angels to Manhattan (1938). He meets River Song who is going by the name Melody Malone. This name also happens to be the name of the author of a book The Doctor is reading. A local gangster has managed to capture a Weeping Angel for his collection of the bizarre. Rory gets dumped into a cellar with some Weeping Cherubs and then they transport him to Winter Quay. The Doctor in the present finds out the book tells the future, but he dare not read it because if he does the event will become real and unchangeable. He and Amy manage to fight through all the time energy that is surrounding Manhattan and pick up River Song. The Doctor reads the chapter titles, thinking these will not tell too much about the future but may give clues to how to find out what is happening. Unfortunately, it shows a chapter which suggests Amy may not survive this adventure. When the gang find Rory, he has found his elderly self and just watched him die. The hotel has been set up by the angels as a battery farm, meaning now that old Rory has died there, young Rory will be unable to leave this fixed moment in time and his time energy will feed the angels. Rory and Amy commit suicide by jumping off the roof of the hotel, because if Rory dies off the roof it creates a paradox which will save him and destroy the timeline. They arrive back in the present in a cemetery. Rory sees his own gravestone and he vanishes back into the past. Seems an angel was left over from the hotel and because of this Rory could still die in the past. To stay with her man Amy lets the angel touch her, transporting her into the past to, never to return. The Doctor reads the last part of his book, which was actually written by Amy who has now left him a farewell message.

Just as I felt like giving up on Doctor Who altogether, we have this episode which helps redeem the series and makes me remember everything I love about The Doctor. Almost. Let’s be honest, this series so far has been on the whole average. Sometimes fun, other times pretty dire but always feeling like it was missing something. It was missing the spark that gets you on the edge of your seat and get that excitable feeling in your belly. This almost does this but just falls at the last hurdle. But I commend it for been the closest episode so far to feel like a classic Doctor Who episode. The setup for the departure of the pair is well laid out and it gives you plenty of false starts. You are constantly second guessing yourself, trying to figure out if the angels will get them and remove them from Doctor Who’s life. The plot flows well too, there are no false starts or forced pieces. It feels very organic and a lot more engaging than the previous episodes. This has a lot to do with the cast of this episode who bounce off each other really well. The chemistry is amazing between all of them, but that’s not surprising considering how many episodes they have been in together. The verbal banter between everyone helps to create some fun scenes but also some emotion and tension in the story. This is a touching and quite emotional story by the end and it is hard not to feel a bit tearful about the pair’s farewell.

The Weeping Angels are a big part of the tension created in this episode but they are also the episode’s downfall. They are used as a shock tactic. Want something scary to happen? Pop an angel in the works and away you go. But I’ve always found the angels work better in enclosed spaces where everyone is isolated and alone. Much like the first Alien movie, you can use a big environment to make something scary. Here the angels are all over the place and it takes away some of the fear they generate. Sure they still look freaky and do scare us in some sections, but you are tripping over them in this episode. In this humble reviewer view, it just felt like overkill. Speaking of overkill, the massive Statue of Liberty Weeping Angel was taking the mick a bit. It looked incredibly but made no sense. In Manhattan, the city that never sleeps and there is this massive angel that no one seems to notice at all. It looked daft in Ghostbusters 2 but at least that was played for laughs. The Cherub Angels were wasted to. They were scary on their own but with the silly pattering feet sound effects and the giggle it actually made them seem a bit silly. The final problem I have is that where exactly did Rory and Amy go? Did that lone angel being alive mean they were sent back to that room where Rory dies and forced to live there for the rest of their lives? If they did, that’s kind of sad. If not, did they just get sent to 1938 and live there away from the hotel. It was left a bit vague.

Aside from these faults, this episode was incredible fun and quite moving. If nothing else it gripped you. Sure some of this is to do with Rory and Amy leaving, but some is to do with a pretty nifty plot and great acting. It is just a shame that Rory and Amy had to go out the way they did. It was a clever way to go but I just felt a bit sad and not in the way the writers intended. It just seems that every companion is destined to end their run with the Doctor in a bittersweet fashion. This was not always the case. There would have been no Sarah Jane Adventure if she had ended up being sent to a parallel dimension, having her mind wiped or getting stuck in the past. Come on writers; let’s have an episode where the normal human folk can finish a run in a series with them just going home, hey? Doctor Who will return at Christmas, so let’s hope that the remaining part of the series can improve on this fine episode as this was a step in the right direction.

If you missed any episode reviews and want to catch up before the series restarts, then please click here and check them out.

2 thoughts on “Doctor Who: 705 – “The Angels Take Manhattan””

  1. I think they just went back to 1938, not to the hotel room to die. Remember, Amy has to get River/Melody to get the book published so it’s there in the future. If they just went to the room to die, then the book may never had been published.

    Like

    1. Oh that does make a lot more sense.with the whole time travel thing I was unsure if river song just knew to write the book, but you are right the end does have her words in the book.i’m glad they got to at least have a bit of a happy ending.thanks for the insight though sometimes another pair of eyes helps clear things up!

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.