Doctor Who: The Angels Take Manhattan

Posted: October 1, 2012 in TV reviews

Warning. This review will contain spoilers, and you’ll still see them, even if you blink…

And so we come to the last episode of Doctor Who for a while, and the long heralded departure of Rory and Amy.  In truth, much as I’ve loved both of them as companions, they’ve probably stuck around a smidgen too long, and in many ways they got a perfect departure last year. That they’ve been bought back for one final hurrah has seen them hanging around somewhat like spare parts this year. As I say, I love em, but even the best companions have a finite shelf life.

The episode opens in a stylish recreation of 1930’s New York, and a PI, hired by a fellow named Grayle, investigating moving statues, upon visiting a mysterious hotel called the Winter Quay he finds an old man in one room, an old man who’s him…

Meanwhile the Doctor, Amy and Rory are enjoying some R&R in present day Central Park, for the Doctor this means reading a pulp novel about a female private eye called Melody Malone, only all of a sudden it seems less like fiction when the book mentions Rory going off for coffee (which he’s just done.) The Doctor and Amy race after him, but it’s too late, Rory’s been zapped by a weeping angel back to 1938 where he and Melody Malone (Who’s River, obviously) become the prisoners of Grayle. All too quickly River’s in the grip of a damaged Angel and Rory’s been zapped again, this time to the Winter Quay hotel, where there’s a room with his name on it…

I’ll be honest, when I heard the Angels were going to feature in Amy and Rory’s last episode, I kinda guessed how things were going to end. I’m not bragging, I think it was just fairly obvious given the Angels’ MO (i.e. they zap you back in time and let you live to death) that this was how Rory and Amy would become separated from the Doctor, and in many ways this is reminiscent of Sally’s friend, and the cop in Blink, it also brings to mind the Girl in the Fireplace.

Obviously both those stories were penned by Steven Moffat as well, and it does seem he’s plundered his own play list to come up with this story.

Although that really doesn’t do this justice. This is a damn fine episode in spite of any similarities it has to his other work, and it’s also a damn fine episode in spite of some rather cumbersome plot holes, chief amongst them being why no one (in the City than never sleeps) happens to notice the statue of Liberty going walkabout! That said, as ridiculous as it is, the first time you see the giant Angel looming over the rooftop is a stunning visual.

As befits her finale, Karen Gillan’s Amy has a stormer, showing all the feistiness that certainly made me love her over the years, tempered with maturity and confidence, and an utterly believable certainty that wherever Rory goes, she goes too. She’s matched by Smith, in fact it’s Smith’s performance that makes the final separation work, he plays heartbroken so very well, and it is truly amazing how many facial expressions the man has, and how any one man of his age can look like a matinee idol one moment, and a crotchety old man the next, and the pain in his face as he sees Amy vanish to join Rory is palpable.

Alex Kingston plays River as flirty as always, but there’s some genuine pathos in her performance this time around, especially when she remarks to Amy that she shouldn’t let the Doctor see her age, because he doesn’t like endings. One can’t help but wonder how close she is to setting off for the library and her first/last meeting with the Doctor.

If anyone is short-changed it’s Arthur Darvill, and Rory does seem to get the thin end of the wedge. When Rory and Amy go over the edge of the rooftop, it’s only Amy’s name the Doctor screams, and he does seem to spend most of his time in the dark being menaced by tiny angels. That said he gets to have a moment of self-sacrifice, gets some great scenes with Karen, and also manages to make a gag about the fact that even though he’s died before he always comes back. Plus he’s never quite been hyped as the Doctor’s companion as much as Amy has.

The 30’s noir setting for much of the episode, and the Angels themselves give this a wonderfully gothic feel, and the introduction of the baby Angels is downright creepy, in many ways the cherubs are scarier than their elder brethren. The Angels still aren’t quite the terror they were in Blink, but somehow I doubt they’ll ever be that good again, they do at least make for a better foe this time around than in their last outing back in series 5, when their MO seemed to have changed too much, and they were short-changed in the second part of that story. Here they’re back to something close to their best, even if their presence suggests Amy and Rory will survive the encounter…well will survive it but be zapped back in time to die before they were born…which is better than just dying at least!

The fact that the Doctor can never see them again might not be explained well enough to seem a completely overwhelming obstacle, but even so Moffat tugged at my heart three times here. My spine tingled as Amy and Rory fell from the hotel roof, I had a sniff when Amy said goodbye to the raggedy man, but the final nail in the coffin was the beautiful final line.

“This is the story of Amelia Pond. And this is how it ends.”

I only hope that both Moffat and Gillain have the courage to stick to this as the end of Amy’s story…after all, I remember when Rose was trapped in another universe and would never EVER see the Doctor again…until she did.

Don’t let me down Moff…




  1. neil says:

    Clearly there many ways the Dr could visit amy. Pretty much everyone he knows has some kind of time travel device, he was just playing it up so he doesnt have to visit them !

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