I hate endings: Thoughts on The Angels Take Manhattan

SPOILERS AHOY! You’ve been warned.

So on Saturday the current run of Doctor Who came to a close, its weird sitting down to a show where you kind of know what’s going to happen- everyone knew that this was going to be when the Doctor’s current companions Amy and Rory left him, the question was of how.

Firstly, I’ve got to say I’ve really enjoyed this current series, and I’m warming to Matt Smith’s version of the Doctor, even if the problems I have with the character are still present (too smart, lame catchphrase, constant hints of badassery with little/no evidence to suggest said dark side really exists, slightly annoying kids TV presenter demeanor, smug, lack of punching things etc.)

I prefer him to David Tennant, who by the end I’d lost all patience with and I think a large part of why I dig Smith’s Eleventh Doctor is the strength of his companions, Amy and Rory (played very well by Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill).

Previous companions since the revamp have kind of followed the set pattern, a hint of romantic involvement (Rose and Martha) or have been so annoying that you wished for a Aliens/Doctor Who crossover ending with them doing a John Hurt impression (yeah, I’m talking about Catherine Tate). The only previous one I really liked was John Barrowman’s campy rogue Captain Jack.

Barrowman!

But Amy and Rory were lovely together, and worked well with the Doctor. Amy had an almost disciple like faith in him, and in a recent episode reminded him not to cross a moral line (there’s that dark side that never shows up thing again) while Rory seems more impatient and exasperated with his smugness and inability to explain things. Their relationship totally works, with them clearly in love with each other and Rory is unbelievably sweet throughout, while Amy shows a bit more toughness. I really dug their relationship and also the fact that after a brief “me or the Doctor” angle they finally settled on them regarding the Doctor as their friend or an unruly child.

So the fact they were leaving is a bit sucky for me, although apparently his new companion is going to be the delightful Oswin (Jenna-Louise Coleman) despite her having kicked the bucket in an earlier episode. Although I guess that’s the benefit of writing with time travel, no one is ever, really 100% dead.

Oswin- delightful

But how would they go out?

First of all, I really dug this episode, mainly because it featured the seriously creepy Weeping Angels, which I think is a perfect example of some of the genius writing that the show has on offer. These aliens are a fantastic idea, seeming to look like statues of angels they can’t move when they’re being looked at which means there’s no shortage of creepy moments when a blink, or flickering light will reveal that they’ve closed in on their hapless victim, with snarling faces and grasping hands.

Creepy as all hell

And to up the ante in this episode they added creepy Weeping Cherubs, and its always creepier when its got a childish little giggle.

The plot starts in the 30s with a stereotypical film noir narration from a PI hired to investigate “moving statues”, who winds up getting chased by the spooky carvings and meets his own older self. The angels work by zapping you back in time, feeding off the “time energy”. Freaked out he tries to escape, heading for the roof where he’s confronted by the Statue of Liberty, which has been turned into an angel too.

In the present day the Doctor is reading a pulp fiction novel which tells the same story and notices that Amy is looking older. He tears out the last page of the book as he “hates endings”, and shortly after Rory vanishes, which then occurs in the book. It seems the book is telling them what will happen, the Doctor states that they can’t read on as that will mean the events will definitely come true.

Rory has been sent back to the 30s where he meets the hero of the book, the sexy PI Melody Malone, who turns out to be River Song (Alex Kingston), his own daughter. If you’re not a regular viewer I can’t go into the back story, so maybe skip this post, yeah? If you are a fan, you’ll know the score and we can save time.

Due to the time interference from the angels, the Doctor can’t land the TARDIS until River helps him. However, River is in trouble and has been grabbed by a weakened angel who can’t transport her back in time, but traps her in a vice-like grip. In the book the Doctor breaks Melody’s wrist to get her out, he refuses to do it and tells her to find another way. River gets out, but in the process breaks her wrist that she initially attempts to hide from the Doctor.

Meanwhile, they work out where Rory is, at the same hotel where he has met his older self, who has been there for many years and who dies after being reunited with Amy. Rory is now doomed, but if he can escape he can create a paradox. He and Amy leg it while the Doctor and River try to stop them. Rory heads to the roof where the Statue of Liberty angel rocks up, and he decides to throw himself off the roof, thereby creating a paradox that’ll kill the angels and hoping that will mean he won’t die he’ll just wake up in his normal time.

He finds he can’t do it, and Amy refuses to push him, but joins him on the ledge and both leap off. They then wake up in the present, where Doctor and River are bickering. Rory then points out that a gravestone has the same name as his, before an angel zaps him from behind, sending him back in time to who-knows-where.

The Doctor says they can’t go back because the timeline has been corrupted, or something and it could destroy New York. Amy decides to go back so she can be with Rory, thereby leaving the Doctor, who pleads with her not to go. But Amy lets the angel touch her and on the gravestone her own name appears beneath Rory’s.

River agrees to join the Doctor for a while and reveals she wrote the book he’s been reading, but asked Amy to publish it and add an afterword. The Doctor rushes to retrieve the last page, which is her goodbye to him and asks him to visit her younger self to reassure her that the adventures are coming. The show ends with the young Amy sitting outside waiting and hearing the TARDIS.

I really, really dug how they wrote Amy and Rory out, the scene on the roof was really moving and then the ending, where she chose Rory over the Doctor was heartbreaking. The Doctor’s distress felt real and I sympathized with him, although he’ll probably soon be back to his posturing, prancing, irritating ways. I really loved the fact that they gave Amy and Rory a sort-of happy ending and I liked that it was her choice to go out that way, it fitted with the headstrong and determined nature of the character.

Also, as I said, I love the Weeping Angels, and its always great to have Alex Kingston show up as the nutty, sassy and extremely foxy River Song. She was magnificent as ever and the ending where she agreed to temporarily travel with him, but urged him not to travel alone was a nice open ending that’ll set up his continuing ending.

River Song- Foxy

I also really loved the sadness when River discussed with Amy that she couldn’t show the Doctor she was aging and his hatred of endings, highlighting one of the downsides of his traveling companions. He warms to and likes his companions, but he’s doomed to lose them eventually and outlive them, but at the same time they’re what keeps him sane and decent. It was a nice touch and also ties into my long held belief that immortality would suck balls.

All in all, a very satisfying end to the run and a good exit for two characters I really like. It was a fantastically written episode from Steven Moffat, who’s a phenomenal writer and worked on some shows I’ve really loved.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.

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