Review: Dr. Who – The Angels Take Manhattan

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By Kevin Rigdon (@pralix1138)

I hate endings.

*Spoilers Below*

The Doctor and I have something in common.  Neither one of us do endings well.  I’ll admit to tearing up at the end of Harry Potter (especially the bit where George is gazing at Fred’s body at the end of the battle for Hogwarts, and Dobby’s death and burial), and I was depressed for weeks when Chuck ended.  The ending, once you know it’s coming, can affect how you experience the entire story.  To this day, I haven’t re-read The Deathly Hallows.  But as they say, every ending is a new beginning, and Steven Moffat nailed it in this episode.

We begin in New York in 2012 with the Doctor reading aloud to Amy and Rory from a book by Melody Malone.  The Doctor rips out the last page of the book because he doesn’t like endings. If there’s no ending page, then the story doesn’t end.  It’s a 1930’s detective novel that just happens to be written by Melody/River and they quickly discover that the story is about them when it mentions Rory going to get coffee for the Doctor and Amy.  Rory has been sucked back into 1938 where he meets River, and gets carted off to a Mr. Grayle, who’s been investigating the Angels.  The Doctor realizes that if they keep reading the book, even to find Rory, the future will then be set in stone and unavoidable.

It seems the Weeping Angels have taken over New York City and have fashioned a farm for themselves. They track down their victims and send them back in time so that they live their lives out in this particular building, thus creating time energy which they use as fuel.  Rory happens to be their next victim.  So, River and Rory are stuck in 1938, and because of timey-wimey mechanics, the Doctor cannot land the TARDIS there without a landing signal.  Reading a page in the book (but not too far ahead), they discover that Mr Grayle has a collection of Chin Dynasty pottery, prompting the Doctor to travel back to China in the third century BC to add a little note to some pottery being created.  The message?  “Yowzah.”

River gets the message, provides a landing signal, and the Doctor arrives.  Through twists, turns, chases, and clever dialogue, the crew discovers Rory’s whereabouts, and it just happens to be the Winter Quay, the building the Angels have created as their farm.  They get there, Rory still intact, but they all witness the future Rory’s death, which creates a fixed point in time.  Then they decide to attempt to create a paradox, and thereby unmake the situation.  If Rory escapes, the resulting time paradox would possibly destroy the Angels and uncreate the reality they are currently in.

Things go awry, as they usually do, and Rory comes to the conclusion that the only way to create the paradox and free him from this time prison is to jump off the building to his death, and thereby his resurrection.  An incredibly moving exchange happens between Amy and Rory, and Amy decides to jump with him.  They will go “together, or not at all.”  They jump, creating the paradox, and everybody wakes up in the graveyard.  I breathed a great sigh of release… until Rory sees his name on a gravestone, and then disappears at the touch of an Angel survivor. Rory’s timeline is fixed, and Amy has to make a choice.

Amelia’s Final Farewell

Rory, the man who dies – and keeps coming back – dies three times in the same day.  When he disappears to 1938, Amy wants to join him, to be with him, to live the rest of their lives together. This will create a fixed point, which cannot be undone.  The Doctor will lose the Ponds, and he desperately tries to talk Amy out of it.  After all, he hates endings.  River, however, steps in and reassures her mother that she, Amy, will indeed be back with Rory and they will be able to live out their lives together.  Amy, as with a previous episode entitled “Amy’s Choice,” chooses to be with Rory, the man who waited for her for 2,000 years.  And she disappears to the past.

Good people, I cried.  I didn’t even try to hide it.  I cried; my wife cried.  It was quite noisy in our house with all the sniffling and whatnot.  The Doctor lost his Amelia Pond, the girl imprinted on his heart because she was the first face his current incarnation encountered.  He lost his parents, not only figuratively, but in reality as he’s married to their daughter.  But he is not left completely abandoned by them.  As River wrote the book and sent it to Amy to get it published, River will tell Amy to write an Afterword for the Doctor: the last page of the book, the page that he ripped out.  And he runs to find it.

Upon reading the last page, Amy is able to tell the Doctor that she and Rory live out their lives happily together, and that there is a little girl, waiting in a garden.  She’s going to be waiting a long time, but she wants him to go to her and tell her that if she’s patient, she will have all these wonderful adventures.  Essentially, the Doctor will get to see Amy Pond once again, and that’s how the episode ends.  Amelia Pond, twelve years old, waiting with her suitcase as the TARDIS appears.

An Ending, a Beginning, and a Life Lived

I realize it’s time for the Ponds to leave.  I’ve been preparing for this since the end of last season. I knew it was coming. I figured there’d be death, destruction, and mayhem. I knew there’d be tears.  But Steven Moffat pulls this episode off in a way that was original, touching, funny, heartbreaking, and hopeful.

It was really the only and best way it could’ve happened, I think.  This parting of the ways was less weepy than Rose, but then she cried A LOT.  It was less mutual than the Martha Jones split, and it was less cruel than erasing Donna’s memories.  It was perfect, if an ending can be called that.  It was clear that the Ponds were never going to be able to leave the Doctor, so there had to be a definitive, forced separation.  But this separation and death, though sad, especially for the Doctor, also comes with hope and light.  Amy and Rory do die.  There’s no way around this, but they are able to live out their lives together.  According to the timeline they live the next thirty-something years together, happily.  They miss the Doctor, certainly, but they’re together.  They’ll make friends, have jobs, who knows?  Steven Moffat took away my favorite companions, but he gave them their lives.  They did not die in their youth and vigor.  They lived.  And the Doctor gets to remember them.

And what about the Doctor?  River tells him, and then Amy tells him via the last page of the book, that he shouldn’t be alone.  River has promised to travel with him, but not all the time (still not sure how this storyline is going to work out), but the Doctor needs a regular companion.  He needs someone to keep him grounded, to keep him from flying headlong into despair and psychosis, and this Christmas he (we) will meet her…again.

Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars



    2 Comments

  1. Kevin RigdonOctober 2nd, 2012 at 9:20 am

    Also, check out the new article on the Doctor’s companions: http://www.thenerdmachine.com/lets-talk-companions/

  2. MarcusOctober 2nd, 2012 at 9:27 am

    Another fine review of a great episode of Who. It’s shame we have till Christmas to read another one.

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