“I always rip out the last page of a book. Because I hate endings.”
THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS! IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN THIS EPISODE AND INTEND TO DO SO, DO NOT READ ANY FURTHER!
I feel this is going to be an angry post. I may rant a little. I apologise in advance.
Well, the title of this episode is pretty cool. “The Angels Take Manhattan”. Anything with Manhattan in it is pretty cool. I went to Manhattan a couple of years ago, and now my favourite telly-watching game is the “I’ve been there!” game. So, a random guy goes to Battery Park: “I’ve been there!” The Statue of Liberty comes to life: “I’ve been there!” The Doctor ends up in Central Park: “I’ve been – ” Oh, wait, I haven’t. Weirdly, the school tour did not see fit to include Central Park in its itinerary.
Sorry, I’m digressing. Second cool thing about this episode: the Stone Angels. Oh, the Stone Angels. They are definitely my favourite Doctor Who monsters. And, possibly, my favourite monsters ever, anywhere. (Oh, but Terry Pratchett’s elves are good, as well.) They play on a deep, primal fear: fear of the dark, and of the unknown, fear of what you can’t see and what you can’t know. They move only when you can’t see them (because of quantum, apparently) and they are fast. You have to watch them all the time, or they catch you. That is their terror and their power.
That’s why I get annoyed when Stephen Moffatt messes with them. I once saw an interview with Stephen Moffatt in which he said something like “I created the Angels, they are mine, I can do whatever I want with them.” Odious little man. Anyway, the point is, Stephen Moffatt clearly thinks it’s OK to change the rules on the basis that he made them.
No, that’s not how it works. Without consistency a story is worthless. So, the first question is, why do the Angels exist at all? Last time we saw them the last survivors of their race fell into a time rift which erased them from all past and future existence. So, a) they shouldn’t be in Manhattan at all, and b) the Doctor shouldn’t remember them. That’s not all. As I said before, the terror and the power of the Angels comes from the fact that you have to keep your eyes on them. The first episode in which they appear was called “Blink!” As in “Don’t blink!” There is a lot of blinking in this episode. (SPOILER) A very big scary angel is coming to eat Rory. Cue close-ups on Amy and Rory’s faces, plus many long speeches. “Together, or not at all.” And you can clearly see them blinking, not to mention looking into each other’s eyes, i.e. not at Big Scary Liberty Angel. “What the hell are you doing?” shouts the Doctor. (Tut, tut, such language. I don’t remember the Doctor ever saying “hell”, as an oath, before.) I know! They’re not exactly being cautious, are they, despite the fact that the fate of Manhattan rides upon their not being eaten. Anyway, something drastic (and, in a way, rather triumphant) happens: Amy and Rory jump off a rooftop in order to Save the World. The Doctor screams, “Amy!” Not, I notice, “Rory!” But, then, the Doctor was never as fond of Rory as he was of Amy. Quite unfairly, in my opinion; Rory is a lovely character who, for some reason, keeps dying. “He’s dead.” What, again? In case you’re interested, there’s a list of “Five Memorable Rory Deaths” here.
Talking of Rory’s deaths, I’ve just spotted another plot hole. Ever since the Big Bang II (in which, if you remember, the TARDIS exploded and all the stars went out) Rory has been made of plastic. He waited 2000 years for Amy and is practically immortal. (SPOILER) So how can he die of old age? Wouldn’t he have to be exploded or something? No mention of that.
Which leads me on to the point of this episode: the departure of the Ponds, which is much more sudden and violent than the usual departures of companions. Consider: Rose went home; Martha went home; and Donna – yes, she went home. Whereas the Ponds disappear into the past, never to be seen again. And, for once, the Doctor can’t save them.
(Another thing that doesn’t fit: the Doctor manages to fix a broken wrist using what appear to be special magical powers, aka “regeneration energy”. Since when did the Doctor have Harry Potter magic?)
This could have been a brilliant episode, about love and self-sacrifice and, by the way, how does time really work? But endless plot holes and inconsistencies have turned it into a soppy, cliche-ridden story for children. Please, Russell T Davies, come back and write us some more Vashter Nerata! (Did I spell that right?)