Thoughts on Doctor Who Series 7 Mid-Series Finale: The Angels Take Manhattan

by Amy Yen

Best. Companion send-off. Ever.

I read that on Twitter after I watched the mid-series finale of Doctor Who, “The Angels Take Manhattan,” the much anticipated (and dreaded) goodbye for Mr. and Mrs. Pond, & I can’t disagree. It wasn’t a perfect story, but it was a perfect ending for them. Even if the Doctor can’t see it right now.

I have to say, I’m so relieved Moffat did these characters justice. It’s been, let’s just say, not my favorite series, & the main reason is that, for a series that has been leading up to their inevitable departure, I’ve felt like the first four episodes were the least effective use of the Ponds yet. Not one of those stories even came close to featuring them as well as something like “The Girl Who Waited,” or “Amy’s Choice.” Luckily, when it came down to it, Moffat went back to the one thing that was always consistent about Amy & Rory: they will always, always choose each other.

The two choices that were made in this episode — Rory & Amy choosing to jump off the building in blind hope that the paradox would erase Rory’s fate of a life without Amy, and Amy choosing to let the Angel zap her back in time in blind hope that it would save her from a life without Rory — were consistent with every other choice we’ve seen them make. Amy choosing the frozen TARDIS timeline when she realized she would lose Rory in the Leadworth timeline. Rory choosing to stay by the Pandorica to guard Amy. Amy choosing to let her older self die so her younger self could grow old with Rory. In the end, when the Angel took Rory and Amy had to choose between trying to be with him or staying with the Doctor, it never was a choice at all.

The Doctor does not take it so well. It’s interesting, the Doctor hates endings & he’s desperately afraid of losing Amy. That’s why he dropped her & Rory off after “The God Complex.” He’s “saving” them, so says Amy. But he can’t give them up any more than they can give him up, so he keeps coming back (as if to keep making up for not showing up the first time). Here, he is selfish. He tells Amy he doesn’t know if the Angel will send her back to the same time as Rory, when he does full well that it does. That’s why Billy Shipton winds up in the same time as Ten & Martha. He begs Amy not to do this, not to leave him, asks her to “come along, Pond” when he knows it would mean she wouldn’t see Rory again. It’s all very human of him.

What the Doctor can’t see in his grief, in this moment, is this is really the best possible outcome for Amy & Rory. Maybe they didn’t quite go out on their own terms, but they went out together & they lived. And considering how often each of them has died (especially Rory, who, hilariously, died again this episode…one more for the road, yes?), this is a borderline miraculous ending.

More random thoughts on ‘The Angels Take Manhattan”:

  • “To save you, I could do anything.” Don’t doubt it. He’s got two thousand years to back it up. Rory Williams truly is among the most romantic figures in recent pop culture. And to Amy, for Amy, he’s every bit the hero the Doctor is.
  • It’s fitting this episode read like a book, considering Amy Pond’s story has always had a little bit of fairy tale to it.
  • The Weeping Angels really hold up. They’re still every bit as terrifying as they were in “Blink,” & I like that we see them in their original flavor here. I always thought the zapping-people-back-in-time thing was way more interesting than what they did in “Time of Angels.”
  • So. The Statue of Liberty is a Weeping Angel huh? Of course she is.
  • Look, I really liked this episode, so I’m going to choose to ignore a bunch of plot holes here, like why the hell the Doctor wouldn’t take the TARDIS to go to the hotel instead of stealing a car, or where the hell the Angel went after it zapped Amy at the end, since neither the Doctor or River were looking at it, or since when could the Doctor just heal injuries with regeneration energy?
  • “Just you wait when my husband gets home.” While I don’t know that River was really essential to this story, it’s appropriate she’s here, since it is her parents & all. Plus, it made for a whole lot of awesome flirting between her & the Doctor. Especially loved the Doctor checking his breath & straightening his bow tie before seeing her. Aw.
  • Speaking of River, it’s nice that she was pardoned for that murder she didn’t actually commit (which I’m still kind of appalled by, so hopefully this is the last we’ll hear of it). Yet another convenient side effect of the continuing Doctor-erased-from-everything sub-plot. And there’s that pesky Question again. Hidden in plain sight.
  • I thought for a while, when Amy & Rory were on the ledge about to jump, the Doctor would end up saving them in the TARDIS, like he’s done with River a few times. But I like that the Doctor was so powerless in this episode, that he couldn’t save them & they had to save themselves. This story isn’t about the Doctor.
  • So lovely to see little Amelia Pond again. A lovely touch to end where it began. Amelia, unlike Amy, will never grow old.
  • I’m so not a fan of these split seasons. These series are not long enough to split…there’s barely any momentum & it’s over again. Now we have to wait all the way until Christmas to meet Oswin or Clara or whoever she is.
  • I can’t go without saying, Matt Smith & Arthur Darvill & especially Karen Gillan were all terrific this episode. “Raggedy man, goodbye.” Argh! Just heartbreaking.
  • Did you notice the newspaper Amy is reading in the park at the beginning of the episode? The headline reads “Detroit Lions Win Super Bowl.” And if that wasn’t an indication they were in some bizarre, Fringe-like alternate timeline, I don’t know what is.
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Thoughts on Doctor Who Series 6 Premiere The Impossible Astronaut

by Amy Yen

I must have really missed Doctor Who. I know because all of the callbacks in “The Impossible Astronaut” — from “Hello sweetie” to “fish fingers and custard” — all elicited the same gleeful reaction from me. And why shouldn’t they? Here’s a show where stetsons are cool.

Part 1 of the series 6 premiere is classic Steven Moffat, packed full of extremely creepy monsters, timey-wimey puzzle pieces & clever, clever lines. And while the spacemen (presumably, although it is never actually said, the Silence from last series) are terrifying (you can’t remember them unless you’re looking right at them) & the Doctor recruiting his past self & his companions to…do what exactly?…is both fun & scary at the same time, the best part of the episode to me was the full fleshed out, completely wonderful relationships between the four leads.

The Doctor & Amy are the same as ever, with a full series of complete trust in each other under their belts. Even as the Doctor flirts outrageously with River, he reminds her that he can never truly trust her (cold, even for him). But he will trust Amy.

“My life in your hands. Amelia Pond.” This is nothing new. His life has been in Amy Pond’s hands before & nothing has changed between them. What is new & surprisingly fun to watch is where Rory fits in to all this. With many complaints that Amy & Rory spent very little of series 5 acting like people about to get married, here, they do. Rory has also clearly grown up quite a bit since the last series…he even catches on quicker than Amy about what has to be done. He & River talk logically, maturely, about the clues in front of them, while Amy is still too devastated to think straight. It’s impressive. He’s impressive. And it’s nice to see him develop as a companion on his own, rather than just as an extension of Amy.

It’s also Rory who gets from River the straight answer about the “far worse day” she’s dreading so much. It’s not just that she & the Doctor keep meeting out of order. It’s that they’re essentially meeting in the opposite order. Which means the day is coming when she will meet a Doctor that has no idea who she is. Of course, we’ve already seen this, their adventure in the Library. But it’s heartbreaking hearing it from her. Because it’s taken a little while to love River Song (her, and not just the idea of her), but as she corrected the Doctor’s movements in the TARDIS (“Just admiring your skills, sweetie”), it is hard not to.

More random notes on “The Impossible Astronaut”:

  • I loved Canton Everett Delaware III. I’m a little predisposed to it, having enjoyed genre TV staple Mark Sheppard as Crowley on Supernatural, Romo Lampkin on Battlestar Galactica, Sterling on Leverage, Valda on Warehouse 13 & a million other things, but I was pleasantly surprised to see him so well used here in what is reportedly just a guest role. But Canton is a companion, both officially (he is invited to travel in the TARDIS & even gets Rory’s awkward orientation) & spiritually (he delights, rather than panic, in the face of the impossible). I didn’t think of it until later, but what’s brilliant about him is he is our companion introduction — a plot device that reintroduces the wonders of the TARDIS to the audience (think Ten mouthing along with Martha, “It’s bigger on the inside!” “Is it? I hadn’t noticed!”). Usually this is accomplished when the Doctor invites someone new on board, but since this is the first series since series 2 that does not introduce a new full-time companion, we get Canton as a stand-in.
  • “We’re in a box that’s bigger on the inside that travels in time and space.” “Yeah, basically.” “How long has Scotland Yard had this?” HA! I’m really sad Canton is not recurring now. Also, not a bad American accent, Mark Sheppard. It’s kind of funny that he uses his British accent on all his U.S. roles & here, on the quintessential U.K. show, he plays an American.
  • So, the Doctor’s “waving” at Rory & Amy through history books was pretty much the most hilarious thing of all time. I mean, the painting, with the cherubs & the trident? SERIOUSLY.
  • “What face?” “The ‘he’s hot when he’s clever’ face.” “This is my normal face.” “Yes it is.” So, the Doctor flirts now? This one does, it seems, mostly with River Song (although the line about Jefferson, Adams & Hamilton was pretty funny…wonder which two fancied him?).
  • “Human beings. I thought I’d never get done saving you.” Really, so many good lines in this episode.
  • Not one, but two “Doctor who?” lines in this episode. Interestingly, neither of them are answered with “Just The Doctor.” Also, Canton gets to say the “bigger on the inside” line. The Doctor wasn’t even paying attention, so it didn’t even make up with Rory not saying it.
  • Have I mentioned lately how much I love the Eleventh Doctor’s Theme?
  • Nice callback to the Master’s funeral pyre with not being able to leave a time lord’s body up for grabs.
  • “A lot more happens in 1969 than anyone remembers.” Right, like Ten & Martha Jones getting stuck for three months while Sally Sparrow fights off the Weeping Angels.
  • The spaceman kind of looks like an Ood.
  • Utah is gorgeous. Makes me want to go there, which I can say is a new feeling.
  • Amy is pregnant. Wait, really?
  • So, I’m reading a few reviews that are criticizing the episode for being overly mythology-heavy & inaccessible to the casual viewer. They are not wrong. If you’re watching Doctor Who for the first time, this is probably not the episode to do it. There’s not even a previouslys to catch you up on how the blue box is bigger on the inside, who River Song is, how time can be rewritten, etc. But as a fan of Fringe, the most mythology-immersed show on TV right now, I have to say, accessibility is overrated. The serialization, the mythology, the call-backs, that’s what makes this episode so damn fun. If you want to know what’s going on, go back, start with “Rose,” like I did.
  • In memory of Elisabeth Sladen. Goodbye, our Sarah Jane Smith.

PS: So Part 2 of the premiere, Day of the Moon, looks incredible: