The fall season finale of Doctor Who brought the final farewell of the Ponds. Don’t blink during “The Angels Take Manhattan!”
The recap for those who missed it: The TARDIS crew is relaxing in present-day Central Park. Rory goes on a quick coffee run, mostly to duck out of an uncomfortable conversation about Amy’s crows’ feet, whilst the Doctor reads aloud from a 1930’s mystery novel, “The Angel’s Kiss: A Melody Malone Story.” Suddenly, there’s a new character in the Doctor’s book: Rory, who is telling Melody Malone that he only just stepped away to get coffees. Melody, as we all knew from the Doctor’s first “Yowzah,” is of course, River Song.
Now armed with the knowledge that the novel is a published version of River’s blue diary, Amy and the Doctor push the TARDIS through scads of plot-convenient temporal distortion around 1930s New York City to locate first River and then Rory. Where is the distortion coming from? The masses and masses of Weeping Angels that have invaded the city. The Angels, by the way, have expanded their ranks to include random statues (“not every statue, but any statue”), Lady Liberty (really, Moffat?), and tiny baby cherubim who seem to exist for the sheer purpose of reminding us how ridiculously creepy the laughter of small British children can be.
Rory, we learn, is currently trapped in what I’ve decided to call the Angel Farm. In fact, two Rorys are trapped there: our young Rory, and a very old Rory who has been Angel fodder for most of his life, being sent back in time over and over. The TARDIS crew finds old Rory just in time to watch him finally die of old age. The Doctor explains that witnessing an event in their own timeline makes it FACT. They know it happened, so now it must happen. Rory is fated to die in the Angel Farm.
The only way to escape the Angel Farm is to ‘poison the well’ with a paradox, but without the TARDIS, there’s no way to generate enough power to create one safely. Rory finds his own way to create a paradox. If he dies now, then he can’t possibly die again later. Besides, Rory’s had his finger on the pulse of the show for a while now and knows that his deaths don’t seem to take. He and Amy, in an admittedly tear-jerking, “You jump, I jump” scene, fall together from the roof of the building, creating a massive paradox, destroying most(!) of the Angels, and propelling them to a graveyard back in present-day NYC.
Everyone is safe and sound, even if Amy and Rory did manage to land in front of a headstone that happens to mark the resting place of someone who totally coincidentally shares Rory’s entire name. The TARDIS is a bit banged up though, and with all the temporal insanity going on, they can definitely never return to 1930’s New York again. As Rory looks over the oddly specific headstone, he suddenly disappears, zapped back to the temporally unstable era by a lone Angel survivor. Amy, on learning that touching the same Angel will send her to the same place and time, says a tearful goodbye to her Raggedy Doctor, turns her back, looks away, and blinks. She leaves him a farewell letter in the afterword of the Melody Malone novel, telling him that she and Rory lived a long and happy life, and asking him to go see her child self and tell her of all the amazing things that are waiting for her.
I have to admit, it took me a while to get around to writing this review, primarily because I was sobbing and nearly prostrate over my laptop. As my roommate so compassionately tweeted at the time, “Something sad is happening on Doctor Who. I can tell from my expert knowledge of @rennlark’s moods (i.e. she is weeping).”
We definitely saw more of the consequences of being part of the Doctor’s inner circle. It’s hard to keep up someone who stays young, heals quickly, and has a dual cardiovascular system. As River says, you “hide the damage” and “never, ever let him see you age. He hates endings.” The awesomeness of Alex Kingston aside, River has never been one of my favorite characters. That being said, she really shines in episodes like these, when we can see the tragedy that her romance with the Doctor really is. He’s never going to love her as much as he did the last time he saw her, and the last time she was vulnerable around him, she nearly ended the universe. I love it when Ms. Kingston brings that touch of pathos to the character and makes her something more than the Mary Sue we usually see.
This was, to me, definitely a fitting end to the Pond era. The Doctor has, in the course of the last few seasons, taken a lonely orphan child and given her back her family, shown her the stars, and helped her find the strength and maturity to live her own life with an amazing man. I’m very glad that this episode didn’t end with the Doctor, brooding alone in the TARDIS again. As many of his friends have said by now, the Doctor is at his best when he has someone with him, and frankly, my heart can only take so much rain-soaked, heart-broken Time Lord.
Rory: “I always wanted to see the Statue of Liberty. Guess she got impatient.”
Things to ponder:
- So we know from Jack that vortex manipulators can carry more than one person at a time, and that River’s can and will cut through the distortion. Any theories as to why River couldn’t hop back and find her dad again?
- I’m looking forward to seeing Jenna Louise Coleman’s new companion. What’s going to be her tie to Oswin Oswald? Ancestor? Identical cousin? Tech-head working under an alias because her alien-chasing coworker was hung-over?
- “Angel’s Kiss: A Melody Malone Story” will be released Richard Castle-style as an e-book on October 4th. Anyone else going to be checking that out with me?
Review By: Jennifer Steele