The Angels Take Manhatten

The Angels Take Manhatten

The end of the Pond Saga is finally here, fittingly enough with the strongest story of series 7A. The Angels are back, on brilliantly scary form, with one or two additions to their ranks. Creepiest is the pitter-patter of the giggling cherubs. The idea of the Statue of Liberty being an Angel was so obvious most people had guessed it would appear in this episode; so it was perfect that it was this underplayed. Where another writer would have had this as the climax to the episode, her it is just part of an atmospheric pre-title sequence.

The idea of being trapped in Winter Quay for alone for the rest of your life, being farmed like this, is terrific, nightmarish stuff. As well as being scary, though, the Angels are pretty wretched creatures. Although described as predators, they are more like parasites. They seem to exist only to feed. What else can they do with their lives? There has always been something vampiric about these creatures: with their sharp teeth, draining energy from their victims and the rules that govern their behaviour, as vampires don’t have reflections and can only enter buildings they have been invited into. The way that they can turn other statues into Angels is another step in this direction.

The major problem with the Moffat era of Doctor Who is that the quality of his tightly-plotted scripts exceeds the other writers of the series by such a huge amount. Only Neil Gaiman and Richard Curtis have come close in terms of dialogue, cleverness and scenes that work so perfectly. Asylum of the Daleks and The Angels Take Manhattan stand head and shoulders above their 7A stablemates.

Here the showrunner uses time travel once again to superb, heart-breaking effect. Just as the DVD extras and the scrawled message on the wall were used to communicate through time in Blink, the black box recorder in Time of the Angels, and the message carved onto the cliff in The Pandorica Opens; here is another ingeniously simple idea: a book relating the events as they unfold. There’s another footnote to the rules of time travel, along with the new series idea of ‘fixed points.’ Judging by Twitter a lot of viewers missed the point about why the Doctor could not simply meet the Ponds in another American city: he knows he never did this because he read in the book that he hasn’t.

There’s a pervading sense of doom throughout the episode, but I think a lot of this might be because the Ponds’ exit has been so highly publicised. I wonder how much more intense the emotional impact would have been had it come out of the blue; as it was when they went part-time at the end of last years The God Complex.

The finale is mirrored earlier in the episode, when Amy is re-united with Rory in the apartment block. Amy, and the audiences’, relief is then cut short by the discovery in the bed. The Ponds’ farewell when it came was perfectly done. Just as the downbeat false ending in Forest of the Dead gave way to a positive finale; here an apparent resolution gives way to the Pond’s being wrenched from the Doctor’s life. The loss here is the Doctor’s; Amy and Rory are fine, spared the horror of a lifetime in captivity. And by going back to live in 1938 they miss the hat-trick of horrors: the Great Depression, Prohibition and Evolution of the Daleks/Daleks in Manhattan.

Buy on DVD from Amazon:

Doctor Who – Series 7 Part 1 [DVD + UV Copy]

on blu-ray:

Doctor Who – Series 7 Part 1 [Blu-ray + UV Copy]

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