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The Angels Takes Manhattan

ShowDoctor Who / Series VII / Episode 5
First Broadcast2012/10/06 - 19:30 (Link: ABC Details)
Related LinksDoctor Who Wiki Wikipedia
Previous EpisodeThe Power Of Three
Next EpisodeThe Snowmen

This abbreviated series is over before it has even begun. But what an ending! This is one of the best episodes involving the 11th Doctor. The script is dense and superb and the plot is sound. The ending, which we've building up to all series, is desperately sad but plays out well. The overall theme is one of love; the love story between Amy and Rory - a love that has survived so much. They were separated in every episode of this series, but they finish this one together.

Like A Town Called Mercy this is an incredibly dense story, but worth attempting to describe. It's built around a book about Melody Malone, a private eye in 1930s New York. The Doctor is reading and enjoying it. Until he gets to the point where it is recounting what is happening to him and Amy.

It turns out that Melody Malone is River Song and she's investigating Angels in Manhattan. They've taken over a building called Winter Quay. They trap their victims there and live of their time energy. It's the same process as Blink but on a larger scale; a battery farm for time energy. It seems the Angels have taken over all the statues in New York.

Amy and the Doctor use the book to get to 1938 New York via a convoluted process. However Amy makes the mistake of reading ahead at one point. The Doctor cautions her against it. Time can be re-written, but not if you've read it in a book. When they reach River she has her wrist trappen by an angel. The Doctor has no choice but to break River's wrist so she can escape because Amy read it in the book.

The three of them eventually track down Rory and watch and older version of Rory die (again). They begin to understand what's going on. Rory runs to try and escape this future. He realises he can't but determines that there is a way out. He can jump off Winter Quay and kill himself. By dying (again) he'll create a paradox and save himself. He jokes it's the one time Amy can't tell him he's wrong. He's frightened and asks Amy for help. She can't do it, but she can join him. They jump and save themselves. Back in the future all four of them find themselves in a graveyard seemingly safe. But a surviving angel takes Rory and the other three see his name on a headstone. There's no way back to 1938 New York to save him. But Amy says she should be with her husband, so she takes a chance and lets the angel take her too. The Doctor tries to stop her. River tells him to let her go. Amy says goodbye to River and her "raggedy man" and is gone. Her name appears on the headstone too. The Doctor is devastated. Both of his friends have essentially died in front of him.

We are left with both River and Amy telling the Doctor not to travel alone. And with Amy asking the Doctor to visit Amelia and tell her what's ahead. Amy was dreaming of that night when she first met the Doctor as an adult. We've come full circle. It's been a throughly amazing journey for Amy and Rory, albeit one with many trials. We finish with Amelia hearing the sound of the TARDIS and Amy saying "and this is how it ends". Brilliant.

I've watched this episode several times now. It is truly excellent and stands up to multiple viewings. It puts the other episodes in this series in a poor light as they are generally weaker by comparison. But it more than makes up for this by being a wonderful sending off.

So many interesting, humorous and thought-provoking items in this story:

  • When we first see the Doctor, the music playing is Sting's Englishman in New York. With its references to "legal alien" this is just gold.
  • The Doctor is reading a book. He likes the cover, but River doesn't. He found it in his pocket, but he's not sure how it got there.
  • The Doctor apparently doesn't like endings, hence he doesn't read the last page of novels and rips the last one out of this book.
  • There are many humorous lines around the Doctor and River: "Yowzah", "Just texting a boy", "Wait 'til my husband gets home".
  • Do the angels grow? We see babies and young children. But River also says they have taken over every statue in Manhattan, implying some sort of other process.
  • The Statue of Liberty as an angel is cleverly done. The pounding footsteps off camera and the angry face as frightening.
  • We see a smiling angel. This is just as frightening as a snarling one.
  • The Doctor says "once you know what's coming, it's written in stone" and we see Rory's tombstone. Not exactly subtle foreshadowing, but we don't know exactly what's coming at this point.
  • River exclaims "You embarrass me" when the Doctor uses some of his regeneration energy to heal her broken wrist. The Doctor did the same to River when she asked the Universe for help in The Wedding of River Song
  • River tells Amy that the Doctor doesn't like to see his companions age and describes him as an "ageless god with the face of a twelve year old". This seems odd to say the least.
  • The Doctor failed to consider River initially when Rory and Amy died. They were her parents.
  • The Doctor invites River to travel with him for a while. The TARDIS seems to like this idea, but it's not clear if she will.
  • River Song has been pardoned as the man she killed no longer exists, ie. all reference to him has been deleted. We saw Oswin remove him from the daleks' memory and Solomon's scanner fail to recognise him. The Doctor may have played a part in this as River had told him he had "gotten too big".
  • River Song is a Professor now. Does this mean she is not too far off from the events and her death in the library.
  • Amy signs the afterword (on the ripped out page) as Amy Williams (not Pond).
  • Winter Quay is an odd name. Is it significant?