“The Angels Take Manhattan” – Review: Redux

Amy “Hello, old friend. And here we are. You and me, on the last page. By the time you read these words, Rory and I will be long gone. So know that we lived well and were very happy. And above all else, know that we will love you always. Sometimes I do worry about you though. I think once we’re gone you won’t be coming back here for awhile. And you might be alone. Which you should never be. Don’t be alone, Doctor.”

The Angels Take Manhattan

And so it came to pass that the Ponds/Williams’es have finally left the Doctor to his own devices and gone to live as normal a life as they could muster. Not in the Victorian terrace that had been their Earthbound domestic dwelling place donated to them by their friend but instead in old New York. Prior to airing and, in essence, ever since Karen and Arthur announced that they would be leaving, speculation was rife as to exactly how this would happen. Infamously, The Moff said that not everyone would make it out alive and that “This time I’m kidding!”: A none too subtle reference to the fact, and an admission of his fibbing, when he had said that one of the characters would absolutely, definitely be killed in “The Impossible Astronaut”

The interesting thing about the episode is that some of the Angels aren’t really defeated or isolated but left to roam about. The trademark Moffat plot device to overcome the wibbly-wobbly stuff, is by virtue of a old detective novel that the Doctor is reading in Central Park with Rory and Amy, in which the Doctor is sent messages. As Rory heads off to get coffee he get touched by a cherub Angel and sent back in to the past where some techno-babble explains away the fact that the TARDIS can’t simply travel back to collect him. The events from back then are explained in the book to give clues to Amy and the Doctor where to go and how to get back to the 1930’s, with the ever-reliable River Song, being back in old New York to help Rory. It is the cherub angels giggling their way through Central Park, that as far as I recall, are left to do what comes naturally to them.

The 1930’s New York setting is well realised in a film noir style with elements of both horror, fantasy and one or two more light-hearted bits. It really does work very effectively too and is appropriately dramatic and memorable as this sort of farewell episode should be.  At the Winter Quay hotel Rory, Amy, the Doctor and River are momentarily reunited only to discover a room in which an elderly Rory is lying in bed and about to die of old age. It was fitting that Rory got to die at least twice in this episode, which might be a record, even for him. After the “old Rory” died, the young Rory and Amy eventually realised that by killing themselves there and then, and creating a paradox (by preventing Rory being sent even further back), then the Angels in the hotel would not be able to maintain the paradox and everything would be resolved courtesy of yet another case of a “big, red reset button” righting all the wrongs.

Weeping Angels are, without question, a great idea for a Who monster but the question must be asked, “Are they a one trick pony or can their nature lead to subsequent successful re-appearances?” When “Blink” debuted, back in the day when Steven Moffat was no more than a guest writer on the show, albeit an extraordinarily popular guest writer with some of the show’s greatest episodes attributed to him, there were very few who stopped to consider how the Angels might return. Instead we just happily wallowed in the glorious story-telling of the adventures of Sally Sparrow and Kathy Nightingale (whatever did happen to that Carey Mulligan? She was fab!). It took me about 14 seconds after learning the episode title to ask myself “Is the Statue of Liberty an angel?”, so I was almost certain the answer would be yes. However, my conclusion was that it was permanently quantum-locked due to the sheer number of people always looking in its general direction. What we got in TATM though, was a Statue of Liberty that thundered through the streets of New York which, impossibly, no-one seemed to notice and I presume always got back to Liberty Island without being glanced by so much as a stray dog. The only plus side to this little oversight is that it wasn’t Ghostbusters 2. Quirks about Lady Liberty aside though, Weeping Angels are genuinely creepy and the addition of giggling cherubs to their number only adds to that.

Once the suicide happens the awesome foursome arrive back in the graveyard in 2012. All looks to have been resolved and they’ve got out alive once more, when a lone Angel zaps the unfortunate Rory yet again. Amy knows that to be with the man she loves, she must be sent back too. These are very emotional final moments that translate really well for anyone who has bought into their story since way back in “The Eleventh Hour”. The headstone revealing that Amy and Rory did live happily ever after; the final page of the book being a message to the heart-broken Doctor; and the final  trip back to see little Amelia and promise her her great adventures. It really is masterful writing.

Highlight: The emotional farewell

Lowlight: The Statue of Liberty didn’t work as well as it should’ve and the nonsense explanation about why the Doctor couldn’t go back again and get them from New York.

Talking Point: Will we ever see Karen and Arthur again?

Demon’s Run Rating: 17 out of 20

Original BBC1 Broadcast: 13th April 2013

Marathon Status: One more Xmas Special, then the final eight episodes to go.

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