Doctor Who “The Angels Take Manhattan” Review

I had been preparing for the fall of the Ponds for months. I knew that the Weeping Angels would somehow prevent The Doctor from being able to save the Ponds, and that they would be gone “forever.” I had convinced myself I wasn’t going to cry watching this week’s mid-season finale of Doctor Who, but despite all my mental prep work, “The Angels Take Manhattan” got the best of me.

The noir opening and dark dramatic musical score was a fitting set up for a time distorted version of 1938 Manhattan. What started out as a noir book that The Doctor had been reading, turned out to be the key that would enable The Doctor and Amy to find Rory in 1938 after he had been attacked by a Weeping Angel in 2012.

Before we realize just who Melody Malone is and what her book is really about, Amy and Rory tease The Doctor for falling for a fictional character and Amy mocks him saying, “She’s got ice in her heart and a kiss on her lips and vulnerable side she keeps well hidden.” Once we realize Melody is River Song, that description seems all the more perfect.

Once The Doctor and Amy figure out that the Melody Malone book is describing the events in parallel to their present, The Doctor springs into action to find Rory. The same way that The Doctor had used Sally Sparrow to give him a leg up against the Weeping Angels in “Blink,” River Song had written a novel that would get him right where he needed to be. Of course, when we first see River, she doesn’t know she’s written the book yet.

It instantly becomes dangerous for anyone to read the book because anything they read about their own futures would create a fixed point that they would not be able to change. This lesson was learned the hard way after River breaks her own wrist to escape the clutches of Mr. Grayle’s Weeping Angel.

The Weeping Angels probably selected this time distorted past for their time-bubble-human-energy-farm because they could be somewhat insulated there. It was a place and time when almost every statue in New York city had become a Weeping Angel – including the Statue of Liberty. Not even the TARDIS could land in that time bubble without help, and had it not been for River’s vortex manipulator, she wouldn’t have been there either.

The Weeping Angels were as frightening as ever in this setting. Rory trapped in the dark, desperately trying to light matches while menacing baby angels crept closer and closer to him was completely terrifying. With the sheer number of angels in that hotel, (with conveniently flickering lights) there was also a real sense of urgency and claustrophobia as The Doctor, River, Amy, and Rory tried to escape.

Rory realized that he could destroy the Weeping Angels’ time-distorted reality by killing himself before being recaptured and dying of old age in that hotel and creating a paradox. In a strangely heroic suicide (that he was somewhat confident he’d survive) Rory was going to find a way out and Amy was determined to go with him. They said their farewells to The Doctor and to one another and jumped. As they fell down the side of the building, tears started to run down my cheeks and I realized that this was going to be the way the Ponds left The Doctor – heroes in love.

Except it wasn’t.

Instead of coming back to a scene with The Doctor mourning the loss of his two best friends, the Ponds reappeared. Unfortunately, we only had a brief moment to celebrate the surprising survival of Amy and Rory, before Rory was zapped away again by a rogue Weeping Angel.

It wasn’t upsetting because Rory was gone, or because we knew that this time it was final. It was upsetting because Rory was robbed of his heroic farewell. He didn’t get to say goodbye and he didn’t get to make the choice to leave The Doctor.

Knowing that the TARDIS could never go back to where Rory had been taken, Amy had to choose between a life without Rory or a life without The Doctor. Without much hesitation, she chose Rory and said goodbye to The Ragedy Man and her daughter before leaning back into the touch of the Weeping Angel that took her husband.

The Weeping Angels didn’t necessarily follow all the rules we had believed to be true about their kind. I’d assume that there would always be eyes on the Statue of Liberty (which is made of copper and not stone) but somehow she had moved from her perch through the city to peer over the roof of the Winter Quay hotel without anyone noticing. The Weeping Angel in the graveyard managed to snatch Amy away even though The Doctor could see it in his line of sight while looking at Amy.

While these issues were frustrating, they really didn’t affect the impact of the scenes they were in. With a Weeping Angel story set in New York, who wouldn’t want to see The Statue of Liberty in Weeping Angel form? And in the middle of Amy’s final choice to be with Rory, the methods of the Weeping Angel’s hunt seemed like a technicality.

Perhaps the most heartbreaking part of the entire fall of the Ponds was The Doctor’s reaction to it all. Watching him plead for Amy to stay with him and figure out another way to save Rory was difficult. We had to watch him cycle through desperation, frustration, and loss, as he realized that once again, he was helpless. Amy’s “Final Farewell,” the final page of the book that he had torn out earlier, was able to give him a little bit of relief and closed the book on the story of Amelia Pond. While it may not be the happiest of endings, Amy and Rory were able to live into old age together. That’s really the only thing either of them really wanted.

Doctor Who managed to compress a lot of detail, and an incredible story into an hour long time slot. This episode could have justifiably been split into two episodes so we would have more time to take in the Weeping Angel attack and the fall of the Ponds, but overall it was still successful despite seeming rushed at times.

While I’m sad to see the end of Amy and Rory’s adventures, I’m looking forward to the Doctor Who Christmas Special and seeing The Doctor start a new chapter with a brand new companion.