Let's Talk About Doctor Who: The Angels Take Manhattan
In talking about a mere five episodes of Doctor Who this season I can't believe how many times I've name-dropped Amy and Rory. That all changed with this episode, as we say goodbye to the two companions once and for all. This episode in particular has been hyped since before this season began, so does the farewell episode for Amy and Rory live up to those lofty expectations? Obviously huge spoilers ahead...
The answer is mostly yes and a little bit no. There is no way a single episode could possibly wrap up their end in an entirely satisfying manner, and I still wish this had been a two-parter. That said, everything else about the episode was astonishing, harkening back to the storytelling-style of seasons five and six and reminding us that Doctor Who hasn't always been a series of silly, but entertaining, one-shot episodes. This is Steven Moffat's Doctor Who, a story packed with twists and turns, a dark edge, intense emotion, and a layer of wacky irreverence. It was the perfect note to end on while we wait for the Christmas special and return next year.
The episode also marks the return of one of the show's best villains, the Weeping Angels. Hungry for time energy, the Angels have set up a farm of sorts in New York City. They zap people into the past and leave them to exist out of time, feasting on the potential energy of the relocation. The problems come when Rory is taken into the past by the Angels. Remember my suspicion that things wouldn't end well for the Ponds?
The Doctor discovers Rory's absence while reading in Central Park with Amy. It turns out the book is written by River Song, who wrote it as a message to the Doctor to come save Rory in the 1930s. But once they all meet up several rules of time travel are brought to light and challenged. The book explains future events, and reading ahead could lock the events in time forever. Worse still, they find an old version of Rory in his death bed, further cementing the Doctor's suspicion that Rory's death is an absolute fixed point in time. But desperation leads to the idea of creating a paradox. If young Rory dies, then the old Rory could never exist. The resulting paradox could collapse the timeline entirely and revert everything that had happened. How is that for some timey-wimey logic?
What follows is a tragic and beautiful moment in which Rory attempts to commit suicide on the roof of the Weeping Angel's farm. Amy won't allow it, but when Rory makes a plea for their future together, she decides the only choice is to jump off with him. Before The Doctor could stop them, they leap off together in a tear-jerking and tragic moment where anything can happen. That's a pretty dark turn from silly dinosaurs and Wild West episodes, huh?
The real twist of the knife occurs when the paradox plan actually works and the day is saved, but a lone Angel manages to drag Rory back in time once more. This isn't something The Doctor or Amy can ever change, and in the end Amy decides to go back in time with Rory and live out their lives together.
The Angels Take Manhattan accomplishes so much in a single episode that it's kind of mind-blowing. Amy and Rory are sent off in an unexpected but tragically beautiful manner. The Angels find new ways to scare the pants off of audiences with creepy little cherubs and the Statue of Liberty on their side. We also get to see a vulnerable side of the Doctor that this season has been hinting at all along. Give a man near infinite power and a sense of wonder and watch what happens when he loses his best friends despite it all.
It's a bittersweet ending made even more impactful when The Doctor returns to the book written by River Song, tracking down the final page he tore out at the park (He hates endings and farewells, after all). The final page, written by Amy, assures The Doctor that she and Rory are fine and then sums up their adventures together. It may get wrapped up rather quickly, but you can't argue that Moffat writes a touching and poetic farewell here.
And that's that for now, until The Doctor returns for a Christmas special. In the meantime we are left to wonder what state he will be in after the loss of his best friends. In the meantime I may just go back and rewatch the adventures of Amy and Rory. They were my favorite companions and their episodes were some of the best the show has ever had. I can only hope the future without them is as bright.