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Doctor Who 7.05 "The Angels Take Manhattan" Review

This review contains spoilers for Doctor Who series 7's midseason finale, "The Angels Take Manhattan." I cannot stress this enough: do not read this if you haven't seen the episode. It contains major spoilers. 

Doctor Who bid farewell to two main characters with the midseries finale "The Angels Take Manhattan." As had been common knowledge for months in advance, the episode was the curtain call for regular companions Amy Pond (Karen Gillan) and Rory Williams (Arthur Darvill), who had been with the Doctor since Matt Smith took up the role in 2010. And while the Ponds' goodbye certainly was a sad one, it wasn't overly dramatic or depressing. In fact, it was more bittersweet than anything. 

But first, the episode itself. "The Angels Take Manhattan" certainly brought back the Weeping Angels in a big way after over two years offscreen (not counting their brief cameo in last year's "The God Complex"). Gone were the convoluted Angel 'rules' introduced in "The Time of Angels" and "Flesh and Stone." Instead, this episode was tonally similar to "Blink," with the angels simply being menaces who send you back in time, not snap necks. 

The episode also hearkened back to "Blink" in that the angels became every statue. The best addition to their monster mythos was the introduction of the cherubs, who proved to by the bane of Rory's existence. Their giggling was adequately creepy, as was the smiling angel who popped up later in the episode. Much has been made of the Angels' maliciousness -- see Angel Bob from series 5 -- but their pleasure at capturing Rory here was undoubtedly the Angels at their best. 

I'll also say that there wasn't much made of the Statue of Liberty being an angel, other than the initial spectacle. It's the part of the episode that really stretched the limits of believability -- did no one seriously see the giant statue stomping through Manhattan multiple times? As a visual, it was fantastic. As a concept, less so. 

The idea of the angels starting a farm in an apartment complex to repeatedly use their victims for energy is a great one, and was well done here, and only left me with one question: who typed out those little cards with the victims' names on them? The idea of an Angel sitting down at a typewriter is now stuck in my mind. 

But really, the episode was all about the exit of the Ponds. Rory and Amy have been great companions, but the slow build to their eventual exit has been happening since last year's "The Girl Who Waited," if not before. I was a little confused by the Doctor's continued insistence that the future cannot be changed -- wasn't that what the entire series 6 arc was about? -- but I really did love the plot device of the book that not only kick-started the episode into motion, but provided a nice denouement to the story of Amy Pond (but more on that later). 

Rory died, by my count, three times in this episode, which was really the only fitting way to send off a character who has died more than pretty much any other television character. His first death, as an old man in Winter Quay, was dramatic but far too sudden to really have any emotional impact. No, the episode's emotional climax came with his second death, on the roof of Winter Quay. There was a joking reference to his many deaths ("When don't I [come back]?"), but the scene was really the episode's most dramatic, as he and Amy decided to leap off a building together to destroy the Angels. Their fall was beautifully shot and emotional, though of course their plan worked and it was only the Angels that died. Free will had triumphed over fate. 

Well, maybe. At least one angel survived, though, and it suddenly ruined Amy and Rory's happy ending by zapping Rory back into the past once more, leading Amy to make a hurried decision to follow him back in time. Her goodbye to the Doctor and River was dramatic but a bit rushed, and she was zapped back by the Angels as well. If that had been the last we had seen of Amy, it would have been acceptable, but a little disappointing. 

That's why the episode included a little afterward of its own -- Amelia's Last Farewell. It really was the happily ever after that none of the Doctor's previous companions had received, and with the final shot connecting back to "The Eleventh Hour," it felt like Amy's story had gone full circle. It didn't bring me to tears, but it was ultimately satisfying. 

Was "The Angels Take Manhattan" perfect? Of course not -- at times, it felt painfully rushed, and really might have worked better as a two-parter. But the Angels were scary, and the episode did give Amy and Rory the farewell (and the happy ending) they deserved. You can't really ask for more, can you? 

The Doctor will return at Christmas, when he'll meet his new companion, played by Jenna-Louise Coleman. Are you excited? Fresh starts are Doctor Who's forte, and really, I can't wait. 

What did you think of "The Angels Take Manhattan" and the departure of Amy and Rory? Let us know in the comments section below. 

- Doctor Who
- Karen Gillan
- Arthur Darvill
- BBC one

Written by: mcpherson
Sep 29th, 2012, 5:54 am


Message Posted On Sep 29th, 2012, 10:43 pm
I did not like the ending. While I was often annoyed with the character of Amy, I found the ending rather sad, punitive, tragic and a bit overwrought. I would have welcomed a happy ending in the present for the couple where they walked away from the adventures. Similar to "The Power of Three" but the couple sticks to their decision. Unfortunately their newly committed to new lives were destroyed by their travels. On this note, why introduce Rory's father's earlier in the season? Real emotional impacted would have been realized if there were silent montages of the Doctor informing him that his son was not coming back. Just an episode earlier he made the Doctor promise to keep them alive and the irony would have been beautifully tragic, sad and a good way to close that chapter. I was also struck when River lectured Any on what the Doctor does not like to hear, including endings. Sometimes the Doctor must be told "No" or be told things he does not like to hear but are the truth. The Ponds exit in the prior episode would have been more than appropriate, they were moving on with their lives. And why would telling the Doctor "No more traveling" be so bad? He has lived countless years, seen many companions, and if the news kills him, he can always regenerate. The entire part 1 of series 7 seemed disjointed to me, a hodgepodge of episodes thrown together. I know the overall story arc was the exit of the Ponds, however each episode felt divorced from that story and seemed to be one jumbled chase after another. The only story advancement the last two episodes. "The Power of Three" really seemed to be a more appropriate ending to me. The Ponds would have exited the Doctors life and start their new life. By the way, per the episode "The Hungary Earth" I thought Rory and Amy were supposed to retire to the country where they would later see, and wave at, a younger version of themselves with the Doctor.
Juliana Teixeira

Message Posted On Sep 29th, 2012, 10:28 am
absolutely hated the episode!! did not enjoy how Amy and Rory went away, they'll never be back to the show :(
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