In the fourth episode of the fifth series of Doctor Who, DON’T BLINK. DON’T EVEN BLINK. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Doctor Who.
When you deal with episodic television, especially shows that are not serial based, it’s easy for side characters or themes to become iconic, especially within that show’s fandom. I am reluctant to name anything, in fear of spoiling in order to make a point, so some of us can talk about specific examples in a spoiler-friendly way in the comments below. But with a creature like the Weeping Angels, it is a monumental task to think that you can bring them back. I make no bones about it: I love “Blink.” I’ve since watched it two more times and it’s still a great adventure. It’s got time travel, one giant ontological paradox, and the most terrifying creatures ever. GOD THEY ARE SO SCARY.
I’d just always assumed that “Blink” was the last time we’d ever see the Weeping Angels. I mean…how on earth could you bring them back? Well, THIS IS HOW YOU BRING THEM BACK. Any of the problems I’ve had with the last couple episodes of the fifth series are completely corrected in “The Time of Angels.” Unlike “The Beast Below,” which was full of great ideas, but suffered from an overflowing script, this story has a great deal of space, allowing the numerous lines of plot to pulse and flow much more naturally, giving us a much more meaningful bunch of surprises, too.
And oh boy, this starts off with one doozy of a surprise. As the Doctor travels to a museum with Amy, who is a bit frustrated that the Doctor has a time machine and is going to a museum. But it’s his way of “keeping score,” so to speak. Upon discovering a message to him, from the past, on a box/flight recorder of sorts, the camera constantly cuts to a different scene, on board the Byzantium 12,000 years in the past. I expected the reveal to be not of a familiar face, but something to trigger what the rest of the episode would be about.
NOPE. IT’S FUCKING RIVER SONG. ;aksdjf ;alkjd fa;klsdjf ;askdfjl as;dfkljadsf;lkajsdf;lkasdfja;sdlkfj af;ksljasdfjklasfd
Seriously. SERIOUSLY. RIVER SONG AND THE WEEPING ANGELS IN ONE SINGLE GODDAMN EPISODE. I mean, this episode is basically impossible to ruin. Not that Moffat does, but it’s off to a good start.
By not giving away the Weeping Angels plot point for at least the first fifteen minutes or so, we also get a chance for the story to focus on Amy meeting River Song for the first time. I like that Amy has absolutely no jealousy in her heart as she watches River bounce about the TARDIS and fly it so much better than the Doctor. (She did learn from the best, right?) Instead, if anything, it’s certainly a humorous sense of curiosity. As Amy said, she’s never seen anyone act like that around the Doctor before.
So it’s the second time the Doctor meets River Song; she’s got a much different hairstyle and her attitude is a little more arrogant this time around. But she’s very much the River Song I enjoyed back in “Silence in the Library”/”Forest of the Dead.” UGH I AM SO EXCITED. Good news is that since we’ve already seen her die, she can’t die here!
Anyway, let’s just get to the really good stuff. (NOT THAT ANY OF THIS WAS BAD. IT WASN’T. IT WAS BEAUTIFUL AND NOTHING HURT.) I almost wish that there was a camera fixed on me while I watched this episode because I imagine that it would have been hilarious to watch my face shine with victory when River Song revealed that they were hunting a Weeping Angel, believed to be the last one left. I seriously threw both my hands in the air as if my favorite team had just scored a touchdown and I yelled at the TV with pure, simple joy.
AND THEN I CURLED UP INTO THE FETAL POSITION FOR TWENTY MINUTES STRAIGHT.
See, the thing is, there seemed to be no element of surprise left for the Weeping Angels. I knew how they functioned. There wasn’t the added element of The Doctor speaking to Sally Sparrow via an ontological paradox. There was the issue of figuring out how to destroy or disable the creature when it was alone, but I felt that I would be able to tolerate just ONE Weeping Angel.
Nope. Never ever prepared.
As Amy gets a slight bit of education on what the Weeping Angels are, I slowly began to realize that Steven Moffat had to be aware of all of the comfort zones when it came to this specific creature. It did not take him long to not only expand the mythology of the Weeping Angels, but to leave me absolutely riveted to the screen. As I said before, this is how you bring them back. The four second clip of the Angel was creepy enough, but when it MOVED as soon as Amy was alone with it? NO. NO FUCKING THANK YOU. How can it do that???? How can it move? It’s a goddamn image. IT’S A CLIP. IT IS NOT A SENTIENT BEING.
Oh god, my heart. If I had liveblogged this episode, my review would have looked like this:
Watching Amy Pond stare, with terror, as the Weeping Angel CAME OUT OF THE GODDAMN VIDEO CLIP. WEEPING ANGEL WHAT ARE YOU DOING YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO DO THAT. Oh good fucking god, you all. AND THIS WASN’T EVEN THE SCARIEST SCENE YET someone please come hold me
It’s at this point that two things happen, the first of which is the Doctor’s warning to Amy. He mentions something I found interesting, about the eyes not being windows to the soul, but doors. Unfortunately, in a moment of panic, Amy stares directly into the eyes of the Weeping Angel. Even after she disables the image, something is still wrong. As she says, there’s something in her eye. SOMETHING IS IN HER EYE. We’ll get to more about that in a second.
What was so horrifying about the Angels the first time around is that they always seemed to pick people off, generally one at a time. A lot of “Blink” involves tight, claustrophobic spaces, but “The Time of Angels” feels so much more expansive and grand, especially since there are far more people around. Of course it’s ridiculous, but I love that it’s set inside the Maze of the Dead. By placing the lone Angel in with a group of actual statues, it ramps up the tension in an entirely different way. And I think that’s really important in an episode like that. While Moffat certainly relies (only a little bit) on the DON’T BLINK, DON’T EVER BLINK bit from “Blink,” by giving the creature a new setting, he can still keep the story fresh.
And then FUCKING DUST POURS OUT OF AMY’S EYE. I’m sorry, that is one of the most disturbing goddamn images I have ever seen on television. No. Seriously, no. I would not survive five minutes past that point if that happened to me.
But let’s just get to what we all need to talk about right fucking now. (I’m swearing a lot today, THIS EPISODE HAS UNNERVED ME SO.) As the group have separated and the Weeping Angel from the Byzantium is busy killing off the second set of clerics, River and the Doctor spend time exploring the Maze of the Dead, telling the soldiers and Amy about the previous civilization that lived there and created the place. The threat of doom seems to loom around every corner; I liked that one of the clerics, Bob, freaked out a bit and shot a statue that was clearly not an angel, if only because it suggested that this situation was so impossible. How do you find one specific statue in a maze of hundreds, maybe thousands of them?
And that’s when both River and the Doctor get that look on their face. I had not noticed at all that the Doctor had said that the Aplans had two heads.Two heads. And they are currently in a maze of statues all with one head.
THE ENTIRE PLACE IS FULL OF WEEPING ANGELS. Literally one of the most genuinely shocking and fucked up plot twists this show has ever given us. HOLY SHIT!!! I also loved that Moffat explained why these specific statues looked nothing like the creatures we were familiar with: having lost their vitality due to their isolation, they are now gaining energy from the power being leaked by the crashed ship. YEAH. SO. THE SHIP WAS CRASHED ON PURPOSE AND THEY ARE NOW FORCED TO FACE AN ARMY OF WEEPING ANGELS. Steven Moffat, how do you come up with this nonsense. How the fuck does your brain work this way.
I was worried that once Bob was taken and his “voice” started communicating with the Doctor that it was going to resemble the “Data Ghost” from River’s last episodes. It is fairly similar, I can admit that. But the execution here in “The Time of Angels” is just so unsettling, especially because it feels like the Weeping Angels are using Bob’s voice specifically to taunt the survivors, using a very matter-of-fact tone to communicate with the Doctor. And really, just when this episode could not get anymore nerve-wracking, then there’s the scene where Amy’s hand TURNS TO STONE. She is turning into a Weeping Angel, isn’t she? ISN’T SHE? Is the Doctor going to have to bite more of her body? I JEST. LET US HOPE THAT DOESN’T HAPPEN, for that would be awkward.
I really have to say, though, that bringing back River Song, the Weeping Angels, and having the Maze of the Dead be a hiding place for the rest of the Weeping Angel species still never prepared me for the final moment of this episode. Completely surrounded, the voice of Bob taunting them with their imminent demise, the remaining survivors are forced to put their trust in the Doctor, who may not even have a good idea to save them. But they have to. Do they have any other choice?
“Oh, big, big mistake. Really huge. Didn’t anyone ever tell you? There’s one thing you never put in a trap. If you’re smart, if you value your continued existence, if you have any plans about seeing tomorrow, there is one thing you never, ever put in a trap.”
That’s the Doctor. He then destroys the gravity globe and THE EPISODE ENDS. ARE YOU SERIOUS. THIS IS A TWO-PARTER????
- THERE ARE SO MANY TINY MOMENTS OF BRILLIANCE IN THIS EPISODE.
- Ok, so what IS River? Why does Father Octavian keep hinting at something else about her past? (Errr…the Doctor’s future? CONFUSED.)
- “Ooooh, Doctor, you sonicked her.” AMY POND, LITERAL FAVORITE PERSON ON THE PLANET.
- “You are mister grumpy face today.”
- “River, hug Amy.” “Why???” “Because I’m busy!”
- “You told me my fear would keep me alive but I died afraid, in pain and alone. You made me trust you, and when it mattered, you let me down.” OK, SERIOUSLY, 100% DEPRESSING. Holy shit. FUCK.
- MOFFAT EXPLAINED THE NOISE THE TARDIS MAKES WHEN IT LANDS. Oh god, I love that it’s because the Doctor is technically doing something wrong AND HE DOESN’T CARE.
- “Oh, well now it’s just boring, isn’t it? They’re boring-ers, that’s what they are, blue boring-ers!”
- Seriously, one of the most flawless episodes of this show ever. FUCKED UP and EXCITING and RIVETING and I AM SO GLAD NO ONE TOLD ME THIS WAS A TWO-PART STORY.