In the fifth episode of the seventh series of Doctor Who, UGH. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Doctor Who.
Well, let’s just do this, okay?
- I don’t have a lot of positive stuff to say about this episode, so be warned. I tried to like it, but it just kept making me more and more angry, and then I was crying out of spite, and I don’t think a show has ever done that to me before. So… bravo? I think? Why am I complimenting that? I don’t even know, my emotions are such a huge fucking mess right now.
- Okay, let’s start off with some nice things: the beginning of this episode is framed as a noir thriller, and I love noir thrillers, and everything is super creepy, and even if the Weeping Angels aren’t that scary anymore, it was still neat to see them return.
- Without a doubt, some of the best acting by everyone in the cast is in this episode, and I don’t want to ignore that. It’s incredible. I wish I liked the material more.
- Having someone walk in on their older, dying self is really unsettling.
- Well, this works up to a point: the Statue of Liberty as a Weeping Angel. Bar none, one of the silliest, most ridiculous things this show has ever done, and normally, I don’t even care how absurd Doctor Who is. It’s part of it’s charm. But honestly, you’re telling me that in the city that never sleeps, there’s a moment when no one was looking at the most recognizable tourist icon in the city? How does that thing move without crushing buildings??? We have already seen how Weeping Angels can affect physical space, so it makes zero sense that the Statue of Liberty can be one of these creatures.
- And that’s my problem with this episode: it is a constant assault on my intelligence while purposely insulting my intelligence. Like, it is both foolish while being disgustingly pretentious, and this constant contradiction isn’t entertaining. It is horribly distracting.
- I love time travel. I love paradoxes. I even love a good ontological paradox. But this show has had nearly ten of them already, so using one as the framing device for this story is tired just to begin with. But it’s fucking nonsensical to suddenly say that reading the future makes it a fixed point in time. Says who??? Why is that suddenly a rule? I’m sorry, haven’t multiple characters “read” aspects of the future in the past, and they were changed? There is no rhyme or reason to this except to force the endgame.
- And look, I know I already came to this episode with a bad impression of it. I didn’t want the Ponds to leave. I hated being teased with it in the media, I hated being told I would cry, I hated being told how I’d react to something before I’d even seen it, and I hated that the Ponds were leaving. I wanted to put this aside so I could try to enjoy this, but then the episode itself constantly reminded me: This is the end! This is it! The Doctor hates endings! So that means this is an end! Look, the very book itself that exists in this universe for no discernible reason spoils what’s going to happen in the end. This episode lacks all subtlety. And Doctor Who isn’t particularly subtle. It’s constantly over-the-top. But this? This is too much.
- Wait, couldn’t River Song have just… not written the book? Why did she have to? Did Steven Moffat essentially imply that River had to write a book about the deaths of her parents? Dude, haven’t you given River a tough enough existence as it is?
- And then we’ve got the point of the Winter Quay Hotel: it’s basically a “battery” for the Weeping Angels. They trap people there and suck their lived experience from them. And it makes no sense. How can the Angels pose any threat to someone once they’ve made it to that hotel in 1938? That can’t be sent back in time again, as that breaks the very rule of their existence as well as creating a paradox. But suddenly, you can be sent back in time infinitely and create an innumerable set of timelines, and no paradoxes have ever happened before and this is something I’m supposed to believe?
- Then there are two deaths! Two of them! Amy and Rory die once onscreen, and then once… where? Where do Rory and Amy go when they look at the grave? Sent to an unknown point in time and space? It can’t be in New York in 1938. And why can’t the Doctor just go and find them in their new timeline? Why is it impossible to see them?
- At the very least, there is a consolation: both Rory and Amy chose one another over the Doctor, which is decent continuity with what they’ve demonstrated over their tenure on the show. While I will forever hate the deaths of Amy and Rory Pond, I will appreciate that their story is one of love.
- During the final sequence, images of Amy Pond’s life flashed before us, and seeing that young, hopeful little girl broke me. This is what her story amounts to. Amy and Rory leave Doctor Who in a way where they apparently can’t come back, in a story that exists solely to kill them in an agonizing and heartbreaking story, and for what? What does any of this mean? I never thought that there could be a worse ending for a companion than sticking someone in a parallel universe with a copy of yourself, or wiping her memories so she can’t ever know who she is or what she did. But at least they got stories. At least their final run meant something. In the final moments of “The Angels Take Manhattan,” I looked at Amelia Pond in that adorable red beanie, and I started crying. Amy Pond deserved better than this, and so did Rory. I cried like someone close to me died, and it was that angry, spiteful, bitter sort of cry you have when you realize just how unfair and unjust this is. And here’s the thing: I wish this was an episode about the unfairness and injustice of death. I wish I was crying because this show just made a really profound statement about mortality! Instead, I’m crying out of hatred, out of this desire to undo everything because that little girl in the red beanie is waiting for the TARDIS to come back, and she has no idea the pain she will go through in the end. It breaks my heart for all of the wrong reasons, and I despise it.
- I know this will be cheesy, and I don’t care. I would tear this page out of the book if I could. It’s poorly written, it’s not even gimmicky, and it makes me furious. And you know, I really enjoyed the first four episodes of this series, despite that there wasn’t any serialization. Wait, is this series just not going to have that? Bah, whatever.
I hated this. I miss the Ponds already. They deserved better.
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