“UUUUUUUUGGGGGHHH ALL THE FEELS ALL OF THEM” was the text I sent my friend when I finished watching “The Angels Take Manhattan”. I’m gonna be fine though. How about you? Do you still need a moment? I don’t blame you. You know what, take your time and then whenever you’re ready we can go through this. Together.
Alright. Breathe deep. We can do this.
*If you’ve not yet watched the episode in review, please, don’t read further. “Spoilers” sounds like an understatement. More like, “ruination lays ahead”.*
Steven Moffat, current show runner of Doctor Who for the past two seasons, snuck his way into our hearts early during the Russel T. Davies era. He’d write just one or two episodes of the season, but they were usually the stand out ones, the ones that really made you take notice of the series and also showed the potential of what a mad man with a box was truly capable of. As the show runner he has taken those ideas further and explored them in exciting ways through the relationship of the 11th incarnation of The Doctor and his companions Amelia Pond and Rory Williams, aka the Ponds.
The episode that most people think of when they hear Steven Moffat’s name in junction with Doctor Who is “Blink”. An almost bottle episode that hardly features the then 10th Doctor and his companion Martha. In it he introduces the Weeping Angels, creatures who look like angel statues that move only when you’re not looking and whose touch sends you back in time while they live off of the energy of your remaining days.
When he became show runner in season 5 Moffat introduced us to a new Doctor, two new companions and even managed to bring the Weeping Angels back for a two parter episode. For this season Moffat uses his creepily crafted Angels to aid in the emotional sendoff of the companions he created that have been with us for these past two and a half years.
“The Angels Take Manhattan” begins with a voice over in the vein of a hard-boiled crime novel telling the story of one gumshoe-for-hire, Mr. Sam Garner, working for billionaire collector and crime boss, Mr. Grayle, to look into some statues for him. Some living statues. Garner follows his lead to an apartment building in New York’s Battery Park called Winter Quay. After entering the building and taking an automatic lift he comes to the 7th floor, where unbeknownst to him, he’s being shadowed by the stop and go Weeping Angels. Curiously Garner finds his name on a door and opening it he finds an old man claiming to be him, warning him that “they’re gonna send you back in time.” No, this isn’t Looper or 12 Monkeys, Bruce Willis is not here. Of course, he tries to run from the Angels but is forced up on the roof where a giant fanged tooth Statue of Liberty is waiting for him to blink.
With a bit of Sting to set the scene we know that we are in present day New York where the Ponds listen as The Doctor reads aloud passages of Melody Malone in Central Park. To avoid getting into trouble with Amy about her crow’s feet Rory offers to get coffee. While away The Doctor rips out the last page of the book, because he hates endings it means the story is over, and continues to read aloud.
On his way back with the coffees Rory walks past the Bethesda Fountain, “The Angels of the Water”, only to find himself in April 1938 facing his daughter River Song. While he is forced at gun point to get into a car with River, The Doctor and Amy are surprised to read the events in their book. When asked where he got the book The Doctor replies that it was just in his pocket.
From the book he finds the year and tries to travel there but is bounced out of the past due to a massive amount of time distortions and winds up in a graveyard. River only got there because her Vortex Manipulator is like a “motorbike cutting through traffic”. The Doctor tells Amy, who has been reading ahead, that she can’t read any further because it creates a fixed point in time. If they’ve not read the future then they can in theory make choices based on free will and change the outcome.