by Sherry Lipp
***WARNING – This review contains SPOILERS about this episode and past seasons***
Anyone who has ever been to New York City knows it’s filled with statues. They reside in the parks and the architecture of the city’s buildings. Of course, everyone knows the very famous statue that sits in New York Harbor, greeting visitors to the city. So what better city for the Weeping Angels to hide in? The fifth episode of Doctor Who’s seventh series, “Angels Take Manhattan,” begins as a film noir, hard-boiled detective story. Detective Garner (Rob David) has been hired by the mysterious Mr. Grayle (Mike McShane) because Grayle believes the statues in New York move when he’s not looking. As viewers we know exactly what Grayle is talking about, but Garner is understandably skeptical. “Angels in Manhattan” keeps the detective motif going throughout the episode as The Doctor (Matt Smith), Amy (Karen Gillan), and Rory (Arthur Darvill) are brought into the fold. It is a well-executed episode with an emotional ending that wraps up the story of Amy and Rory in a surprising way.
The Doctor, Amy, and Rory visit present-day New York City, spending the day picnicking in the park and reading through a ‘30s detective novel. We presume the story is about the unfortunate Detective Garner, but we, and they, soon realize the story is about them. Rory disappears while getting coffee, and winds up on the pages of the book The Doctor and Amy are reading. Desperate to rescue Rory, The Doctor and Amy attempt to come up with a plan to get to him. Along the way they encounter River Song (Alex Kingston), who is already investigating the Weeping Angels in New York. Everyone finds themselves wrapped up in a time paradox, forcing Amy and Rory to make an impossible decision.
The storytelling in the episode is top-notch. Even knowing this would be the last episode for Amy and Rory, I didn’t really know where it was going. As I mentioned in my review last week
, I didn’t expect a definitive end to the characters. This episode certainly paints things that way, but this being Doctor Who
, I’m still not convinced we will never see them again (no matter what the actors say in interviews). Amy and Rory are very different companions than what we have seen in the past, and I don’t just mean because there are two of them. What’s different about Amy and Rory is their devotion to each other above all else – even The Doctor. Back in series one, Rose’s (Billie Piper) boyfriend Mickey (Noel Clarke) tagged along once and a while, but she was never truly in love with him. In fact, Rose always seemed kind of annoyed to have Mickey around when she was with The Doctor. On the other hand, Amy and Rory are pretty much inseparable.
Their devotion to each other makes the ending of this episode all the more poignant. I liked that aspect. However, I did not feel the emotional impact in The Doctor’s loss as much as in the past. I found The Doctor’s loss of Rose much more heartbreaking than his loss of Amy and Rory. Part of it is because I liked Rose as a companion better than Amy, and part of it is because Amy would have rather been with Rory than The Doctor. This felt like things worked out more how they should have, as opposed to when Rose was stuck in an alternate universe.
One aspect about the episode I had mixed feelings about was River Song. I have mixed feelings about the character in general. She is one of the few carry over elements from the Russell T. Davies era of the show. I liked her better when she was mysterious. Now that we know who she is, I’m not sure how I feel about it. I’m also not sure I buy her as the love of The Doctor’s life. However, she has definitely had some good storylines, I just hate to see her overused. She is better in small doses. Another thing better in small doses is the Weeping Angels. As much as I think they are a great enemy, I don’t think they have been used as well as they were in their very first appearance in “Blink” (Series 3). I hope the Weeping Angels don’t make another appearance for a while.
It will be a few months before we see The Doctor again. His next appearance will be in the Christmas special this December. I’m looking forward to learning more about his new companion Oswin Oswald (Jenna-Louise Coleman, who we saw in the first episode this season). I’m also hoping the writers develop an interesting story-arc for the second half of series seven. That element was missing from these first five episodes, which seemed to be marking time. It was nice that “Angels Take Manhattan” provided a strong end to an otherwise lackluster first half.