Watch It In the Dark And Never Sleep Again: “The Angels Take Manhattan”
Welcome, fellow Whovians, to this, our last adventure with the Ponds. I’m going to start this recap a little differently from usual, with a warning. Normally, I assume you know what a recap is and you take your chances if you want to read it before you watch the show. This time, however, I’m going to come right out and say that you really need to watch it before you read. There is some scary, scary stuff going on, and I don’t want to deprive you of the joy of jumping, screaming, and sobbing along with the rest of us, and if you know it’s coming, it won’t be nearly as much fun. With our spoiler warning out of the way, let’s dive right in. This episode features the scariest Weeping Angels since “Blink,” so I heartily recommend that for full effect, you watch it in a nice dark room.
Heck, watch it in a dark room anyway—you’ll only compliment the film noir vibe that two thirds of the episode are rocking.
We begin with a typewriter, a New York skyline, and a voice over from a gruff man with a good New York accent narrating about statues that move in the dark. The man is Garner, a private eye, and he’s being hired by a man called Grayle to do a job. Grayle lives in a beautiful mansion with a lovely bronze statue of a Puritan woman and young boy gazing at the house from across the street. Based on the cars, I’d say we’re in the 1930s. Garner heads out, and Grayle peeks out the window, only to see that the Puritan woman has vanished from her plinth. (Dun dun dunh…) Garner, meanwhile, heads to some apartments near Battery Park, the Winter Quay, where Grayle says “the statues live.”
As Garner walks in, we get a beautifully framed shot of Garner walking through the entrance below the elaborate relief carvings on the lower level of the building. It takes a fairly attentive viewer to note that the statues flanking the entrance are Weeping Angels, and to any veteran Whovian, the understatement of Garner sauntering past two Angels that are barely even in frame is more menacingly terrifying than anything else they could have done. The apartments are nice, but extremely creepy: the doors open of their own accord; the elevator arrives and is operated without the benefit of human input. As Garner enters the elevator, we discover another Angel in the lobby. (Gaaaahhh! Run!) The elevator deposits Garner on a random floor, and, dreamlike, he wanders out. There is another Angel at the end of the hall, not quite in focus, and Garner just casually strolls toward it like a man blissfully unaware of the horrible predator waiting to EAT HIS FACE OFF. His attention is caught by a doorplate for an S. Garner, and he discovers the door is open. Inside is a tidy and reasonably nice if a bit grim and depressing apartment, but on the table is a wallet—the contents of which are identical to his own. He discovers an old man lying in bed in the next room, and the man screams at him “They’re coming for you! They’re gonna send you back… I’m YOU!” before he slumps on the bed. Garner flees and finds himself flanked by angels. He ducks into a stairway, but more of them block the way down. He scrambles up, and ends up on the roof.
|Someone's not happy about their patina.|
In the present, we find the Doctor and the Ponds relaxing in Central Park. The Doctor is reading aloud from a trashy novel about a detective named Melody Malone, to Amy’s consternation. She taunts him for saying “Yowza!” after reading a section describing Melody, and Rory taunts, “Only you could fancy someone in a book.” Oh, Rory; Mr. Edward Fairfax Rochester and I would have to strongly disagree with that. The Doctor teases Amy about her reading glasses, saying that they make her eyes look all “liney,” and Rory breaks the tension with some smooches before heading off to fetch them all coffee. The Doctor steals Amy’s reading glasses—and mee-yow, does Matt Smith look good in those glasses. Amy tells him to go ahead and read to her, but before he does, he rips out the last page of the book, because he hates endings. So if anyone didn’t know this was the Ponds’ last episode, there’s a good clue right there.
|"The want ads stink. Nothing for sidekicks/companions."|
Amy appears to be playing a game of pooh-sticks on a bridge while the Doctor reads a passage from the book. In the book, Melody Malone is describing following “the thin guy.” The Doctor suddenly freezes. The next line in the story has the thin guy saying, “I just went to get coffee for the Doctor and Amy. Hello River.” Well, now they know that something is going down. Sure enough, for Rory, it is now night, and River Song (yay!) stands in front of him, bedecked in an awesome hat and a good femme fatale short skirt-long jacket combo. There isn’t much time for reunions before two men with guns force them into a car.
|Fifty Shades of Plaid Bowties, now in print.|
The men with the guns escort River and Rory into Mr. Grayle’s mansion, where she admires a Chin dynasty Chinese vase. The Doctor, meanwhile, explains to Amy that he needs “landing lights,” something to lock onto in order to get them to River and Rory. Rory notices that the TARDIS’s translation effect is still hanging around, enabling him to read the vases, and Grayle orders his muscle to put Rory somewhere uncomfortable. So they throw him “to the babies.” The muscle tosses Rory into a dark basement and gives him a box of matches. The Doctor and Amy, meanwhile, pop into a pottery shop in 221 BC China, with the result that the Chin dynasty vase on Mr. Grayle’s desk is adorned with the word “Yowzah.” (Hee hee.) “Hello, Sweetie!” River purrs. She sends the Doctor a message, but only after she notes a curtain in Grayle’s office and pulls it aside to discover a badly damaged and thoroughly chained Angel.
|"Gasp! My joints are so stiff!"|
Melody comments on the terrible damage to the Angel, and Grayle says that he wanted to know if they could feel pain. She warns him that it’s screaming and the others can hear. Grayle turns out the lights, just long enough for the Angel to get hold of River’s wrist, and then orders her to tell him everything she knows about the Angels, his finger hovering menacingly above the light switch.
Rory, meanwhile is being tormented by that horrible scamper-giggle sound in the basement. He stumbles across three stone cherubs before the match burns out; by the time he lights another, they’re coming for him. He lights another and another, and they inch closer and closer until he gets to the last match. He looks for the cherubs, and finds that one of them is right BY HIS FACE (eeeeep!), its cheeks puffed out and lips pursed. Rory barely gets to look at it before it blows and—whoof!—his match goes out.
River, still in the grasp of the Angel, is being questioned by Grayle when the lights suddenly begin to flicker and the house begins to shake. Papers blow everywhere. Grayle is panicking; River smiles smugly and tells him “Just wait ‘til my husband comes home.” Sure enough, the TARDIS materializes in Grayle’s entryway, throwing him backward in a faint. The Doctor refuses to leave until he’s double checked his hair and breath. Well, his wife is out there after all. Amy runs off shouting after Rory, while the Doctor sashays toward River. He asks her about prison, and she tells him she was pardoned ages ago and she’s Professor Song now. (Oh dear. These are changes that move her inevitably closer to her death, given that she was Professor Song when we first met her back in “Silence in the Library.”) River asks him if he’s going to break her wrist or the Angel’s, and the Doctor’s sad look tells her that she’s in for an owie. He explains about Amy reading it in the Melody Malone novel—which River hasn’t written yet. Amy argues that if River writes the book, she’d make it helpful, and suggests having a look at the chapter titles. The Doctor flicks through and discovers that Chapter 10 is called “The Roman in the Cellar,” and Amy takes his sonic screwdriver and takes off. The Doctor, however, freezes; Chapter 11 is “Death at Winter Quay,” and Chapter 12 is “Amelia’s Last Farewell. He is furious and orders River to get her own hand out without breaking it, change the future.
|"Nope. Sorry. I don't do that."|
|"Stinky Butt" is the middle one.|
At Winter Quay, Rory wanders down a hallway until a door opens in front of him, just like it did for Garner. Amy and the Doctor scurry in (AGAIN running right past the door Angels, silly sausages), but they do manage to find Rory in time. Amy throws her arms around Rory in delight, but River and the Doctor are frozen in the hallway; the Angel at the end of the hall is looking at them, not in its usual murderous, fanged-snarl, but with a satisfied little smile. It is far and away the creepiest thing in the entire episode. The Doctor rushes, shouting for Amy and Rory to get out, but their attention has already been taken by a very elderly man lying in the bed of the apartment Rory wandered into. He is doing his best to sit up and breathlessly calling to Amy. She kneels at his bedside, and as the camera closes in on him, it is unmistakably a very elderly Rory. He holds her hand, and manages to gasp her name before his grip goes slack and he passes. Rory asks the Doctor what just happened, and the Doctor sadly tells him, “I’m sorry Rory, but you just died.”
|"This town needs a recycling program..."|
River interrupts that if Rory gets out, it would create a paradox. It would “poison the well,” so to speak, and it could kill all the Angels. The Doctor argues that it would take almost unimaginable power, but Amy and River, of course, latch on to the “almost” in that sentence and just hear that it’s possible. Technically, hasn’t Amy done something similar before? In “The Girl Who Waited” they erased older Amy from existence, just through Amy’s sheer bloody-mindedness. Well, bust out that bloody-mindedness again, sister, because you’re going to need it. Amy opens the door and stares at the Angel outside. “Husband!” she orders, “Run!” The Doctor expresses his uncertainty, and River responds with “Husband! Shut up!” before they make an Angel-infested pursuit of the Ponds. Like with Garner, Amy and Rory’s escape is cut off, and they end up on the roof. Rory spots Liberty’s sneer almost immediately. He goes and peers over the edge of the building. “Is there a way down?” Amy asks. “No, but there’s a way out.”
Rory climbs up on the ledge. He intends to jump. If he dies tonight, there’s a paradox and everything is undone. If River is right and the paradox means none of this ever happened, then he thinks he’ll end up coming back to life—because no building to exist means nothing to have fallen off of. Even if he doesn’t, though, he seems to think this is a better alternative to forty odd years locked in that dismal little room without Amy. (I can’t say that I blame him, either.) He tells her he needs her help, and asks her to push, but she can’t do it. Instead, she climbs up beside him. She puts his arms around her. The Doctor runs up, screaming at them, “What are you doing?!” Amy’s eyes never leave Rory’s face as she says, “Changing the future. It’s called marriage.”
And they fall. It is a slow descent, during which they cling to each other, closer and closer.
River looks like someone has just punched her in the gut, but her attention is drawn to a brilliantly glowing light behind her. The Doctor screams that the paradox is working, and the light consumes them.
A moment later, and we are back at the graveyard outside New York. We take in the horizon, the field of gravestones, and aged angel statue standing guard over the skyline; and with a gasp, the Ponds wake up. The Doctor runs over in delight. The paradox worked; they collapsed the timeline and none of it ever happened, so they ended up back where they started, in a graveyard in 2012. “We got lucky!” he cheers. “I can’t ever take the TARDIS back there, the timelines are too scrambled,” but he is so delighted that they are okay that doesn’t care. He kisses them both. River is busy scrubbing the paradox-induced mess off the outside of the TARDIS, and in good wifely fashion, chides him about the state of the TARDIS. They all head on board—but Rory pauses. His attention has been caught by the gravestone we saw earlier. “Amy,” he calls. “There’s a gravestone here with someone with the same name as me.”
|"We hung out in the coolest places. Gonna miss that."|
GAAAAAHHHH! How many times did we see that stupid Angel on its plinth in the graveyard this episode? How did I not know that it was going to be the killer? I’m usually so good at spotting Chekhov’s gun in whatever I’m watching, but somehow, the Angel just fit in so nicely with the graveyard it never even caught my eye! And it’s got Rory.
The Doctor runs out, and tells Amy to keep her eyes on it. He peers around her, and notes that the gravestone reads, “In Loving Memory, Rory Arthur Williams, Aged 82.” He calls her Amelia and tells her he’s sorry—he’s so, so sorry. (It’s always ten times as horrible when the Doctor says those words.) Amy shakes her head, and insists that they can go back and get him in the TARDIS. They can’t; the timelines are so jumbled, that even trying will rip New York apart. Amy doesn’t believe him, but River says, “Mother, it’s true.”
Amy walks toward the Angel. “There’s room on that gravestone for another name,” she says. She asks if the Angel will send her back to the same time it sent Rory to, and the Doctor tries to tell her it’s too risky, but River screams at him to shut up. Amy just wants to be with Rory, even if that means trapping herself in some unknown and distant past.
Amy holds her hand out, and calls for her daughter. “Melody,” she says, and tells her to look after the Doctor and “Be a good girl.” (At this point, I am not just crying a little, but sobbing big sloppy tears like a little girl.)
The Doctor begs Amy, saying that she is creating a fixed point; he will never see her again. She is crying now, too. “Raggedy man,” she says, turning to him. “Goodbye!”
And Amelia Pond vanishes, the Angel behind her.
Now we can see the gravestone that Melody Pond’s hand was resting on; below Rory’s name are the words, “And his loving wife, Amelia Williams, aged 87.”
Back on the TARDIS, the Doctor is brooding, and River is busy tending to the controls. He suddenly remembers, and says, “River—they were your parents. I’m sorry.” She tells him that he mustn’t travel alone, and he asks her to travel with him. She agrees, but refuses to stay all the time. She remembers the book, Melody Malone, that began all these shenanigans; she will, of course be sending it to Amy to get it published. She tells him that she will ask Amy to write an afterword.
“The last page,” the Doctor murmurs, and runs out. He hurries to Central Park, where he puts on Amy’s reading glasses and plucks the page he ripped out of the book back at the beginning of the story from the basket, still sitting where they left it. He reads Amy’s letter.
Amy begins her letter by assuring the Doctor that she and Rory lived well. She warns him not to travel alone, just as River did. Her final request is that the Doctor go to a little girl who is waiting in a garden, and tell her about the wonderful adventures she will have.
|Hugs are not enough.|
And that is the end of the Ponds.
Wow. What an episode.
It’s always sad when a companion leaves, and this one was no exception. This one, however, was a bittersweet ending. We won’t be seeing Amy and Rory again, but they get to live the normal life together they were craving, and it was clearly a long and satisfying life together. (And honestly, given their foreknowledge of the future coupled with Rory’s medical training, they probably could make a very decent life for themselves.) I did not, however, cry nearly as much for the Ponds as I did for Rose Tyler (ripped from the Doctor! Trapped in a parallel world!) or Donna Noble (not only taken away, but forced to forget everything that happened! Become such an amazing woman, with whole worlds singing her name, and as far as she knows, she’s a nobody from Cheswick!). It was a very good ending for them, sad though it is for the Doctor.
So that’s it. The Doctor will return for Christmas, with our new companion! (Did you spot the familiar face in the preview?) I can’t wait until then, but in the meantime, talk to us in the comments and tell us how you felt about the first half of Season 7.