This part is obviously not a Doctor Who spoiler because as we all knew, “The Angels Take Manhattan” would be the final episode for The Ponds. But did they get a good send-off? Read on to see what I thought.
Everything below this is spoilery.
The Angels Take Manhattan starts in modern-day New York. The Doctor, Amy and Rory are relaxing in the park, while the Doctor reads a book about a detective named Melody (and really, he didn’t figure that one out?). There’s a bit of conversation where we learn that Amy and Rory are starting to age. Amy has a few lines around her eyes and is wearing reading glasses.
The Doctor does something interesting while he reads. He rips out the last page with the foreshadowing line that he doesn’t like endings. Of course, we, the viewers, know that this episode is the Ponds end, but we still don’t quite know how it will turn out.
As Rory goes to get coffee for the trio, he is abducted by a statue, a Weeping Angel – by far, still one of the more terrifying creatures that Stephen Moffat has given us. He is sent back to 1938 New York. Fortunately, he ends up with his daughter, River Song, who is the Melody referred to in the Doctor’s book. The two are abducted.
Meanwhile, in modern day New York, Amy and Rory figure out that the book is actually happening as they read it and is, in fact, a history of their present and future. Obviously, the Doctor closes the book and refuses to allow any more to be read. Instead, he and Amy focus on going back to 1938 New York to save Rory and stop the angels from overtaking the city.
It seems the angels have come up with a clever plan to trap all of the time energy in a building. And one of those people trapped in that building is Rory. How do we know this? We meet an 82-year-old Rory who is delighted to see Amy after what has been 30-40 years. Uh-oh. But what can they do? The Doctor insists there’s no way out, but Rory still wants to run. River encourages him, telling the Doctor that if they could create a paradox, it could be just the thing to destroy the angels and the building they control. Rory goes for it, with Amy at his side, but then they’re cornered on the roof by… get… this… THE STATUE OF FREAKIN’ LIBERTY. Sidenote: This was EPIC. The only way to save the city is still by paradox, so Rory decides to jump off the building so that he dies then, still creating the paradox. But Amy insists on jumping with him. They jump. The paradox is created and everyone ends up back in modern-day New York.
But wait, there’s more. Because we know that’s not the end. Rory realizes that they’re in a cemetery and upon a gravestone is his name. The angels, who are a little irked at him, find him and “poof” – he’s zapped back to 1938 New York all over again. But this time, he doesn’t go alone. Amy goes with him. And after she leaves, her name appears after Rory’s on the gravestone – she apparently died shortly after him at the age of 87. Why is this sad? Because Amy and Rory have created a fixed point in time. And as we all know, the Doctor won’t ever get to see them again. But they lived, as Amy notes in the afterword of the book River (aka Melody) wrote.
I think you can tell just from that synopsis that I thought this episode was the most brilliant of the season so far. In fact, it’s going to be one of my favorites, I think, right up there with Neil Gaiman’s “The Doctor’s Wife.” Not only is there a detective story (seeing Alex Kingston as a detective made me realize how much I envision my own novel’s detective as her much of the time), but there is also a great adventure, some horror (those angels still get me – eep!) and a deep emotional story about a couple who love each other and about their friend, the Doctor, who always gets left behind.
In fact, I don’t have any negative thing to say about the episode. I will admit that when Rory and Amy came to in the cemetery after jumping off of the building, I was like “WHAT?” But the real ending, where they go back in time to live their lives together (and Amy choosing Rory over the Doctor) and die at happy old ages. It’s sad for the Doctor, but at the same time, it’s still a happy ending for the Ponds. And it was so well-written that I found the episode completely flawless.
I also enjoyed the cameo of Mike McShane as the man who thinks he can collect the angels. What an idiot, huh? Needless to say, I’m sure he ended up dead, back in time, or maybe something even far worse. But he is the first in Doctor Who that managed to trap an angel and put it in chains, so that was impressive.
As we know, the Doctor gets a new companion this December, so he won’t be alone for long. I loved the reminders that both Amy and River gave him that he should never travel alone. That also served as reminders to us that there is a dangerous creature just under the surface of the Doctor’s skin, an alien that has the power of the whole of time and space itself.
December seems so far away, but I’m pleased to wait for a new episode now. “The Angels Take Manhattan” wasn’t quite as sad as I thought it would be, but it was a fitting conclusion to the Williams’ (no longer the Ponds, according to the tombstone in modern-day New York) saga as the Doctor’s companions.