I’m reporting today from inside a fort of snotty, makeup soaked tissues. For weeks now, we’ve been told that the Ponds’ last episode of Doctor Who was going to be a heartbreaking, sob-inducing, hour full of cries. And dear lord, did Moffat and the rest deliver. Not since “Doomsday” has an episode at once thrilled and upset me simultaneously to such a degree that I’m reduced to shattered pieces, and I’m still having trouble fitting them back together.
I knew I was going to have trouble writing this review objectively, and after watching the episode again I don’t even feel like throwing in my usual asides and nit-picky jokes–I just want to bask in the glory of “The Angels Take Manhattan”, and watch it again and again until I absorb the skills necessary to incite the same types of feelings in others with my own writing. Yes, “Angels” had its flaws, both in storyline and character development. But here, at the end of all things (at least all things Pond related), those flaws are vastly outweighed by the positives, and that’s what I’m going to focus on until I can digest it a little better.
We begin in New York City, where the Ponds and the Doctor have landed and are hanging out for a bit. The Angels have taken over Manhattan, which they have always apparently owned, and are using an old building as an energy farm, zapping people back to 1938 and trapping them there over and over again until they finally die on the same day they’ve been zapped back. Rory gets sent back, meets River, they get abducted by a crime boss who’s got a weeping Angel locked in a closet, and the Doctor and Amy meet up with them before losing Rory once more. And then the ugly crying begins.
The writing this week was subtle and nuanced, definitely more than we’ve seen this season and maybe more than we’ve seen in all of New!Who. Amy’s reading glasses, constant references to endings and the subversion of expectations with River’s broken wrist (when Amy first reads that the Doctor is destined to break something, you expect it as a throw-away joke and then–THEN–hope is delivered and abandoned faster that…you…could…blink…) are all brilliant tidbits that shouldn’t be overlooked.
As importantly, the acting was on. Point. Major major props go out to Matt, who delivered arguably the best performance of his tenure as Doctor. I’m not sure the day will ever come when his final, tortured “Come along, Pond” won’t at least bring a lump to my throat.
The relationship between River and the Doctor was exquisite; this was the first time we have ever seen them fight like a married couple instead of sparring toe-to-toe while they flirt with a vengeance. This week their fight had a larger meaning to the plot and a lasting consequence. Alex Kingston, too, was a breath of fresh air, not only because we haven’t seen River in so long but also because it was nice to see how their relationship has grown and continues to change.
I was going to write a ton more about the themes of getting older, and the parallels to Peter Pan; talk about how “The Question” was asked once again and ask why the Doctor had to go back and write on the vase if River could just send a message through the vortex manipulator, and sum it all up with a “really? we had to get not one, not two, but THREE more Rory deaths in?”. But I’m sticking to the positive, as I promised, and this week I’m going a little off script.
Instead, I want to take a moment to appreciate all the things the Doctor Whoteam have done for us–and really what every creative team has done for the shows, movies, and books over which we chose to obsess. From the moment Amy and Rory were on the rooftop until that final “This is how it ends”, I was too invested in the show to jot notes. For the second time in three days, I was a blubbering mess, and I’m not the kind that cries easily at all. This was the Pond’s final farewell, and it was beautiful. I could whine about it not being a two-parter and bring up all the stuff I wish we had gotten to see, or I can appreciate the episode for what it DID which is to say that it brought the story of Amy, Rory, and the Doctor to an end, and it’s fair to say it was a pretty big (if predictable) bang.
Thank you all for reading and commenting on my episode recaps. I’ll be back, along with The Doctor (AND OSWIN! **CUE THE SQUEEING**) at Christmastime. Until then, leave your comments below on the Ponds’ departure from Doctor Who.