Previously: Daleks. BO-RING.
The Time of Angels
Marines: A soldier stands in a field with a smudge of lipstick on his face. He’s kind of twirling around, indicating that he is dizzy and out of sorts. A man in evening wear (accompanied by two other soldiers) stomps very unhappily over to Dizzy Soldier and wipes a little of the lipstick smudge off his face.
We cut to Dizzy Smudge sitting in what TV has taught me can only be a super secret underground something. He’s still out of it and Angry Evening Wear Man waited until they got all the way back to the office and out of the field to declare the lipstick smudge a hallucinogenic. “She’s here.”
Cut to a woman, also in evening wear, which in this case consists of pretty stellar ruby pumps that are totally terrible for any kind of breaking and entering.
Kirsti: They really REALLY are. But also, I WANT THEM OH MY GOD SOMEONE BUY THEM FOR ME.
Mari: Mystery Woman (riversongahem) breaks into a room using her little pistol to blow out the door. In the room, there is a box. She converts her pistol into a torch and starts breaking into that as well.
12,000 years later.
The Doctor and Amy are in a museum. Amy is not amused, mostly because she wants to go to another planet again. Why would the Doctor need a museum when he has a time machine? Apparently, it has something to do with the fact that he’s pointing at everything yelling, “wrong! wrong! wrong!” or else “mine, mine, mine…”
K: As a former museum curator, FUCK YOU, DOCTOR. You are the kind of patron we all despise. Even more than we despise the patrons who leave handprints on the showcases.
Mari: Amy calls him out for keeping score. He stops at a crispy square that looks awful familiar, but in case we are slow viewers at home, we flash back to Mystery riversong Woman torching the box. In the present, the Doctor explains that it is a Home Box. It’s like a plane’s black box, except that if anything happens to the aircraft, a Home Box will fly home. Amy is like, “so?” so the Doctor further explains that the writing on the outside is Old Gallifreyan, the language of the Time Lords. The Doctor grandly says that there were days where these words could raise up empires and topple gods. Amy asks for a translation and the Doctor reads: Hello, sweetie.
In the past, River Song winks at the security camera. RIVER SONG? Wow, I never would’ve guessed from the description and also because I’ve watched this before. (#spoilsport)
At the museum, the Doctor has stolen the box and is running with it back to the TARDIS.
In the past, Angry Evening Wear Man confronts Dr. Song and tells her the party is over. (D: It’s like a scene from James Bond, but set on a spaceship.) (K: Appropriately, my notes say “I miss the days when River Song was an archaeologist and not some kind of weird time travelling Bond girl.”) In the present, the Doctor is plugging the scorched Home Box into the TARDIS to pull up the security footage. We see River wink to the camera again. He, uh, fast forwards (?) and hears Angry Evening Wear Man [AEWM] repeat that the party is over. This segues us to the past again. River turns to face AEWM. She apologizes, but she just needed to see what was in his vault. She asks them if they know what’s down there and predicts that this ship won’t reach its destination. AEWM (Alistair) tells the soldiers to wait until she runs and make her death look like an execution. River calmly announces some coordinates and says she could do with an air corridor. The Doctor hops to, plugging in the corridor as River repeats to AEWM what she apparently told him on the dance floor: you might want to find something to hang on to.
The airlock behind River suddenly opens and she just calmly gets sucked out into space I guess. (D: It’s super impressive how the complete vacuum of space affects exactly zero of these human bodies the way it ought to.) (K: Shhhh, don’t poke the plot holes.) The TARDIS materializes in her path. The Doctor runs to the door and offers her a hand, pulling her into the TARDIS. Amy gives a confused, “Doctor?” The Doctor greets River with a “River…” River stands and tells the Doctor to follow the ship she was just on.
DOO WEE OOOH.
After the credits, the TARDIS is indeed following the ship. River is yelling at the Doctor because they are losing the ship. She tells him to use the blue stabilizers and the Doctor is basically like, “the what-y what whats?” River presses the blue button and the TARDIS stops shaking. The Doctor is bitter and says it’s just boring now, isn’t it? Amy sidles up to the Doctor and whisper-asks how River can fly the TARDIS. He asks if Amy really calls this flying the TARDIS.
Unbothered, River says she’s done a bunch of TARDIS-y things and also parked them right alongside the ship. The Doctor doesn’t believe that they are parked because the TARDIS didn’t make the usual TARDIS noises. You know the ones. You know. River says the TARDIS isn’t supposed to make those noises, he just leaves the brakes on.
I’m not actually a fan of this bit? I mean, yay River being good at things but the TARDIS noise is the TARDIS noise, man. I think once Ten explained that the TARDIS was meant to be flown by more than one person, which is why it’s always bouncing around. That’s heartbreaking and a good explanation. I’m less of fan of, “lol the Doctor is just doing it wrong.” Thoughts?
Dani: Hmm, I totally laughed at this bit in the moment, especially since Eleven feels super-patronizing to me so it’s fun to see him put in his place. But I see your point, too, and now I’m also sad. So… thanks I guess?
K: Yeah, I think it’s Journey’s End where Ten says the TARDIS was always meant to be piloted by an entire group?? That’s why in Journey’s End when there’s a whole bunch of them all doing different bits, the TARDIS flies much smoother. So mostly, this made me eyeroll. But that could also be because I hate River Song aaaaaalmost as much as I hate Eleven. So.
Mari: So basically don’t think about it as much as we already have…
Anyhow, the Doctor is #overit and “come along Pond”s Amy so they can go check out where they’ve landed. River tells him to hold on for environment checks but the Doctor is Very Clever™ and he can just look outside and know all sorts of things, including that it might rain later.
No one has answered Amy’s question so she tries again: how come River can fly the TARDIS?
K: Wait. “You” as in Eleven? Or “you” as in the Doctor? Because if it’s the latter, WHO THE FUCK TAUGHT HER TO FLY THE TARDIS???
Mari: My money is on some version of the Doctor, maybe even Eleven, but River just wanted to get in this sick burn.
The Doctor one ups River’s burn by telling her something she didn’t know: the ship they were chasing didn’t land. It crashed. River is like “say what?” and takes off. Amy asks again who she is and what’s going on. The Doctor non-explains that it’s a long story and he doesn’t know most of. River is his future and he’s trying to run away from her. Amy thinks he can’t do that. The Doctor thinks he can. “Time is not the boss of me.”
Dani: I do like the way Amy immediately calls him out for wanting to run away. Calling-the-Doctor-on-his-shit was one of my (many) favorite Donna traits. I hope we see more of this from Amy.
Mari: Amy insists that they stay for at least five minutes, because the Doctor promised to show her another planet. He concedes pretty easily, though he does shout a little more about five minutes and not letting “that woman” drag him into anything. Wasn’t the last time the Doctor saw River that time she DIED and was stuck in VIRTUAL REALITY? Why is Eleven being so very hostile to her right now? I get maybe uncomfortable or hesitant, but this is strange.
K: I think we’re just meant to go with the idea that they’ve had adventures together that we haven’t seen on screen, like in the DW novels and the audio adventures and shit like that? But it’s still SUPER WEIRD.
Mari: Ain’t nobody got time for supplemental material, Doctor Who.
Planet with a burning wreckage. Amy asks what caused it to crash. The Doctor says the Home Box said it was something with the something and that means SABOTAGE! (D: Whoa, is John McCain helping us recap this episode???…)
Amy wants to rewind again because honestly no one has told her who River even is yet. The Doctor introduces Amy Pond and Professor River Song, though the “professor” thing is a spoiler for River.
River uses her communicator to see if the rest of her team is here yet. She asks the Doctor to sonic her to boost the communicator’s signal. He does so grudgingly and Amy teases that he soniced her. Ah, the good ole sonic screwdriver/penis metaphor.
River pulls out her TARDIS diary. Amy is again curious, and the Doctor and River tag-team to explain that it’s a diary full of their meetings because it’s her past and his future — they keep meeting in the wrong order.
Four tornadoes form and turn into four soldiers, which is one way to travel I guess. Soldier in Charge (D: It’s Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen) from GOT!!) (M: Dear God, I just watched the whole episode thinking, “…he’s familiar…”) (K: I know him as slimy Mr Preston from the 1999 BBC Wives and Daughters, and I CANNOT DEAL WITH HIM.) says that River promised them an army. She corrects that she promised him the equivalent of an army. She introduces the Doctor. Soldier in Charge introduces himself as Father Octavian and he’s got 20 cleric/soldiers at his command. It’s finally time for River to tell us all (who haven’t read the episode title) what’s up and she asks the Doctor what he knows of the Weeping Angels.
DUN DUN DUN. (No, seriously, the Weeping Angels freak me the hell out.)
After a dramatic cut, night has fallen and the rest of the troops have arrived. They’ve set up camp around some kind of container-unit-looking command base. Octavian explains that the Weeping Angel is trapped inside and their mission is to find and neutralize it. As a very big bonus of awful, they have to go in through the (dark) catacombs. The Doctor is like OH, GREAT.
Father Octavian is called away. Now alone, Amy notes that the Doctor is letting people call him sir, which he never does, so this Weeping Angel must be real bad news. (#futurefeels) Instead of answering Amy, the Doctor is a dick and condescendingly asks which part of waiting in the TARDIS Amy didn’t understand. Amy calls him a Grumpy Face, which is about 1000 levels kinder than what I would’ve gone with. (K: I might even have gone with “Hey, River? Want to steal the TARDIS and leave this assface here?”) The Doctor babbles about his worries, the danger of the Weeping Angels, and how he’s expected to save the day, to climb into the catacombs with a screwdriver and a torch and come up with some kind of brilliant plan. And while he’s still a dick for talking down to Amy, his anxiety over the Weeping Angels is too real.
Amy remains unfazed and changes the subject to River. Amy asks if River is his wife because no one talks to the Doctor the way she does. It’s very “heel, boy.” It’s all kind of a gross sentiment, this idea that the only person who talks to the Doctor as any kind of equal is his future wife, but whatevs. Maybe I’m being a Grumpy Face today. The Doctor admits that he is.
K: It’s definitely a gross sentiment, partly because Donna TOTALLY talked to the Doctor the way River does, but with less of a sense of privilege around it.
Mari: River, changed into fatigues, calls the Doctor and Father Octavian into the command unit. Amy asks why they call him father and the Doctor says that in the 51st century, the church has moved on.
In the little command unit, a central screen shows a grainy image of a Weeping Angel. I hate it. River explains that the angel is trapped in the Byzantium vault. She ripped the security camera footage of it from the ship and is looping it for them now. The Doctor is like, “yep, it’s an angel.” From that brilliant insight, Octavian deduces that the Doctor has encountered the angels before. He confirms that he did, a long time ago, but those were scavengers, barely surviving. This Angel has been privately owned and “dormant,” though the Doctor explains that there is a difference between dormant and patient. (D: Is it anything like the difference between Grumpy Face and Condescending Dickhead?) Meanwhile, Amy’s asking all the “what’s it, who’s it” questions. River and the Doctor tag-team to explain the general concept of Angels being stone when you see them as the ultimate defense mechanism.
Outside at the camp, the Doctor says that to complicate matters every more, the crashed ship is going to be full of radiation, making it deadly to almost any living thing. Except of course a Weeping Angel, who will just get stronger with the radiation. The Doctor asks who built the temple and if they are still around. River says it was the indigenous lifeforms, the Aplans, who died out 400 years ago and 200 years after that, the planet was terraformed. (K: Remember when River was an archaeologist and an archaeologist would be HELLA PISSED about the destruction of the archaeological record by terraforming? Yeeeah.) Now, there are six billion colonists on the planet. The Doctor compares humans to rabbits because they are everywhere. (D: Jealous much?)
Every one acknowledges all the big danger they are in, but before they jump into it, River says she needs her sweetie for something. Amy is left alone, asking if anyone needs her at all. The answer being a bunch of crickets, essentially, she heads back into the unit. The image of the Weeping Angel has changed.
River shows the Doctor a journal written by a “madman” (her word) that does have some good insight into the Weeping Angels. The Doctor speed reads it with a flip, but seems to register something on a delay. Inside the unit, Amy calls out and asks if River had any other clips of the Angel. She did not. The Angel has nonetheless moved, now fully turned to look straight at us. Amy looks away and when she looks back, the Angel is closer. (D: I’d have noped my way out of there the second it turned because that shit is creepy AF.) The door to the unit closes and locks.
River says it’s so weird when the Doctor turns up with baby face, as this is very early for him in their timeline. The Doctor asks how she even knows who he is, and she admits that she keeps pictures of all his faces. That sets something off for the Doctor and he wonders why there aren’t any pictures of the Angels in the journal.
Amy tries to turn the monitor off, but it keeps turning itself back on. She tries to disconnect the monitor, and in the moments her head is lowered, the Weeping Angel gets right up onto the screen. Amy starts yelling for the Doctor.
Mari: Outside, River and the Doctor are piecing together something the journal said (“that which holds the image of an angel becomes itself an angel“) with the fact that there are no pictures of the Angels. Inside, the Weeping Angel starts materializing. Amy is still yelling and the Doctor finally hears her.
He and River run to the door as Amy explains that the Angel is in the room with her. He yells at her not to blink as he discovers the door has been deadlocked. Inside, Amy tries not to blink by blinking one eye at a time, which seems like both a brilliant and highly dangerous plan. The screen still won’t shut off. Nothing that the Doctor and River do help them get in, and what’s worse, the Doctor tells Amy not to look the Angel in the eyes, but it’s too late for that.
Finally, Amy does some quick thinking and realizes that there is a second of dead space in the four second loop of the Angel. She presses pause at just the right moment and the Angel disappears and the doors open, letting the Doctor and River in. (D: As someone who can’t even take a screenshot without accidentally turning off her phone, I am super impressed with Amy’s ability to pause the film so perfectly here.) Amy explains what she did, thinking it was rather brilliant of her, but apparently the Doctor can’t be fussed about that now. River acknowledges Amy, though, and tells her she indeed did a very good job.
K: WHICH SHE DID. That’s a pretty damn good plan to come up with while trying not to blink or scream or pee your pants.
An explosion draws us outside, where Father Octavion says they’ve gotten through to the crash site. River asks Amy if she’s coming. She is, there is just something in her eye. LIKE MAYBE A WEEPING ANGEL? Sorry, I got ahead of myself.
The Doctor and crew all climb down and he and River explain that they are in an Aplan Moratorium, sometimes called a Maze of the Dead. (D: If you buy the wristband you also get access to the Carousel of Corpses. Probably.) Some light reveals that they are surrounded by stone statues, making this a perfect hiding place for the Weeping Angels. River calls it a needle in a haystack and the Doctor tries to amend that to “a needle that looks like hay. A hay-like needle of death. A hay-like needle of death in a haystack of, er, statues” before admitting that River’s was fine.
Father Octavian starts dispatching his soldiers to start their search. He holds River back and cryptically tells her to make sure the Doctor doesn’t figure out who and what she is. She promises that she won’t because she has no intention of going back to prison.
The Doctor, Amy and River start climbing the Maze of the Dead. Amy rubs her eye and stone dust falls out of it, it looks horrible. It’s like having a thing in your eye TIMES A MILLION. (D: No eyeball trauma, please! Do. Not. Like.) (K: AGREED.) River injects her with something to help against radiation when they reach the ship. Amy and River hang back to talk about the Doctor, but River knows he’s listening because he’s looking at River’s portable screen upside-down. But nothing really comes of the conversation because River will neither confirm nor deny that she is the Doctor’s wife.
Two soldiers, Angelo and Christian, are off exploring together and promptly get Angel-mauled.
We hear gunshots. The Doctor, Amy and River run into the other chamber where everyone else is. A young soldier apologizes because he thought one of the stone statues moved. Octavian berates him, asking if the thing he shot looks like an Angel at all. The Doctor steps in. He asks the guy his name (“Bob,” a sacred name assigned by the church) and tells him that being scared is good. It’ll make him fast. Anyone who isn’t scared is stupid. Not that being scared and unstupid saves Sacred Bob from having to look for Angelo and Christian.
As they keep walking, Amy wonders what would happen if the whole structure collapsed. (D: That’s a cheery thought. Dafuq is wrong with you, Pond?) This sets the Doctor off on a tangent about how he once met the chief architect of the Aplans, who had two heads. Thinking a mile a minute, the Doctor has River read to him the last part of the journal: What if we had ideas that could think for themselves? What if one day our dreams no longer needed us? When these things occur and are held to be true, the time will be upon us. The time of Angels.
Dani: Ugh, does it HAVE to be so cryptic? I know, I know… the journal was written by a madman. Whatever.
K: This is part of why I don’t like poetry. JUST SAY WHAT YOU MEAN, ASSHOLE. NO ONE NEEDS THAT MUCH METAPHOR.
Mari: Sacred Bob looks for the others. Shadows loom.
Amy is getting tired. River says they only have two levels of climbing left. The Doctor says the Aplans are lovely and they should visit them sometime. Amy is like, “but they dead?” because apparently while on this time traveling adventure, she hasn’t registered that these are time traveling adventures idk. The real reason she gets this dumb line is so that the Doctor can babble some more about how the Aplans have two heads. River and the Doctor realize something. The Doctor apologizes to everyone for the grave dangers he’s put them in. All of the status they are surrounded by? Only have one head. Why would Aplan statues only have one head?
K: Because the BBC has a budget of 50p and getting a bunch of fake Roman statues was cheaper than getting specially made two-headed ones? Just a thought…
Mari: A very logical one, too, but actually it’s because WEEPING ANGELS.
To test his theory, the Doctor instructs everyone to turn off their lights. He flicks his own off and on and when they can see the statues again, they’ve all moved. (D: NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE.) The Doctor runs into another passageway and they can see all the other Angels are on the move and climbing up towards them.
Dead Angel Angelo calls to Sacred Bob all, “come see this!” And then Sacred Bob is Angel-mauled.
River swears that there was only one Angel on the crashed ship. Amy asks if it were possible that this maze of Angels was here previously. The Doctor confirms this by presuming that they are looking at what killed the Aplans. Except these Angels are dying, moving slowly, losing their image, which means losing their power. The crash was meant to save these Angels.
It also means that when Sacred Bob shot at one of the statues, he was almost certainly right.
Octavian calls for Christian, Angelo and Sacred Bob. Dead Sacred Bob answers and says that Christian and Angelo are dead, killed by the Angels. The Doctor asks Sacred Bob how the Angels killed the other two and is surprised to find the Angels snapped their necks. That’s not a typical way the Angels kill. They usually displace people in time… unless they need bodies for something.
Sacred Bob is like, “yep. I’m dead too.” (K: WOMP.) The Angels are just using his voice and a version of his consciousness. The Doctor asks if Sacred Bob is the Angel from the crash, and SB confirms. The Doctor thanks him for the information, namely that the powerful Angel isn’t in the wreckage, and takes off running with the others.
The Doctor passes Amy, who has stopped running. She says she can’t move because her hand has turned to stone. The Doctor correctly deduces that Amy looked the Angel in the eyes and now it’s messing with her head. Her hand is not actually stone. They go back and forth for a while, Amy insisting her hand is stone, and the Doctor trying to convince her that it isn’t. She tells him to go along without her. He needs to live. It’s all very touching until the Doctor bites her hand to prove it isn’t stone.
K: Mostly, this moment skeeved me out because it gave me Breaking Dawn flashbacks…
The Doctor and Amy rejoin the others as they realize that the Weeping Angels are advancing and their lights all keep flickering. There’s no way up, back or out. The Doctor says there is always a way out, and the sentiment echoes through the chamber. Dead Sacred Bob uses the comm again to ask to speak to the Doctor. Dead Sacred Bob says that the Angels are keen for the Doctor to know something: Bob died in fear. The Doctor said fear would keep him alive, but in the end, Bob was afraid and alone and ultimately dead.
Amy wonders what the Angels are playing at, and River guesses they are trying to make him angry. It works. He gets all Doctor Indignantly Angry, or what have you, and asks everyone if they trust him. Amy says yes. River says she always does. Octavian says they have faith. The Doctor says his plan is very dangerous, but on his you-can’t-miss-it signal, they all have to jump as high as they can.
The Doctor takes Octavian’s gun and points it at the Byzantium. He tells the Weeping Angel of the grave mistake they committed in assembling this trap:
Dani: I think we may need to add a ‘Big Book of Doctor Gloating’ tag, because Eleven (or should I say Moffatt?) sure loves to make speeches about how clever he is. Also, does the fact that there’s zero recoil after he fires the gun in that last gif bother anyone else, or is my Texas showing?
K: Yeah, we definitely need a Big Book of Doctor Gloating tag. Maybe a Big Spaceship, even. He does do an AWFUL lot of “look how clever I am”-ing. And yes, your Texas is showing.
Mari: I’m super curious how people feel about this episode because Eleven and River are both such polarizing characters. I enjoyed it, mostly because if you can’t tell, I think the Weeping Angels are so damn scary and they add a level of tension in any episode they are in. First parts can be tricky to really comment on, though, as we always note. It was a lot of build-up here for a payoff we won’t talk about until next time.
Dani: I liked it, too. I think they could’ve cut A LOT from the first fifteen minutes, but the episode hit its stride once we got to the angel. Blink is probably my all-time favorite DW episode, so I was psyched to see one of the best villains/monsters return. That said, I have mixed feelings about the way they’re straight-up murdering people now. The writers explained it well enough, but something about it feels kind of cheap to me. Like, the angels were legitimately terrifying when they sent people back in time, so making them neck-snapping murderers feels like a crutch used to cover weak writing. It’s unnecessary and kinda disappointing, but it doesn’t lessen my enjoyment of this truly frightening enemy – especially after the rather silly Daleks we had to stomach in our last outing.
K: I’m pretty meh about this episode. I liked River better when, as I’ve said multiple times, she was an archaeologist rather than some weirdo space Bond girl. I LOVE the Weeping Angels in Blink, but I think a big part of what makes them scary there is that the Doctor isn’t there to save the day. Sally Sparrow has to work it out on her own because there’s no one there to bite her hand or realise that the statues don’t have two heads. So while they’re still pretty creepy here, it’s mostly because of the jump cuts in between movements rather than what they’re doing, if that makes sense?? Really, I think the MVP here is Amy, and she definitely peaks early.
Next time on Doctor Who: Still no blinking in S05 E05 – Flesh and Stone.