I can’t tell you how glad am I to have my prediction for the Ponds proven wrong. The Angels Take Manhattan was heartbreaking as promised, but the ending was, to steal a phrase from the Pet Shop Boys, HappySad. The scenario I mooted last week was beyond sad and into bleak, Steven Moffat’s outcome was (unsurprisingly) much better.
Spoilers below the line…
This was one of the most atmospheric episodes in a very long time – helped along by beautiful acting, the scariest monsters in the Whoniverse, and our own sense of dread.
The potentially corny trope of the hard-boiled detective’s narrative being tapped out on a typewriter in sync with the action was not only neatly subverted, but built into the structure of the story.
There’s an awful lot of subtle deftness about this episode actually; the repeated images of Liberty that pass unnoticed first time around, so central is she to our whole idea of New York; the idea that marriage is changing the future; the Doctor unable to look at the aged and dying Rory at Winter Quay.
Which is all good, because it balances out the unsubtle bits (the author’s name being Melody, the Doctor’s declaration that he “hates endings”, and the “written in stone” line combined with the pan to a very worrying gravestone to name but three).
Countering their dark dynamic, providing the slightest of comic relief is the Doctor and River show – I’ve yet to tire of their playing with domestic cliche; the veneer of normality that tops their utterly unique and mostly undomesticated relationship. Which in turn provides contrast to the Ponds’ relationship. I could never have foreseen that the Rory we met in The Eleventh Hour would become this man, the quiet hero beloved by Amy, the Doctor and we hapless, sofa-bound viewers. But I’m so glad he did.
And actually, the most shocking moments in this episode are provided by the people – River breaking her own wrist, Rory climbing onto the roof edge, Amy following him and insisting they jump together – all are much more visceral, terrible things than than what the Angels do.
There may be those who complain that there’s too much relying on love and running to save the day, but I’m not one of them. Love, sacrifice, guilt, anger, revenge, grief, death – all the big themes in life are played out in Doctor Who as in other stories. The added aliens, timey-wimey and running all just add spice to the mixture.
Besides, if Rory and Amy’s rooftop scene didn’t bring a tear to your eye your heart must be stonier than an Angel’s. And Amy’s goodbye scene in the graveyard was surely heartbreaking enough to make even a Lonely Assassin weep.
But as I said right back at the top of this page – this is a HappySad ending. So not only do we know that Rory and Amy get a Happily Ever After, we know that Amelia Pond wasn’t left waiting in her wellies for 12 years after all. The smile on her face as the sound of the Tardis engines fill the garden in Leadworth is a sight worth waiting two and a half years for.
Farewell then Ponds – I shall miss you. The new girl has some big shoes to fill at Christmas.
Posted by Jo the Hat