Flesh and Stone

This episode sees the conclusion to Moffat's “Weeping Angels” two parter. We were left last week with the Doctor, Amy and River (plus some Clergy commandos) in a bit of a pickle, cornered in the ominously named 'Maze of the Dead'. They were surrounded by the “Angelic Statue” race and with the lights about to go out, the Doctor needed a plan. He shot the light emitting 'gravity globe', it exploded and we had to wait a week to see what happens next.

“A forest in a bottle in a space ship in a maze, have I impressed you yet Amy Pond?”

This week's episode kicks off to a great start. So what does happen when you shoot a gravity globe? Why it disturbs gravity of course, in this case, just enough to free you of the planet you are standing on and stick you to the hull of a space ship that resides above your head. After getting aboard the ship, our remaining group of survivors engage in a nail biting chase from small corridor to small corridor. Hot on their heels are the fully restored Weeping Angels, well fed off the radiation the crashed ship's engine is emitting. They (and we) get a small break after they barricade themselves in a control room. It's here we get another chat with 'Angel Bob' and he reveals to the Doctor the Angels fully intend to take Amy and laughter at the Doctor's attempts to run. Amy creepily has no control over her mind and is counting down in minutes... to something.

They open a door in the room to find the ship's “oxygen factory”. To Amy's amazement this is a full on forest that runs through the middle of the ship. The Doctor explain these are “Borg Plants”, a mixture of technology which gathers light from space, and, well plants. The creepy undulating forest unfortunately offers a Weeping Angel any number of opportunities to get behind you and scare the crap out of you. But, before he leaves to enter the forest with the others, the Doctor notices a time crack in the wall. The very same time crack which appeared on Amy's bedroom wall and has been following them through the previous episodes of this series. The Doctor quickly identifies this crack as what the Angels are actually after and when he's finished analysing it he has to high-tail it out of there because the Angel's have broken through the doors and are right up in his grill. The Angels grab the Doctor by the collar and he needs to talk his way out of trouble fast. Luckily the Angels are now starring up at the crack in the wall, so the Doctor tells them they can't feed on this time energy, it's an explosion at the end of the universe. Silly Angels.

“Why are they making her count?”, “To make her afraid sir." “Okay but why, what for?" “For fun sir”.

Now in the forest, Amy is having trouble - she has almost finished her involuntary countdown and collapsed. The Doctor catches up with them and now it's time to diagnose what's wrong with her. After looking in the Angel's eyes, much like it did with the video recording, the Angel is able to imprint itself on Amy's minds eye. After a few tense moments they work out she needs to shut off the visual centres of her mind by keeping her eyes shut, or else the Angel will walk out of her mind and take her over completely. What a great twist on the theme of this particular foe, what the heck do you do if you can't open your eyes and you can't close them? You worry, that's what you do.

With Amy blind but stabilized, they need to move on. The Doctor leaves the Clerics on guard starring at the Angels and looking after Amy. Before the Doctor heads off with River and the Father, to the primary flight deck, he pauses to talk to Amy. He tells her she needs to start trusting him. She exclaims that he doesn't always tell her the truth. “If I always told you the truth I wouldn't ask you to trust me." Then after he tells her to remember (which she can't) what he told her when she was seven (that sounds important doesn't it), he gives her a kiss on the forehead and off he goes. It's a touching moment and really shows that Amy's 'petulance', for want of a better word, and distrust over the beginning of the season has been the start of a deliberate character arc. She's only gradually coming round to the strange man who flies around in a time machine. It's good to have that characterisation built into Doctor Who for once.

The Doctor, with the help of River's computer has now worked out the date the explosion (that caused the time cracks) begins - it's “Amy's time”. It's here we also find out the secret that River has been keeping from the Doctor, that the Father/Commando is actually accompanying her on a mission to earn her pardon. She was imprisoned in “Storm Cage” for some kind of crime.

Back with Amy, the lights are starting to flicker again because the Angels are ripping the wires out of the borg-trees. Also, there is something else approaching, something more worrying than the Angels. The crack in time is growing larger and consuming all it meets. The Angels promptly run for it. The Clerics guarding Amy aren't as smart as that and curiously wander towards the thing which probably isn't a good thing to wander towards. One by one they are erased from time and Amy is left all alone.

After an unfortunate flicker of the lights an Angel grabs the Father in a choke hold. In a long, but well done, death scene with the Doctor, he reveals to the Doctor that River was imprisoned for killing a man, a good man. The Doctor then 'wishes he could have known him better' and runs off, leaving him to his fate. Now in another control room, the Doctor catches up with River. She's trying to get a teleporter to work and he talks Amy through walking out of the forest, using the communicator to warn her of nearby Angels. Here the Doctor really loses his temper. River questions what he's going to do to stop the approaching time crack and he angrily replies it needs a complex time event to swallow, only then will its energy will be consumed. He's the only thing that is complex enough to do the job. He is also losing his patience with Amy, who still isn't trusting him enough to move forward through the preoccupied crowd of Angels. She falls to the ground and it looks like all is about to be lost....

Of course the Doctor then saves the day and applies some temporal poly-filler to that pesky crack. I'm guessing that's not the last we are going to see of it though. Also Amy is cured, in a logically pleasing way, of the Angel in her brain and River is cuffed and teleported off the planet up to a waiting prison ship. But before she goes she offers the Doctor, and the viewers, some nice teasers for the next time they meet... “The opening of the Pandorica”. Sounds cool, maybe it's a box or something.

I was really pleased by this episode. Combined with Part 1, the complete story is 90 minutes long and it fills that feature length of time really well. For almost the entire run time it was in full on 'chase mode' across a range of different locations. Each time the group got out of the corner they found themselves in, they got stuck in a slightly different one and each time the Doctor found a different way to open a door. This could have been a bit 'rinse and repeat'/tedious, but breaking up the chase was a series of great little character moments. Character moments such as: the Doctor reassuring Amy, the death of the Father and the Doctor's slow realisation that time was breaking around them and he might have to sacrifice himself in-order to save everyone. Again, in customary Moffat fashion, those moments were iced with snappy, and heartfelt, dialogue. Here Matt Smith really got to flex his acting chops for the first time, going from emotion to emotion with scant regard for their proximity for one another. His efforts have shown us a Doctor who feels the importance of the moment, without it going to somewhere which feels forced or cheap. He was also well propped up by Karen Gillan, who's getting better every week and Alex Kingston who didn't have a massive amount to do, but she's left a good impression. Although I wasn't so pleased with Kingston's reading right at the end. She seemed to be literally “reading” what she was saying. Since it was regarding spoilers, and so half directed at the audience, it would have maybe been better served in a more natural tone. But it was fine really.

There was another little problem in the pacing toward the end, a lot happened very quickly. I found I didn't quite keep up with what the Doctor was saying at one point (could have been the point though) and in my opinion, the dispatching of the Angels could have been given a bit more breathing room. But that is really a minor quibble in a great episode/s of TV. It doesn't quite hit the quality of “Blink”, that had a simplicity about it which this doesn't have, but it is a worthy sequel. You could give the first episode of this season and this two parter to some one who's never watched Doctor Who, it would fit together really well, and they would thoroughly enjoy it.

The end of this episode was used to tease the next episode. After River gets teleported (cool teleport effect btw) the Doctor and Amy return to her bedroom 5 minutes after they left in episode 1. After showing off her engagement ring, she tells the Doctors she wants some, he's a bit bemused so she leaps on him and he scrambles to escape. Just as he's about to give in, he realises that she's the most important thing in the universe and he has to sort her out... as it were. And they enter the Tardis... as it were.

Next week's episode has busty Vampire chicks in Venice... or are they?...Vampires that is.

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