Review: The Angels Take Manhattan

Yesterday, the mid-series finale of Doctor Who’s Series 7 aired. It featured the appearance of the Weeping Angels, one of the scariest monsters we’ve seen so far, and the return of River Song. This was also the last regular appearance of Amy and Rory Williams, who had been in Doctor Who since the start of Series 5 and the debut of the Eleventh Doctor. I’ll go through some main points in the plot and share a couple of my thoughts.

The opening scene shows a man walking to an apartment block in 1938 New York called Winter Quay where he was told by a sort of mafioso character, Mr Grayle, that ‘statues move in the dark’. He finds a room with his name on it, and when he goes inside he discovers an older version of himself. He then gets touched by an Angel and lives the rest of his life in the room.

We then see Amy and Rory with the Doctor in present day New York. They are having a picnic in Central Park. The Doctor is reading a book written by a Melody Malone and Rory was gone to get coffees when Rory is zapped back by some baby angels and the Doctor gets to a point in the book where their story starts. They learn about Rory through the book and get in the TARDIS to get him. I liked this whole Blink-esque forwards and backwards in time information. It was a bit of a throwback and yet it was done with enough new ideas that it was still exciting and surprising.

Rory meets with River in 1938 and they are taken to Mr Grayle’s house and kept there. Rory is taken to a cellar with baby angels and River is held down by a broken angel. Still in 2012, Amy continues to read from the book, but the Doctor snatches it from her, telling her that if she keeps reading then the events become fixed points.

Because of the time energy in the vicinity of the Angels it is difficult to get the TARDIS to Mr Grayle’s mansion, but eventually the Doctor manages it. They decide that chapter titles don’t have enough spoilers to create fixed points, and they learn that Rory is in the cellar. Unfortunately the Doctor sees that the last chapter features a farewell from Amelia. The Doctor tells River to get out of the statue without breaking her arm (though she breaks it anyway), while Amy discovers that Rory is gone. They locate Rory near Winter Quay and follow him there.

The four of them are in a room with Rory’s name on it, and they discover an older Rory who dies in the room. To create a paradox, they decide that Rory should run forever. Eventually, since he doesn’t die, the paradox would poison the Angels. But Rory goes to the top of the hotel and decides to kill himself, thinking it will create a better paradox. Amy says that they must do it together, and they jump just as the Doctor discovers them.

The paradox works, and it’s just as if nothing happened. But just as they are all about to enter the TARDIS, Rory spots a gravestone with his name on it, and creating a fixed point, he is zapped back to the past by an angel. Amy decides that her best bet for seeing Rory again is to get touched and despite the fact that she’ll never see the Doctor again, she lets herself be touched. The tombstone changes to show that Amy dies along with Rory at an old age.

River and the Doctor then fly away, then River says that she still needs to write the book, and that if he’d like, she could get Amy to write an afterword. In the afterword, she tells the Doctor of the great life she’d had, and tells him to find a new companion. She also tells him to tell her younger self of the great life she will have, and the episode ends with the TARDIS landing near a young Amelia Pond.

I thought Amy and Rory’s ending was great. It finishes the story of the Ponds’ with no chance of them ever coming back (such as Donna’s ending) and it was just as sad as Moffat claimed. I also thought the zapping-back-in-time angels made a nice comeback; I didn’t like the angels in The Time of Angels and Flesh and Stone as they were just like any other monsters. The wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey storyline of Blink really returned in this episode and I thought that was the way it should be with the Weeping Angels.

What did you think? Did you like Amy and Rory’s farewell? Also, are you excited for the Christmas special? Tell us in the comments!

Review: The Power of Three

Last night, the penultimate episode of Amy and Rory’s story with the Doctor aired. As this has quite a lot to do with the Ponds’ story arc, I’ll go through some more important plot points and tell you what I thought.

The story starts with Amy saying that this was the year of the slow invasion, and that the Doctor came to stay. I thought that the idea of a year-long invasion was awesome and it was funny to see the Doctor try to cope with everyday life. All in all the idea of this week’s episode was pretty solid.

The episode begins with Rory’s father, Brian, calling upon the Ponds to tell them that black cubes had fallen overnight over the whole world. They all then find the Doctor and he tells them he wants to stay over to investigate the cubes. The house is soon invaded by armed men and a woman from UNIT. This woman is revealed to be Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart’s daughter. I am a New Who fan, but I have seen a couple of old episodes and I liked this homage to the Brigadier, especially since his actor’s death last year.

Back to the story. UNIT subjects the cubes to rigourous testing, and the Doctor does some testing of his own. After four days of waiting for something to happen, the Doctor proclaims, ‘Patience is for wimps!’ and takes off. So the Ponds’ life continues as normal. Rory gets a full-time nursing job and Amy agrees to be a bridesmaid for a future wedding. By doing these things, they have finally commited themselves to life on Earth.

Mid-year, at the Ponds’ anniversary, the Doctor takes them away for seven weeks for a honeymoon. When they return, no one realises they were gone except for Brian, who express concern for the Ponds’ safety. The Doctor, guilty, decides to stay with them. As the Ponds continue on with their lives, the Doctor manages to entertain himself. Brian diligently keeps a daily log of the cubes’ behaviour.

Finally, on day 361 of the cubes’ arrival, every cube in the world activates in different ways. Brian’s one moves around, Amy’s pricks her and takes her pulse, and Rory’s scans the vicinity. There is a funny moment when the Doctor is vigourously playing Wii and his cube starts shooting laser beams at him. They decide that Rory and Brian should go to the hospital to help victims, and Amy and the Doctor are called upon to go to the Tower of London to meet with UNIT.

Suddenly, all the cubes display the number seven and begin to count down. (There is a humourous moment when the Doctor claims that the number seven is significant because a cube has seven sides – counting the in-side!). At the hospital, Brian is tricked into entering a portal to an alien spaceship, and Rory follows.

When the cubes reach zero, everyone in close proximity of a cube dies of cardiac arrest. The Doctor survives, because he has two hearts, and realises that the cubes were there to scan the limits of human technological power and now the alien power knows all their weaknesses. The Doctor gets to Rory’s hospital and gets defillibrated by Amy. They then find the spaceship, which is revealed to belong to the Shakri, some sort of universe pest-controller.

This is where the brilliant episode goes downhill. The Shakri has a speech about extinguishing the human race before they get into space. He says that he is planning another wave of cubes, then disappears. The Doctor then, with deus ex machina, uses his screwdriver to reverse the cubes’ shock, then escapes the ship before it explodes. Finally, Brian gives Amy and Rory permission to go with the Doctor, realising how wonderful the adventures are.

I thought the episode was amazing (very like the old Tennant earth invasion ones), if it had been longer. The pace of the story was more that of a two-parter, and had they ended with the cardiac arrest, and then had the whole second episode to develop the Shakri’s plans, it would have been much more sinister and scary. The Shakri could have been extremely terrifying, but as we only saw him for two minutes at the end, there just wasn’t time to develop his character.

In conclusion, I would definitely say this was the best episode in the series so far, but I really don’t like this new no-two-parter format. Asylum of the Daleks could have been great if it were a two-parter, and so could this episode. This would have Amy and Rory departing closer to halfway through the series and we would have more character development (like the sort we got in this story) before their farewell.

What did you think of the episode? Do you agree with my opinions? Tell us in the comments!

Watch: The Power of Three

Tonight, the fourth episode of Series 7 of Doctor Who will air. Here is the synopsis from the BBC Press Office:

The Doctor and the Ponds puzzle an unlikely invasion of Earth, as millions of sinister black cubes arrive overnight, almost like presents falling from the sky. But what are they, what’s inside them and most importantly, who sent them? With the international community at a loss, it’s left to the Doctor to unearth who is behind the mystery.

I’m really excited for this one. There hasn’t been much hype surrounding it initially and it was actually the episode we knew the least about, but I’m looking forward to seeing UNIT again. What do you think? Tell us in the comments!

Review: Dinosaurs on a Spaceship

WARNING: There may be spoilers ahead

Last night, the second episode of the new Doctor Who series was aired. It starred Harry Potter alumni Mark Williams and David Bradley. I won’t go through the entire story this time, like I did with Asylum of the Daleks, as that makes for really long posts. I’ll do that for more plot-integral episodes only.

First of all, I think all the characters in the Doctor’s gang were great. We had John Riddell, a turn-of-the-century explorer of the African Bush, along with Queen Nefertiti of Egypt. Their personalities clashing made for some good lighthearted scenes, which fit the tone of this episode in general.

It has been ten months since the Doctor last saw Amy and Rory, and this time Rory’s dad gets brought along. I think Mark Williams plays the character of the bumbling old man quite well. He is a cheerful and funny old man (not very unlike Wilfred Mott, in fact) who has sort of been dragged into the situation.

The monsters promised in the episode are, of course, dinosaurs. I think it was a nice throwback to the Classic Who days, but dinosaurs don’t really fit the New Who series. Luckily, dinosaurs only played a small role in this episode. The real antagonist, Solomon (played by David Bradley), is a trapped space trader who is looking to make a profit from the creatures aboard. He, too, is portrayed very well, with a little bit of spooky selfishness which comes with being trapped on the ship for too long.

Although Riddell and Nefertiti’s flirting was a little unnecessary, I thought that the characters were well managed. Where this episode misses out is the story. While there is a nice backstory featuring the destruction of the Silurians by Solomon to get their cargo, this is a rather silly episode. The dinosaurs really changed the tone from what could have been an eerie story about a trader who would do anything to save himself, to a kiddish run-away-from-the-dinosaurs episode.

I still thought that this was a good episode. The beauty of Doctor Who is that the episodes each have their own theme, and we haven’t really seen a good silly one from Moffat (except maybe the Craig Owens episodes). This episode will no doubt balance the series, since we know there are darker episodes ahead.

What do you think about this episode? Did you like Mark Williams’ portrayal of Rory’s dad? Tell us in the comments!

Review: Asylum of the Daleks

WARNING: There may be spoilers below

Yesterday, the series 7 premiere of Doctor Who was aired. And what an episode it was! We saw the return of the Daleks, the return of the Ponds and the Doctor, as well as someone new! Here is the plot and a couple of my thoughts:

The episode kicks off with the Indiana Jones-like Doctor we saw in Wedding of River Song meeting a strange woman on Skaro. He seems to be lying low, which is probably smart seeing as the universe thinks him dead. He is then introduced to the monster for the episode, who we’ve actually seen before. Yes! The nanogenes from the awesome gas-mask children two-parter are back!

The Doctor is kidnapped by the woman, who has been Dalek’d. We then get to see Amy and Rory, whose relationship has drastically taken a turn for the worse. They have a short argument, then are kidnapped in turn by Dalekised people. This is all rather concise, and I think it’s probably good for the pacing.

Next we have the first surprise of the season. Jenna-Louise Coleman! She plays a computer genius called Oswin Oswald in a crashed ship and trying to fend off the Daleks. We hadn’t expected to see her until Christmas, so it was really a shock to see her right after the opening theme. Anyway, the Doctor, Amy, and Rory find themselves on a Dalek ship. They are asked to enter an Asylum of crazy Daleks to disable the forcefield so that the Daleks can eliminate the planet.

The Doctor and Amy find a member of the crew of a crashed ship who leads them in. All the other crew members are dead, and it is revealed that their man is also dead, and has become a Dalek. This is a rather scary scene where the Dalekised corpses of the crew try to attack them. They take Amy’s protective wristband, making her vulnerable to the nanogenes.

Meanwhile, Rory is being guided by Oswin to a safe place to wait for the Doctor and a deteriorating Amy, who are also being led by her via an intercom system. Amy is starting to have severe amnesia and delusions. Eventually, they manage to meet up with Rory. They have a conversation with Oswin, and they have a deal in which she disables the forcefield and they get her out of the Asylum.

Rory proposes to give Amy his wristband, figuring that it’ll take longer for him because he has more love for her then she has for him. We then find out that Amy only left Rory to give him a chance to have more children, as she cannot have any more. It was unnecessary, because the Doctor doesn’t need a wristband, but he left that out in order for Amy and Rory to reconcile. I admit that I wasn’t too keen on having this sort of drama in the episode, but it was executed rather well, without taking too much from the storyline.

The Doctor continues towards Oswin. While inside intensive care, it is necessary for Oswin to delete all memory of the Doctor from the Daleks’ collective memory. When the Doctor finally finds his way, the big secret is revealed: Oswin is a Dalek! She made up her whole environment to get away from the fact that she was stuck inside a Dalek shell. We see her struggle with herself, deciding at one point to kill the Doctor, but her human-ness wins out and she sacrifices herself for the Doctor and the Ponds.

The episode finishes with the Daleks forgetting who the Doctor is and shouting ‘Doctor Who?’ over and over as he leaves.

This leaves the question: Who is Oswin and what is her relationship to the future companion, who is also to be played by Jenna-Louise Coleman? Some people think that the Doctor meets her earlier in her timestream (but that was already used before). While others think that the Doctor somehow finds Oswin and brings her back later on, I’m banking on the fact that Oswin is not the next companion but a relative, similar to Gwyneth and Gwen from Torchwood as well as Adeola Oshodi and Martha Jones. I guess we’ll have to wait and see!

What did you think of the episode? Did you like Jenna-Louise Coleman’s portrayal of Oswin Oswald? What do you think the next episodes have to offer? Tell us in the comments!