All right, kids. This is a rough one. We all know that this is the Ponds’ last episode, right? That’s been all over the news/Whoniverse for a while now. The anticipation, then, is not what will happen, but how it will happen. And folks, we’ve also got Weeping Angels, so move your sofa away from the wall so you can hide behind it.
We begin with a man’s voice talking about statues, and we get shots of statues in Manhattan. This man turns out to be named Garner, and he’s been hired to investigate statues, which his employer claims move. Mr. Grayle, his employer, says that statues don’t move when you’re looking at them. SOUND FAMILIAR?! It’s rainy, and dark, and the music is scary, and it’s all vaguely old-timey. Garner goes to an apartment building called Winter Quay, and is impressed by the idea that anything could scare Grayle. As Garner enters the building, we see a weeping angel outside. An elevator opens for him, with a drawing of the Statue of Liberty inside. He enters the elevator, cause that’s not creepy at all or anything, and goes down a hallway until he finds a room with his name on it. He enters, and finds his hat, his coat, his wallet, and a much older version of himself, dying in bed. The old man in the bed says that they’re coming for him, to send him back in time. Garner runs out of the room, and is surrounded by angels. He runs up the stairs, and up to the roof, where we find out that the Statue of Liberty is apparently the largest angel of them all. So that’s a problem.
Credits! Where are our friends? Who is this dude? HOW DID NO ONE SEE THE STATUE OF LIBERTY AS SHE WAS STOMPING THROUGH THE CITY? Also, can Angels move underwater?
Anyway. We come back to some jazzy music, clearly modern-day NYC, with the Doctor reading aloud from a book, as he and the Ponds sit (in Central Park? I think it’s Central Park). The Doctor’s enamoured with the book’s main character, notices Amy’s reading glasses, and the wrinkles by her eyes – Amy’s getting oooooooolllld! (oh noes!) Rory runs off to get coffee, and Amy asks the Doctor to read to her, provided he doesn’t say, “Yowzah,” which sums up his feelings on the lead character. The Doctor tears out the last page of the book and sticks it in a picnic basket, so that the book will never end – he hates endings. Rory’s getting coffee and there are statues everywhere and creepy laughter. The Doctor goes back to reading, and it suddenly becomes clear that the book is about them, and the lead character is River Song/Melody Malone. Amy and the Doctor are trying to figure out how Rory went to get coffee and wound up in a book – Rory’s also gone back in time it seems, to April 3, 1938. Rory and River have gotten picked up by some men in pinstripes and forced into the back of a car. According to River, it’s impossible to land the Tardis in 1938 in NY because of time distortions. The Doctor and Amy do have some trouble. River’s travelling by vortex manipulator again, and we don’t know how Rory got there.
Amy and the Doctor wind up again in 2012 in a graveyard, and Amy reads ahead, which the Doctor immediately cautions her against – reading ahead in one’s future makes it fixed. Specifically, the Doctor’s going to break something. Once something’s been read, it’s written in stone. Speaking of which, I somehow missed the image directly below the first two times I watched this episode. YIKES.
Back to River and Rory – they enter what seems to be the home of a mob boss, and River points out some pottery from the early Chin dynasty. Rory can read the calligraphy on the porcelain. He is then “given to the babies,” left alone in a dark room, given a pack of matches by this week’s token PoC, who seems to be a bodyguard for the mob boss. Amy reads about the Chin pottery in the book, so it’s off to Chin-era China so that River can notice a vase that says “Yowzah” on it in 1938. The crime boss is Grayle, the same guy from the opener, and he’s a collector. Behind a curtain, he’s got a Weeping Angel. River texts the Doctor, so he’s able to lock onto her location. Grayle says that these statues are all over, and he wants to know if it can feel pain. Grayle flips the lights, and the angel’s got River by the wrist. Grayle wants to know all about the Angels.
Somewhere else in the house, Rory’s in the dark, with just a box of matches, and some cherub statues, which make the creepiest giggling and scurrying noises in the dark. Rory’s really not very good with the matches, and eventually the baby angel blows his last match out.
Upstairs, River tries to explain how idiotic it is to try to collect Weeping Angels, when the Tardis shows up. The Doctor takes a moment to check his breath and straighten his bow-tie before rushing out to River. Amy immediately starts looking for Rory, while the Doctor sees that Grayle is passed out from shock, but more importantly, here’s River! She’s Professor Song now, and she was pardoned ages ago – there’s no record of the person she killed, now no one’s ever heard of him. River gets a “Doctor Who” in there. Apparently, because Amy read it in a book, the Doctor now has to break River’s wrist to get her out. They’re trying to figure out what happens next, and Amy suggests looking at the chapter titles – “The Roman in the Cellar” tells us where Rory is, but “Amelia’s Last Farewell” causes the Doctor to rage and freak out, and orders River to get her wrist out without breaking it.
Amy goes down to the basement with a torch, and there’s no Rory. He’s been taken. We go see Rory, and he’s near Winter Quay. River comes out, and informs us that he’s just a few blocks away. Rory enters the creepy old apartment building. The Doctor wants to know how River got her wrist out, she says she just did, because he asked. She suggests they steal the car out front, but as the Doctor grabs her hand so they can run off, we see that River’s wrist is indeed broken. The Doctor asks why River lied to the Doctor, and River says she tries hard to hide the damage that comes from being in love with him. The Doctor uses regeneration energy to heal River’s wrist, which makes her furious. Which, did he just give up a life to fix her wrist? Is he now weaker? Why was this a bad thing? Amy and River go outside for a moment of mother-daughter time, and River says that the Doctor should never see the damage, never see them age – the Doctor doesn’t like endings.
But we have found Rory, so off we go! Well, except for Grayle, who has come to, only to be attacked by statues. Back to Rory, though, he’s going through the same thing the first detective did – up the elevator, into a room with his name on it, Angel in the hallway. The Doctor, Amy and River show up, and there’s an ancient Rory in the bed in the room. Amy takes the old man’s hand, and he dies. Rory asks for an explanation, and the Doctor says he’s sorry, but Rory just died. Also, the place is policed by Angels, who are constantly zapping people back in time, and they’re feeding off their victims and the time energy they create. Essentially, it’s a food source for the Angels. There are loud noises outside. Rory wants to know what’s going to happen to him. The Doctor says that the Angels will come for him, they will zap him back in time, and he’ll live out the rest of his life in that room, in that bed, without Amy. Rory suggests running, and the Doctor says it’s not possible. River says it’s a good idea, since it’ll create a paradox, unmaking the entire place. The Doctor says they’ll need an impossible amount of power, and what do they have? Amy says she won’t let them take him – that’s what they’ve got. GO AMY.
Amy and Rory run for the roof, while the Doctor and River are held up by Angels. On the roof, the Statue of Liberty’s there, looking angry. Rory looks for a way down, but instead finds a way out – he’s standing on the ledge of the roof. MOFFAT, STOP PUTTING PEOPLE I LOVE ON ROOFS. Rory is convinced that this will work – if he dies now, it’ll create a paradox. This is really some of the best dialogue I’ve heard from Rory, ever – when doesn’t he come back to life?! Amy climbs up on the ledge next to him, and there’s a terrifying, “Oh goodness is this how they’re gonna go?!” moment as they hold on to each other, the Doctor shows up too late, and Amy and Rory go over the edge in each other’s arms. AND THEN BBC AMERICA CUT TO COMMERCIAL, WHICH WAS NOT FAIR.
However, the paradox seems to have worked, as the building starts to disappear. We come back from commercial break and the Ponds are back in the graveyard. The Doctor says everything worked out all right, but also, he can’t ever take the Tardis back to New York, the timelines are too scrambled. The Doctor says he could have lost them both, and hugs them. Also, River points out that the lightbulb on top needs changing. Everything seems copacetic until Rory notices the gravestone with someone with the same name as him. And then Rory disappears, to be replaced with an angel. And there’s an age of death on the gravestone. The Doctor starts apologizing – they can’t get him in the Tardis, it would rip New York apart. The Doctor tries to get Amy back in the Tardis, but Amy thinks if the angel takes her, she’ll wind up with Rory, which River confirms. The Doctor starts crying, Amy starts crying, she tells River to be a good girl, the Doctor says, “Come along, Pond,” I start crying, Amy turns around to say goodbye to the Doctor, and is taken by the Angel. Amy’s name appears on the gravestone.
In the Tardis, River’s at the controls, as the Doctor sits and is very sad. River warns the Doctor to not travel alone. River says she’ll travel with him, but not all the time – one psychopath per Tardis, eh? River talks about the book she’s got to write, and tells the Doctor that she’ll have Amy write an afterword. The Doctor rushes out of the TARDIS to find the last page he ripped out, and we find out that Rory and Amy lived happily together to the end of their days. Amy cautions the Doctor to not be alone, and then we go back to little Amelia, waiting for the Doctor, and then I cried harder. Amy does a summary of all the things she did – fought pirates, saved a whale in outer space, all of it. We close on a picture of little Amelia, looking at the skies with eyes full of hope.
And therein lies the end of the Ponds, friends. There’s been a lot of criticism of this episode online, almost as soon as it aired – Moffat playing fast and loose with what the angels can and cannot do, his continual decisions to make his female character’s actions entirely dictated by the men in their lives, etc. But at the end of the day, to me at least, this was a sweet and sad ending for the Ponds, and really, given some of the other companion’s departures (DONNA NOBLE ANYONE) this wasn’t the worst that could happen to them.
But I have one complaint. We know that behbeh Melody/River is wandering the streets of New York City in 1969, lost and alone and near death. WHY DO WE NOT GET ANY INDICATION THAT AMY AND RORY GO AND RAISE THEIR DAUGHTER?! It makes absolute perfect sense – Melody’s got about 20 years to kill before she goes and grows up with lil Amy and lil Rory in Leadworth in the early 1990s – why not make it canon that her parents get to raise her?! I’m really hoping this comes out at some later point.
So what did you think of the episode? Did you enjoy it, or were you too distracted by Moffat’s shortcomings? I thought the pacing, character development, and plot were much better than anything else we’ve seen in quite some time, and the things that sometimes frustrate me about this show were by and large absent
This is it for Doctor Who until the Christmas Episode. That also makes me sad.