As a writer, I love to pick apart my favorite books, films, and TV shows to see what makes them “tick.” How exactly did the writers make me laugh, gasp, or cry at the perfect moment? Sometimes I can figure it out. Sometimes I can’t. Almost always I learn something interesting about the story.
This is something I do almost every time I watch Doctor Who. If I had a regeneration for each time I felt powerful, lasting emotion from a Doctor Who episode… well, I’d be around for a long, long time.
Please note that when I say I pick apart a Doctor Who story, I mean I pick it apart afterward. During the episode, I’m involved. The story is real to me. As far as I know, I’m zooming through the time vortex in a blue box, hanging out with awesome people whose vacations consist of saving planets and risking death every day.
But then the credits roll, and I look around. I’m not on the TARDIS. Annoyingly, I realize that I’m on what the Doctor calls the “slow path” through life, and I might as well take some of that extra time to figure out what exactly happened on the TV just a moment ago.
Last night was the fall season finale of Doctor Who, which means we have to wait for Christmas to get another episode, and then we’ll have to wait again for more.
The slow path is so irritating sometimes.
“The Angels Take Manhattan” was the episode we had all been waiting for, anxiously speculating about what it meant that Amy Pond and her husband Rory would be leaving the show for good and that not everybody would make it out alive.
It was a great episode. We laughed and cried. We got to see the Ponds run around New York City with Matt Smith and River Song. We watched some good battles (such as they can be called) with the weeping angels. We…
We were also a little bit confused. There were a few timey wimey moments that, when I began to pick apart the episode to learn what made it tick, didn’t quite seem to make sense. For example —
Well, let me do this in spoilers. If you’re reading on a mobile device or in an email subscription, what comes below may not be hidden from your view. If you’re reading on a regular browser, just go ahead and highlight the space below to read on. Let me know if you agree!
1. First off, can I just say that the Statue of Liberty as a weeping angel was awesome? So super cool.
TIMEY WIMEY: I wasn’t really sure how Lady Liberty managed to get all eyes off of her so she could stomp over to the hotel… and why wasn’t there mass panic on the streets either because the statue was missing or because it was in the middle of the city, showing off horrific monster teeth?
2. Next, the double suicide. I loved this. It was perfect and sad and romantic and edgy and wonderful. I always marvel at how the writers of Doctor Who manage to make me feel for the companions and the Doctor in totally different ways.
TIMEY WIMEY: I’m sure there was something iffy about the paradox here, but, honestly, I was so wrapped up in the emotion that I wasn’t able to focus properly. Clue me in if you’ve found something.
2b. How wonderful was Rory’s, “When don’t I come back to life?” line? I actually laughed while crying. Well played, Moffat.
3. The real goodbye. This was an interesting decision. Steven Moffat actually did kill both companions. Here we are in 2012, and Amy and Rory are dead. In addition to that, we have poor Rory’s dad sitting back at home watering plants and hoping they return soon. Ugh. More Kleenex, please.
TIMEY WIMEY: Okay. Help me out, here. The Doctor explains that he can’t go back to get his friends because the timelines are all scrambled. He’d burn up New York. Here are my issues:
- He already risked burning up New York before, and everything turned out fine. Why is a second time worse than the first?
- When Amy asked whether she would go to the same place and time as Rory, the Doctor explained that there is no telling. So how does anyone know where or when Rory actually landed?
- What exactly is off-limits to the TARDIS now? All of 1938? All of Manhattan?
- Why can’t the Doctor simply zip over to New Jersey and drive in to collect them?
- Why can’t the Doctor arrive a year later and grab them then? I’m having a hard time understanding this, “I’ll never be able to see you again” thing.
4. The book thing. That was really cool. As soon as Rory left to get coffee, I guessed what would happen with the story, and that was fun. However…
TIMEY WIMEY: I have a couple of issues with this one:
- Is River Song able to visit her parents using her time travel bracelet, or not? Was the manuscript a hand delivery or a postal thing? If she can visit them, then why did the Doctor offer his condolences? If she can send them things, then why not deliver the bracelet and collect it from them when they show up in the right time?
- And this one is not my idea, but actually something I saw repeated in blog comments already: why didn’t Amy write a FOREWORD instead of an afterword? “Doctor, this is Amy. Read the book and enjoy, but DO NOT LET RORY CHECK THE TOMBSTONE. Thanks!” Yes, I see that’s a paradox in itself, but, honestly. 🙂