I mentioned in a previous post that Doctor Who is my favourite tv show, but I didn’t get into how much I love the show. Like love with all my heart. When Doctor Who isn’t airing new episodes, I feel a little sad. My love for the Doctor goes all the way back to when I was a little girl and my dad used to let me sneak out of my room after bedtime and watch episodes with him.
When the show relaunched, I wasn’t 100% sure. And then the first episode of the relaunch I saw was when the Slitheen take over parliament. Uh oh… this might be a little too cheesy – even for Doctor Who. But, my curiosity eventually won out. Best decision ever. Steven Moffat knows how to craft a captivating story. Whovians seem to be able to sense one another. It’s a great fandom. In anticipation of the series eight premiere and Peter Capaldi’s debut (replacing Matt Smith, who will always be my doctor), I’m rewatching series seven.
Tonight, I got to re-watch my very favourite episode of the entire show – The Angels Take Manhattan. It starts off as a hard-boiled detective/noir style episode. None of the regular cast even appears before the title sequence. A story within a story – my favourite kind.
And it’s got the weeping angels. The crazy balls creepy angels, and the addition of the little naked cherubs… shiver. I love how evil they are, but that’s not why I like this episode.
Many an episode have made me sniffly, but this one… it gives me actual tears. Yeah, lame, whatever, but there’s just so much emotion. This episode is all about relationships. How relationships hold us together, hold us back, make us better, and rip our hearts out. The things we think we’ll have forever can be taken away in an instant. Endings are unpredictable.
The Doctor is this all powerful, thousand year old, all knowing man. If you lived for that long, what could you possibly still need? People. This is the message of the show. No matter who we are, we always need people. The doctor is no different – even if he can be pretty unobservant. And this doctor has had different set of companions than the previous incarnations. He’s got a wife. River and the Doctor are perpetually in the honeymoon stage. All that bouncing around through time means they never get around to getting tired of one another. But she knows that everything would fall apart if they were together all the time. River knows that sometimes, you have to lie to the doctor in order to get him on the right path. We’re watching two married couples in this episode that choose two totally separate ways to get to their best endings. River is the one that has to convince the doctor that Amy’s final choice is the right one, even if it’s the hardest choice.
The Doctor loves River. This isn’t the Ten and Rose tumultuous love. This is endearing, contented love. It probably helps that she’s just as crazy and unpredictable as he is. He knows she’ll be around from time to time, but he doesn’t need or rely on her the same way he does Amy and Rory. They are my companions of choice – especially Rory. Their relationship is complicated. The doctor gets in the way from time to time, but he also makes them stronger. Even when they make a decision to stop travelling with him (the year of the slow invasion), they end up going with him again. But Amy and Rory are starting to feel the effects of all the travelling. They’re aging faster than they should and it’s starting to wear on them.
The Doctor is constantly making complicated decision about life and death and the fates of planets, but when it comes to making hard decisions about what is best for him and those around him, he’s terrible. Eleven is the most playful and silly of the doctors in this incarnation, and that influences everything. He gets bored and distracted and needs the stability of his companions to pull him back but not restrain him. Amy gets sucked into his whirlwind of excitement – especially in their earlier episodes – but by now, she knows where she belongs. Something Rory has always known. They belong together. They make each other better. Together, they make the Doctor better.
When Amy realizes that Rory is going to die and there is no way to save him this time. She chooses to give up everything to be with him. She’ll never see her family, her friends, or her daughter again, but she’ll get to live out her life with the person she loves the most. We technically lose Rory three times in this damn episode. When Moffat sticks it in, he really like to make sure you feel it. They’d rather lose everything together than live out a future apart. And for a second, after they jump off that roof, we get to think that it works. Their conviction saves them. But nope. The tears start with Amy in the graveyard after Rory is taken the last time. When she decides that she’s going to give up her life with the doctor to be with Rory, and reaches for River and calls her Melody. Ack, it just hits all the stupid feels. Whatever the complicated timelines, River (Melody) is her and Rory’s child. Rory didn’t get to say goodbye, so Amy has to do it for both of them.
The episode also highlights the power of stories. Everything in the book is committed once they’ve read it. The danger of knowing your future is paramount to this ending. We all knew going in that this was Amy and Rory’s last episode. They’d announced it. We knew it would probably be sad, but trust Moffat to break your damn heart as soon as you get comfortable. It even breaks the Doctor this time.
This episode gets to the heart of what I love about Doctor Who. Excellent storytelling, mixed with emotional surprises, and the reminder that the relationships we form over the course of our lives shape our futures in multiple, unexpected ways.