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Recap: Doctor Who S33 E05 "The Angels Take Manhattan"

The Angels take Manhattan! Because they can. Because they致e never had a food source like this one: the city that never sleeps.
—The Doctor

Written by Steven Moffat

The Doctor, Amy and Rory visit modern-day New York. The Doctor has found a nice trashy detective novel about one "Melody Malone" in his jacket pocket, and Amy teases him about how he's obviously started to fancy the lead Femme Fatale. The Doctor rips out the last page, claiming that he hates endings. While they banter, Rory goes to get coffee and, in the grand tradition of Doctor Who companions wandering off, gets himself into trouble almost immediately. He encounters a Weeping Angel and is zapped back to Film Noir-era New York, where he runs into Professor River Song, who's investigating the angels while posing as a private detective.

The Doctor starts to properly panic when his novel suddenly starts describing exactly that. He puts two and two together and realises that Melody Malone is Melody Pond, and that Rory's in a whole lot of trouble. By the time he and Amy have managed to land the TARDIS near River (after an initial failure caused by heavy time distortions in that space-time region), Amy has already read ahead just a bit too far in the book, and there are far too many mentions of deaths, and endings, and goodbyes. The Doctor tells her to stop reading, but they do need to comply with what's already been read. River, who hasn't even written the book yet, finds herself forced to break her own wrist.

She and the Doctor engage in Slap-Slap-Kiss for a while, and both try very hard to be what they think the other wants them to be. River tries to hide her broken wrist so as not to scare him and remind him that his loved ones can break, the Doctor gets extremely sad that she lied to him and uses some regeneration energy to heal her wrist, and she slaps him hard in the face for his senseless waste of regeneration energy and tells him it's so, so hard to love an ageless god with the face of a twelve-year-old who can't cope with the idea of change. It's also revealed that River was eventually pardoned from Stormcage when the man she killed turned out to have never existed — the Doctor has been systematically removing himself from every database in the universe.

Meanwhile, Rory has been zapped around again by a nest of Weeping Angels, but this time just spatially. The rest of the group catches up with him, and they find the Angels' harvesting grounds: a place where people who are sent back in time are forced to live out the rest of their lives, to be fed on by the Angels forever. Rory arrives just in time to watch his withered old self die, saying goodbye to a heartbroken Amy one final time. Really, properly scared, he escapes to the roof, where the Statue of freaking Liberty is waiting to feed on him. Rory decides to kill himself to create a paradox, poisoning the Angels' temporal energy and preventing his future death from happening in the first place. (He also reasons that he may even survive — he usually does.) After a very emotional exchange, Rory and Amy jump off the building's roof, clinging to each other. With that, the harvesting grounds never existed, the Statue of Liberty never moved about New York and Rory never died of old age in that small room.

They actually do survive, and end up in the graveyard where the story started, although the web of time is stretched to the point where the TARDIS should really stay out of Manhattan for the rest of her life. However, Rory notices his name on a gravestone right before a surviving Weeping Angel zaps him back in time again. Amy decides that the very small possibility of a life with Rory is better than a secure life without him, and despite the Doctor begging her to stay, she turns away from the Weeping Angel and lets herself be dragged back in time as well. Her name appears below Rory's on the gravestone, both having lived a full life together and died of old age.

River knows she must visit her parents with her vortex manipulator one last time to complete the Stable Time Loop, and sets about writing her novel to get Amy to publish it. River then tells the Doctor that she'll tell Amy to write an afterword for the Doctor, and the Doctor remembers about the last page of the novel he ripped apart right at the start of the episode. He then proceeds to race back to the park and reads the page that contains Amy's last words:

Afterword, by Amelia Williams. Hello, old friend. And here we are, you and me, on the last page. By the time you read these words, Rory and I will be long gone. So know that we lived well and were very happy. And, above all else know that we will love you always. Sometimes I do worry about you, though. I think, once we're gone, you won't be coming back for a while, and you might be alone, which you should never be. Don't be alone, Doctor.

And do one more thing for me: There's a little girl waiting in a garden. She's going to wait a long while, so she's going to need a lot of hope. Go to her, tell her a story. Tell her that if she痴 patient, the days are coming which she値l never forget. Tell her she値l go to sea and fight pirates, she値l fall in love with a man who値l wait two thousand years to keep her safe. Tell her she値l give hope to the greatest painter who ever lived, and save a whale in outer space.

Tell her this is the story of Amelia Pond, and this is how it ends.

And the scene shifts back to when the little Amy Pond waited for the Doctor, and as was already briefly seen in "The Eleventh Hour", she hears the sound of TARDIS.

This episode provides examples of:

  • Acting for Two: Arthur Darvill plays both young Rory and the old Rory, nearing death, that the gang encounters.
  • Actor Allusion: Rory's middle name is Arthur, just like Arthur Darvill, whose real first name is Thomas.
  • Armour-Piercing Slap: River slaps the Doctor when he uses his regenerative energy to heal her wrist.
  • Asshole Victim: Grayle chains an Angel and cuts up its face just to see if it can feel pain... causing its screams to attract the other Angels, who stalk him in revenge. He also has Rory dumped in the dark basement with a number of Angels and only a match-book to keep them at bay, seemingly just for the evulz. And also turns off the light so the chained Angel can grab River's wrist.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: The Statue of Liberty Weeping Angel. Oddly, since the angels use stealth as their greatest strength, it isn't as threatening compared to the other angels and is just background. It's also portrayed a lot smaller than the real thing.
    Rory: I always wanted to see the Statue of Liberty. I guess she got impatient.
  • Better to Die than Be Killed: When confronted by old Rory dying in front of him and the realisation that he'd spend half a century without Amy and trapped as food for the Angels, Rory says to hell with that and decides to jump from the roof instead, creating a Angel-destroying paradox and preventing any of it from happening in the first place.
  • Big Applesauce: Takes place in New York City, even though the Angels' plan could have worked in any city with lots of people and statues.
  • Bittersweet Ending: In the end, Amy and Rory are sent to the past with the Doctor being utterly powerless to save them. However, they still get to live out a full and happy life together and Amy leaves a message of hope to the Doctor in the end. But, as shown in "The Great Detective", this didn't help much...
  • Book Ends: The episode ends with young Amelia still waiting in her garden for the Doctor after he disappeared near the beginning of The Eleventh Hour.
  • Call Back: Multiple previous episodes and events are discussed.
  • Cast from Lifespan: The Doctor gives up some of his regeneration energy to fix River's broken wrist. She's unimpressed.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • The last page of the book the Doctor rips out at the beginning of the episode.
    • The chapter titles in the same book.
    • The headstone in the graveyard.
    • The book itself.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: The lone Angel in the graveyard.
  • City of Weirdos: New York is full of Weeping Angels and no-one notices. They don't even notice the Statue of Liberty!
  • Collector of the Strange: Grayle, the art collector who wants to add an Angel to his collection. It doesn't end well for him.
  • Contemptible Cover: The cover of the book features a cleavage-baring picture of Melody Malone (the Doctor loves it, River hates it.) It's his wife, he's allowed.
  • Continuity Nod: A few background references to previous episodes are also present.
  • Couch Gag: This week's logo is textured like the Statue of Liberty.
  • Creepy Child: Weeping Cherubs. They are arguably more terrifying than the adult angels based on how it was done.
  • The Danza: Rory's middle name is revealed as Arthur, just like Arthur Darvill, whose real first name is Thomas.
  • Decoy Protagonist: Melody Malone in a book she wrote herself.
  • Defictionalization: The Angel's Kiss Though it's not exactly the book from the episode - it reads more like a prequel.
  • Diabolus ex Machina: One Angel somehow survived. Goodbye, Rory and Amy.
  • Did You Get a New Haircut?: The Doctor to Amy near the beginning. Actually, she's got reading glasses (and wrinkles).
  • Did You Just Romance Cthulhu?: Played for drama by River.
    River: When one's in love with an ageless god who insists on the face of a twelve year old, one does one's best to hide the damage.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: Amy and Rory. The first time (second for Rory).
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: Every statue in the New York has become an Angel.
  • Evil Is Not a Toy: Chaining up a living statue in your study? No way that can possibly backfire.
  • Film Noir: The opening certainly has this feel.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • The headstone in the graveyard.
    • River teases an arc about the Doctor being forgotten.
    • As noted later in "The Name of the Doctor", the last place any time traveller should ever visit is his own grave.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus:
  • Genre Savvy: Rory chooses suicide on the assumption that since it's him, he'll be fine. He's right, too (for a while, at least).
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: The Doctor fancies Melody Malone, who has "cleavage that could fell oxen at twenty feet." Melody Malone turns out to be River Song, his wife. Yowza, indeed.
    • Once the Doctor finds River in 1930s New York, he keeps looking down at her behind while trying to save her from the Angel holding her captive.
  • Giggling Villain: It's the only sound that the baby Weeping Angels make.
  • Hell Hotel: Instead of their hit-and-run tactics from "Blink", the Angels have converted a hotel into what the Doctor describes as a "battery farm".
  • Heroic BSOD: And how... when the Doctor read the ominous final chapter title "Amelia's Last Farewell" and realises that the first face he saw will be fading from him a lot sooner than he thought. He does not take it well and in a raging fit of denial demands that River change the future. He doesn't care how she does it as long as she Gets. It. Done. Unfortunately, she doesn't.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Rory tries to pull one of these. Amy insists on going with him.
  • Heroic Suicide: Rory's plan to create a paradox and kill the Angels.
  • Hope Spot/Mood Whiplash:
    • The Doctor is elated when River apparently frees herself from the Angel without breaking her wrist, as it indicates that Amy's fate can also be changed. And then he takes a closer look at River's wrist. Also see Oh Crap below.
    • Near the end, the Angels are defeated and the Doctor, Amy and Rory are free to go on to many more adventures. If only Rory's attention hadn't been distracted for that crucial second by his own gravestone.
  • I Cannot Self-Terminate: Rory asks Amy to push him off the roof because he can't quite bring himself to jump. She comes up with a different solution.
  • I Die Free: Rory decides to jump, both because it'll poison the Angels' food supply, and because he'd rather die on his own terms than spend decades stuck in a hotel room all on his own.
  • Informed Deformity: Making jokes about Amy's supposed wrinkles doesn't really work when you show close-ups of Karen Gillan's smooth baby-face a few seconds later. It also doesn't help that while the character is supposed to have aged a decade since she first boarded the TARDIS, the actress has aged only 2 1/2 years and was only 21 when she first joined the show.
  • Karma Houdini/The Bad Guy Wins: The Angel in the graveyard.
  • Karmic Death: Grayle, the mobster who captured and tortured an Angel in order to study it, is last seen surrounded by Angels.
  • Kill 'em All: Everyone except the Doctor and River are taken by the angels.
  • Killed Off for Real: Amy and Rory, a rare fate for companions. However, they did live a full life in the past, and Amy's final note assures the Doctor that they lived Happily Ever After there.
  • Life Will Kill You: The Doctor cannot prevent Amy and Rory's death in the end... because they lived out their lives in a past that the Doctor could not reach. It was something the Doctor was always going to have to face; the anguish comes from having to face it much sooner than he had wanted.
  • Like an Old Married Couple: The Doctor and River have their moments. For instance, the Doctor says he started reading the book because he liked the cover. When he shows it to River, she says she hates it.
  • The Maiden Name Debate: Rory's room in the hotel has 'R. Williams' outside the door. Rory and Amy's tombstone has them both as 'Williams'. In the Afterword, Amy also refers to herself as Amelia Williams.
  • Meaningful Name: the building the angels are using as a battery is right on Battery Park (so named for gun batteries there in the city's early years, though).
  • Meganekko: Amy sports a pair of John Lennon-style glasses during the episode.
  • Mistaken for Quake: Grayle makes this error when the TARDIS crashes through the temporal barrier to land in his house.
  • Name's the Same: It's what gets Rory in the end.
  • Not Quite Saved Enough: Rory.
  • Oh Crap:
    • River's wrist is trapped in a Weeping Angel's hand. The Doctor is about to break her wrist to get her free, because it was written in the book when Amy skipped ahead, then changes his mind and tells her to get free without breaking any bones. Cut to a bit later, it seems like she's somehow managed just that... and then the Doctor grabs her hand to run off and she cries out in pain.
    • There are also several courtesy of the book. Most notably when the Doctor reads that Rory was suddenly in the story after leaving to get coffees, and when he sees the final chapter is titled "Amelia's Last Farewell".
    • They all get one when River notices that one of the angels is smiling, and it then escalates when they look into Rory's room, and realise just how screwed they are.
  • Older than They Look: River describes the Doctor, somewhat sardonically, as "wearing the face of a twelve-year-old".
  • Pastel-Chalked Freeze Frame: The final shot of the episode, with young Amelia in her garden.
  • Poor Communication Kills: At first, it seems like Rory's disappearance is due to Genre Blindness. Unfortunately, he's just never faced the Angels before, unlike his wife, daughter or son-in-law...
  • Post-Climax Confrontation: The day is saved! Hooray, yay! Wait, no, there's one last Weeping Angel.
  • The Power of Love: The power of Amy and Rory's love is able to Screw Destiny. Until Rory sees his own grave.
  • Screw Destiny: Attempted several times with varying success.
  • Sealed Room in the Middle of Nowhere: The "Battery Farm" set up by the Angels. By creating a motel and then sending their victims there, they can keep feasting on the life energy of their victims, hurtling them back in time and proceeding to keeping them locked for decades just to create a Stable Time Loop in order to ensure the events happen.
  • Shout-Out: The Muppets Take Manhattan.
    • The mobster/collector's last name is Grayle.
    • Amy and Rory jumping off a building to commit suicide? Steven Moffat's Sherlock did it earlier that year.
    • The name of the first chapter in the book is "The Dying Detective", which is also the name of an original Sherlock Holmes story.
    • The Statue of Liberty being an Angel may be a reference to an April Fools' Day gag pulled by The SCP Foundation, where established SCP 173, another murderous statue that can only move when not observed, was changed into the Statue of Liberty.
    • The Doctor and Amy visit 221BC China to leave a message for Rory and River.
  • Slasher Smile/ The Unsmile: This is the first time we see a Weeping Angel smiling. Ominous is putting it mildly.
  • The Slow Path: The Weeping Angels return to their primary M.O. of zapping people back in time and letting them "live to death".
  • Stable Time Loop: Discussed and ultimately zig-zagged. The Doctor starts panicking when Amy skips ahead in the book, as once you've seen your own future it becomes almost impossible to avoid.
  • Statue of Liberty: Turns out to be a giant Angel.
  • Stealth Pun: The angels' battery farm looks to be located in Battery Park.
  • Temporal Paradox: Deliberately breaking one of the time-loops the Angels create will poison all the other loops in the vicinity - of which there are plenty. Unfortunately, one can only do this so many times, and when Rory gets caught after the fact, that time-frame cannot handle another paradox.
  • Tempting Fate: Rory stops to look at the gravestones instead of getting in the TARDIS and running like the Doctor told him he'd have to.
  • Thanatos Gambit: Rory jumps off the roof of the building to kill himself twice in the same night and create a paradox that will destroy the Angels.
  • They Killed Kenny Again: Rory brings up his own Kenny status in the run-up to jumping off a roof (which he hopes will be undone via paradox) after seeing his future self die in bed. Who else could pull that off?
    Amy: You think you'll just come back to life?
    Rory: When don't I?
    • This episode marks Rory's seventh, eighth and ninth deaths of the series. Which ties him with the Doctor, whose second incarnation didn't die, but was forcibly regenerated by the Time Lords.
  • Title Drop: By the Doctor.
    Doctor: The Angels take Manhattan! Because they can. Because they've never had a food source like this one: the city that never sleeps.
    • Blink (no pun intended) and you'll miss it; the title also shows up as the second chapter in the book.
  • Together in Death: In loving memory, Rory Arthur Williams, and his loving wife, Amelia Williams.
  • Tragic Keepsake: Amy's glasses.
  • Trapped in the Past
  • Trope Overdosed: The episode itself is slightly less than 45 minutes, and its page is already this long.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: The Statue of Liberty becomes an Weeping Angel. And no, no-one in New York seems to notice this at all. Of course, maybe it's just a normal Tuesday!
  • Visual Pun: From the publicity photo at the top, the Doctor is a "weeping angel".
  • Wham Line: In-story from the book, for the Doctor and Amy, as well as for the audience.
    I followed the skinny guy for two more blocks until he turned and I could ask him what he was doing here [...] He said, "I just went to get coffee for the Doctor and Amy. Hello, River."
  • Write Back to the Future: The detective novel the Doctor is reading turns out to be this.
  • You Called Me X, It Must Be Serious: When Amy is considering whether or not to let the angel send her back so she can be with Rory, the Doctor calls Amy 'Amelia' and River calls her 'Mother'. Amy, in turn, calls them 'Raggedy Man' and 'Melody'.
  • You Have Got to Be Kidding Me!: The PI from the cold opening when he sees the Statue of Liberty Weeping Angel.

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