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Recap / Doctor Who S33 E5 "The Angels Take Manhattan"

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"The Angels take Manhattan! Because they can. Because they’ve never had a food source like this one: the city that never sleeps."
The Doctor

The one where the Ponds meet their maker for good. Right in front of the Doctor and their daughter.

...and the Statue of Liberty is a Weeping Angel... and so is a statue in Central Park... and we learn that Weeping Angel tykes are just as nasty as the grown-ups.

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 building 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. 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’s patient, the days are coming which she’ll never forget. Tell her she’ll go to sea and fight pirates, she’ll fall in love with a man who’ll wait two thousand years to keep her safe. Tell her she’ll 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 the TARDIS.


  • 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 box of matches 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. When the Angels finally have him cornered, no one's shedding any tears.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: The Statue of Liberty Weeping Angel, naturally, is gigantic. Oddly, since the Angels use stealth as their greatest strength, it isn't as threatening compared to the other Angels and is just in the 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.
  • Behind the Black: After the Angels transport Rory out of the basement, he staggers into the Winter Quay building. Then the camera pans over to an Angel in full attack mode - face uncovered, fangs bared. Wonderful drama but faulty logic; placed as it is, Rory couldn't possibly have missed seeing it.
  • 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.
  • Big Bad: The Weeping Angels.
  • Bitch Slap: River, feeling objectified, slaps the Doctor when he uses his regenerative energy to heal her wrist.
  • Bittersweet Ending: In the end, Amy and Rory are sent to the past with the Doctor being utterly powerless to go back for 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.
  • Bizarre Alien Reproduction: The Angels can convert ordinary statues into them if they have enough power.
  • 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".
    • Amy's first time meeting River was a Weeping Angels episode. Her last one is, too.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Grayle has at least a partial idea of what the Angels can do, but still doesn't see a problem with breaking pieces off one.
  • 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 Melody Malone book the Doctor rips out at the beginning of the episode was Amy's afterword to him.
    • The chapter titles in the Melody Malone book are spoilers, but also vague enough to prevent fixing events.
    • The headstone in the graveyard shows Rory's death after he is sent back.
    • The book itself was written by River.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: The lone Angel in the graveyard is responsible for the bittersweet ending.
  • Collector of the Strange: Grayle, the art collector who wants to add an Angel to his collection. River thinks he has a fetish for them.
  • Continuity Nod: A few background references to previous episodes are also present.
  • Couch Gag:
  • Creepy Child: Weeping Cherubs are more terrifying than the adult Angels based on how it was done. The giggling in the darkness; you can't see them but they're hunting you.
  • Diabolus ex Machina: One Angel somehow survived long enough to off Amy and Rory.
  • Did You Get a New Haircut?: The Doctor to Amy near the beginning. Actually, she's got reading glasses (and a few 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 jump off a roof to defeat the Weeping Angels in a paradox. Negated in that, as Rory predicted, the paradox removed the building they jumped off of, so they get zapped to a graveyard no worse foe wear.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: Every statue in the New York has become an Angel.
  • Evil Is Not a Toy: Chaining up a Weeping Angel in your study for your collection? No number of locks is going to keep you safe.
  • Film Noir: The opening has this feel with the detective and his monologue.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • The headstone in the graveyard.
    • River claims to have escaped the Angel without needing to break her wrist, but she is holding both her book and her computer in one hand, while her "unbroken" wrist hangs limply just behind her.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus:
    • The second chapter title of the book is an early Title Drop.
    • The newspaper being read by Amy at the beginning says "Detroit Lions win Super Bowl". For those confused Brits who didn't get this rare America-centric reference, it's a funny reference to a semi-perpetually bad NFL team that has never even been to a Super Bowl, much less won one. (In 2008, the Lions got the dubious distinction of the first-ever NFL no-win season.) It's meant to underscore the fact the episode takes place a number of years after 2012 (possibly as late as 2020, though an exact year is never given).
    • A truly awesome and difficult to spot one, which may also count as a Genius Bonus. Freeze at 12:02; the page Amy is reading is in focus. The book is actually The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett. Why is that super appropriate? Because Hammett wrote Hardboiled Detective books, and one of them, The Maltese Falcon, is the Ur-Example of Film Noir, to which this episode pays extensive homage.
  • Giggling Villain: It's the only sound that the baby Weeping Angels make.
  • Happily Married:
    • Amy and Rory stick together through Angel attacks and being trapped in the past. Amy declares that their marriage is powerful enough to create a paradox, change the future, and kill the Angels.
    • This is the first episode where the Doctor knows that River is his wife, and it shows with his "final checks" and her calling him "husband".
  • Hell Hotel: Instead of their hit-and-run tactics from "Blink", the Angels have converted an apartment building into what the Doctor describes as a "battery farm".
  • Heroic BSoD: When the Doctor read the ominous final chapter title, "Amelia's Last Farewell", and realizes 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.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Rory tries to pull one of these by killing himself before the Angels can zap him back in time. Amy insists on going with him.
  • Heroic Suicide: Rory's plan to create a paradox and kill the Angels is to kill himself now before he dies in Winter Quay as an old man.
  • Hope Spot:
    • 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. Then he grabs River's wrist and she cries in pain, because it is broken.
    • 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; they push each other.
  • 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 work when you show close-ups of Karen Gillan's smooth baby-face a few seconds later. It looks like Rory was right after all.
  • Karma Houdini: The Angel in the graveyard sends Rory and Amy back in time, and the Doctor is not shown doing anything to it afterward.
  • Karmic Death: Grayle, the mobster who captured and tortured an Angel in order to study it, is last seen surrounded by Angels.
  • Killed Off for Real: Amy and Rory are confirmed dead by their tombstones. However, they lived a full life in the past, and Amy's final note assures the Doctor that they lived Happily Ever After there. Due to the Timey-Wimey Ball in play, the Doctor can never go back in time to rescue them or even directly contact them (though River, apparently, can) so as far as he's concerned it's no different than the two dropping dead in the graveyard. Despite Rory dying three times in this episode alone and multiple times beforehand, his last one sticks and he and Amy are both gone for good.
  • 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 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. It's possible that getting sent back into the past meant they had to do this to fit in.
  • Meaningful Name: The building the Angels are using as a battery farm is right on Battery Park, so named for gun batteries there in the city's early years.
  • Mistaken for Quake: Grayle makes this error when the TARDIS crashes through the temporal barrier to land in his house.
  • Not Quite Saved Enough: Rory is found and returned to the present/future, but then a single surviving Angel gets the jump on him and sends him right back.
  • 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 when he sees a chapter titled "Amelia's Last Farewell". Cut to a bit later, it seems like she's managed just that ... and then the Doctor grabs her hand to run off and she cries out in pain.
    • There are several courtesy of the book such as 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.
    • Grayle wakes up after Amy, River, and the Doctor rush off to save Rory, then sees that they left the door unlocked, against the Angels who are coming for their wounded sister.
  • 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, "like a fairy tale".
  • Plot Hole: Are we seriously supposed to believe that, in a city of over 8 million people that prides itself on being the "city that doesn't sleep", no one ever noticed the Statue of Liberty in Weeping Angel mode?
  • 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.
  • Putto: It is revealed that young Weeping Angels are portrayed as cherubs.
  • Reading Ahead in the Script: The events of the episode are written down in a book the Doctor found. Amy is quick to realize that reading ahead gives them some warning about what will happen, only for the Doctor to tell her not to do it. This is because it becomes close to impossible to Screw Destiny once you've read it. Reading ahead would seal their fate, with no way to know if it would be for better or for worse. As a balance between the two, they read the chapter headings.
  • Screw Destiny: Attempted several times with varying success; the Doctor refuses to break River's wrist, as the story said, in order to change the future. She breaks it herself. Rory jumps off the roof in order to create a time paradox and prevent himself from dying in bed as an old man. This works perfectly. Then Rory is sent back again and the Doctor can't go back because of the paradox.
  • 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 to create a Stable Time Loop in order to ensure the events happen.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Slasher Smile: 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 impossible to avoid.
  • 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?
  • Timey-Wimey Ball: The reasons for the Doctor not being able to go back in time to rescue the Ponds is... convoluted.
  • Title Drop:
    • By the Doctor.
      The 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 and you'll miss it; the title also shows up listed as the second chapter in the table of contents of the book the Doctor reads.
  • Together in Death: They share a tombstone! "In loving memory, Rory Arthur Williams, and his loving wife, Amelia Williams."
  • Tragic Keepsake: Amy's glasses are still with the Doctor.
  • Trapped in the Past: Amy and Rory are stuck in 1938 because the area is super duper wibbly and extra extreme wobbly due to all the Weeping Angel activity.
  • Troperiffic: The episode itself is slightly less than 45 minutes, and its page is already this long.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: The Doctor heals River's broken wrist with regeneration energy. She responds by slapping him, calling him sentimental and storming off.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: New York is also full of Weeping Angels and no one notices. They don't even notice the Statue of Liberty walking into the heart of Manhattan! It's lampshaded:
    Amy: He went to get coffee and turned up in a book. How does that happen?
    The Doctor: I don't know! We're in New York.
  • Visual Pun:
    • From the publicity photo at the top, the Doctor is a "weeping angel".
    • Just after the Doctor comments that reading the future makes it "written in stone", there's a shot of Rory's grave and the inscription on it.
  • 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 have been written by Amy in the past. She included an afterword to assure the Doctor that she and Rory lived long happy lives. She also puts it on the last page, knowing the Doctor would rip it out and set it aside, as he hates endings.
  • 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 Can't Go Home Again: New York in that time period becomes entirely off limits to the TARDIS here due to Rory effectively blowing a giant hole in the time stream by poisoning such a large time loop. This also traps Amy and Rory there because the Doctor can't come pick them up after the last Angel sends them to the past again.
  • You Have GOT to Be Kidding Me!: Sam Gardner, the P.I. from the cold opening, when he sees the Statue of Liberty Weeping Angel.

Alternative Title(s): Doctor Who S 33 E 05 The Angels Take Manhattan