"Where would be the fun in that?"

Found at Not Impossible, Just a Bit Unlikely

So, do I have your attention now? Good, good. It is Wednesday after all and you might not have had your coffee yet. 🙂

Time of Angels and Flesh and Stone. Once again, spoilers, lots of spoilers, dozens of spoilers — well, maybe not dozens, but certainly a few. Read at your own risk and/or discretion.

I’m a little torn here because in my notes for this post my first line reads — and I quote — “!!!”

I’m no longer sure what this means — possibly it is just a wordless fangirl squee at the general awesomeness of things or possibly I meant something in specific.

Let me say first off that I was not thrilled when I heard that the Angels were coming back in Season 5. Blink is one of the all-time top ten hands-motherfucking-down best things that the new series has done and I simply couldn’t picture any way that the they could come back and not slightly tarnish their prior terror.

Fortunately, they didn’t. I can’t say that I like either of the two-parters as well as I like Blink but they are pretty damn cool. (And Blink…well, how often do you come up with something as deal-breaking as that? The answer is the next season with Midnight, but that only goes to prove how bad-ass DW always is. :))

I was also a little prejudiced against Time of Angels at least because it opens with River Song. Dr. Song and I have a…complex relationship. She annoyed the ever-loving hell out of me in the library two-parter. I couldn’t wait for her to die and cheered when she did.

Okay, that’s a little mean and I don’t mean to be a hater here; she didn’t annoy me that much — I just couldn’t resist parodying Queen Eleanor in Lion in Winter honestly — but she did get on my nerves a little. And it even wasn’t so much her as it was the depth of angst between her and 10. We weren’t talkin’ a little slosh on the floor here, an ‘Oops, I’ll get that with a napkin,’ this was freakin’ thigh-high, ‘I need waders’-time. And since I didn’t think either of the library episodes were that strong — although I am going to have to revisit them post Angels/Stone — it just got to be a little much.

The upshot of all this is that I have no idea what “!!!” might mean — possibly I was amused by the height of River’s shoes? (They are great stuff, I have to say — plus I adore the fact that, as I have heard on the Tumblr rumor-tree, Matt Smith asked to have them left on the TARDIS set, so they’re around… Somewhere.)

Anyway, if you haven’t seen Time of Angels yet — the upshot is this: River leaves the Doctor a message in an ancient Gallifreyan tablet: “Come get me, sweetie.” She breaks into a high-security vault on what seems like a…cruise ship? does something mysterious, and blows herself out an airlock for the Doctor to rescue. The ship crashes, River lands the TARDIS nearby, and invites the Doctor to help her investigate it — with the help of a crack team of CoE clerics who, in this future, bear a closer resemblance to the Marines in ALIENS than they do to the “cake or death” squad. River and the Marines know what they’re going after, though: there’s a Weeping Angel in the wreckage of the crashed ship. They want it.

Aplan Mortarium.

This is basically the set up for the whole two-parter — there is, of course, due elaboration: the ship has not merely crashed into the side of a mountain, it has crashed into the remains of a civilization, the Aplans. And what they have to go into are not caves but the labyrinths of the dead. A giant, huge, enormous, maze-like underground mortuary. Fun times with the Doctor!

Not only that, but it turns out Angels can become their image. Moving, still, doesn’t matter. Taking a picture of an Angel means you now have an ittle bittie tiny Angel of your very own. Isn’t that a comforting thought. And Amy — poor Amy — gets to be the one to find this out as she ends up trapped in a trailer with the Angel on video. They thought they had it pinned by leaving the camera on it. Not so much, as it turns out.

Moving on into the Labyrinth of Doom, the Doctor and River are cheerfully discussing the mortuary habits of Aplans, the structure of the mortuary, so on and so forth until, as they move further and further back, the Doctor realises that the statues are not those of Aplans. They can’t be because Aplans have two heads. All the statues have one. Bad. This is bad.

I’m not going to do a blow-by-blow here: my job is not to spoiler the entire two-parter here. Lets just say that Flesh and Stone amps up the action a little bit by possessing Amy, bringing Angel Bob (yes, there is an Angel Bob and he is not as nice as his name might imply) into things in a big way, and just generally fucking around with shit. The Doctor does bad-ass things; many Marines turn into toast, including Father Octavian; River is mysterious; and we leave on a “huh” note, as the glorious Mr. Izzard might say.

River and her Shoes.

So here’s my thoughts: for one thing, River. I think I am nearly at peace with River Song. She just kinda…pwns. All the freakin’ time. Walking in the shoes has to have been a complete triumph for Alex Kingston for one thing. I surely couldn’t do it. And I now completely understand the fan babble about “who is River Song.” I have seen guesses ranging from her being a future regeneration of the Doctor/the Master/the Rani….I don’t think I’ve seen the Meddling Monk in there yet, but I think I do remember Rassilon. Also Susan, Romana, and Jenny. Ditto some future time-fracture version of Rose or Jack. Lets see…some externalized physical manifestation of the TARDIS? I think that one’s my favorite although I think it least likely to be true.

Personally, I’m not sure what I think. She is clearly, much like Ianto Jones, “so much more than the teaboy.” She is a released prisoner, for one thing; the leader of the clerics, Father Octavian, is her guard while she’s on parole to do this “job” for reasons or reason unknown. Seems likely that the “reason” might just be to get the good ol’ Doc in touch with either the Angels or with the latest and most wonderful iteration of our repeating crack in the universe. But it’s never quite clear. It is clear that she’s a liar; she has told many people many stories; and that she was put in jail for killing a man: ‘A good man. A hero to many.’ Hmm. Lets see. Who do we know who fits that description? Wait — I can think of someone! Interesting times ahead, folks.

It was great to see Iain Glen as Father Octavian; he always has so much fun with this kind of role and it was great to see him to a slightly more humane version of his Resident Evil scientist. He managed to be coldhearted and still quite sympathetic so that by his final fate, it was still rather disturbing.

One thing I did want made clear, though: these Angels seem to kill people. Like, really to kill them — bang on the head, you’re dead. The Angels in Blink didn’t — as the Doctor said, “They just transport you back in time and let you live to death.” (Okay, maybe he didn’t quite say that. It’s close enough.) So — do Angels get to choose what they do? Plus, there’s Angel Bob. He starts out as a cleric, goes ’round a corner to see what’s happening, and the next thing you know he’s communicating as the voice of the Angels. And if you think that’s not creepy — well, you’re a stronger person than I am. Bob is deeply disquieting: the Angels are not mindless, but neither are they creatures with whom we can empathise. The Angels talk; the Angels laugh; the Angels torture Amy because they think it’s funny. Clearly, these are not meant to be monsters with whom we sneakingly sympathise, like the odd crippled Dalek, the semi-Cybered (like Ianto’s Lisa), or the nameless creature in Midnight who doesn’t even have words of its own. The Angels are next door to being truly inhuman. They are certainly inhumane.

Amy and her new best friend.

And then, if all that weren’t bad enough — the Angels fuckin’ move. This is deeply unfair and very clever. Forcing Amy into a position where she has to keep her eyes closed and move among Angels to get to safety — of course, she can’t see them and, of course, we as viewers aren’t really there. So the Angels are free to shift. And they do and it is really really creepy.

Beyond my blatant fangirling — 🙂 — there are some interesting story arc things going on here, too. Amy’s memory is certainly chief among them — as mentioned in Victory of the Daleks, her memory doesn’t seem to cover quite everything it should: like not knowing the Daleks for example. That’s something even the British government couldn’t successfully cover up with “something in the water.” But there continue to be odd gaps and holes in her memory: side-effects from living so close to the crack in the universe for so long? something simply “nifty” about Amy, as there was something different about Donna to enable the metacrisis? time-travel rub-off? Who knows. Or, rather, he doesn’t.

There is also — not to belabor a point — River. My guess is she is a failsafe: if the Doctor doesn’t do what he’s supposed to do or has to do or needs to do…she’s there either to make sure he does or make sure the entire universe doesn’t go boom because he can’t. This makes her far more interesting than I initially thought she was. Honestly, I wasn’t that interested in some putative romance of the Doctor’s that was over or over before it began or hadn’t begun yet –this, on the other hand, I can get into. And, of course, her closing line is sheer David Twohy-style goodness:

 said in very different circumstances.

Overall, these are two of my favorite episodes from the new season so far — they’re beautifully put together — a little busy in the middle maybe what with the garden and the running and the clerics and all the Angels running around together, but the end is just beautiful. It reminds me of so many other shots from the new series that I can’t really begin to list them, starting, of course, with 10 and Rose’s farewell at Bad Wolf Bay.

Edit: Okay, I now don’t sound like I wanted to cut poor River Song in “pieces” and the paragraph spacing is right. Maybe it didn’t annoy anyone else — but it annoyed the hell out of me.

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