Doctor Who 3.10 – Blink

Don’t blink. EVER AGAIN! *buys you all eyeball paste*

Late at night, a woman breaks into an abandoned mansion to photograph it. Then she leaves for home and a nice hot cup of chamomile, musing on decay and the sublime.  Ahaha, NO.  Eerie silence + Gothic setting = BEWARE THE WEEPING ANGELS written under peeling wallpaper!  It spells trouble with a capital “T”!  By which I mean a warning from Ten (though River City’s pool table, still a cause for grave concern). 

Recap-writer check: jittery, feverish, and paranoid.  Fine, I’m coming down with a cold.  But is it not the PERFECT state of mind in which to recap “Blink”?  Also, I love the Doctor’s conversational under-wallpaper-warnings.  “Oh, and duck! Really, duck! Sally Sparrow, duck now!  Love from the Doctor, 1969.”  Still crazy after all these years!

EXCELLENT ADVICE

After Sally finally ducks (a noggin-aimed flying pot consequently misses her, but who threw it, who??), she calls her mate Kathy — from Kathy’s flat, where she’s let herself in and put coffee on at 1 AM because she’s “a bit freaked.”  I’m going to do that the next time I feel like a chat with a pal.  By the way, give me your spare keys.

Sally Sparrow: you’ll be glad she’s clever and fun and gorgeous when she breaks into your flat at 1 AM.

In Kathy’s living room, multiple screens show a warning from the Doctor:  “They’re coming for you, but listen, your life could depend on this. Don’t blink. Don’t even blink. Blink and you’re dead. They are fast, faster than you can believe. Don’t turn your back, don’t look away, and don’t blink.” Sally Sparrow doesn’t quite digest this very urgent advice, because Kathy’s naked brother Larry steals the spotlight by being pants-less.

Next morning, Sally brings Kathy to investigate the Wester Drumlins House.  They’re like girl investigators: Sparrow & Nightingale.  “Bit ITV,” Sally hedges.  “I know!” Kathy enthuses.  Ha, I love Kathy.  “I love old things,” Sally explains when Kathy asks how she found the house.  “They make me sad,” which apparently is like “happy for deep people.”  By the way, did that Weeping Angel move closer to the house?  YIIIIKES!

Awww, poor lonely weeping ARGHHH!!

Sally answers the door to find Malcolm, a man with a very old letter for her.  While he asks for her ID, poor Kathy is caught unawares (“Don’t turn your back!”) by a Weeping Angel in the conservatory and gets zapped to Hull (London 0, Hull 4!) in 1920.  Who’s that letter from, anyway?  Why, Kathy Costello, nee Kathy NIGHTINGALE!

“Stop saying Hull!” Kathy fumes to the first man she meets in 1920s Hull.  Already arguing!  Is he going to stop trailing her?  No, because he’s a trendsetter, following the conventions of romantic comedy (i.e., stalking her in a cute way!).  Clearly they’ll marry, have kids (the youngest of which they name Sally) and grandkids.  Aha, Malcolm, bearer of Kathy’s across-time message, is one of those grandkids, wooooooo!

When Sally reads the letter and sees the old photos, she declares Malcolm’s playing a sick joke.  Running upstairs, calling Kathy’s name, she stops short at a gang of Weeping Angels.  It’s a wonderfully creepy little sequence: she looks from one to another, just missing what we see – the WA’s uncover their eyes and advance, eeep. When Sally spots one holding a cord with a Yale key, she yanks the twine from its hands and runs.

Shocked and sad, Sally visits Kathy’s grave to say goodbye. “You told him you were eighteen?” she says, amused at the birth year Kathy’s gravestone bears.  “You lying cow.” Kathy’s letter urges Sally to visit Larry at work (a DVD store) and tell him his sister loves him.  When Sally finds Larry in the back and conveys Kathy’s message (“Is she sick? Am I sick?” Larry panics), she also finds that recorded warning form the Doctor playing.

While the Doctor holds a one-sided conversation, Sally recognizes him: the man who spoke about “blinking.”

I love spectacles!Easter Egg!Doctor

He’s an Easter Egg, Larry explains (lord, I love this twist!): seventeen unrelated DVDs show his message.  Larry knows so much about it, he’s “Don’t Blink!” Internet Famous!  When he prints the list of DVDs, the Doctor’s sentences seem to respond to hers.  “Why doesn’t anyone just go to the police?” the DVD shop owner grouses at a horror film.  List in hand, Sally heads to the fuzz.

At the police station, Sally gets the run-around.  Lucky she’s hot!  Billy Shipton, the detective investigating Wester Drumlins, shows her vehicles belonging to people who disappeared there.  “What’s that?” Sally asks.  The TARDIS!  The “pride” of the collection, no one can get in it though it has an ordinary “Yale” lock (Sally, what kind of key did you pick up, hmm?).

Billy declares Sally’s missing the big question: have a drink with him?  They flirt, and Sally awkwardly gives him the name Sally Shipton. Ahaha, well, he is pretty awesome.  “Don’t look at me,” she laughs, embarrassed; Billy promises he’s “definitely going to phone you, gorgeous girl!”  But Sally, did you have to leave charming Billy with “don’t look at me”? Remember the don’t-look-away-thing? Because of course when Billy turns and sees four WA surrounding the TARDIS, HE BLINKS!

Sally remembers the key and runs back, but Billy, the TARDIS, and the statues are gone.  Billy comes to in 1969 to hear the Doctor greet him with talk of the Weeping Angels: “The only psychopaths in the universe to kill you nicely. No mess, no fuss, they just zap you into the past and let you live to death.”  They consume energy of the days people might have lived; they’re “creatures of the abstract” who feed on “stolen moments”.

“Just nod when he stops for breath,” Martha advises when Billy’s stunned at this.  The Doctor shows off his Timey-Wimey detector, which “goes ding when there’s stuff” (and prepares a hell of an exploded omelette).  Normally the Doctor would give him a lift, “but somebody nicked my motor.”  So though Billy has to take a message from the Doctor to Sally Sparrow, “I’m sorry, Billy. I am very, very sorry. It’s going to take you a while.”

Sally gets a call from Billy and rushes to meet him.  But he’s lived since 1969, and now he’s an old man dying in a hospital.  The Doctor sent him with a message for her to “look at the list”; Billy, who went into publishing and then DVD publishing, was responsible for the Easter Egg on those seventeen DVDs (he also married a girl named Sally).  Billy doesn’t know how the Doctor knows the list Sally only just got; he has only until the rain stops.  Touched, Sally stays with him until he passes away.

Oh!  *clutches heart*  It’s one of the glories of Doctor Whostellar supporting actors!  Kathy and Billy are charming, funny and so affectionate; when they disappear, it’s like the sad weight of what-might-have-beens that obviously impact Sally.  Though now as I ponder the two actors/characters together, I can’t help wondering: did Billy Shipton marry Kathy Nightingale Costello’s daughter Sally?  *reels*

At Banto’s DVD store, Larry answers the phone.  “They’re mine,” Sally tells him: the DVDs are the seventeen she owns.  Stunned, Larry asks the question preying on all our minds: “You’ve only got seventeen DVDs?” He meets her at Wester Drumlins to play the Doctor’s recording; though Sally realizes she and the Doctor are having a conversation, Larry points out the Doctor’s sentences match the transcript he’s shared online.

As the Doctor explains he’s stuck in 1969 (Martha pops up to complain she works in a shop to support him), Sally’s replies supply the appropriate dialogue.  Larry scribbles in Sally’s bits while the Doctor glosses over how time works, saying “It’s very complicated.”  “I’m clever and I’m listening,” Sally replies sharply (I love how proactive she is, truly).  “And don’t patronize me because people have died, and I’m not happy. Tell me.”

“You’re reading aloud from a transcript of a conversation we’re still having,” Sally realizes.  “Wibbly wobbly, timey-wimey,” the Doctor answers.  “This will explode the Egg Forums!” Larry enthuses (his online reporting obviously helps collate the information). “The angels have the phone box,” the Doctor says, explaining the urgency.  That’s Larry’s favorite; he’s even got it on a t-shirt (and now I want it on a t-shirt).

“The Lonely Assassins,” the Doctor calls the Angels.  Creatures old as (or nearly) the universe, they have the perfect defense system: they’re “quantum locked” (i.e., don’t exist when they’re not being observed).  But this is also their greatest curse.  They’re not weeping; they can’t look at one another, making them the loneliest creatures in the universe (even more than Time Lords?).  That’s why Sally has to send the TARDIS back to the Doctor.  If the Angels fed off its energy, they could destroy the sun.

Larry cues up Egg!Doctor for Sally Sparrow’s study.

It’s all up to Sally, but what’s she supposed to do?  Whoops, transcript ends there, the Doctor says, finishing with, “Don’t turn your back, don’t look away, and don’t blink.”  “I’ll rewind him,” Larry hastens to say.  “What good would that do?” Sally asks in exasperation before realizing neither of them is looking at the statue.  They glance up: it’s menacing them, sharp teeth bared, arms spread to grab them.

Eeeeeeek!  Sally backs to the doorway; leaving Larry on Angel Guard.  All the doors are locked; the Angels want Sally’s TARDIS key.  “Give them what they want,” Larry calls out, frightened; he turns back, and the Angel is RIGHT THERE, OMG!  Both he and Sally run to the cellar, and after some HORRIBLE fumbling with the key while a frozen WA turns off the flickering lights, they make it inside.

“This is security protocol seven one two,” a hologram of the Doctor intones as Sally and Larry panic and the Weeping Angels rock the TARDIS outside (love the series of stills here).  Wow, only the second hologram Doctor since “The Parting of the Ways”!

An “authorized control disc, valid one journey” has been detected.  Larry’s DVD glows in its case; Sally finds the slot, and the TARDIS revs up, yay!  AH, CRAP!  “It’s leaving us behind!” Sally realizes, horrified.  The TARDIS dematerializes, leaving them trapped in a ring of arms-spread teeth-bared angry freaking Weeping Angels!

*SHRIEKS AND SHRIEKS AND SHRIEKS*

“Quick, look at them!” Sally pleads.  But Larry realizes what’s happened: “The Doctor tricked them. They’re looking at each other. They’re never going to move again.”  Well, THANK HELL FOR THAT!

One year later finds Larry and Sally working in the DVD shop.  Larry, popping out for milk, realizes Sally’s put together Weeping Angel information (Kathy’s letter, photos, the complete transcript).  Can’t she let it go? “Of course I can’t let it go,” Sally snaps, and wow, I know how she feels but there’s nothing worse than that state of CONSTANT VIGILANCE.  She’s obsessed with how the Doctor’s going to get the information; no time for a relationship with Larry.

When Larry leaves, Sally spots Martha and the Doctor, getting out of a cab (armed with bows and quivers of arrows, OH MY GOD, I’d love to know what the hell’s going on for them).

For an episode that doesn’t have a lot of the Doctor, I sure have a lot of pictures of Ten. Can you blame me? LOOK AT HIS STUPID ADORABLE FACE!

Sally’s crestfallen when he doesn’t remember her, but of course he’s got a complicated life.  “Things don’t always happen to me in quite the right order,” making him “rubbish at weddings, especially my own.”  Okay, Family of Blood head-tilt time: what what what?

“Oh, for god’s sake, it was me all along!” Sally understands.  One day the Doctor will get stuck in 1969, and when he does, “Make sure you’ve got this with you.”  She hands him the file of information.  He’s got to dash: “Things happening. Well, four things. Well, four things and a lizard.” *chokes on seltzer*

When Larry returns with the milk, Sally clasps his hand and says, “Goodbye, Doctor.” Now that she’s passed the information on, she herself can move on (Lucky Larry!).  The camera pans out to show the store has a new name: Sparrow and Nightingale, Antiquarian Books and Rare DVDs.  Aww, Sparrow & Nightingale happened after all!

Wait, what’s that gargoyle on the building nearby?  “Don’t blink,” the Doctors voice says as we get a montage of statues ALL OVER, because this show lives to give me nightmares!  “Blink and you’re dead. Don’t turn your back. Don’t look away. And don’t blink. Good luck.”  It’s like a happy ending, but NOT!  *cries*

Woooeeee pahoooo athooo!  Man, this is an AMAZING episode!  I’m still dizzy from the ontological paradigm: Sally gave the info to the Doctor so he could get the info to Sally, so she could give him the info, so — *holds head*  Say, folks, any public statues where you are?  Don’t blink.  GOOD LUCK!

Please like & share:
  • THIS IS THE BEST (and skeeriest) EPISODE EVER. Holy crow, does this hit all of my fear buttons with a giant fist smash!

    I am going to watch this whole ep over RIGHT NOW, you have INSPIRED ME! <3

    • YAY! So fantastic! I seriously had to haul myself in, because I wanted to write twenty pages about it. But most of the twenty pages would have been like “SWEET HOLY FFFFFFF–!” So.

      Hooray, I’m so glad you’re going to watch it right now! <3

  • Susi

    I remember the whole time (between being scared spitless) thinking that Sally Sparrow hound have her own damn show. She’s that awesome.

    There’s an angel statue at the cemetery where I walk sometimes, and you better believe I give it a wide berth. In fact, the Eleven Weeping Angels episode freaked me out so much that I paused it and have that much Who to catch up on. Yeah. I know.

    Also, you should totally talk about that costume you made that one time that I’m sure small children are having bad dreams about.

    • Susi

      Wooops, Javey, I assumed that Laura had written this! SHE’S the one who lurked at her front door one year, dressed as a weeping Angel!

      • Nope, all the Doctor Who recaps are by me! That’s Janey with an “n” and not a “v”. :D *rhymes*

        • Susi

          Sorry! iPad = frequent spelling errors, I’m afraid. :/

    • Definitely on Sally having her own show! She’s a fantastic actress, carrying this ep like a champ.

  • Lia

    I dare anyone to look at a statue the same way after seeing this!
    Despite the fact that it has very little Ten in, I think it’s my favourite episode of the reboot of Dr Who. Still creepy after the 10th time of watching it and an absolute gem.

    I do find it a shame that the later WA episodes don’t aren’t quite the same…..calibre, but then it is a very high standard to hit.

    Oh, and by the way, don’t blink. Blink and you’re dead…..

    • YES! There are so few episodes that mess with your worldview that way. Hats off to this one, and to the whole Weeping Angel concept, for giving me new kinds of nightmares! Yay?

      Absolutely — I think it’s tough topping something like this. The amazing fear this episode engenders despite never actually showing the villains in motion? Just top drawer.

      ARGH, and don’t turn your back!!!!!! *cement-glues eyelids open*

  • Ellie

    My favourite 1-part episode :P

    A whole story in 45 minutes, which will make you terrified of statues for life, give a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘touched by an angel’ and cause the phrase ‘don’t blink’ to enter the language as one of the key DW mottos.

    I wanna know what an angel looks like when it’s not being looked at. But then I’d have to be looking…Hm.

    • Excellent choice! And yes, it’s such a terrific and horrifying concept. Amazing story, amazing acting, and just all around unforgettable ep.

      Also, sorry for the late reply! I’ve been out of commission with an awful cold, but I’ll be back recapping tomorrow.

  • Fabrisse

    This was the episode that reminded me of the old epithet that “Doctor Who is the best show you ever watched from behind your sofa.”

    Carey Mulligan is off doing big movies now (Daisy Buchanan in Great Gatsby for heaven’s sake), but this was really a star making performance for her.

    • I love that saying — I definitely heard it from you first! And it’s wonderful seeing how these POV-characters in the Doctor-and-Companion-Lite eps handle themselves so capably! Excellent casting, great chance to view new stars.

      And apologies for this late reply! I’ve been brain-muddled with a bad cold, but I should have a new recap for you tomorrow.