New York: the city of a million stories, or the city of A MILLION EVIL STATUES? Let’s say both as we open in a classic noir vein, the steady thump of typewriter keying accompanying a sardonic voice over! Detective Garner takes a job investigating “living statues that moved in the dark,” because that is sure to end well!
Garner’s client Grayle “was the scariest guy I knew. If something scared him, I kind of wanted to shake its hand.” Terrible logic, by the bye; avoid shaking the hands of anything scaring scary people. But that and $25 a day sends Garner to Winter Quay. Lonely residents peer from its windows; a little girl ups the creepy factor by playing a warning game of peek-a-boo.
As Garner explores, the genre elements are pitch-perfect: red accents, a metal cage lift, flickering lights, long shadows, and Garner discovering his own last name on an apartment plate. Inside, he finds a wallet and ID that match his exactly but for their obvious age. “They’re gonna send you back in time,” the dying man inside tells him, exclaiming, “I’m you. I’m you!”
HOLY CRAP, doppelganger/meeting selves in the future stories are horrifying enough without the Weeping Angels pursuing Garner to the roof! There he sees a monstrously angry Statue of Liberty menacing hi8m. “You gotta be kidding me,” he says, gritty skeptic to the last. The Dying Detective, the typewriter keys clack out. It’s curtains for you, Garnie!
“Englishman in New York,” plays into modern day Central Park, where the Doctor reads aloud from a hardboiled thriller. Its heroine, Melody Malone, is a detective: “with ice in her heart, a kiss on her lips, and a vulnerable side she keeps well-hidden,” Amy says. “Oh, you’ve read it?” the Doctor asks. “No, you have. Out loud. Then went Yowzah!” she complains.
Amy’s new reading glasses “make your eyes look line-y,” the Doctor complains. Taking them off, he blunders, “Actually, they’re fine!” Rory points out he’s specifically not noticed Amy aging. At their flirty kiss-and-make up the Doctor exclaims, “It is so humiliating when you do that!” Ahaha, such a teenager, mortified by his parents, swooning over a character in a book!
When Rory takes five to fetch everyone coffee, the Doctor again reads to Amy (“just don’t go yowzah!” she warns). But first he rips out the last page: “that way it doesn’t have to end. I hate endings.” Doctor, noooooo! Is it too early for me to clutch my box of tissues to my chest?
Rory struggles with coffees by the Bethesda Fountain, because no one offered him a tray for three coffees, the hell? Also, because the chock-full-of-angels-and-cherubs water feature is PLOTTING TO GET HIM! I don’t remember the WA statues making sounds before! Baby statue giggling is terrifying, like the horrible laughter of evil baby clowns!
Story time hits pause when “the skinny guy” the narrator meets says “I just went to get coffees for the Doctor and Amy. Hello, River.” “Hello Dad,” River says, meeting Rory in the past. She hasn’t the faintest idea how he got there, but “you’ll probably want to put your hands up.” Mobsters surround them, and Rory’s been sucked into noir-land! “What’s Rory doing in a book?” Amy interrupts. “He went to get coffee; pay attention!” the Doctor snaps.
The back-and-forth flashes (River and Rory in certain peril in 1938; the Doctor and Amy combing Melody Malone’s book for clues in 2012) are fantastic. However Rory arrived, it wasn’t by TARDIS. The city’s “full of time distortions…Even I couldn’t do it,” River notes with her silky smile (River = MADE FOR NOIR). “Even who couldn’t do it?” the indignant Doctor shouts. “Don’t you two fall out. She’s only in a book,” Amy says, exasperated.
River’s right: the TARDIS can’t land in 1938. “Weeping Angels,” the Doctor declares in 2012. Their attack on Rory fits their M.O.: “dump you back in time and let you live to death.” Why did the 1938-bounce land them in a graveyard, Amy wants to know. “Causally linked somehow,” the Doctor dismisses while I pile couch pillows on my head to stave off foreshadowing agony.
Amy’s certain they’ll save Rory; after all, she and the Doctor turn up on page 43, where he breaks something. Though Amy argues “time can be rewritten,” the Doctor’s horrified by reading ahead: “Once we know it’s coming, it’s written in stone.” Hmm, stone, cemeteries, and GOOD GRAVY, THAT’S RORY’S NAME ON A TOMBSTONE!!! Why you want to hurt me so early on, Doctor Who? I was prepared to hurt at the end; at the end, I say!
The thugs drag Rory and River to Grayle; River notes his Early Chin Dynasty vase the many locks on his doors. The Doctor locks on to the Chin Dynasty mention, time-traveling with Amy to drop messages on Grayle’s future porcelain collection. Urk, one of the hoods throws Rory “to the babies” with a box of matches so he’ll last longer with the cherubs in the lights-out basement. “What do you care?” Rory asks. “It’s funnier,” the hood says gruffly. *wrings hands*
“YOWZAH!” reads the vase translation when River walks into Grayle’s study. “Hello, sweetie,” she coos before pulling back the curtains on Grayle’s favorite item, a ravaged Weeping Angel. She taps her Vortex Manipulator to signal the Doctor. “Oh, you know,” she murmurs when Grayle demands what she’s doing. “Texting a boy.” I am filled with the River love!!!
River realizes why Grayle’s got all those locks; he’s tortured “his” Weeping Angel, and it’s screaming for the others in its chains. Ugh, Grayle’s WA relationship has to be more than we’re seeing here. Is he paying them a form of protection (to keep “his” WA) in the currency of human lives? Ack, he turns out the light so the WA can vice-grip River’s wrist! “You’re going to tell me all you know about these creatures, and you’re going to do it quickly.”
Down in the scary basement, there’s a marvelously terrifying sequence of Rory lighting matches to the accompaniment of horrid cherub giggles. Each time a flame goes out, the cherubs get closer, until finally he lights a match, looks to his right, and a cherub with pursed lips blows out the flame! *builds agony-resistant pillow-fort*
“What collector could resist these?” Grayle smirks as River demands why he wants such deadly predators. Grayle’s name is fantastic: perverted Holy Grail connotations abound. And aren’t the Angels malicious collectors too, of lives and energy? I want an entire episode dealing with Grayle’s creeptacular deal with them, and I want it now! there must be some dangerous understanding we’re not getting to see onscreen.
Earthquake, Grayle exclaims. Nope, just the TARDIS crashing into 1938. “Oh, you bad boy, you could burn New York,” River croons. “It means, Mr. Grayle, just you wait ’til my husband gets home.” TARDIS-side, Amy’s ready to save Rory, but the Doctor has “final checks.” “Since when?” Amy demands as he straightens his bow tie, checks his hair and breath and winks. Ah, she’s so his mom in this episode, and he’s hitting puberty HARD.
“Sorry I’m late, honey; traffic was hell,” the Doctor tells River (Grayle’s passed out from shock). Lucky she was pardoned “ages ago”, because the person she killed never existed, “almost as if someone’s gone around deleting himself from every database in the universe…Didn’t you used to be somebody?” He counters, “Weren’t you the woman who killed the Doctor?” “Doctor who?” she replies. God, I love their banter-foreplay so freaking much.
River can escape, if they break the Angel’s wrist or (haha) hers. “Oh, no, really?” she says at the Doctor’s silence. “Amy read it in a book,” so he has to, he huffs (Amy looks suitably chagrined). “I don’t like the cover much,” River notes of the cleavage-focused drawing on the book she hasn’t yet written (of course the Doctor “yowzah”ed over the same cleavage mere scenes ago).
They can’t read ahead, but would there were “handy hints, previews, spoiler free”! “Chapter titles!” Amy declares (well done!). The Roman in the Cellar lets Amy know where Rory’s gone. Before the Doctor follows, he spots the final chapter title, Amelia’s Last Farewell. “I know that face,” River says urgently (she reads him so well). “Calm down; talk to me, Doctor!” He angrily orders her to get her wrist out without breaking it: “just do it; change the future!”
Spent matches and giggling cherubs are all that’s left in the cellar. River cheers Amy and the Doctor by declaring no temporal markers = Rory’s moved in space, but not time. “You got out,” the Doctor says, thrilled she changed the future. “It’s called marriage, honey. Now hush, I’m working,” River answers. She suggests stealing the car out front, but when the Doctor happily grabs her hand, she flinches. She did break her wrist after all, and tried to hide it.
Rory turns up at Winter Quay, and immediately goes inside (why, Rory, why?). The Doctor gives Amy the devices to lock on his location before confronting River about her lie. “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,” she answers. “It must hurt,” he says, gently taking her wrist. “Yes, and the wrist is pretty bad too.” *tragic ba-dum-bump*
“No, stop it,” she objects when the Doctor’s uses regeneration energy to heal her (note: it’s only the time he’s used such energy to heal; first was saving the TARDIS in “Rise of the Cybermen”). He kisses her hand, and asks if it’s better. “Well, let’s see, shall we?” she says, slapping him. “Nothing is gained by you being a sentimental idiot,” she fumes, storming out.
Amy hands the Doctor the devices. “Tell you what, stick to the science part.” Outside, she asks why River lied. “Never let him see the damage…and never let him see you age. He doesn’t like endings,” River answers. Oh cripes, how emotionally exhausting! Besides, it’s always about endings with the Doctor; all his companions’ aging reminds him of encroaching finality.
When the Doctor locks on to Rory, they steal the mobster’s ride, headed to Winter Quay. In their haste, they’ve left Grayle’s door open. GUESS WHO COMES CALLING? Two statues suddenly appear, and though Grayle is charmed at first, his widening eyes show the dawning horror of his realization. Say it with me: curtains!
As the others arrive outside WQ, Rory enters a flat.
Gah, we know it’s his name on the apartment plate! The Doctor & Co. arrive, and Amy rushes to hug Rory while River uneasily asks why a Weeping Angel statue is smiling. “Amy, please,” an elderly man calls out from the flat’s bedroom. Amy holds his hand as his breathing gets more labored. “Rory…he’s you,” Amy says as the man dies.
Oh, Matt Smith conveys such devastation and fear with his expression! “I’m sorry, Rory, but you just died.” Winter Quay’s policed by Weeping Angels, preventing escape; they’ve turned their hit-and-run single time-energy feeding into harvesting from this “battery farm” housing victims. Ugh, no longer the Lonely Assassins, are they? The malice of this seriously makes me reel; remember when WA zaps might mean the victim simply had a happy life in the past?
Rory’s going to live to death trapped in this room. Rory’s shaky, “Will Amy be there?” is simply gut-wrenching. His future’s already happened, so he can’t run, the Doctor explains. But River interjects (thank jeebus for River): escaping would create a paradox, poisoning the well of the Angels’ food source. “It would be almost impossible,” the Doctor snaps. “Loving the almost,” River answers smoothly. Ah, Alex Kingston is toe-wrigglingly awesome!
It would take an “unimaginable power” to keep the Angels from taking Rory. “I won’t let them take him,” Amy declares, entwining her fingers with Rory’s. “That’s what we’ve got.” They’d have to be on the run the rest of their lives, the Doctor objects. “Well, then, better get started,” Amy decides, running with Rory past a snarling angel.
While River and the Doctor try to circumnavigate Weeping Angels on every landing of the stairs, Rory and Amy escape to the top of the roof. Oh, look, it’s Snarling Statue of Liberty again! There’s no way down, but “there’s a way out,” Rory realizes, standing on the ledge. If he dies twice in the same building on the same night, it’ll create a paradox, right? “Great, the one time you can’t manage” to tell him he’s wrong, he says when Amy can’t speak.
“I’m going to need a little help here,” he tells Amy, to give him the final push. “You think you’ll just come back to life?” Amy argues when she realizes Rory believes the paradox will erase Winter’s Quay (and thus the trap in which his older and present selves die). “When don’t I?” Rory retorts (and he’s not wrong). Besides, what does playing it safe leave – dying alone without Amy? “Together, or not at all,” she decides, standing on the ledge next to him. Realizing the Ponds are doing Inception isn’t enough to keep me from making agonized whimpering sounds!
“What the hell are you doing?” the Doctor yells (who knows how he and River got past all those Angels, and why taking one’s eyes off the Snarling Statue of Liberty doesn’t spell curtains for all and sundry). “Changing the future,” Amy says in a lovely echo of River’s line. “That’s called marriage.” They fall together, and the slo-mo holding each other tighter in the descent is heartbreaking and amazing.
“The paradox, it’s working!” the Doctor realizes as the WQ time-distorts out of existence. They all zap back to the cemetery, “where we belong!” the Doctor declares. Uh oh. Though Amy asks why they’re there again, the Doctor can only fiercely hug her and Rory while he mutters he can’t take the TARDIS back here (NCY or only 1938?): “the timelines are too scrambled.”
“Next time, can’t we just go to the pub?” Rory asks plaintively (be fair: he has died twice in this ep). Oh, video games, the Doctor exclaims, immediately swayed because he’s a teenager; let’s go now! “Right, family outing, then,” River decides, leading the way into the TARDIS. But Rory lags behind (why, Rory, WHY???) to spot his name on that tombstone.
Can I say I almost missed the following dialogue because I gasped so loudly when Rory DISAPPEARED, horror-touched-by-an-Angel with no proper change of farewell? While I agree with keeping Amy onscreen alone at this all too real final farewell, it breaks my heart that was the final moment for Rory.
“I’m sorry, Amelia, I’m so sorry,” the Doctor says, Ten-apologizing. Can’t they simply go get him in the TARDIS? Ugh, he’s already read his ending, though, which in the logic of this episode means his prior-death is fixed. “We’d rip New York apart,” the Doctor pleads (and River confirms).
“Come back to the TARDIS,” the Doctor panics as Amy moves forward. But she’s already seen there’s room for one more name on Rory’s gravestone (and to me, this is one of the more touching moments, that Amy can see her absence in Rory’s tombstone/life, and knows she can rewrite it). “It’s my best chance, yeah?” Amy asks, even if no one knows how the Angel-touch works. “Doctor, shut up, yes, yes, it is!” River calls (and she’s like Rose in that she’ll do anything to keep her parents together).
“It’ll be fine,” Amy says, crying as she speaks. “I know it will. I’ll be with him like I should be, me and Rory together.” While the Doctor repeatedly cries out “Stop it!” Amy calls for River saying, “Melody!” Oh! My heart is breaking all over again as River gently takes her hand (Amy never moving her eyes from the Weeping Angel) and kisses it. “You look after him. And you be a good girl, and you look after him.”
The Doctor pleads for Amy not to leave. “Raggedy man,” she calls, weeping as she turns to look. “Goodbye.” She disappears, the Angel having touched her when she looked away. “And his loving wife, Amelia Williams, aged 87,” joins Rory’s name on the tombstone.
Back in the TARDIS, River wordlessly configures for dematerializing while the Doctor looks simply destroyed. “River, they were your parents,” he says at last, realizing he’s not the only one to experience immense loss. She insists it doesn’t matter; what matters is that he doesnt’ travel alone. “Travel with me, then,” he pleads, and though she promises “whenever and wherever you want,” it can’t be all the time. “One psychopath per TARDIS, don’t you think?”
Pulling herself together, River hammers out the details of the book she’ll have to write and send to Amy to get it published. She’ll get Amy to write an afterword, and oh, River! *cries* “Maybe you’ll listen to her.” The Doctor’s face crumples, but then he remembers: the last page he ripped out! It’s still there at Central Park where he left it, at that last picnic with the Ponds.
“Hello, old friend,” Amy’s voice says as the Doctor reads the ending. She assures him she and Rory “lived well and were very happy.” They’ll love him always, but sometimes she worries. “Don’t be alone, Doctor,” she tells him through time. He should never be alone.
But now, there’s a little girl waiting in a garden. She’ll need lots of hope to last her through the years of waiting, so tell her what her patience will bring: days she’ll never forget, adventures in outer space, and love. Young Amy, having waited all night for the Doctor to return, looks up with a smile as she hears the TARDIS. “Tell her, this is the story of Amelia Pond. And this is how it ends.”
Wwhooooo eeee wooo phooo! What a truly tough and amazing episode. I loved Melody Malone’s book wasn’t only a guide and a fantastic framing device, but functioned as a love letter to the Doctor, from River’s tale to Amy’s afterword. Please tell me your thoughts in comments, and share in the agony a bit? *clings*