Reviewing “The Time Of Angels” feels a bit wrong, kind of like reviewing only the first half of a movie. I mean that as a compliment. Like the best Who two-parters, “Time” never seems padded and every moment appears necessary to complete a well-plotted story. (Of course, it could drop the ball next week. I still haven’t seen its follow-up, “Flesh And Stone.” And for others in the same position, I beg of you—all caps coming, sorry—NO SPOILERS.) A sequel to the Steven Moffatt-penned third-season episode “Blink,” “The Time Of Angels” revisits the Weeping Angels, a terrifying enemy that assumes the form of a stone statue and remains perfectly still… until you look away or, to return to an oft-repeated phrase, “even blink.”
While deadly statues don’t sound that scary in bare description, “Blink” made them the stuff of nightmares. It was such a good episode—one that, incidentally, helped introduce Carey Mulligan to the world—I was somewhat wary about Moffatt returning to his stony creations. “Blink” got an unforgettable hour out of the Weeping Angels, but was the notion of blink-and-they-kill-you statues a deep enough a well to warrant a return visit? I needn’t have worried. So far this two-part episode is to “Blink” what Aliens was to Alien, bigger and belonging to a different genre.
That’s not, I know, a brilliant observation. “The Time Of Angels” wears its Aliens influences on its pinstriped sleeve, from the military unit that makes up the supporting cast—albeit a clerical militia—to the terrifying scene of a helpless character trapped in an enclosed space. (If The Doctor encounters a creature laying eggs that produce more Weeping Angels next week, the homage will be complete.) But it also captures Aliens’ sense of increased scale while exponentially blowing up the magnitude of the threat at hand. We end up deep in a dark, scary place and all the firepower in the world might not be enough to save us. That’s scary.
Also scary: new revelations about the Weeping Angels. While it’s almost too bad Moffatt abandons the horrifying simplicity of the Angels’ threat, there’s no defying the scariness of Amy’s encounter with a video image that she just… can’t… switch… off. Similarly, the notion that the Angels can invade the heads of those who look at them directly is pretty unsettling. Don’t look away. But don’t look them in the eye, either.
Of course, “The Time Of The Angels” is a sequel not just to “Blink” but to “Silence In The Library”/“Forest Of The Dead” as well, the episodes that introduced Alex Kingston’s River Song. She’s the Doctor’s future wife, or so it seems, but here she again meets him at a point in the timeline when he doesn’t know her. Or know quite what to make of her. Or something. I’m a little fuzzy on it all, as I suspect I’m meant to be. But am I alone in sensing a change in attitude between Song’s last appearance in this one? Where before the inevitable union of the Doctor and River was treated teasingly and flirtatiously, here it seems almost like something to dread. The chemistry between Song and Doctors 10 and 11 is different, and it seems a little more acidic here. Is he tired of his marriage before it even starts? The sense he wants to delay the inevitable dovetails nicely with Amy’s own wedding ambivalence, too, doesn’t it? I’m not terribly familiar with Moffatt’s non-Who work, but I know he’s well-known for writing complex, fractious romances. Why should he not bring those skills here?
At the very least I was happy to see Kingston again. And the way she arranged her rescue was pretty ingenious though exactly what she was escaping from… Well, that’s the problem with reviewing half a story. So let’s agree to meet up here again next week, okay?
• Amy won’t stay put. Again. I sense a pattern here.
• Has everyone seen the promo for Doctor Who: The Adventure Games?
Is it just me, or does that look like the hottest videogame of 2003?
• Yes, that’s the Mike Skinner of The Streets as the security guard in the opening scene. I didn’t recognize him, but I recognized the name then confirmed it was him. For those who don’t know The Streets.
• All these years he just left the brakes on. Huh.