Recap: Doctor Who Says Goodbye To The Ponds With 'The Angels Take Manhattan'


I've been putting off writing my recap (spoilers ahead, obviously) of "Doctor Who’s" latest episode, the last appearance of Amy Pond and Rory Williams on the show for a good long while... Part of the reason was to process everything, from the tricky structure, to the raw emotion of saying goodbye to two of the best characters the show has ever seen. But mainly, I think I’ve been putting off saying goodbye.

See, for me, Matt Smith, Karen Gillan, and Arthur Darvill were Doctor Who. The simple, almost dumb reason for that is, their episodes were the first I watched in real-time. I got on board with Who relatively late, jumping in right before David Tennant’s goodbye specials. And don’t get me wrong, I loved me some Tennant. Talented actor, funny, and Russell T. Davies best episodes we’re very, very good.

But the entire time, I was playing catch-up, slamming through episode after episode, season after season. To use a time-travel metaphor, these episodes were a fixed point for me. Occasionally I could emotionally connect, but it felt like they belonged to someone else.

Going into the first Matt Smith season, I still liked - but didn’t love - "Doctor Who" for that same reason, the lack of real connection. That is, until I met Matt Smith in person. I feel like I’ve told this story in a recap before, but I had the chance to attend the New York premiere of the show, before it had aired, and before anyone had met any of the actors. Not only that, but I accidentally ended up first on the press line. I was standing there, waiting, fiddling with my recorder... When without warning, jumped out Smith.

And he WAS The Doctor. Not even in a fannish way, but the manic energy, the connection, the excitement, the mile a minute speech... It was all there, and it was disarming, alarming, and charming. I kind of fell in love a little bit, and that, right there, made me invested in the show. Even as I watched the seasons, and honestly, was not 100% sold on the plot points, I still felt like this was my Doctor, and my Companions. Over time, the writing, the acting, and the production have grown considerably, to the point where I haven’t felt like Who is a guilty pleasure, so much as a legitimately good show.

Beyond personal feelings even, what "Who" has been about since Smith/Gillan/Darvill joined the cast, is family. Sure it continued right out of the Tennant years, but really this was a new show, with a new premise, and a new focus. The ongoing plot featuring the mystery of River Song, and how the characters came to interact and care about each other made Who into an ensemble show, instead of a solo act with supporting cast members. It made it unique, and exciting.

So when they announced that Darvill and Gillan would be leaving... I didn’t believe it. It’s a time travel show, there’s always an out. Or there would be a twist, like with the first episode this season, and the surprising appearance of future Companion Clara. In fact, that only seemed to prove further than the Ponds would tie into the rest of Season Seven... Why else devote 20% of their final appearance to someone else?

But here we are, “The Angels Take Manhattan” is over, and they’re gone. Definitively. For good. And that means the show as we know it - and I’ve loved it - is over.

Quick recap, since technically this is supposed to be a recap, not a rant: Rory gets zapped back in time by the Weeping Angels, where he meets his daughter River. Turns out a mobster is collecting them... But the Angels are actually using him to fill their apartment building full of time energy meal batteries, including Rory. Amy and the Doctor head back to save him... But Rory ends up saving them all, but jumping off a building with Amy. This creates a paradox that wipes out all the Angels, except one... Who zaps Rory back in time. And then Amy zaps herself, and the Doctor can never see them again.

A word about that, because I’ve puzzled it out for the past week or so since I saw this episode... First, Rory and Amy can’t be retrieved, because it would create another paradox, which would destroy New York. Second, the Doctor could, technically, travel back in time to see them... But he can’t risk that. Him showing up would potentially create changes to the timeline, when he clearly sees their names on a tombstone.

Yes, there’s a million holes there: they could have written their own names on a tombstone to fake him out, he could go back and visit them but they just don’t get in the TARDIS, all sorts of things. But the fact of it is, he can’t go back because he says he can’t... And a large part of this episode is devoted to explaining how stubborn the Doctor is. So he won’t.

It’s a sad ending, but a good one too... Amy and Rory get to live long healthy lives together, and clearly end up as successful novelists or something, despite being trapped in Old Timey New York. So yay for them.

But it’s that sense of the show that I’ll miss... Yes, I’ll keep watching "Who", and it may get even better than it ever was before. But the "Doctor Who" I knew and loved? My "Doctor Who"? It’s done, and I’m sad to see it go.


- The "Melody Mallone" mystery featured in the episode will be published this week as an e-book. I'm curious to see if it makes even a lick of sense out of context.

- I kind of thought the whole thing about the Statue of Liberty being a Weeping Angel was that everyone was always looking at it, so it could never move. I guess the explanation is "magic," but you know... That don't make sense.

- I'm a little sad Rory's Dad doesn't get to say goodbye, since he was featured so prominently this season.

- Interesting, perhaps, note: every episode this season except "Dinosaurs on a Spaceship" was framed with a voice-over telling what went out as if it was a fairy tale, or story. Certainly that feeds nicely up to this episode, but I wonder if it's more than a frame?

- Be honest, you kind of still expect Amy and Rory to come back, right? Me too.

Movie & TV Awards 2018