I absolutely loved Time of Angels (The first part of this 2 part Doctor Who story) and so inevitably went into this one with high expectations. Fortunately Steven Moffat didn’t let me down. The story wasn’t quite what I expected it to be, but the surprises were of the good variety.
I don’t speak about cinematography very much because a lot of the time I don’t really notice those sorts of details. I tend to immerse myself in the story rather than looking at it’s construction. But it’s worth noting that this episode was a thing of beauty. A perfect example of this was seeing the Angels move in the strobe effect of the guns firing during the early minutes of the episode.
Another was the look of the trees on the Byzantium. An suitably Doctor Who solution to the very mundane problem of oxygen.
But what made this episode work for me was the tension which just built and built. Amy Pond may replace Martha Jones as my favorite companion from new Who. It helps of course that Karen Gillan is very pleasant to look at and that she has the most expressive eyes which give her reaction shots considerable impact.
Amy’s countdown was a wonderfully subtle bit of writing, but once you realized that she was in fact counting down, it added dramatically to the suspense. What was she counting down to? And what Moffat did there, subverting one of his own catchphrases, triggered some of the creepiest scenes in the episode. Don’t blink becomes don’t look and Amy is lost, alone and can’t see what’s going on. Capped off by the sight of the weeping angels slowly moving. Something we’ve never previously seen.
Also of note in that segment was Amy’s frustration and not being able to see and the way the script slipped in time changing in front of us without any warnings. Pure brilliance.
It doesn’t stop there though. The mystery of River Song continues to unfold and we’re clearly being encouraged to think that she must have killed a future Doctor in her past. We’re being encouraged to think it so strongly that I’m fairly sure there must be more going on. I can’t wait to find out though when we finally visit the Pandorica.
I wasn’t expecting the crack in the universe to play such a major role so early in the season either. Resolving that particularly plot thread online to leave the barest outline of a larger one was well played indeed. It seems as though Moffat may be using this to further stamp a new direction for the show. Russell T Davies was keen on big spectacles and as a result the people of earth were exposed to very public alien invasions on many occasions. The crack in the universe is a convenient way of removing some of those from the public memory.
And then of course there was Matt Smith as the Doctor. He’s brilliant. He really is perfect for the role. His Doctor is a radical contrast from either David Tennant or Christopher Ecclestone, but I love it. The eccentricity is amped up to the max and there’s an instability to him that wasn’t there in recent incarnations. He absolutely is a mad man in a box. His performance is hard to look away from.
Lastly there’s that final scene between the Doctor and Amy where she rather clumsily attempts to seduce him. I’ve already seen some criticism of that, but I think it’s misplaced. Amy is a young character who is clearly captivated by the mystery of this “imaginary friend” from her youth. She’s just survived some extreme circumstances and near death. She’s high on adrenaline. And she’s running away from a major event in her real life. Her behavior is not that surprising.
More interesting really is the Doctor’s reaction. Here is a clear indication from Moffat that this is not the Tenth Doctor. The eleventh Doctor isn’t into humans in that way. There’s no romantic entanglement here.
This is going to be a very difficult episode to top, but the trailer for next week’s Vampires in Venice already has me counting the hours.
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