Doctor Who S05E05 — Flesh and Stone, Review

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. 

About Eoghann Irving

Overly opinionated owner and author of eoghann.com. You can get updated on his posts directly on the blog here or through the usual social networking suspects. What? You expected me to say something interesting here? That's what the blog posts are for. Eoghann has often wondered if people read these little bio things we have to fill out everywhere on the internet and, assuming they do, why?