Doctor Who: XI and the Not-So-Lonely Assassins

May 27, 2010 at 12:02 am (BBC, Geekery, TV) (, , , , , , , )

So, finally: “The Time of Angels” and “Flesh and Stone”.  *queues up Lee DeWyze on iTunes, throws some virtual confetti, and settles in*

THE TIME OF ANGELS – by Steven Moffat

“Time” starts off as it continues – pretty wonderfully.  “Hallucinogenic lipstick.  She’s here.”  Yes she is, and she has seriously awesome shoes.  I would endure the pain they would cause to wear those shoes.  (They’re apparently an internet sensation – I guess I’m more a typical girl than I thought!) (Oddest thing – while I could find pictures of the (extremely expensive) shoes (as see left), I couldn’t find a screencap.  And I’m NOT staying up till one tonight, so I just bought the damn episode.)

(Which will take two hours to download, which would beeee… one o’clock.  Fine.  I’ll add it later.)

(start parenthesis –

– end parenthesis) (Was it worth it?  *sigh*)

And then “12,000 years later” …

Doctor (dashing from glass case to glass case in a long hall): Wrong.  Wrong.  Bit right, but mostly wrong.  I love museums!
Amy: Yeah, great – can we go to a planet now?  Big spaceship, Churchill’s bunker – I want to see a planet now!
(Mickey wanted a spaceship – I would want the past, and Churchill’s bunker would do nicely.  Then a planet.  Then a spaceship.)
Doctor: Amy (what happened to ‘Pond’?), this isn’t any old asteroid!  This is the Delirium Archive, final resting place of the Headless Monks – THE biggest museum *ever*!”
Amy: You’ve got a time machine – what do you need museums for?
(I thought he made that abundantly clear – he loves being smarter than the people who collected the artifacts.)
Doctor (at a display): WRONG! Very wrong! Oo, one of mine.  Also one of mine.
Amy: Oh, I see. It’s how you keep score.
(Sort of.)

About the home box –
Doctor: The writing, the graffitti: Old High Gallifreyan.  The lost language of the Time Lords.  There were days – there were many days those words could burn stars and raise up empires, and topple gods.
Amy (not so impressed): What does it *say*?
Doctor: (Apparently not really expecting her to ask?  As if) “Hello sweetie.”
Back in the past on the starliner, River Song looks directly into a security camera – which footage the Doctor pulls up 12,000 years later – and winks.

These episodes are a sequel to not one but two other episodes; I wonder if that’s ever been done before.  “The Forest of the Dead” (how could I forget to add the Vashta Nerada to my list of scaries on New Who?) and “Blink”, both by Steven Moffat (unsurprisingly) came together to birth the Angel duology … which makes it a little odd to me that there were some kind of fundamental changes to canon.  But I’ll come back to that.

River is at “Triple seven five slash three four nine nine ten zero twelve slash acorn” (they always use ‘acorn’, or ‘apple’) – “Like I said on the dance floor, you might want to find something to hang on to.”  And she blows a kiss and ejects out into space.  Helluvan entrance.

So, this is, for River, before “Forest” and after her adventures in the TARDIS – which are, I would hazard, with 11, because she didn’t seem at all surprised by his regeneration.  I can just picture the geeks combing through every word she’s ever said to try to work out something, anything.  I may join them.  I love the idea of it: here’s this strong (very) woman, knowledgeable in a broad range of subjects – enough so to give the Doctor a run for his money now and then – who has had a turn as Companion (or whatever) and moved on (why?  Regeneration?).  And now she’s off adventuring, carrying on the Doctor’s work, in a way, and knowing if she puts the word out there he’ll come to her.  Which in this case was more brilliant the more I think about it.

How great it would be if more ex-Companions did that.  Well, now, wait… Sarah Jane Smith.  Rose.  Mickey.  Martha.  Hadn’t thought about it from this angle (angle, not angel yet, fingers) before … There should be some sort of card he can give them as they leave the TARDIS for the last time, the Former Companion Society, where they can form a network of powers for Good in the universe…

River: It’s not supposed to make that noise.  *You* leave the brakes on.
Doctor: Yeah, well, it’s a brilliant noise.  I love that noise.
Good.  Because if you STOP leaving the brakes on, I’ll brake break something, and then sit huddled in a corner with my TARDIS USB hub pushing the button over and over.

“He thinks he’s so hot when he does that,” River says in a very audible aside to Amy, who is loving this.

“The Church has moved on.”  Interesting.  If they, certain orders of monks, take it as their mission to actively fight evil in the galaxy – well, that makes a lot of sense.  I like it.  I don’t know that that’s how they meant it, but I like it.  Would that I wrote SciFi – this would go in there.

The Angel in – and out of – the viewscreen was brilliant.  Including Amy’s alternate winking of her eyes – that’s the ticket.  Sort of.  I really, really want to watch “Blink” again to see if Sally or Laurence looked their Angels in the eye; I don’t think so, for the most part.  I think they were far enough away.

Doctor: River, hug Amy.
River (startled): Why?
Doctor: ‘Cause I’m busy.  (Aw.  Sort of.  That’s actually textbook Doctor: notes that someone is in distress (or deserves a hug), knows what’s needed, and delegates it.  Not much of a hugger, the Doctor, in general.)

“Something in my eye.”  Yes.  Very much so.  Oh dear.

“Believe you me, I have no intention of going back to prison.”  Pardon?  (No, supervised release…) Well.  She did seem awfully comfortable with – and good at – breaking and entering.  And the military men knew her, and not in a good way.  Huh.

“According to the Doctor, we are facing an enemy of unknowable power and infinite evil, so it would be good – it would be very good – if we could all remain calm in the presence of decor.”  Which is beautifully cutting.  Thing, though: according to the Doctor?  They didn’t know the power-and-evil bit before?  Then why were they hunting the Angel before the Doctor came into it?  Poor Sacred Bob … Happily for him, and us the viewers, the Doctor does *not* like bullying.

“Anyone in this room who isn’t scared is a moron.”  (Yes, Father Octavian, he’s looking at you.)

Doctor: Didn’t anyone ever tell you there’s one thing you never put in a trap?  – If you’re smart, if you value your continued existence, if you have any plans about seeing tomorrow, there’s one thing you never, ever put in a trap.
(I admit it – I was crowing a little at this point)
The Angel Formerly Known as Sacred Bob (politely): And what would that be, sir?
Doctor: Me.
– And he shoots out the gravity bubble, thereby stilling my fears about the Doctor with a gun.  He can shoot – he chooses not to.

Hey – we went from the Headless Monks to the two-headed whatsits.  Ya know, I knew there was something odd about those statues.

“That’s extremely not good.”  And people wonder why I talk funny.  Between Joss Whedon and Doctor Who and the rest of the British stuff I watch, it’s a wonder I’m still intelligible at all.

And this is where it goes a little funny. I’ve seen rave reviews of “Time of Angels”, absolute giddy jumping-up-and-down lovefests … I didn’t love it that much. I liked it a great deal, but “Blink” still leaves it several lengths behind. (“The Girl in the Fireplace” is already back in the stable kicking back and basking in admiration.) And while “Flesh and Stone” had some very definitely great moments, some of the stuff in between wasn’t so hot.

FLESH AND STONE

Doctor: It’s impossible.
River: How impossible?
Doctor: Two minutes.

“I made him say ‘comfy chairs’.”  Hee.

This I loved: “Doctor, I’m five.”  That was – wait, I’ve already used “brilliant” twice.  So what.  That was brilliant.

So was the repetition of “The Doctor in the TARDIS hasn’t noticed!”  Except they really, really need to back that up with a reason why two wildly disparate aliens would say exactly the same thing.

“Oh!  That’s bad.  That’s very extremely not good.”

River: There’s a plan?
Doctor: I dunno yet – I haven’t finished thinking.  Right!  Father, you and your clerics, you’re gonna stay here and look after Amy.  If anything happens to her I’ll hold every single one of you personally responsible twice.  (Okay, I’ll say it: I love the Doctor.)  River, you and me, we’re gonna go find the primary flight deck – (licks his finger, sticks it in the air, points) – quarter of a mile straight ahead, and from there we’re going to stabilize the wreckage, stop the Angels, and save Amy.
River: How?
Doctor: I’ll do a thing.
River: What thing?
Doctor: I dunno, it’s a thing in progress.  Respect the thing.
( – That’s two great blog titles right there – “Thing in progress”, “Respect the thing”.  Count the minutes till they appear.)

But, why, oh why didn’t they blindfold poor Amy?  There aren’t many things scarier than having to deal with scary monsters – except for having to deal with them with your eyes closed.  Wait: she couldn’t be blindfolded, because then that whole (both terrifying and silly) sequence with her making her way among them wouldn’t have happened.  And here’s where the funny part I mentioned starts to show.  From “Blink”:


Sally: What do you mean angels?  You mean those statue things?
The Doctor: Creatures from another world.
Sally: But they’re just statues.
The Doctor: Only when you see them.
Sally: What does that mean?
The Doctor: The Lonely Assassins, they used to be called.  No one quite knows where they came from but they’re as old as the Universe, or very nearly, and they have survived this long because they have the most perfect defense system ever evolved.  They’re quantum-locked.  They don’t exist when they’re being observed.  The moment they are seen by any other living creature they freeze into rock.  No choice, it’s a fact of their biology, in the sight of any living thing they literally turn to stone.  And you can’t kill a stone.  ’Course a stone can’t kill you either but then you turn your head away, then you blink, and oh yes it can. … That’s why they cover their eyes.  They’re not weeping, they can’t risk looking at each other.  Their greatest asset is their greatest curse.  They can never be seen.  Loneliest creatures in the Universe.  And I’m sorry.  I am very, very sorry.  It’s up to you now. … Don’t blink.  Don’t even blink.  Blink and you’re dead.  They are fast, faster than you could believe, don’t turn your back, don’t look away, and don’t blink.  Good luck.

They barely mentioned the quantum-locking in these episodes.  And there were one hell of a lot of Angels, all looking in all directions, none hiding their faces – so they seemed to have gotten past that little VERY IMPORTANT PART OF THEIR MAKEUP… It didn’t seem right at the time, and rereading the “Easter egg” from “Blink” proved why.  Lots and lots of Angels was a scary thing – but it shouldn’t have been.  They should have each canceled out another Angel until it was manageable.  Or there should have been no light in the clearing where Amy was, with us seeing in flashes or through some kind of filter.  OR they should have kept more of the aspect that they had when they were wingless – because they were also mostly eyeless.  It was an effectively suspenseful scene – but ineffectual on closer inspection.  Unfortunate.

Storm cage, hm?  Sounds impressive.  “She killed a man, a good man, a hero to many.  You don’t want to know.”  Hm.  Of course the speculation is that she killed the Doctor … which isn’t necessarily what it sounds like.  Too many avenues to go down all at once … *Picks one*  She didn’t show any sign of any deep sadness or regret, didn’t look at the Doctor with the thought “I killed you in your future” in her face.  Now, one explanation I can think of is that yes, she kills the Doctor – it does make sense out of “You don’t want to know” – but in such a situation that he needed to regenerate and couldn’t do so on his own for some reason.  So she killed him – and to anyone who didn’t know the Doctor, it would be a heinous crime, because good Lord Matt Smith just went up in flames.  Even if she wanted to bring the new Doctor forward as proof that it was OK, who would believe it?  That’s a different person (and it would be) (mostly) – what are you trying to pull?  So – I believe until I have more information that if and when River Song shows up as the Doctor’s Companion, The End Is Near.  And not to be snarky about it, but: Alex Kingston (born 11 March 1963).  He’s 26.  She’s 47.  She looks tremendous – but she’s not completely ageless.

Oh, who am I kidding – she’s gorgeous.

And there’s the mention of the duck pond without any ducks.  I must protest this, mildly.  Just because it’s called the duck pond doesn’t mean there have to be ducks on it 24 – 7.  Maybe the ducks were off swimming in someone’s pool, like my sister’s mallards Charlie and Claire who come back every spring.  (Swimming on the pool cover, technically, since after all it is spring.)  Maybe it was the wrong time of year. Maybe there were ducks that frequented it when the town was built but they stopped coming back, leaving only a memory behind in the pond’s name.  (Amelia Pond, duck pond – it’s a stretch to make a connection, isn’t it?)

The Doctor brackets this with Amy forgetting the Daleks, which seems rather extreme to me at this point.  We’ll find out, though, in a while.

Doctor:  I wish I’d known you better.
Octavian: I think, sir, you know me at my best.
– That was an excellent, excellent scene.  Though why the Doctor couldn’t have at least tried to break the Angel’s arm … Still.

River: I’ll see you when the Pandorica opens.
(What?!  How-?!  Wait!) (Oh, well, I suppose she would know, not being from around now.)
Doctor: The Pandorica?  That’s a fairytale.
(What?!  But-?!  Don’t you remember?  And – it is?? Wait!)
River: Aren’t we all?
(Good answer – but – ! Wait!)

How would the Doctor not at least start grilling her?  This is something which has been dogging him almost since he regenerated – mightn’t he be a tad bit curious?  It would have been a frustrating/satisfying exit – just as she might be about to tell him something, she’s beamed up.

Can I trust you, River Song?
You can – but what would be the fun in that?

– That’s not the kind of demeanour I’d expect from someone talking to a man whose death was on her conscience.

Amy:  What are you thinking?
Doctor: Time can be rewritten.

– Oh dear.  Oh dear oh dear.  Maybe he hasn’t made the recovery he seemed to have, because he said that with a considering kind of tone.  It actually gave me a chill.  This could get ugly.

So does it make me evil that I can’t wait?  Or just hooked?

Oh – right after I watched these, I had a call from our English branch about an urgent order we were shipping out.  Just before I hung up with Peter he said “You’re an angel!”  I hung up, put my head in my hands, and laughed.  Peter, you’re not a Whovian, are you?

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