"I always rip out the last page of a book. Then it doesn't have to end."
Doctor Who is the show that never wants to end. Celebrating its 50th anniversary next year, the Time Lord travelling in his TARDIS has always remained the same. But in that time he has had his fair share of companions travel with him, and it is always heartbreaking when they say their goodbyes. And so in this week's intense and emotionally charged episode we saw the last of Amy and Rory, as the Ponds bid a final farewell to the Doctor when they confront the Weeping Angels in the big Apple.
The Big Blink
After having the Western emulated in 'A Town Called Mercy', the show's cinematic pretensions continue with a tribute to Film Noir in 'The Angels take Manhattan'. Opening with clichéd hard-boiled narration over a rain-soaked cityscape, private investigator Sam Garner says "New York, the city of a million stories. Half of them are true, the other half just haven't happened yet". He meets a sticky end in a prolonged opening that sets the tone for an episode showing a darker side to the city that never sleeps; for the Angels are in town.
Los Angeles is the metropolis known as the City of Angels, but it is in New York that the Doctor finds the merciless statues running amok. After their mind-bogglingly brilliant debut in 'Blink', the last time we saw the villains in 'Time of the Angels/Flesh and Stone' was a bit of a disappointment. Set up as an Aliens-style sequel with a whole army falling victim to the menacing monsters, the beautifully simple horror of never seeing the Angels move was pointlessly broken. Here they return with a vengeance, as the whole city appears populated with Angels, including the biggest one of them all, the Statue of Liberty!
An American art collector hires River Song, now an archaeologist and detective, to inform him about an Angel he holds captive, unaware of the deadly threat they pose. She writes a book about these events that the Doctor reads in the present, and whatever happens in the book is, like the Angels, set in stone. Amy points out that, "Time can be re-written", only for the Doctor to say, "Not once you've read it". Unable to read the book to see what future lies ahead, the major enemy of the episode isn't the Weeping Angels, it's time.
Out of the Past
The Doctor might be a Time Lord that can travel into the future and the past, but he can't control time. His life will never correspond completely to his companions, and not even to his wife River. She says to him that, "When one's in love with an ageless God that doesn't age, one does one's best to hide the damage," and advises Amy later to, "Never ever let him see you age". The Doctor doesn't like endings, fixed points in time that mark where something stops, as like him, he wants things to go on forever. But this time there's no stopping Amy and Rory's departure.
A Paradox too far?
Whilst the episode was full of heart, trying to make sense of the nonsensical narrative is just painful. Full of rushed resolutions and machine gun dialogue, the perplexing paradox of Amy and Rory jumping off the Winter Quay building somehow defeats the Angels and doesn't lead to their deaths. It's also not made clear why exactly the Doctor can't see the two again by travelling back in time, as that's never been an aspect of the Angel's power before. The audience is left satisfied knowing that the married couple live a happy life together, but other explanations such as what happened to their friends back home, and the issue of having children together, are left disappointingly unresolved.
We're also left unsure of what will happen to River. Unleashed from the Stormcage because all records of the man she killed have been eradicated, being Amy and Rory's daughter has tied her to the show for the past three years. She refuses to travel with the Doctor as a regular companion, but for how much longer can she continue to pop up as his wife?
In a Lonely Place
The most important advise she gives to the Doctor is when she says, "Don't travel alone". The lonely Time Lord defeated the lonely assassins, but at the great cost of losing the two companions that he has been with since Matt Smith's incarnation of the Doctor began. The show will be back at Christmas, when Oswin returns to journey in the TARDIS. For Doctor Who this isn't the end, just another beginning.