Aired 1 May 2010
It’s a testament both to Doctor Who and to Steven Moffat that the Weeping Angels continue to evolve rather than to simply rely on more of the same thrills and scares that have worked so effectively in ‘Blink’ and ‘The Time of Angels.’ Of course the tension is amplified throughout as the Angels slowly begin to move, but seeing the brutality of the Angels as they instantly grab a cleric’s head is shocking and adds yet another threatening layer to their intense skill set.
Likewise, the addition of a countdown to Amy’s dialogue throughout the episode as a result of the Angel in her eye is a genuinely effective and disturbing touch, worked in subtly enough that it takes some time for the realization of what she is saying to hit. Even the visual effect of her eye is quite striking and distressing, but not nearly as much as the fact that she is forced to sit in isolation with her eyes closed while the Angels prowl so as not to worsen the situation.
Yet as great as the drama surrounding Amy is- and this really is drama done superbly well- it’s still Matt Smith’s Doctor who manages to steal the show. Smith continues to portray his incarnation as an overall friendly one, albeit also as a pendulum of emotions who is seemingly quick to let his anger out. The range he shows is always very effectively done, and this swing from friendliness to fury while not always understanding social niceties certainly suits the show and adds a bit more of the alien back to the Time Lord. It’s undeniably chilling how overtly he tells Amy that she is dying when he discovers the presence of the Angel; at the same time, his heartfelt conversation with Amy will surely have ramifications down the road.
However, Moffat throws a bit of a curveball here as, just when it seems like the Angels are going to become an overwhelming force in this story, the crack in the wall returns. This has very overtly been a recurring image through the opening episodes, but having it manifest and become crucial to the storyline now rather than only at the series’s end is a masterful decision. This both brings Amy squarely into the focus of the ongoing narrative and also forces the Doctor to consider if time can run out or be changed; at the very least, it seems to be the cause for the disappearance of memories alluded to in ‘Victory of the Daleks,’ and it certainly has an undeniable power as it rids the area of the Angels. Many more questions have arisen regarding the crack, but it’s a great choice to start offering some answers so early as well.
Unfortunately River Song did not feature as prominently as was expected, though it’s clear that she’s going to be returning at some point. However, she did continue to reveal some hidden clues about her past, hinting that she may have killed the Doctor in his future. Certainly this is a woman to watch out for, and Alex Kingston is obviously relishing the opportunity to play such a strong and intriguing character.
There will undoubtedly be some backlash about how quickly the crack resolved the underlying Angel threat, but it does allow for an extended epilogue that almost serves as an episode in itself. Events here finally start to tie into those from ‘The Eleventh Hour’ as Amy’s decision to so easily (if temporarily) run away from her upcoming wedding comes back into focus. It’s a bit unsettling to see Amy become so sexually aggressive toward the Doctor, although the sheer fear of the situation she just survived would certainly go some ways to explaining this and it seems as though this issue is firmly in the past for now. The bigger revelation, of course, is the basecode coinciding with the date of 26 June 2010, a date that will surely become important for events within the programme and also corresponding to the date of the finale of this series.
While the ending may, indeed, have been rushed, ‘Flesh and Stone’ is a superb closing half to the opening events of ‘The Time of Angels,’ superbly increasing the menace of the Weeping Angels and attaining a truly cinematic and blockbuster feel. Some questions have wisely been answered, but many more have been asked, and excitement for the upcoming episodes continues to build.