As a standalone episode, The Angels Take Manhattan is certainly impressive. Moffat once again makes tremendous use of the Weeping Angels, exploiting their unique abilities to create a plausible trap for Amy and Rory. While I maintain that Amy and Rory’s departure feels sudden on the whole, I have no narrative issues with how the situation is handled here. The angels have been so well established at this point that I have no trouble questioning the boundaries of their powers; that they could form such a tight temporal circle around Amy and Rory, just through the ability to send them back in time, seems like a proper, insurmountable obstacle. The Doctor has to appear powerless for this scenario to work, and he does. From a narrative standpoint, Moffat achieves his goals.
The ‘Melody Malone’ plot device, meanwhile, was absolutely ingenious, the kind of crazy, cerebral puzzle only Moffat could create. The hour has a lot of fun cutting from the Doctor reading about the action, to the action actually occurring, and the book is integral in establishing the concept of circularity. It is inevitable, in time travel, that enough tinkering will set certain events in stone, and the book’s presence was a firm reminder – to us as much as the Doctor – of this sad truth.
In the end, my feelings on The Angels Take Manhattan are thoroughly mixed, and I suspect they always will be. The episode itself provides a strong conclusion to two beloved characters, and works spectacularly in a vacuum, but it does not feel right to me when I consider everything that came before. I believe Moffat ultimately kept Amy and Rory on the show too long, zooming past at least one good stopping point and writing himself into a corner from which he could not entirely escape. There are many good ideas on display here, as there always are, but the hour does not satisfy me as a loyal viewer of the show.
But none of this tarnishes Amy and Rory’s legacy for me, and it does not deaden my excitement for the next batch of episodes. Though it is tough to imagine any other companions travelling inside the Eleventh Doctor’s TARDIS, we know upcoming co-star Jenna Louise-Coleman plays wonderfully opposite Smith, and I am extremely excited to see her shake up the Doctor’s normal dynamics. This chapter of Doctor Who history did not close perfectly, or even particularly well, but a new era will soon begin, and I am eager to see where it leads.
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