Taking Satisfaction

The Angels Take Manhattan (Series 7, Ep 5; 2012)
Viewed 16 Apr 2018

Doctor/Companion: Eleven, Amy Pond, Rory Williams, River Song
Stars: Matt Smith, Karen Gillan, Arthur Darvill, Alex Kingston
Preceding Story: The Power of Three (Eleven, Amy, Rory)
Succeeding Story: The Snowmen (Eleven, Clara)

    This coming weekend, I get to take my daughters to their first Doctor Who con—in fact, their first con of any sort since becoming fans of the show. As you may recall, the three members of the Paternoster Gang were slated to be the guests of honor, and I was trying to figure out how to give the girls enough background to appreciate said guests.

    Since then, Neve McIntosh (Madame Vastra)—the first of those guests to have been announced, as I recall—has had to cancel, and my kids have blown through so much Doctor Who that they've now seen not just one, but every extant episode in which the Paternoster Gang appears. I'm no longer worrying about their excitement for meeting these actors; now it's a matter of which Doctor do we watch next (and next, and next...).

    Not only are we watching lots of episodes together, but it's also been a ridiculously long time since the Ladies have gotten together to watch anything other than the most recent series (scheduling can be a real bear). And since a commenter suggested it might be fun to read more about what my daughters think about these new-to-them stories, I thought I'd choose a few during which to record their reactions and reboot the NuViews section of the blog in earnest.

    At the time I made that decision, we were in the middle of Series 7A. A Companion departure story seemed like a really good one to capture, so when it was time to watch The Angels Take Manhattan, I got out my clipboard and—with the girls' permission—started taking notes.

    H is my more vocally demonstrative kiddo. She wears her heart on her sleeve, and works through what she's feeling out loud as we watch. By contrast, V is fairly stoic, and keeps her thoughts mostly to herself until she's fully processed them. While H will shout, "Rory! Run!" at the TV, V will just tense up, maybe gripping the arm of the couch, saving her comments until the end credits. And both laugh out loud just where Moffat wants.

    They knew going in, as those of us who watched at the time did, that this was the last episode for the Ponds. Thus as soon as the pre-credits sequence began, unison cries of "Noooooo!" filled the air. But almost immediately, they were caught up in the narrative, wondering about this shady PI taking money from some fat cat. "What does he know? Who is he? I'm suspicious..." declared H.

    Both girls were also quick to peg this as the story in which the Statue of Liberty was shown to be an Angel. The concept had come up in conversation some weeks before, and I'd had to admit that yes, they had written Lady Liberty as an Angel at one point. It took only that first glimpse of her less than two minutes in for them to cotton on.

    I'm actually really impressed with how astute these kids are. When our hapless PI steps into the elevator at Winter Quay, they pounce on the fact that there's a poster of the Statue of Liberty hanging there. They already know—though Moffat hasn't yet revealed to the audience—that she's an Angel, so they quite rightly point out that so is the poster! After all, the image of an Angel becomes itself an Angel.

    Later, H is the first to catch on to what's happened to Rory when the babies get him. "Oh, crap!" she exclaims. With the episode paused, we discuss what she's deduced. She reads so quickly, it was no trouble for her to catch the titles of all of the upcoming chapters in the Melody Malone book; she knows they're heading back to Winter Quay.

    At twelve years old, these two are super empathetic and pretty invested in the romantic subplot. It always breaks my heart when Rory climbs the wall to create that final paradox and defeat the Angels; the girls are no less affected. H sobs when Rory tells Amy, "To save you, I could do anything."

    And yet when the moment comes when they leave the Doctor forever (depending on how you interpret the timeline of Series 7A, but that's a topic for another post), H and V are remarkably dry-eyed. I have friends who are big Amy/Rory fans who find this episode difficult to watch because of the emotional ending, and somehow I expected the girls to be more wrecked. Yet they seemed sanguine about this departure.

    General reactions:

    • H - intensely invested, seeing just far enough ahead in the narrative to get super nervous
    • V - not much to say throughout, but completely engaged
    • mrfranklin - aside from the poorly-explained "can't go back" stuff at the end, pretty good

    It had been quite a while since I'd last watched any of Series Seven, so I'd forgotten many of the details of the plot line, but I still felt the emotional punch of the Amy/Rory relationship (much less so that between Amy and the Doctor). For their part, the girls found it extremely satisfying. "That was the best one yet," said V. "Martha's [which I had previously opined was the best/least traumatic, due to her choice to stop traveling with the Doctor] was too snoofly. That one's the best."

    "Besides," added H, "they were happy together." I can't argue with that.

    Verdict: Thumbs up

    Looking ahead: The Time of the Doctor

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