The following post is from Emma Hyam (a.k.a emma_lou on our forums & emma_lou1983 on Twitter). This can also be read on her blog.
WARNING: THIS POST CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR THE EPISODE
5 out of 5 *****
Scream, cry, kick the house down in excitement and reach for a box of tissues as it’s time once again (all too soon it seems) for another Doctor Who mid-series finale.
And what a finale. Moffat promised us a blockbuster every week, and the past four episodes certainly stuck to that promise. Going into this show it seemed we were being set up for an Al Capone-type noir adventure, full of tommy guns and fancy cars, but as always The Moff put a swerve on us. This was very much an emotional story about our core four characters of Amy, Rory, River and The Doctor, with everyone else pushed out to being somewhat extraneous characters, there to get our heroes to the right place at the right time.
That seems to be my main criticism of Who these days – if you can call it one – that we never seem to have quite enough time. I wish we could have spent a few more minutes with Grayle and The Weeping Angels – surely Moffat’s finest monster creation – they were horrifyingly creepy as always, with those nasty little cherubs another nice, if skin crawling addition to the monsters pantheon. That being said, they felt a little bit off their game here, not quite as scary or horrible as they have been previously in stories like Flesh and Stone. I even began to feel a tiny but of sympathy for the one Grayle had been torturing. It reminded me somewhat of the eponymous Dalek from Dalek. I think the Angels are something that works best if they’re kept to being an occasional treat rather than a once-a-series regular, here’s hoping we don’t see them again for a little while.
On to the main meat of the episode, The Ponds. As Moffat promised there were tears a plenty as Amy and Rory went to happily “live to death” courtesy of the Angels, never to see The Doctor or their daughter, River again. Blimey, didn’t it seem a dark prospect, they are not many Saturday evening family telly shows where a couple commit suicide together! It all came good for them in an odd sort of way though, as they got to live a long, happy life together and Moffat gave us a wonderful coming of full circle as we finally got an explanation for that odd little moment from The Eleventh Hour with the young Amelia. What he takes away with one hand he gives back with the other. It was a remarkably bittersweet but fitting ending. That’s not to say that the episode had the air of a funeral, unlike some previous departure episodes. There was plenty of humour and running around to be done; I particularly liked the sniping between The Doctor and River, and their behavior towards each other raised a smile from me – check out The Doctor fixing his hair before he sees River again.
Our core regulars gave marvellous performances across the board; Alex Kingston was smashing in selling River’s combination of grief and happiness at the fate of her parents, Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill continued their good work from the previous episodes, as did the wonderful Matt Smith, being particularly effective at portraying The Doctor’s rage and loneliness as once again he is left alone, albeit with River’s warning not to stay that way for long.
So what next for the good Doctor? It’s on to the Christmas Special, and once again we’ve got the prospect of an unsettled, dark Doctor left to forge on through the universe alone. The Doctor says that he hates endings, and while it’s all said & done for The Ponds, “The Lonely God” must move on, and I for one can not wait to see what adventures and scrapes he gets himself mixed up in next. Roll on December.