I'm never going to be able to look at statues in the park the same way again
Hey, were you feeling happy today? That’s too fucking bad, because Doctor Who is here to tug at your heartstrings. Let’s waste no time and begin.
As usual, spoilers all up in this bitch.
This week’s voiceover is brought to us by S. Garner, private dick. In his best noir voice, he explains that New York is a concrete jungle where dreams are made of. Also that he’s been hired by one Julius Grayle to investigate some moving statues. Garner is dubious, but goes along with it for the money. He arrives at a place called Winter Quay. He enters to find an elevator waiting for him, which he gets in- because that is obviously the best course of action in this situation. Upstairs, he finds a room with his name on it, and inside that room is his hat and coat and identification. An old man tells him he’s about to go back in time- it’s him from the future, if you haven’t guessed. The angels close in behind him. He can’t escape his fate.
Intro time! The time vortex is nearly black at this point. Font theme: Statue of Liberty.
It’s a sunny, lovely afternoon in present day New York City. The Doctor reads aloud from a noir mystery. Amy yells at him for speaking aloud. The Doctor also asks about her glasses and the lines on her eyes- poor Amy is getting older. She freaks out for a bit, demanding that Rory tell her if she’s getting old, and he gracefully bows out to get coffee for the group. The Doctor rips the last page out of the book and stuffs it in the picnic basket because he is really well adjusted and can handle endings. Rory walks through the park while Amy plays Pooh sticks (I don’t know why, okay?) and the Doctor reads the story.
Next thing we know, it’s nighttime and Rory is standing in the middle of the street with the coffee. “I just went to get coffee,” he says- in real life and in the book. Amy and the Doctor realise they are reading about Rory in the past now, but during his present (keep up, kids!). Rory is greeted by Melody/River, who, incidentally, is the author of the book. The Doctor and Amy run back to the TARDIS to try to get to 1938, but there are time distortions everywhere in that year. They bounce off it and wind up in a graveyard. No one notices, but there’s a tombstone there with Rory’s name on it. Oh, not again. Amy tries to read ahead in the book for hints, but the Doctor yells at her about fixed points in time and all that. He gets upset because she reads that he will break something, and now he has to break it because he knows his own future.
River brings Rory back to Grayle’s manse. There is Ch’in dynasty pottery everywhere. Rory is dragged off to the basement to the “babies.” Wait are we talking about baby angels here? Because human babies are terrifying and angels are terrifying and the twain ought never meet. The Doctor, meanwhile, reads about the Ch’in vases in the book and he and Amy head back to China circa 200 B.C. to get one made. This allows him to communicate with River in the future (yowsa!), who sends a little text to bring him to 1938. Meanwhile, Rory is being terrorised by the baby angels (new nightmare fodder) and Grayle shows River his chained up angel.
The angel grabs hold of River while Rory tries to survive the terrifying cherubs with naught but a box of matches. The TARDIS shows up. The Doctor sees River is captive, and becomes sad because of what Amy read before- he will have to break River’s wrist to get her out. River asks him about how he’s deleted himself from history. He comments that he was simply getting too big. Amy interrupts their tête à tête and points out that even though they can’t read ahead, they can use the chapter titles for hints. The Doctor grabs the book to do this, but the last two chapters are titled “Death at Winter Quay” and “Amy’s Last Farewell.” Uh-oh.
The Doctor refuses to break River’s wrist, so he leaves her to find a way out of the angel’s grasp while he and Amy find Rory. They find the basement littered with spent matches but no Rory- the baby angels (gross, still) have taken him. Back upstairs, River is now free from the angel. At first the Doctor is excited- perhaps time can be rewritten in this instance- but he realises that she actually just broke her own wrist. He heals it with regenerative energy. She slaps him and runs off. Amy hangs out sort of awkwardly and tells the Doctor he’s crap at relationships, then goes to comfort River. River tells her mother not to ever let the Doctor see them leave. He hates endings. But we already knew that.
Rory has only been transported in space, not time. He’s at Winter Quay. He gets the same “creepy elevator” treatment as our opening victim. However, Amy, the Doctor, and River catch up to him. His old self is in the room- old Rory calls Amy over and then dies. Rory loves dying. It’s kind of his thing. Young Rory is confused. The Doctor finally gives us the explanation we’ve more or less figured out. The angels feed off time energy, so they zap people back in time to this place, Winter Quay, where the victims are trapped and live out the rest of their lives in a tiny one-bedroom apartment. But hey, with the way real estate is in New York that’s really an excellent deal. Also, since we’ve seen Rory die, he has to die here. Amy is not a huge fan of that idea, and suggests that Rory get the hell out, creating a paradox and destroying the angels’ Home For the Time-Space Misplaced. The Doctor tells her they’d have to run forever. The Ponds are okay with that.
Amy and Rory run out of the room past the angels, leaving River and the Doctor behind. They (Rory/Amy) end up on top of the building, being leered at by angel Statue of Liberty. Well, fantastic, I will never ever go to New York again. Between the Empire State Daleks and the Statue of Liberty angel, I’m going to stay safe and sound in Middle America. Anyway, Rory climbs up on the ledge of the roof. He figures that if he jumps, he’ll die, and then the paradox will be created, but then he won’t really die because there was no Winter Quay to jump from. Amy asks if that’ll work. He gets meta and says he’s “died” a bunch of other times, why not? She decides to jump with him. Just before they leap, the Doctor and River show up. The Doctor is upset by their plan, but begrudgingly admits it’s the best they’ve got. They jump. They fall in slow motion, and it’s sad, but the paradox appears to be working.
The Ponds wake up in that same graveyard as before. Yay! Paradox solved! Everything is fixed! River and the Doctor are fixing up the TARDIS (there’s another lightbulb reference, what’s with those?) and Amy and Rory are excited to be not pancaked. They head to the TARDIS, but on the way, Rory notices the grave with his name on it. He asks about it- and an angel shows up behind him and zaps him back to the past. The grave is his now. In an incredibly sad scene, Amy decides she’s going to blink. She’s going to go back in time and find Rory. Oh gods, are you serious? She and the Doctor have a heartfelt goodbye, and she blinks, and then her name is on the tombstone, too. Interestingly, she’s 87 and he’s 82 when they die, so either she went back before him or wasted more time travelling with the Doctor or something.
River comforts the Doctor, telling him not to travel alone. He invites her along with him, but she says there’s only room for one psychopath on the TARDIS (her words). Plus, she has to write the book they’ve been reading this whole time. She suggests Amy may write the afterward. The Doctor remembers he tore that page out, and runs back to the park to get it. “Amy’s Last Farewell” assures us that she and Rory found each other and were happy and they all loved the Doctor and he should never travel alone. Tears. Sadness. The end.
Well fucking Christ, man. That shit was sad. I mean, I think we were all kind of ready for the Ponds to move on, but did we really have to trap them in 1938? How will the Doctor explain that to Brian? Did they really have to almost give us a happy ending and then rip it away at the last minute? Of course, the real take home message here is that the Doctor has effectively erased himself. This is important. It is necessary. I’m not sure for what, but we’ll find out, I don’t doubt it.