A First-Timer Watches Doctor Who: “The Time of Angels”

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With “The Time of Angels” Doctor Who viewers finally get the season five two-parter we deserve. The last two episodes, while imaginative and entertaining, both raced to their conclusions. This instalment, the fourth in the series, ended in a cliffhanger. A glorious, anxiety-inducing cliffhanger!

It also saw the return of the enigma that is River Song. We know her from another two-parter, season four’s “Silence in the Library” and “Forest of the Dead”. She knows the Doctor from… well, we’re still waiting to be sure. Their relationship has been strongly hinted at, and the fact that Who writer Steven Moffat took his cues from Audrey Niffenegger’s novel, The Time Traveler’s Wife says a lot. Even Amy picked up on it, pushing the Doctor to admit “She’s my future.”

Here’s River in all her hallucinogenic-lipstick-wearing glory looking and acting like a female James Bond. (When is that going to happen, by the way?)

The enemy the trio is up against is no mere Bond villain though—it’s a Weeping Angel. Remember them? They tried to kill Carey Mulligan in season three.

The monsters, perhaps the most perfect foe the brains behind the show ever conceived (up to this point at least), are back… or one of them is anyway, and it’s got plans for rebuilding its kind—at the expense of a human colony on the planet Alfava Metraxis. The already formidable Angels have evolved since the Doctor last met them. On Earth, they were nothing but weak scavengers. Now they’re highly evolved, stone-cold killers, as documented by the somewhat incoherent ramblings River has found in the journal of an unnamed lunatic, which warns: “That which holds the image of an Angel becomes itself an Angel.”

By the time the Doctor realizes that the whole mission to Alfava Metraxis is an elaborate trap laid by the Angel—one that he and a squad of militarized clerics have walked right into—things are already looking dire. Except maybe for Amy, who’s probably struggling to get a clear picture of the situation, what with all that Angel dust in her eyes. Props to the Who SFX artist who designed that cool trick.

Overall, the episode is the best one we’ve seen this season. The pacing was perfect and the jokes clever. Highlights included a jab River takes at the Doctor about the way he lands the TARDIS, making it wheeze like an asthmatic every time, and the throwaway line about Virginia Woolf’s bowling team.

Whether it was an intentional homage or no, it was also neat to see Amy running around in David Tennant’s trademark Converse. Detail-oriented (okay, obsessive) viewers might also notice that the Tennant-era TARDIS was also accidentally used in one scene. As great as Matt Smith is, it’s hard not to miss the Tenth Doctor.