We all knew this was coming. More than that, given what we knew about the Angels, we all kind of suspected how it would end. But like so many things in life, how you get there is really what’s important. For once, the departure of companions was touching, suspenseful and integral to the story itself. This episode was one of the best written of the series, and given the fact that we’re talking about fifty years of writing here, that’s quite an amazing feat.
It’s been common knowledge that Amy and Rory’s departure would take place in a story involving the Weeping Angels. These time displacing beings are some of the scariest monsters conceived for Doctor Who, but given their ability to shift people backwards in time, it didn’t take much to figure out what the final fate of the Doctor’s beloved companions would be. But what makes this episode special is the getting there. Both Arthur Darvil and Karen Gillan turn in tour-de-force performances. Darvil is especially effective as the brave but still very human Rory, while Gillan touches on every part of her character’s existence…from wife, to mother, to best friend. Matt Smith conveys the gut-wrenching anguish of the Doctor with incredible gravitas. Of all of the characters, Alex Kingston’s River Song is probably the weakest, but even that is still a fantastic performance. River brings context and comfort to the Doctor, reminding him of his need to move on, even as she hints at the pain of being his wife often inflicts upon her.
The script contains some of the best dialogue in the series, giving all of the actors something worthwhile to use for their performances. Even the camera direction is brilliant in places, with the actors staged in ways that lend even more emotion to their scenes. Of all the departures we’ve seen in this show, the farewell of the Ponds is perhaps the best episode in every category.
The Angels Take Manhattan gets Five Acorns out of Five!