“If I didn’t quit watching after “Let’s Kill Hitler” and “The Wedding of River Song” I can’t imagine what more this show will give me that I can’t take.”
I said that back at the beginning of this season and let’s just say I had a failure of imagination when it came to imagining what more the show could give me.
We knew going into this season that it was the end of the road for Amy and Rory, though I had mostly avoided spoilers as to how they were gone. Honestly, the new series hasn’t done a great job with ending companions’ runs. Rose’s tearful farewell dragged on and on until we couldn’t feel sad about her leaving because she wouldn’t go away. Martha dumped the Doctor, as well she should have, for letting his show treat her like junk (she’s become a much better character in the meantime.) Donna got the worst treatment; she doesn’t even get to remember that she was the best new companion ever, though she does have the advantage of also not remembering “The Doctor’s Daughter”. Mickey probably fared the best of them all.
(Now, it’s fair to say that the old show, which was usually less interested in the companions as anything more than plot devices, also dismissed them pretty lightly. The loss of Sarah-Jane was an anomaly; more commonly a companion just stayed behind for often trivial reasons.)
Anyway, Amy and Rory weren’t just new series companions we were saying farewell to, they were universally beloved new series companions we were saying farewell to. I’ve often said that it’s pretty clear that in Steven Moffat’s Doctor Who, the Doctor is, at best, the character he’s third-most interested in. I’m not sure which of Amy and River is number one (Rory is just an accessory for Amy, but he still may be up there above the Doctor). The show has become quite successful under Moffat’s tenure, and for many fans, Amy is the companion, the first and only one they’ve seen. She’s their Rose, their Sarah-Jane. Naturally, for these fans, this is a pretty big deal, and it’s possible that these two episodes, which focused on Amy and Rory almost exclusively, were quite moving and effective for them. (“Yours was the first face that this face saw,” says the Doctor, speaking for these fans.)
Unfortunately for me, I’m not one of those fans. Grown-up Amy Pond doesn’t do anything for me. Even after being told how amazing and special she is for two and a half seasons, I still don’t see anything great about her. To me, she was a pretty standard companion, nothing more (except, as noted, for her working uterus). The more the show insisted I love her, the less I did, and I’m ready for someone else. So having two episodes that pretty bluntly pushed everything else about the show aside to spend more time on these two characters wasn’t exactly thrilling to me.
Still, I could overlook the fact that “The Power of Three” presented the world’s dumbest invasion and yet another bad guy who isn’t a bad guy because he does bad things but because once again the Doctor has heard tales and legends of how bad he iszzzzzz. I’ve gotten used to the fact that each season will have an episode where we all just bask in the wonderful glow of Amy and Rory (who were divorced for like 20 minutes earlier this season, recall) and get a reminder of how theirs is a romance for the ages anzzzzzz.
But “The Angels Take Manhattan”? Now you’re just getting nasty. Definitely some potential in the story, and I liked the cherub angels, but then we get this:
That’s the Doctor speaking. The main character. The guy whose adventures we’ve been following for almost 50 years. Steven Moffat had him say these words, words which negate the premise of the entire show. This goes well beyond the insane and inane “fixed point in time” bullshit.
It’s tempting at this point to be baffled and astounded by the revelation that Steven Moffat, the guy in charge of Doctor Who, doesn’t understand the most basic concept underlying the show and character he’s been given. This isn’t the Doctor, and it’s never been the Doctor. It’s the complete opposite of the Doctor. There’s a scene in the classic series (“Pyramids of Mars”) which specifically contradicts this, but this isn’t an argument about canon, it’s an argument about the entire goddamn nature of the show.
But Steven Moffat is not clueless about the show. He’s not doing this because he doesn’t understand how much it goes against everything the character represents. He’s doing it because he doesn’t care about those things. They’re not what matters, what matters is giving his characters, the ones he created, who actually mean something to him, the dramatic farewell he thinks they deserve, that he thinks everyone is clamoring for. The reason the invasion in “The Power of Three” is so half-assed and the reason “The Angels Take Manhattan” is filled with stuff that doesn’t make any sense and is not even handwaved away but just dropped (What happens with that final angel? Do the Doctor and River just walk away from it since, with Amy and Rory gone, the story is clearly over?) is because the trivial concerns of the Doctor and the city of New York and the planet Earth are just distractions standing in front of the real story, the story it took 49 years, eleven Doctors, and numerous companions, allies, villains, and monsters to tell: the story of Amy Pond and Rory Williams.
This isn’t just insulting for Doctor Who fans, it’s insulting to humanity. Give up, everything’s predestined, nothing you do makes any difference. Who would ever say this to anyone? This is what a villain would say to the Doctor, just before the Doctor wrecks his “written in stone” victory. This is what all heroic drama, all human striving works against. And it’s thrown into this story casually, for no purpose other than to foreshadow the tragic destiny of two mediocre companions. What the hell, Steven Moffat?
Moffat needs to get off of Doctor Who. Give him his own show, where he creates all the characters and can give them the love and devotion he thinks they deserve. The 50th anniversary of the show is next year and I don’t want it celebrated by a story in which the new companion and River Song team up against Weeping Angels to rescue Rory’s dad.
Previously this season: part one