Sunday, May 2, 2010

Doctor Who - Flesh and Stone Review

What a fantastic episode! Brilliant! Let's just get it out right now: Steven Moffat knows how to spin a yarn and he does it really beautifully with The Time of Angels and Flesh and Stone. The two-parter story will probably go down as one of Doctor Who's finest ever. I often found myself thinking about how much Flesh and Stone reminded me of Aliens in it's opening scenes. There was the same sense of urgency and panic – deftly supported by Murray Gold's incredible soundtrack - when the Doctor and the others have to escape the clutches of the advancing Weeping Angels.

Hanging upside down from the hull of the Byzantium.

Basically, Flesh and Stone is a second episode that doesn't disappoint and it boasted a great resolution to The Time of Angels' cliffhanger. I mean, what's not to like about finding out that our endangered group found themselves hanging upside down the hull of the Byzantium spaceship thanks to a question of gravity? (the Doctor gives a bit of a scientic explanation to tell us how it was made possible).

It's all about gravity.

But even when the whole situation seemed bleak, it was fun to have some funny quips coming principally from the Doctor; and it never detracted from the viewing experience. It was simply refreshing that he was so blunt and honest about the peril they were in. For example, there's a scene where the Doctor tells Amy that she's dying, while River is just trying to sugar coat the situation from an obviously panicking Amy, and then he tells her to shut up so he can think. The Doctor also becomes quite funny again with his further dealings with ''Angel Bob''. Oh yeah, Angel Bob is back.

Hey, who turned off the lights! Oups, wrong episode!

With The Time of Angels, and even more so with Fesh and Stone, Steven Moffat has created an even more effective and dangerous monster with its Weeping Angels. He is purposefully advancing the Angels' mythology. As was implied in The Time of Angels, the creatures are no longer gently killing their victims by sending them back through time. And nothing was more dramatic than when Father Octavian (Iain Glen who was just fantastic here) had his neck and head caught in the grasping arm of an Angel. The horror of that scene is amplified when we hear the sound of his neck being broken just as the Doctor rushes through an opened sass, leaving the Bishop to his death on this one's insistence. It didn't sit well with the Doctor, but he knew he could no longer help the Bishop.

Is this Doctor Who or Aliens? 

I have to Bring up Matt Smith's performance again. His Doctor is usually calm in outward appearance but there is an intensity brooding underneath. He usually doesn't show feelings as much as David Tennant's Tenth Doctor did, but in this episode Smith was really effective. His outbursts of anger were rather surprising but justified, and he was obviously loosing control of his emotions while trying to keep control of the situation. Smith's way of conveying the Doctor's emotional reaction to leaving Father Octavian to his death was poignant and subdued. Tears were simply welling in his eyes. We all know that people die because of the Doctor - Davros tortured him on that to point back in Journey's End. I also love the bluntness of Smith's Doctor - I'm still laughing at how many times he seems to say ''shut up'' to people – and he never sugar coats the truth, though he doesn't reveal everything either. He's brilliant and his mind keeps going a hundred miles an hour while trying to figure out the correct and perfect solution, and Smith easily makes it come across in the way he talks and moves about.

The Doctor thinks there's something wrong with Amy.

There's nothing like a comfy chair to talk to Angel bob.

I have to go back to the Weeping Angels again, and say how brilliant it was of Moffat to use as story element an Angel in Amy's eye, or more specifically, in her brain. Like the image of the Angel in the recording was coming alive in The Time of Angels, so it was in Amy's brain. Effective, clever. It was made even spookier by Amy's own countdown to her doom. Since it was killing Amy, the temporary solution devised by the Doctor was for her to close her eyes. Subsequently, it lead to a frightening moment when Amy has to escape the clutches of the Weeping Angels with her eyes closed. And she does that by putting her complete trust in the Doctor. I loved the fact that because Amy's eyes were closed the whole time, we finally saw the Angels moving and turning their heads, slowly going towards Amy. It made the scene all the more creepy and scary. Thank you Steven Moffat.

There's that crack in the wall again.

The Doctor finds himself in the clutches of the Weeping Angels!

Karen Gillan was quite good in these scenes and I was happy and relieved that she wasn't the one figuring out all the answers and saving the day again. But our Amy seems to be very important – much like Donna was in series 4 - in the main story arc of the season. I will come back to that in a little while.

The Doctor needs Amy to trust him.

The Doctor and River Song looking for the base-code of the crack in the universe.

Taking a back seat to the Weeping Angels is River Song, who has little to do here, and who's identity has become even more muddled by the end of the episode. It's no longer as simple as wondering if she's the Doctor's wife. We learn that River was in prison because she killed a man, but Moffat goes to great length to keep us in the dark as to his identity, while at the same time dropping hints that it could be the Doctor himself. I'm not fully sure about this because Father Octavian, who knows about the man River killed, didn't know the Doctor. I think that the man (we are told many times he was kind and good) she killed could be someone entirely new that we haven't met yet.

The Angels are killing the power in the forest.

Things are about to get dangerous for the Doctor, River and Father Octavian.

Alex Kingston was brilliant again, and I find myself looking forward to her comeback in the last 2 episodes of the finale. She reveals a spoiler to the Doctor  - a sneak preview - that she will see him again when the Pandorica opens; and it was made quite clear that she has already gone through that event before. After all, she did say that she keeps meeting the Doctor in the wrong order. I wonder what Moffat's plans for River Song really are, and I'm hoping to see the mystery resolved by the end of Series 5.

The Doctor knows what's coming up for Father Octavian and feels helpless.

The concept of Time is very important in Flesh and Stone. We learn from the Doctor that no one seems to remember the events of the Cyberking in London (The Next Doctor) or the Daleks stealing the planets (Series 4) because, as he discovers, time seems to be currently rewriting itself (it makes me wonder if Steven Moffat is trying to erase in some way what was done previously under Russell T Davies and if the timeline will be properly restored by the end of series 5). But the Doctor himself remembers it all happening. And was anyone else puzzled by the Doctor's reaction when he realized that time could be re-written? Is it possible that the Doctor plans to change some things regarding his timeline? Again it's all very mysterious, but the notion of Time was strongly pondered here. And let's not forget gravity! It too played an important and central role in Flesh and Stone. Time and gravity, gravity and time.

Amy tries to escape the clutches of the Angels eyes closed. Where is that seeing dog when you need one?

Things don't look so good at the moment but worry not! The Doctor has a plan.

The Weeping Angels story is resolved quite a bit before the end of this episode, and after the trepidation felt for the first 35 minutes or so, everything calms down and we are slowly ushered into the next part of the story. Amy decides to fess up to the Doctor and tells him she is getting married the next day, on 26th June 2010 (which is the supposed air date for the last episode of series 5). 26 06 2010 is also the base-code of the universe that showed on the small computer thingy the Doctor was using earlier: It's the exact time when the explosion creating the crack in time and space is happening. At the end of the episode, the Doctor suddenly realizes the importance of that date.

There's nothing like a good handcuffs joke to lighten the mood.

The Doctor is cracking a wide smile here!

Before I end this review, I have to talk about the last scene of Flesh and Stone, where Amy literally throws herself at the Doctor, and almost forces herself on him – even more openly than Rose or Martha ever did. Amy is a much more liberated character. And it was sort of refreshing, even downright hilarious, to see. At the same time, it's quite bold for a television series that is aimed for kids. Amy is plainly letting the Doctor know she wants to have sex with him, and at one point she rushes to her bed to wait for him to take her. I just love how the Doctor seems to be completely clueless when anyone is so blatantly hitting on him. But of course, the Doctor realizes that something is definitely going on with Amy (I mean, why would it ever cross his mind that a woman could be interested in him because he is kind, funny, heroic, sweet and kinda hot! Something MUST be wrong with that woman right?). I just hope Amy wont turn into a superwoman or something.

Amy literally coming on to the Doctor. Sex please!

Next week, The Vampires of Venice, which looks like a good, fun episode, and is written by Being Human creator Toby Whithouse. Oh, and Rory's coming on board! The Doctor needs him to get Amy to behave right?

My grade for the episode: A+

Some Favourite Quotes:

The Doctor: Nobody panic! [sees no one does] Oh! Just me then.

Amy: OK, so we've basically run up the inside of a chimney yeah? So what if the gravity fails?
The Doctor: I thought about that.
Amy: And?
The Doctor: And we'll all plunge to our death. See? I've thought about it.

Father Octavian: Good work Doctor!
The Doctor: Yes! good good good . . . good in many ways, good you like it so far.

Father Octavian: Doctor Song, I've lost good clerics today. You trust this man?
River: I absolutely trust him.
FO: He's not some kind of mad man then?
River: I absolutely trust him.

The Doctor: A forest in a bottle on a spaceship in a maze. Have I impressed you yet Amy Pond?

The Doctor: Ah! There you are Angel Bob. How's life? Sorry! Bad subject . . .

The Doctor: Get a life Bob! Oups! Sorry again . . .

The Doctor: [To the crack in the Byzantium's wall] So what are you? Oh. . . that's bad. Ah! that's extremely not very good.

The Doctor: [To Amy] Of course you're scared. You're dying. Shut up!

River: There's a plan?
The Doctor: I don't know it yet I haven't finished talking. Right! Father, you and your clerics you're gonna stay here and look after Amy. If anything happens to her I'll hold every single one of you personally responsible – twice. River, you and me we're gonna go find the primary flight deck which is . . . [licks his finger, holds it in the air and follows an invisible draft] a quarter of a mile straight ahead and from there we'll stabilize the wreckage, stop the Angels, and save Amy.
River: How?
The Doctor: I'll do a thing.
River: What thing?
The Doctor: I dunno, it's a thing in progress, respect the thing. We're moving out.

The Doctor: [to both River and Father Octavian] What? Are you thing engaged or something?

The Doctor: Cracks! Cracks in time, time running out – no couldn't be couldn't be. But how is the duck pond the duck pond if there aren't any ducks. And she didn't recognize the Daleks. OK, time can shift, time can change, time can be re-written. How? Oh! [later] time can be unwritten!

The Doctor: I wish I'd known you better.
Father Octavian: I think sir, you know me at my best.

River: See? I told you I could get it working.
The Doctor: River Song, I could kiss you.
River: Ah well, maybe when you're older

River: You, me, handcuffs. Must it always end this way?

River: You'll see me again quite soon. When the Pandorica opens.
The Doctor: The Pandorica! Ha! That's a fairy tale.
River: [laughs] Doctor, aren't we all? I'll see you there.
The Doctor: I look forward to it.
River: I remember it well.

The Doctor: Can I trust you River Song.
River: If you like. But where's the fun in that?

Amy: So, do you comfort a lot of people on the night before their wedding?
The Doctor: Why would you need comforting?
Amy: I nearly died. I was alone in the dark and I nearly died. And it made me think . . .
The Doctor: Well, natural, I think sometimes yes well lots of times . . .
Amy: About what I want. About WHO I want. You know what I mean?
The Doctor: Yeah! No . . .
Amy: About Who [nods towards him] I want.
The Doctor: Oh! Right yeah! No, still not getting it.

The Doctor: Amy, listen to me. I am 907 years old. Do you understand what that means?
Amy: It's been a while?
The Doctor: Yeah, no! No! No!

The Doctor: But you're human! You're Amy! And you're getting married in the morning! [realizes] in the morning . . .

The Doctor: It's you, it's all about you. Everything is about you!
Amy: Hold that thought [goes to lay on her bed].
The Doctor: Amy Pond. Mad, impossible Amy Pond. I don't know why, I've no idea, but quite possibly the single most important thing in the history of the Universe is I get you sorted out right now.
Amy: That's what I've been trying to tell you!

No comments:

Post a Comment