After last week’s disappointing Winston Churchill installment — sorry about the lack of recap! Loved those colorful Daleks, though! — Doctor Who got back on track last night in a major way, combining one of the show’s most terrifying baddies (the Weeping Angels) and one of its jauntiest space travelers (Alex Kingston’s River Song). I loved the episode intro, with “Professor” Song communicating over a 12,000 year time gap using a spacecraft “home box” and a surveillance camera. Watching her float out the airlock, into outer space, and onto the TARDIS was an absolute hoot. The lady knows how to make an entrance! Also genius: Song’s explanation for the TARDIS’ wheezy takeoff and landing sounds. “It’s not supposed to make that noise. You leave the brakes on!” Who knew?
Of course, with the Weeping Angels on the scene, you knew the tone wouldn’t/couldn’t stay light for long. Please tell me I’m not the only one who was clutching a throw-pillow in terror when Amy got trapped with a grainy, four-second video loop of an Angel (direct from the crashed spaceship) that decided to get its Ringu on and climb right out of the monitor. “But you’re a recording, you can’t move,” she whispered, incredulously, just before The Doctor stumbled upon that telling passage: “An image of an Angel becomes itself an Angel.” Amy once again proved to be almost unnaturally clever under pressure, pausing the video on a blank space, and rendering her adversary nonexistent. Well-played!
The rest of the hour found the Doctor, Amy, River, and a religious-military squadron entering the “Maze of the Dead” and trying to track the crash-landed Weeping Angel amidst a haystack of other stone statues. Oh, but guess what? Those weren’t just any old statues. Nope, they were, in fact, an army of hibernating Angels themselves, as the Doctor proved with one very terrifying flick of his flashlight’s “off” switch. The way the central Angel stripped Soldier Bob’s cerebral cortex as a way to communicate with the Doctor was a bit reminiscent of the “Data Ghosts” from “Silence in the Library” — “Hey! Who turned out the lights?” — but whether that was pure homage or just a variation on an old plot device, it was both creepy and a bit sad knowing “Scared Bob” (David Atkins) had met such a horrible end.
Thankfully, things didn’t wrap up at the end of the hour — two-parters FTW! — and it’ll be interesting to see if some of the Big Questions from the episode get advanced next week. Why would The Doctor refuse to help River if he ever found out who she really was? What was that bit about River saying she’s got no intention of going back to prison? And anyone have any guesses about that whole segment on people’s dreams no longer needing them? Does it relate to the recurring crack in the universe? Share your thoughts and theories in the comments below — but if you’re from across the pond and have already seen next week’s “Flesh and Stone,” please don’t post any spoilers, thanks!