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FTN looks at the legacy of the weeping Angels: Part 2: Time of the Angels

September 28th, 2012 by Owen Quinn Comments

Read Part 1 here

So, the tenth Doctor had regenerated into the eleventh since the Angels last appeared and newcomer Matt Smith, well, let’s be honest had no idea if he would be a good Doctor or not (actually as we now know, he’s a GREAT Doctor!) so Steven Moffat, who was now head of the show taking over from Russell T Davies, decided he would pit this new Doctor up against the Angels in a new two-part story.

Part one, Time of the Angels, was actually the first story Matt Smith filmed for his tenure with pictures of him, Amy and River Song on the beach amid the crashed ship debris along with some soldiers appearing all over the papers and internet; not that I looked, well I did, couldn’t help myself, spoilers, oh well. Well it was the first time anyone had seen the new Doctor’s outfit, likening it to Indiana Jones when he was teaching in the classroom. River’s return is a whole other story but suffice to say for now, this article is all about the Angels or we’d be here all day.

It seems that River, played by the wonderful Alex Kingston, has been following a Weeping Angel aboard a ship, the Byzantium, which crashed into an uninhabited planet. Dragging Amy and The Doctor along, River catches the attention of the reluctant Time Lord the minute she mentions the Angels. A solo angel crashing a spaceship for no apparent reason? Sounds suspicious, yet the hunt is on. It escapes into a maze filled with the now extinct inhabitant’s statues, a vast maze of carvings our heroes must navigate to find the Angel and discover its purpose.

But it’s ok, everything is going to be fine because as we all know as long as you don’t blink, the Angel can’t hurt you. They can’t touch you, send you back in time or steal your life energy as long as you don’t blink. As viewers, we were safe in this knowledge, comfortable that we knew what was coming, but Moffat was about to pull the rug right out from under us all.

A returning enemy should always be expanded upon or its mythology added to and here we learn we knew nothing about the Angels at all. To help them in their hunt, River reveals she has a squad of soldiers with her, lead by Father Octavian and his squad of militarised clerics. This is an army of God but more than that, they are River’s escort; she is on a mission to get a pardon for her crime, the murder of the best man she ever knew. River promised them the Doctor and has delivered because he is their best chance to defeat an Angel. They are armed to the teeth and ready for anything but, like us the viewer, they are about to have their illusions shattered.

Now before I go any further, this episode remains a classic for me and many others, simply because it is done so well and is extremely creepy and to creep me out you need to be doing something rather special. The dark unnerves everyone and here it is used to great effect as the army of angels rise from their sleep.

The first glimpse of this episode’s angel is on security footage of it in a cargo hold. Eleven seconds of a repeated loop of film showing the Angel over and over again. Nothing scary there except River and the Doctor discover a book of angels with no pictures and a warning that whatever contains the image of an angel becomes an angel. And that’s the first shocker. Amy is trapped in the ship not able to blink as the angel on the screen begins creeping ‘The Ring’ style out of the television screen. But more than that, it is implanting itself in Amy’s mind like an embryo, using her solitary defence as a means to ensure its survival.

As Amy rubs her eye, a gush of sandy stone falls out. She is infected and the angel is consuming her from within. Now, we know from Blink that the Angels are devious and will do anything to ensure their survival. They are tricksters of the highest degree and the crashing of the Byzantium was no accident. The maze of decayed statues are, in fact, an army of Angels and the solo Angel smashed the ship into the planet so its fellows could regenerate using the radiation from the damaged engines. So, the Doctor and co have fallen into their trap and are now surrounded on all sides by an army of hungry monsters.

One by one the soldiers fall but in this case the Angels, knowing the Doctor is a Time Lord, want more. So they rip the spinal cord from a soldier called Bob and speak through him to taunt the Doctor. The Doctor promised Bob he would never die alone and afraid but that’s exactly what happened and the Angels use this to goad the Doctor in to doing something stupid but he manages to restrain himself.

The fact that they use his own guilt against him shows again the lengths these creatures will go to. Effectively surrounded by an army of zombie stone Angles in varying degrees of decay, the episode builds to its climax. Amy imagines her arm is turning to stone, a method to slow her and perhaps trap the Doctor, using his loyalty to his friend to gain the Angels a meal. Now everything we thought we knew about them is gone. Blinking is no longer a defence, but a means to bring about new angels, they can rip out people’s minds and body parts to attack their enemies on a psychological level and can implant themselves into a person’s mind and turn them into angels without them even knowing. They have no morals about returning their species to their former strength by any means necessary and speak an eloquent evil. No longer are they faceless monsters, but villains with a plan and clear intentions who are not afraid of the Doctor.

The only defence left is to stay in the light but the Angels even take that as they drain the power from the torches to reach the trapped party. What works so well is the claustrophobic maze of decayed statues barely lit and that beautiful shot of how vast the maze is only terrifies the audience more when we learn it is in fact an Angel nest. The fading torchlight, the Angels appearing in strobe light from every corner trapping our heroes teasing them with the voices of their dead friends and with nowhere to go, the angels force the Doctor to do the one thing he does but only in the direst of circumstances. Taking a gun, the Doctor raises it and utters the classic line, “There’s one thing you never ever put in a trap. Me.”

Then he fires…..

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Husband, dad and Ireland's hardest working author, Owen Quinn is currently knee deep in The Time Warriors, arguably the biggest sci-fi epic ever to come out of Ireland. He has an unhealthy interest in Doctor Who, classic TV and Star Wars, he also hangs around with the Emerald Garrison far toooo much. Is it any wonder he fits in at FTN so well? Find Owen at the