Series 5.05 – Flesh and Stone

Written by Steven Moffat
Directed by Adam Smith

Having escaped The Weeping Angels in the catacombs, The Doctor and crew find themselves pursued through the wreckage of The Byzantium.  But The Angels are soon to be the least of their worries.

“We’re being attacked by statues in a crashed ship, there isn’t a manual for this!”

I like the resolution from last episode’s cliffhanger.  It takes a few moments for everything to become clear, but this would help us to identify with the characters.  They are just as confused as we are.  The danger is not over, however.  The Angels are still on the move.

I guess you could call this a "Bad Wolf" scenario...

A forest on a spaceship.  That is a fun idea.  However, I think this idea has less to do with providing the ship with oxygen and more with presenting an image.  Amy Pond is wearing a red hoodie and spends much of this episode in a forest.  A girl, red hood, forest.  Another image designed to remind us of fairy tales.  Amy is also counting backwards from ten, counting down as The Angels continue to assert control over her.  The countdown is to do nothing more than make Amy afraid as the Angel inside her mind continues to gain control.  The only solution is to shut down Amy’s visual centers, practically, to close her eyes.  The Weeping Angel dynamic is now completely turned on its head.  In order to survive, we can’t blink, we cannot look away from The Angels.  In order for Amy to survive, however, she cannot open her eyes.  She is surrounded by Angels at one point, but cannot open her eyes.  Terrifying.

More properties of the crack are beginning to manifest.  It is growing and has broken in to The Byzantium.  The Angels are at first fascinated by it, then frightened by it.  It is bleeding light and energy from the end of the universe.  The Doctor, River, and Bishop Octavian go in search of the bridge of the ship, leaving Amy with the clerics.  The light from the crack grows and the clerics go to investigate one-by-one, and one-by-one they are erased from time and memory.  It is hard to not see patterns emerge, not merely for series five, but taking in to account elements that are going to emerge in series six.  I’ll hold off discussing that for now.  I also wonder if Moffat is at all familiar with Lovecraft.  The previous episode had a book written by a madman.  This episode had Amy communicating with a cleric as he went to investigate the crack.  She speaks to him on the communicator, but we never see his death.  Somewhat reminiscent of The Statement of Randolph Carter.  Although, Moffat may have little to no knowledge of Lovecraft.  Lovecraftian elements have so infiltrated modern horror and sci-fi that a writer can use those elements and not even know it.

I'm sure one day some novel will reveal Octavian's non-sacred name was probably Lethbridge-Stewart.

More thoughts on River Song.  Bishop Octavian reveals that River was in prison because she killed a man.  A good man, we are told, a hero to many.  The implication is that this good man is The Doctor.  But Octavian has, though-out both this episode and the previous, constantly asked River if The Doctor can be trusted or is he just a madman.  Octavian seems to have no knowledge of who The Doctor is.  So, either Octavian was giving hints to The Doctor and building him up, or it really isn’t The Doctor that River kills.  Regardless, the final scene between The Doctor and Octavian is touching and reveals Octavian to be a great and noble character.

The resolution to the story was, in my opinion, quite well done.  The Doctor didn’t seem to so much as save River and Amy, he just managed to keep them alive long enough for the Angels to have sufficiently drained the power of the ship so that the artificial gravity would fail.  Once it had, the gravity of the ship oriented itself to that of the planet, and the Angels fell into the crack.  The crack seems to feed off time energy, and complicated space-time events would serve to close it.  The Doctor qualifies as a complicated space-time event, but all the Angels did as well.  Thus, the crack isn’t completely sealed.  It is still out there, but the immediate danger has subsided.

In all, I enjoyed this one as well.  Yes, even the failed seduction at the end.  Granted, when I first saw the episode, I was a bit shocked and really irritated that we were going back to the companion-in-love-with-The-Doctor subplot, but that wasn’t really Moffat’s intention.  In part, this was done to confront this recurring theme from the RTD era and put it to rest.  But it was also done to give us a reason for why The Doctor doesn’t immediately go in search of the explosion at the end of the universe.  He must first sort out Amy Pond.

***Spoilers for Series Six and a Theory***

Silence will fall.  We know, going in to series six, that there is a race called The Silence.  They seem to be able to exist without being seen, and if they are seen, they are able to erase the memory of their existence from the individual who saw them.  These are the only details I am aware of regarding The Silence.  The light from the crack erases people from time, including all memory of said person.  Again, this seems to be the power The Silence have.  Is the crack a tool being used by them, or is it a thematic link that introduces the concept.  “The Doctor in the TARDIS hasn’t noticed.”  “The Doctor in the TARDIS doesn’t know.”  We cannot see The Silence and, presumably, neither can The Doctor.  Are we to believe they have been existing throughout series five, possibly even as far back as series four, the first hints of their existence being SILENCE in the Library?  The Doctor has placed much emphasis on noticing things, including The Eleventh Hour where we are given a sequence where The Doctor analyzes the village green.  But we don’t notice The Silence.  Perhaps, thematically, Steven Moffat has been giving us hints, but they are hints that are devoid of context until now.

One thought on “Series 5.05 – Flesh and Stone

  1. I do think the heavy build up of references to the story arcs does risk setting the viewer up to be disappointed. When they keep mentioning these things it intensifies the pressure to deliver something amazing.

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