Cracks, cracks in time. Time running out. No, couldn’t be. But how is a duck pond a duck pond if there aren’t any ducks? And she didn’t recognise the Daleks. Okay, time can shift. Time can be rewritten. But how? Oh.
The Eleventh Doctor
The Doctor, Amy, River and the Clerics are trapped by an army of Weeping Angels and an evergrowing Crack in the Universe. They try to escape through the crashed Byzantium, while Amy faces a deadly battle with a Weeping Angel inside her own mind, forcing her to navigate the forest vault with her eyes closed.
Flesh and Stone picks up from where The Time of Angels left off, and the frenetic pace doesn’t let up, which leads to a really satisfying conclusion to the story. The first two-part story of the Matt Smith era has a great mix of horror and humour with some superb writing from Steven Moffat. Adam Smith’s direction and Murray Gold’s music help to escalate the tension as the number of the Doctor’s allies dwindle.
Now. Listen. Remember what I told you when you were seven.
What did you tell me?
No. See that’s the whole point. You have to remember.
The Eleventh Doctor and Amy Pond
The strength of this concluding part is that it manages to maintain the frenetic pace and energy of its predecessor, and Adam Smith is a massive part of that. In the opening moments of the story, after the recap, we get a beautiful tracking shot which reveals how they escaped the climactic events of The Time of Angels. One of my favourite moments is the scene where the Weeping Angels enter the Byzantium in a darkened corridor whilst the Clerics fire at them. The direction here is effective and creepy and I like how the only light is from their weapons. Murray Gold’s music particularly helps, especially when Amy is walking through the forest with her eyes closed, evoking unease and putting the viewer on the edge of their seats.
The story is top-notch, which makes it one of the few two-parters in modern Doctor Who which feels like it really lives up to its predecessor. The fact that Moffat gives the Angels a voice makes them feel all the more menacing and a potent threat. What this two-parter does, in general, is add to the mythos around the Weeping Angels, making them feel much more fleshed out and resourceful. There is genuine brilliance in some moments of the dialogue, especially the speech that Father Octavian and the Doctor share before the former has his neck broken. The dialogue flips quickly between comedic and epic speeches, which are equally well written, and the comedy does not detract from the overall tone of the story as the Doctor looks to lead the Clerics and Amy and River
I know that this episode is controversial amongst some regions of the fanbase due to two separate issues. The first of these is that we see the Weeping Angels move. I feel that this is particularly well done in the story, with the idea being seeded when we see an Angel reach out to grab the Doctor’s jacket, something which I only noticed when watching for this review in a quite literal blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment. As mentioned above, the sequence in which Amy has to walk through a group of the Angels with her eyes closed is one of my favourite moments in the episode. I appreciate for some it may take away some of the mystery of them, but the execution is superb. The second controversial moment comes in the final moments and one that I can see where people are coming from. When Amy comes on to the Doctor, it is an expression of her relief of surviving the ordeal she has been through, and it has been horrific. She has had an angel in her mind and was seconds away from dying. However, I feel the execution is inappropriate for a show of Doctor Who’s ‘family nature’ stamp, even if it does not impact on my appreciation of the episode too much. One redeeming part of it is Matt Smith’s reactions to being kissed, looking largely uncomfortable. This establishes this incarnation as much less comfortable with romantic interactions, even perplexed by them., whereas his predecessor seemed to be completely at ease. It might be a difference even from the asexual nature of the Doctor of the classic series, but it is at least something a bit different, a bit more alien and just watching Smith’s performance here, it is entertaining.
Like the Angels, this story continues to flesh out the mysterious relationship between the Doctor and River Song, and with a slightly smaller cast, this story does get a bit more room to breathe. Alex Kingston is fantastic as River again and we learn here that she is in prison for killing ‘a good man’. There is surely no doubt in anyone’s mind that her victim is the Doctor and I’m not sure that it was ever intended to be some great mystery. Kingston and Smith have some good chemistry, especially demonstrated in the scene where the two talk before she gets picked up at the end of the story. I also really like Karen Gillan in this story, and by this time in 2010, she was established as possibly my favourite companion in the revived series. However, contrived the reasons for bringing Arthur Darvill in as a semi-regular for the remainder of the series in the next story would cement her and the Last Centurion as two of my favourite companions of all time.
Verdict: Flesh and Stone is one of the strongest concluding parts of a two parter, with the perfect melding of writing, performances, music and direction. 10/10
Cast: Matt Smith (The Doctor), Karen Gillan (Amy Pond), Alex Kingston (River Song), Iain Glen (Octavian), David Atkins (Angel Bob), Darren Morfitt (Marco), Mark Monero (Pedro) & George Russo (Phillip)
Director: Adam Smith
Writer: Steven Moffat
Behind the Scenes
- Flesh and Stone reveals more about the Cracks in the Universe, with the Doctor realising that a lot of past events have been retconned.
- The final scene where Amy attempts to make sexual advances on the Doctor was criticised.
- The first episode where we actually see the Weeping Angels move.
It should come as no surprise, but Amy’s walk through the forest.
The Angels are feasting, sir. Soon we’ll be able to absorb enough power to consume this vessel, this world and all the stars beyond.
Well, we’ve got comfy chairs, did I mention?
We have no need of comfy chairs.
I made him say “comfy chairs”!
Angel Bob and the Eleventh Doctor