Review: Doctor Who, Series 5, Episode 5: Flesh and Stone (Of Heavenly Quality?)

doctor who 5

(MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD)

“You trust this man?”

‘The Time of Angels’ was rather impressive, as with every two-parter, you can only judge it as a whole. We were left with The Doctor, Amy, River and the Army/Religious fellows surrounded by the Weeping Angels. There was no apparent way out. What had River Song done in her past, and how could Amy get rid of the Weeping Angel inside her head?  Could they give us a sensible escape clause and wrap up the story neatly and effectively? Yes, is the short answer! Plus a lot, lot more…

Thanks to the magic of gravity, they escaped. It was a sensible ‘get-out clause,’ jumping and being lifted by the gravity of the fallen ship. Inside the ship, The Doctor and co are presented with a claustrophobic, Alien-esque set of corridors. It added to the terror of the Weeping Angels. After the homage to Alien, there was a nice homage to ‘Silent Running,’ with a forest kept inside the ship. Also, it was a throwback to Moffat’s own ‘Forest of the Dead’ and his themes of nature and technology surviving as one. This ‘cyborg’ forest, nature and technology as one, keeps the ship and its inhabitants alive. Nature and technology aren’t competing, they are symbiotic, united by the human need for oxygen and life. It’s the perfect evocation of the title: ‘Flesh and Stone.’ The Weeping Angels are living creatures, yet constructed entirely of stone. Flesh and synthetic materials are a necessary unity; one cannot exist without the other.

“We’ve got comfy chairs”

I can’t believe how much happened in the first ten minutes. It wasn’t insensible or contrived, just well-paced and intriguing. And just after the ten minute mark, we have the supposed ‘story arc’ of this series addressed and questioned, the ‘cracks in time. It wasn’t the usual Russell T. Davies scattering of hints throughout the series. This developed the story arc neatly. The Weeping Angels were seen to have some sort of attraction to these cracks in time, and Amy recognises it as the crack in her wall, seen in the first episode.

And The Doctor rages and almost breaks down at least twice in the episode. The first instance when he realises that the Weeping Angels have control of Amy, and are killing her slowly. In a nice reversal of the whole ‘don’t blink’ scenario, Amy now has to keep her eyes closed, lest she dies. The Doctor now has to figure out what the crack in time is, how to save Amy and how to stop the Weeping Angels. You never feel like too much is going on, however, as everything is so neatly put together. The Weeping Angels disappear for a while, attracted by the crack in time, and we have a further exploration of the crack in time. According to The Doctor, ‘time can be rewritten,’ and it can also be ‘unwritten.’ He remembers that Amy didn’t remember the Daleks stealing the earth, and also that no history book talks about the giant CyberKing causing havoc in Victorian England. Of course, most of the audience do not want to remember those terrible days either, the days when Doctor Who seemed to be on its last legs. Was this a subtle dig at RTD, and Moffat’s attempt to ‘reboot’ Doctor Who by erasing the past four series?

A game of blindman's bluff, anyone?
A game of blindman’s bluff, anyone?

“You, me, handcuffs… Must it always end this way?”

Amy undergoes her literal ‘walk of faith’ in this episode, walking blind towards The Doctor. She has to place all her faith in him, walking through Weeping Angels. Of course, the symbolism is thick here; she walks through angels to reach the safety of The Doctor. It was a nod to the ‘Lonely God’ theme of Russell T. Davies (but was ‘God’ at the end of this walk of faith, in the form of The Doctor, or did ‘God’ lie behind her as the great light from the crack in time?).

Once again, the script is witty, snappy, and sharp. Not a minute is wasted, everything is vital to the plot, and the ‘meta-plot.’ So many competing themes and stories lie comfortably together, finding a voice of unity throughout. There is humour laced throughout the story, yet it doesn’t threaten to overcome any threat or plot development. Matt Smith and Karen Gillan are still brilliant, and adding River to the mix necessarily develops their relationship. After her brush with death during her walk of faith, and the inevitability of River taking The Doctor away, Amy is desperate; she will do anything to keep The Doctor and his time machine to herself. There is definitely something strange about her, something mad and impossible. A great episode, and one of the better two-parters off all Nu-Who.

VERDICT: 9/10. ‘Flesh And Stone’ effectively finished the story of ‘The Time of Angels’ with few flaws in sight. Overall, brilliant!

Leave your thoughts/comments below!

(Click here for my review of Doctor Who, Series 5, Episode 4: The Time of Angels)

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