“I wish I’d known you better” – Doctor Who, Series 5, “Flesh & Stone” review

“Octavian’s dead. So is that teleport…”

On first impression, the Doctor Who episode titled ‘Flesh & Stone’ seems a little…well…underwhelming – certainly a poor way to follow last week’s excellently paced, quite scary brilliance.

Certain parts of the dialogue and plot – the continued use of Amy as confused and able to spout nothing but ‘Doctor…?’, the radical change in the Weeping Angels from kind assassins to megalomaniacs and ‘the angels are scared…walk like you can see’ – seem contrived to scare 7 year olds more than make any real sense of sense or previous understanding of the Angels. There are a few other minor faults but nothing quite as bad the reinvention of The Dalek wheel, two weeks ago.

“The thing is Bob. I think the angels have forgotten the gravity of the situation…”

However…

On second watching, the entire episode seems richer and fuller; there are moments of continuity slight-of hand; the entire series arc is revealed with just the juxtaposition of a few quite stupid humans, a crack and two circles made in the air; The Doctor shocks River for what seems like possibly the first time with his volcanic bursts of rage; he also really obviously warms to her at the end and even intentionally flirts with her; and, almost more importantly, the emotive core connection between young Amy Pond and her raggedy Doctor really shines through – ‘Doctor: I’ll come back -‘ ‘Amy: You always say that…’ ‘Doctor: I always come back’ – which in turn reinforces continuity.

To expand on the continuity slight of hand and emotive core is to reinforce them both. When saying goodbye to Amy amidst the – terrible, silly name but one that I giggled at because I know my inner 8 year-old loves it – Treeborgs, Karen Gillen really did sound and have the posture of a disappointed 7 year-old and Matt Smith really felt like the compassionate, paternal old man that this series intends The Doctor to be. More than that, Smith’s Doctor was violent with River Song and deeply sorry that he had to let another human die. He was also a little bit cocky when saying “N’night” to the angels.

So when The Doctor snuck silently back just a few seconds after saying goodbye to Amy and everyone but wearing a different tweed jacket to that he had supposedly lost just minutes before and spoke to Amy with a tear in his eye, it got me thinking. Why did he look at the direction of where he’d just walked when saying “…I don’t know yet but I’m working it out…you have to remember”, as if he knew what he had gone through, Amy had forgotten something really important [she is thus a little cracked] but he was now popping back to make amends with Amy and point her in the right direction? Was it because this doctor was from our viewing future? Could it have been just a costume cock-up? Yes – doesn’t make the scene any less powerful but messes with continuity possibilities slightly – so I just hope that Moffat intended it.

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

Ah, the end. The inevitable reveal of ties, links, rings and handcuffs.

Alex Kingston was just as good if not better but definitely rushed in this episode – given the opportunity and space, she was a brilliant flirt but only at the end when the Doctor wanted to flirt back: “I look forward to it.” “I remember it well.” And I can’t wait until we know that moment.

So Amy’s cat is out of the bag and it turns out it needs comforting…yes, sorry about that. The first real kiss of the series was fun, light and funny to me – Amy is sexy, attractive and undeniably interesting but a 907 year old in a young man’s body is worried more about her general well being and whether or not she’s warm enough than he does about having sex. I thought the lines ‘”Oh Doctor you are sweet but I wasn’t thinking of anything quite so long term”…”I’ve got to sort you out” “That’s what I’ve been talking about” were pretty funny but thankfully not heavy handed and managed to dismiss too much further-series, over-played ‘will they, wont they?’

However, what’s more interesting is that Amy Pond is definitely inextricably linked to the Pandorica – in fact, it is almost an anagram if only for need of an r…a [Docto]r…after all, what was the last thing left in Pandora’s box but hope and what is The Doctor if not humanity’s hope?

“A forest in a bottle on a ship in a maze. Have I impressed you yet, Amy Pond?”

——————–

For a spot of something to tide you over till next week and a little reminder of the jollity of old, please see here.

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