The Weeping Angels return to Doctor Who in an engaging and scary episode that puts the Flux arc in the background… until the closing moments
Tonight’s episode took a decidedly creepy turn, the Weeping Angels returned to Doctor Who. In a coherent and focused episode, writers Chris Chibnall and Maxine Alderton (The Haunting of Villa Diodati) devastated a small Devon town and shook the foundations of the Tardis crew to the core. Essentially a stand-alone episode, Village of the Angels delivers a clever but frightening “cat and mouse” chase between Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) and a village of angels attempting to capture a rogue angel.
Starting with last week’s cliffhanger, (love the cliffhangers) the Tardis is battling a Weeping Angel at the controls alongside the ongoing destruction of time and space. The Doctor performs a bit of questionable and risky jiggery-pokery that ejects the Weeping Angel and deposits the Tardis in 1967 in the village of Hedderton where Claire Brown (Annabel Scholey) has also been waylaid. (Aside – this a year before the 10th Doctor (David Tennant) and Martha (Freema Agyeman) arrive in the 1960s.)
Almost immediately, the Doctor and her companions are separated as Dan (John Bishop) and Yaz (Mandip Gill) are pulled into a search for a young girl, Peggy (Poppy Polivnick), by her elderly guardians, Gerald (Vincent Brimble) and Jean (Jemma Churchill). The companions find themselves in 1901 in an almost empty version of the Hedderton with Peggy and her guardians while Doctor is caught up attempting to rescue Clare and Professor Eustacius Jericho (Kevin McNally).
Bel and Vinder
Almost, but not entirely, forgotten is Bel’s (Thaddea Graham) and Vinder’s (Jacob Anderson) romance. They appear in a handful of scenes but their child and their undying attempts to reach each other stress the importance of both all three characters. And while the speculations that the child Bel carries may be the original incarnation of the Doctor is probably just that speculation, their skills and resourcefulness hold the promise of a key role in the remaining two episodes.
The Flux, The Doctor, and The Division
This easily could have been a stand-alone episode completely unrelated to the main storyline of the Flux but for the threads of the Division story. The main storyline passes lightly through the episode only seeming to be used to trick the Doctor. But it is the promise to reveal both the Division and her lost memories that tempts the Doctor.
The Doctor is becoming increasing detached from her companions and the needs of the universe over the past four episodes. Tonight, she demonstrated a complete lack of interest in a missing 10-year girl leaving Yaz and Dan to chase after the lost child while she follows the signal from her sonic. That path once again leaves Dan and Yaz fending for themselves in 1901 along with the death of a young girl’s guardians.
Lost in her relentless search to find the Division and her missing memories, the Doctor has become reckless. The Angels needed only to wave the promise of her past and the Doctor left a sixty-year-old former war veteran to defend her and Clare against a barrage attack from the crowd of Weeping Angels.
In the end, it is Dan, Yaz, Professor Jericho and the young Peggy that abandoned for years in the early part of the 20th century without the help of the Doctor who has become captured by the Division along with Claire.
There continues to be several clues that the universe is breaking. The least of which is the broken continuity. The continual costume changes – this time between the last week’s cliffhanger and tonight’s episode – ie the Doctor changed from her t-shirt to a jumper – add to the disjointed sense of the universe. Add to that the jumps in the camera movement directed by James Magnus Stone along with the musical discontinuities’ of S and overall the sense of everything is not right in the world is always at the edge of the mind. Adding the angels and their unique movement increases the unease.
The cast stood out in this episode. Thaddea Graham continues to stand out as Bel especial key given most of her scenes are single-handed. Anderson’s Vinder remains a mystery deliberately, although we are expecting a Vinder reveal soon. Annabel Scholey captured the confusion of a woman split across time and within her own mind.
The two sides of Peggy portrayed by Poppy Polivnick at ten years old and Penelope Ann McGhie as the older Peggy Hayward provided a chilly point. In an almost Lisbeth Salander like moment, the younger Peggy showed a complete lack of emotion at the death of her guardians at the hands of the Weeping Angels.
But we must celebrate Kevin McNally’s return to the Doctor Who universe. McNally, who previously appeared in The Twin Dilemma (consistently voted one of the worst Doctor Who episode ever) shone tonight. His portrayal of the man lost in his science and a former WWII veteran who witness the dead and dying at the Belsen concentration camp was a fitting honour for the Remembrance month of November. Regardless of his fears, Professor Eustatius Jericho stood and protected his patient and the Doctor.
As for the TARDIS crew, Yaz and Dan’s together work better than the fam. Dan is a welcome addition to the crew. Yaz’s character has grown with greater confidence and great ability to stand on her own. Meanwhile, Jodie Whittaker has been able to express some of the darkness and vanity that has been missing in her incarnation the previous two seasons. It is much more complex and edgy Doctor during this series.
A Village of Angel is the strongest episode in the Thirteenth’s Doctor strongest season yet. It bodes well for the remaining two episodes of this Doctor’s last series.
Doctor Who: Flux – Chapter 5: Survivors of the Flux returns next week.
As the forces of evil mass, the Doctor, Yaz and Dan face perilous journeys and seemingly insurmountable obstacles in their quest for survival.
Doctor Who: Flux continues next Sunday 28th November with “Survivors of the Flux” on BBC One and BBC America.