Moffat Era Marathon #5 – “It’s a long story, Doctor. It can’t be told. It has to be lived.”

 

Okay where do we pick up from last time. The Angels are now living ideas, they are ideas that think for themselves.

In The Time of Angels, literature about the Angels is coming alive, making the episode being watched by the viewer scarier, simply due to this notion of the text being alive. He also, however, provides us with the relief that these ideas can still be escaped, simply by switching the text off – Amy escapes by switching off the screen. However, in Flesh and Stone, Moffat goes a step further, saying that you cannot switch off the text, because the Angels are in your mind – “a living mental image in a living human mind.” This still has a huge impact on the viewer – they could turn off The Time of Angels and stop the Angels from being alive, because the text is no longer there. But the viewer can’t switch off Flesh and Stone in the same way, because the text is now inside the human mind. The Angels are truly inescapable.

And this is why I don’t understand why the story is bullied so much for the Angels moving. Yes, in Blink, we couldn’t see them move because we were watching them, which is where the fear came from. However, this two-parter adds a new level of complexity to the Angels, by saying they’re not just aliens we see but ideas we experience. In this story, they transcend just being things we can see because the text is in our head.

The point of the Angels never was the quantum lock, it was that they are a symbol of how we consume stories. Because of that, they started as playing off the way we watch television, through the quantum lock. Then, in The Time of Angels, they were given a mechanism to literally come out of the text. And now, in Flesh and Stone, they can live forever in our heads. It will continue, because in The Angels Take Manhattan, they create a battery farm, and feed off the mass-consumerism of stories. But that is for later – point is, the Angels change as the story evolves. In an era about a story that must be lived, it doesn’t make any sense for the quantum lock, a mechanism that allowed a told story to become scary, to remain in place – they must grow further than that, taking on methods that allow them to become scary as a living story.

The Time of Angels starts off an allegory for mental health, which of course, revolves around Amy. And it takes centre stage in this story, as Moffat provides a vehicle for our thoughts to be truly inescapable. Again, it’s a beautiful story about mental health because it says what many people don’t understand – that people who suffer from mental illness cannot escape easily those conditions because they are in the mind, they are always inescapable. Flesh and Stone is an apt title, because the stone, the monsters, becomes part of the flesh, the body. The Angel in Amy’s head becomes a symbol for her mental illness, as a living mental image in a living human mind. But it also ends on an optimistic note, saying that while those conditions are inescapable, it’s not entirely impossible to resist. After all, they find something to hang on to. And that’s what it’s about – finding that thing, whatever it may be, to hang onto, and stop the Angels.

It’s Amy’s story, this one. All of her demons are now coming to life – everything that haunted her as a child slots back into place around her. The Doctor abandons her in the forest, and promises to come back (interestingly, he doesn’t). She becomes trapped, unable to run from her anxieties – at one point, because the Doctor tells her to stay, but on another level, because she can’t open her eyes. And of course, the crack. She can’t escape from any of it, though, because just as the Angels are functioning on a level that allows them to escape from the text, and allows them in her head, her childhood demons are taking on a similar physical manifestation, and a mental manifestation. Amy is fighting her mental illness here, right to the core – she’s fighting abandonment, her anxieties and all issues she’s developed. But also she’s fighting the physical manifestations of Weeping Angels.

And then we have the seduction scene which, brace yourselves, I’m going to defend, because I genuinely cannot understand why people are so against this. Newsflash, Amy Pond is not a perfect character. And it really bloody irritates me that in film and television, a man can have a whole freaking double life and won’t lose any popularity over it, but a woman makes one mistake, which actually is pretty understandable for reasons I’m about to elaborate on, and she gets hated for it. Some morons seem to have an expectation for Amy to be perfect and not come onto the Doctor at all – but she is a flawed character, which is what makes her so magnificent. Bear in mind as well, Amy Pond has just been forced to deal with everything that has haunted her all her life, physically and mentally, she’s been trapped, mentally, and physically in a claustrophobic spaceship – and some people expect that not to take a toll on her? Amy reacts by lashing out against being trapped, by trying to run away from reality – and that manifests itself in her trying to sleep with the Doctor. Why does she get so much hatred for this? If it’s a male character taking out his angst on an individual it’s fine because it’s the consequences of his actions, but when it’s a woman who has just suffered a hell of a lot taking that out through sex? Apparently it’s despicable.

Together, the two-parter is magnificent, forming a rather lovely piece about how we consume fiction. It takes on a new life, not just by bringing the text to life, but also bringing the next to life in the mind of the viewer. Doctor Who is taking on a new life under Steven Moffat – it’s not just depicting reality, as it did in the RTD era. Instead, it’s depicting a story – but it is a story that has to be lived. And this theme of stories will grow throughout Series 5. It’s summarised by River at the end, when the Doctor says the Pandorica is a fairytale, and River says, “aren’t we all”.

And so The Time of Angels/Flesh and Stone, and perhaps the whole of Series 5, is not something that is just told, but it is a living idea – just like the Doctor is for Amy, just as the Angels are in this story. We are now properly in the Moffat era, an era of storytelling.

Except, maybe that’s not the best way to describe it. Storyliving works better.

Flesh and Stone – 9/10

Other bits:

  • I apologise for what I said about Matt yesterday, although I haven’t changed my mind XD He’s very, very good in this one, and I think it’s clear how he beds in across the course of these two stories, because he seems much more settled in now.

 

  • River is really awesome. Obviously. But I had to say it.

 

 

 

 

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