Dear Steven Moffat: The Angels Take Manhattan

Dear Steven,

Each of us endures a moment in our botched lives when desolation comes knocking. I’ll never forget how I felt when, aged ten, I stood in the garden of Haddo Hall, a now defunct community centre, enjoying the summer with disparate members of the Greenwich After School Club, only to find myself confronted by a gang of hyperactive girls. “Ed,” said one, “Louisa don’t love you no more”. Well Steven, I was so distraught at the news that Louisa Render, my first girlfriend, was closing the door on our two week relationship, that I couldn’t even rouse myself to correct her pal’s language. “Okay,” said I, trying to appear indifferent. I was never going to let them see me bleed. No sir, I went about my business, played swingball, ignored Louisa and her retinue, but believe me when I tell you that a heart was cracked open that day.

The incident returned to taunt me, like a time travelling interloper, as the years worn on. Days afterwards, I was listening to the radio and Whitney Houston’s Didn’t We Almost Have It All reduced me to a woman’s tears. Years later I was waiting for a train at Kidbrooke, only to be shocked by a piece of graffiti on the station sign. “LOUISA RENDER IS A SLAG” was the legend. Then I realised, Steven: it wasn’t just me she’d left for dead, two weeks of loved up bliss cast aside like a torn umbrella; no, she’d huckstered some other poor fool; conned him into loving her, only to abandon him at the peak of his infatuation.

Can you see where I’m going with this?

Tonight on Doctor Who, Amy left me, and I was once again that little boy with the crumbling insides, whose impassive shell masked a moment of all consuming woe. That Steven, was my fixed point in time, but with eyes locked on me as I watched the tragedy of the Ponds play out, or the Williams if you insist, I couldn’t allow anyone to know how I felt. That’s why I’m only able to share it now, in this private correspondence.

Before we get into the moment you stole her from me, let’s briefly touch upon the rest of The Angels Take Manhattan. I thought it had two great things going for it: the pulp novel that set up, then cleverly segued into the plot, and the choice of New York as a location. The spots were well chosen and added plenty of atmosphere to your creepy little statue yarn. The novel, now surely the most sought after prop in fandom, was an ingenious framing device: you used it to toy with our expectations and provide a sweet little coda to Amy’s time in the TARDIS. Which brings us to that ending…

For three years all I’ve wished for, all I’ve begged you for, was Rory’s demise. Yet recently, as noted last week, the lanky lummox had started to grow on me. I had to consider the awful possibility that I would miss him. Watching him, watching himself die of old age, therefore made me feel very guilty indeed. Poor old Rory Face, he didn’t deserve that – nor the 30 years he spent in his Jim Jams with festering bed sores, in a New York hotel with no one but statues for company. So I can fully understand why he’d want to take a chance on destroying the universe and pressing the reset button with his suicide.

When he bolted upright in that cemetery, his best gal by his side, we thought he’d got away with it, but in a flash, a rogue statue, a paradox survivor, though it wasn’t clear how it had survived, whisked him off into the past. That was it. No grand goodbye, no “so long Rory and thanks for 3 gormless years”, just gone. There was a brutality to that sudden disappearance and I commend you for it. Dispatching him that way was far more effective than an energy blast to the chest, or the Statue of Liberty tearing off his head, or his body exploding as it hit the pavement, an eruption of blood and bra- anyway, it worked.

But Amy – oh mercy, sweet Amy. A moment later she was gone too. In, er, the blink of an eye. For a while, 20, perhaps 30 seconds, I thought it was nice enough: Amy and Rory would spend the rest of their days together – bored, bedevilled by routine intercourse, but safe. Then it hit me. They were trapped in the past and would never see their friends and family again. Poor Rory’s Dad, the harmless old scroat: he’d be sitting in that empty house, sans fam, forever. Still, he’d have his old cubes.

I did wonder why, if River had a vortex manipulator that could bypass the TARDIS’ difficulties with 1938 New York and the new temporal fault line, she couldn’t just slip through the cracks, scoop up her ‘rents and deposit them back in their matrimonial home in the present day, but then time travel, as anyone who’s seen Looper will tell you, is a fucking complicated business, and you did go out of your way to indicate they were time-locked, or time-wrecked, or something, though again I thought that only applied in respect of The Doctor and the Po- oh, I don’t know.

So Amy chose Rory ultimately, and in a big way. Was that a good decision? Well if she’d gone for me, instead of that droopy eyed drip, she’d still be with us in the 21st century, able to enjoy England and of course, yours truly, who’d be showing her the time of her life – 5 times a night.

That said it felt right for the two characters to end up shackled together, and as ever, you trumped our yearning for the “everyone wins”, sentimental conclusion we might have hoped for, by showing that simply dropping them back home wouldn’t be enough. The Doctor had tried it and couldn’t stay away; the only thing that would allow him to move on would be an inability to see the pair. It’s tough to contrive such a scenario when the hero of the piece can go anywhere at any time, but I take my codpiece off to you, with a bit of technobabble and some temporal slight of hand, you broke up the band.

A part of me feels bad that the twosome didn’t get to choose how and when their adventures with The Doctor ended, but all in all I think you can be proud to have introduced, developed, and finally time-napped, probably the best couple of companions we’ve had in 33 seasons of the show. I can think of many I’ve liked – Ace, Romana II, Sarah Jane, Peri’s cleavage – but none I’ve felt closer to than Amy and Rory. I’ll miss their bones, though it’s reassuring to know that I can pop over to New York and visit them whenever I like.

Well, that’s it until Christmas, Steven. Don’t worry about me, or the fact that my vagrancy status meant I couldn’t even enjoy this episode first hand – the entire thing was acted out for me by the lads from the nearby squat (lucky for me they’d seen it earlier while burgling a neighbour’s house) – I’ll be fine. I got over Louisa and I’ll get over your betrayal too, though you should know I’ve been tracking her intermittently for 25 years and sometimes visit while she sleeps. Like the Angels I freeze when she turns the light on.

Yours in time and cyberspace,

Ed

The way they were:

The way they were-urther:

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