by Catriona Mills

Live-blogging Doctor Who Season Five: "Flesh and Stone"

Posted 16 May 2010 in by Catriona

You may be surprised to hear this, but this is actually the first time I’ve ever live-blogged with a head injury. Considering how often I fall over, I consider this a win.

You might also think that I’m really milking the “minor head injury” angle by this point, and you’d be right. But then again, it’s not often I fall down half a flight of stairs and smack my head against a wall. Twice. So, yeah, I’m going to keep milking it until this dent in my forehead goes away.

Too much information? I admit, the wine’s been hitting me harder since I hit my head. Probably should stop drinking it, eh?

Kidding aside, I do have a headache (which I’ve had since Thursday), so there might be some lagging and a number of typos in this live-blogging.

We were to have a guest for this live-blogging, but she’s been called on to cook a roast instead. I can’t argue with that logic.

ME: Honey, I could do with some Diet Coke. I realise you’re unlikely to want to get it for me . . .
NICK: Then let me surprise you . . . Oh, god! Why did I move? The pain, the pain!

Previously, River falls on top of the Doctor, demands he follow a ship, introduces him to some Clerics, and this all somehow leads to him shooting a gravity globe.


What, no teaser? Oh, wait: the whole previous episode was a teaser. Fair enough, then.

Still hate the new music.

When we return, the Doctor is telling everyone to look up. Amy’s asking where they were, and River says they’re exactly where they were. But the Doctor tells them the ship crashed with the power still on, so what else, he asks, is still on?

The artificial gravity, of course. The camera pans around, and they’re suddenly standing upside down on the ship’s hull. The Doctor opens a hatch, and leaps inside, to Amy’s distress. But in a gorgeous shot, the Doctor, standing sideways in a corridor, explains that the gravity orientates to the floor.

But then the hatch at the end of the corridor closes. The security protocols are still in place, so they can’t open the hatch.

DOCTOR: There’s no way to over-ride them. It’s impossible.
RIVER: How impossible?
DOCTOR: Few minutes.

The angels make their way into the corridor. Everyone stares at them, but to open the hatch, the Doctor has to over-ride the power. Including the lights—while the angels are still in the corridor.

BISHOP OCTAVIAN: Do you trust this man?
RIVER: I absolutely trust him.
OCTAVIAN: He’s not some kind of madman?
RIVER: I absolutely trust him.

The Bishop tells the Clerics to open fire continuously while the lights are off, and tells Amy to give the wheel four turns.

“Ten,” says Amy.

No, four, says the Doctor, and Amy says, yes, she heard him.

They make it through in a burst of gunfire, but though Octavian magnetises the doors, the wheels keep turning slowly. They’re surrounded, and stuck in the flight deck.

The Doctor says they have five minutes, max. “Nine,” says Amy. No, five, says the Doctor, and Amy says that she heard him.

Nevertheless, the Doctor has a way out. He says it’s a sealed unit, but they must have installed it. And sure enough, the whole wall is on clamps.

Amy wonders what’s through there. And so do we.

It’s a forest. And an oxygen factory. And a forest.

“Eight!” says Amy.

River asks what she said, and Amy says, “Nothing.”

The trees are actually borgs (but, thank goodness, not Borg) but I don’t have time to cover that dialogue about how they work. I suspect it was technobabble, anyway.

DOCTOR: A forest in a bottle in a spaceship in a maze. Have I impressed you yet, Amy Pond?
AMY: Seven.

Then Angel Bob communicates with the Doctor, telling him that the angels are feasting. He tricks Angel Bob into saying “We have no need of comfy chairs,” but his gloating is cut short by Amy saying, “Six.”

He demands to know what’s wrong with Amy, and Angel Bob says she has something in her eye. What’s in her eye? the Doctor wants to know, and Angel Bob says, “We are.”

AMY: What’s he talking about? Doctor, I’m five. I mean, five. I mean, fine. I’m fine.

But there’s something more important the the Doctor’s missed, says Angel Bob—and turning, the Doctor sees the same crack as we saw on Amy’s wall. Everyone else flees, but the Doctor stays to investigate the crack.

Turning, he finds himself surrounded by angels. For a brief moment, he can sneak past them as the catch each others’ eyes, but then one snatches him by the back of his jacket.

In the forest, Amy falls ill.

Among the angels, the Doctor tells them they can’t feed on that energy, but while he’s talking, he manages to slip out of his own jacket.

RIVER: Now, if he’s dead back there, I’ll never forgive myself. And if he’s alive, I’ll never forgive myself. And, Doctor, you’re standing right behind me, aren’t you?

He is, but he’s distracted by Amy’s illness.

AMY: What’s wrong with me?
RIVER: Nothing. You’re fine.
DOCTOR: Everything. You’re dying.
RIVER: Doctor!
DOCTOR: Oh, yes, if we lie to her, she’ll get all better.

What’s wrong with Amy is that she stared into the angel’s eyes, and now there’s an angel in the vision centres of her brain—and we can see it, in the pupil of her eye.

The Doctor tells her to close her eyes. She says she doesn’t want to, but the Doctor says that’s the angel inside her. So she closes her eyes, and her vital signs stabilise.

The angels are closing in on them.

Amy is too weak to move. She wants to open her eyes, but the Doctor says that she’s used her countdown up: she can’t open her eyes. But the Doctor has a plan.

RIVER: There’s a plan?
DOCTOR: I don’t know yet. I haven’t finished talking.

The Doctor wants to leave Octavian and the Clerics with Amy, while he and River go and find the primary flight deck. But Octavian insists on going with them—he says that he and River are engaged “in a manner of speaking.”

The Doctor tells Amy he always comes back, and leaves.

But he comes back to tell Amy that she needs to start trusting him. Oh, but this is interesting—this Doctor is wearing a jacket.


Amy can’t see this, because she still has her eyes closed.

He tells Amy that she has to remember what he told her when she was seven, kisses her on the forehead, and leaves.

Near the primary flight deck, the Doctor taunts River about being engaged in “a manner of speaking,” and River says that she’s a sucker for a man in uniform. But Octavian says that River is in his personal care: she was released from Storm Cage Containment Facility four days ago, and will remain in his care until she’s earned her pardon.

Back with Amy, the angels are grouping, and shutting down the tree-borgs.

At the primary flight deck, the Doctor and River are trying desperately to get in.

DOCTOR: What did you say? Time? Time’s running out?
RIVER: I just meant . . .
DOCTOR: I know what you meant. Shush.

Back with Amy, the angels suddenly disappear in response to a blinding light. Marco sends Crispin and Philip off to check out what’s happening.

At the primary flight deck, the Doctor is fretting about the possibility of time running out.

DOCTOR: How can there be a duckpond when there aren’t any ducks? And she didn’t recognise the Daleks.

Amy is freaking out about the curtain of light. She convinces Marco to let her open her eyes and see the light—and it’s the same shape as the crack on her bedroom wall. The remaining soldier asks Marco if he should get a closer look at the light, and Marco tells him not to get too close.

Amy asks him why they don’t wait for Crispin and Philip to come back, but Marco says that there never was a Crispin and Philip on this mission.

Amy says no: before he sent Pedro, he sent Crispin and Philip.

And Marco asks who Pedro is.

At the primary flight deck, the Doctor is raving about a CyberKing walking across Victorian London and no one remembering it. Octavian asks if they can worry about the angels, but the Doctor says the angels are the least of their worries.

Octavian begs to differ, but then an angel has him around the neck.

OCTAVIAN: I will die in the knowledge that my courage did not desert me in the end. For that I thank God, and bless the path that takes you to safety.
DOCTOR: I wish I’d known you better.
OCTAVIAN: I think, sir, you know me at my best.
DOCTOR: Ready?
OCTAVIAN: Content.

Hokey? A little. But I do love Iain Glen. And I think he pulled it off. (And, yes, there’s probably a bad angel pun I could have made there.)

Amy makes contact with Marco, but he disappears off the comms almost straight away. Then the Doctor pops up on the communicator, while River (in the background) is faffing with a broken teleport, which the Doctor tells her will never work, and tells Amy that she has to walk.

Amy can’t open her eyes. But the Doctor tells her to turn until the communicator makes the sound of his sonic screwdriver and to keep walking. If the light reaches her, she will never have existed—at least the angels will only kill her.

But the angels are fleeing from the light, and so the forest is full of angels. Amy needs to walk as though she can see, to fool the angels. She doesn’t really understand what this means, but the Doctor tells her to just walk.

He tells River that the light needs to be fed a big, complicated, space-time event—like him.

In the forest, Amy is surrounded by angels. She needs to keep walking as though she can see them—the Doctor says they won’t be paying much attention to her, because they’re scared and they’re running. But she must walk as though she can see.

She tries, guided by the beeps on the communicator, which give her the proximity to the angels.

Then she trips over a root, and drops the communicator.

As she calls for the Doctor, the angels realise that she can’t see. For the first time, we actually see the angels moving—because our sight doesn’t count, apparently, and the only character on-screen has her eyes closed.

Just as an angel reaches for Amy, River gets the teleport to work, and snatches Amy off to the flight deck.

DOCTOR: River Song, I could kiss you.
RIVER: Well, maybe when you’re older.

But the power is failing, and the shields are failing. The doors slide open, to show every angel on the ship standing outside. Angel Bob is in the forefront, with the communicator.

The angels want the Doctor to throw himself into the time rift, and he seems vaguely swayed by the idea that he can save his friends.

River says she could substitute for him, but the Doctor says the angels are more complicated than her and it would take everyone of them to close the rift, so she should get a grip.

She protests, but he says, no, seriously: get a grip.

Because with the power gone, the gravity goes. As the camera inverts and the Doctor, River, and Amy all cling to handles, the angels are all pulled into the rift.

On a beach outside, the Doctor explains that the angel in Amy’s eye never existed, so she’s fine. And River, hand-cuffed, prepares to be beamed back up to her ship, hoping she’s done enough to earn a pardon.

DOCTOR: Octavian says you killed a man.
RIVER: Yes, I did.
DOCTOR: A good man.
RIVER: A very good man. The best man I’ve ever known.
RIVER: It’s a long story, Doctor. Can’t be told. Has to be lived. No sneak previews. Except this one. I’ll see you again quite soon, when the Pandorica opens.
DOCTOR: The Pandorica? That’s a fairy tale.
RIVER: Aren’t we all?
DOCTOR: I’ll see you there.
RIVER: I remember it well.

River disappears, and Amy says that she wants to head home. She says that the Doctor’s running from River, and she wants to show the Doctor what she’s running from.

Her wedding, basically.

Oh, wow: this is the most awkward and embarrassing seduction scene in the entire world.

Amy tries to explain this to the Doctor verbally, but he’s a bit thick on this subject, so she just snogs him.

DOCTOR: I’m 907. Do you know what that means?
AMY: It’s been a while?
DOCTOR: Ye . . . No.

The Doctor does just kiss her back a little (wait for that joke to come around again), but then he realises that Amy is the centre of all the odd things that have been happening.

DOCTOR: The single most important thing in the whole universe is that I get you sorted out right now.
AMY: That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you.

But that’s not what the Doctor means. He throws Amy back into the TARDIS, and stares at her clock radio—which shows the same numerals that we saw ticking down before, when he was explaining to River that time is running out.

Oooh—story arc! I love those things!

Next week: vampires! In Venice!

Share your thoughts [20]


Matthew Smith wrote at May 16, 12:13 pm

Fist things first, I’m still recovering from Amy’s attempted seduction of the Doctor. It really is like Moffat is deliberately screwing with the audiences heads! I mean traditional TV has us all kind of hoping that the lead characters will get together and experience tells us that once they do it’s all over done and dusted for the show (unless we have a rolling cast like in a soap). Anyway, I totally agree it was very awkward and the Doctor totally killed the mood (which proves he really is from another planet)!

Meanwhile the resolution of the episode was pretty fun and the angels continued to be spooky – especially Angel Bob with his “they want to make her afraid sir” … “for fun sir” and Marco forgetting the other soldiers really creeped me out. Some good moments and I think the line about the comfy chairs has already become a bit of an internet meme!


Catriona wrote at May 16, 01:39 pm

I’m not, as you know, a big fan of this new move to show us the Doctor as a sexual being. I prefer the old-school Doctor, where sex never really came into it (except with Romana. Maybe). With the old-school Doctor, there really was nothing disturbing about him travelling around the universe with a sixteen-year-old girl from a bad home.

At least nothing that I could see.

Sure, the old Doctor was a grandfather—we were introduced to him as someone who had, clearly, had a wife (or the Gallifreyan equivalent thereof) and kids, but grandparents are one step removed from that. We don’t really tend to think of our grandparents actually having a sex life—not if we can help it.

So I rather liked this seduction scene. Because it was embarrassing and awkward and really, really hard to watch. And it worked with the Eleventh Doctor in a way it wouldn’t have worked with the Tenth Doctor, because the Tenth Doctor was actually a pin-up, or at least David Tennant was. It would have been a bit too much like fan fic, with the Tenth Doctor.

But this was like watching someone seduce Patrick Troughton. And, rumours about Patrick Troughton aside, that’s not something I want to see.

I enjoyed these episodes, I did. Some lovely dialogue, loved the Church Militant, beautiful stuff with the gravity.

But I did think that having so many angels raised some issues—it made us want to discuss the logistics of whether the angels could see each other when they were moving, how the ranks of angels could move through the maze without being seen by the ones behind them, etc.

And they just weren’t as creepy as “Blink.”

I was worried when they brought the angels back, and I needn’t have been as worried as I was.

But they weren’t as wonderful as “Blink.”


Wendy wrote at May 16, 09:18 pm

I agree…not as scary as Blink.
I am just having trouble taking to the new series. It has a different feel that doesn’t seem to engage me as much.
I’m still trying to work out what it is….


Catriona wrote at May 16, 09:30 pm

I noticed you’re not commenting as much on the new series, Wendy.

The feel and the tone has shifted quite distinctly with the move to Steven Moffat as show-runner, I agree. But I couldn’t sum up how I think it’s changed.

I think—and this might sound a little like heresy, I don’t know—I think it’s not taking itself quite so seriously. But I can’t explain what I mean by that.

Certainly, these last couple of episodes, Moffat has just been messing with the fans. And I love that—if he is, as I suspect, mainly messing with a couple of the online fan communities, who are strident, aggressive, misogynistic, and generally unpleasant. And it feels to me as though he’s deliberately subverting (or inverting) some of Russell T. Davies’s shibboleths, which I’m also enjoying.

I’m enjoying the new series, in short. I have some problems with it on an episode-by-episode basis, but I’m enjoying it thoroughly.


John wrote at May 16, 10:28 pm

I’m finding this season to be more reminiscent of the first season (and maybe two) than most of the Tennent episodes. I guess it’s Moffat’s fresh take, but as Matt said above, he’s really screwing with our minds.

Season One (at least, for me) was characterised by the way in which the story wrote-back (sorry, wanky Poco term) against the classic series by daring to explore those things that were previously elided: the Doctor’s dark side, his Messianic complex (please excuse the plug), and especially, what happens to the companions post-Tardis (OK, that was mainly School Reunion, season two). I seems to me that Moffat is starting to do that sort of thing, and the Doctor’s (very understated) sexuality is part of it.

This might be more pronounced in a forthcoming episode that I couldn’t possibly have seen and therefore know nothing about.


Catriona wrote at May 16, 10:54 pm

I need to think more on the idea of the Doctor’s sexuality, because my ideas are a little muddy. But I suspect you and I are not entirely in agreement here, John.

On that issue, anyway.

I entirely agree on the idea of a darker side, especially re. companions. Nick and I were talking last night about how many companions here are forced to leave the TARDIS (in some way), rather than leaving voluntarily: Adam, Rose, Jack, Astrid, Donna, Christina. (Only Martha and Mickey left voluntarily.)

(I’m not counting Adelaide Brooks.)

We figured out that in the original series, very few companions were forced out: Jamie and Zoe (sent away by the Time Lords in punishment), Sarah Jane (kicked out, again—sort of—by Time Lord dictum), Adric (dead), Peri (married to Brian Blessed). And half of Teagan, too, I suppose.

Comparatively, that’s a pretty low number, considering how many companions he had. (Though Donna, I suppose, is comparable to Teagan, since she left once voluntarily and once involuntarily.)

The post-Time War Doctor seems to much harder on his companions.


Tim wrote at May 17, 05:01 am

I thought this episode didn’t fully deliver on the promise of the first part, mainly because of the angels — the logistics as mentioned, and their changing behaviour; seeing them move was also a let down. Matt Smith and Karen Gillan really shone, though.


Drew wrote at May 17, 05:03 am

My only complaint about this episode (as I have said to you privately) is that in Blink there was a feeling that we as the audience were involved in story somehow; that not only could the Angels not move when Sally Sparrow was watching them, but that also they could not move when viewed by us, the audience, as well. This episode departed from that tradition and it was a shame I think. I haven’t explained that very well but you know what I mean.


Catriona wrote at May 17, 06:00 am

I know what you mean, Drew: I tried to convey that sense in the live-blogging, but was running behind time.

I would have thought that I’d have been more frightened to see the angels moving, because inanimate objects moving on their own is one of my big fears.

But I wasn’t, and I couldn’t explain why until you mentioned this theory. Then I realised that you’re absolutely right: we were drawn into the action in “Blink” because the angels never moved while we were watching them. So to suddenly see the angels move made me feel as though my line of sight suddenly wasn’t good enough.

Tim, I actually hadn’t thought about the logistics until someone else started questioning it. And then I realised I didn’t know how they were able to move up through the maze without seeing each other.

Perhaps I should plot the entire episode out on our Kill Doctor Lucky playing board. After all, you can’t kill Doctor Lucky if someone else is watching you. Might be fun, if a little out of context: “Right, the angels in the greenhouse can’t move, because there’s an angel in the dining room—they’re in his line of sight. But the angels in the armoury can move—oh, but only into the next room, then the angels in the minstrel’s gallery can see them. Right: are there any angels on the board that can still move? Any at all? Nope? Okay, better have a power outage, then. Now who can move? The angels in the butler’s pantry?”


Wendy wrote at May 17, 06:10 am

I’m quite a newbie to Doctor Who as I’ve probably said before. While I’m liking Matt Smith as the Doctor and think he has the potential to tap into parts of the character that David Tennant didn’t, the Amy Pond character just doesn’t really grab me. I think I enjoyed Donna Noble/Catherine Tate so much that Karen Gillan is a bit watery by comparison. I was determined not to be “agist”…but she seems a bit young and ineffective so far. I’m hoping this will change for me though.


Catriona wrote at May 17, 06:27 am

It’s interesting, Wendy, because I just had someone argue the complete opposite: they liked Amy Pond and thought Donna was largely ineffectual. Now, who was that? I suspect it was my mam. She’s a woman of strong prejudices when it comes to Doctor Who companions.

I also loved Donna, and (to point back to John’s argument above), one of the things that I liked about her was that there wasn’t any sexual attraction between her and the Doctor. The Doctor being a bit sexy is one thing, but every single one of his companions falling in love with him? Just dull. Dull and, frankly, a bit incomprehensible.

(Of course, with Donna, it got a bit twisted in the end. Though she won the heart of the lovely stammering bloke in the library two-parter, by the end of the season, the idea that Donna wasn’t sexually attracted to the Doctor got somehow twisted around into the idea that she was sexually unappealing, so that Captain Jack—I mean, Captain Jack, for goodness’ sake!—wouldn’t give her a hug, and we’re all left wondering why Donna is the universe’s only exception to Captain Jack’s omnivorous sexuality.)

But I am liking Amy. I’m liking the way Moffat seems to be dragging many of what I’ve called RTD’s shibboleths out into the light (I’m mixing metaphors here, aren’t I?) and holding them up to scrutiny, and he seems to be focalising much of that through Amy. I’m glad to see that, in a way.

We’ve seen that strong focalisation of the show through a companion before, with Rose, and it worked beautifully, especially (in my opinion) in season one. (I felt they cheated us a little with that bait-and-switch “girl who will die in battle” story arc in season two.) But that device slipped away rather in seasons three and four, and we only saw it intermittently—when we did, we had lovely strong stories like “Human Nature”/“Family of Blood” (weak in parts, but very strong in others) and “Turn Left” (which I adored).

So I’m quite pleased to see this strong “through the eyes of the companion” focus returning. And I’m prepared to like Amy. But I admit I might just be dazzled by her hair.


Wendy wrote at May 17, 06:35 am

Yes well her hair is quite stunning…I shall reserve my judgement a while longer I think. Early days.


Tim wrote at May 17, 07:58 am

I think Donna and Amy are both awesome. Which reminds me of another thing about this episode: it didn’t have a moment for her to figure out a clever solution to a problem, like the winking in the first part. She was falling a bit closer to the ‘girl-with-twisted-ankle’ model of companion. (The end of the episode might count as her reclaiming agency, though. ;))


Catriona wrote at May 17, 08:13 am

Oh, me too, Tim! I didn’t mean to imply that I liked one over the other!

She was a little passive in this episode, compared to the Amy we usually see. But she did become a little more (ahem!) active in the last bit, yes.


Tim wrote at May 17, 08:46 am

No, I didn’t mean to imply that you were implying that either. :)


Catriona wrote at May 17, 10:15 am

Oh, dear! Does that mean that I implied that you implied that I implied something that I didn’t imply?



Matthew Smith wrote at May 17, 12:20 pm

While you’re trying to figure out who implied what, I thought I’d mention how much I appreciate the non-spoiler policy here as I am watching this season as it airs in Australia rather than watching the um “special fan previews” that I’ve had access to in previous seasons.

It’s a different experience to try and watch it in a slightly inconvenient time slot but there is a cultural identification knowing that your friends and family are watching it at the same time somewhere else in the country. There’s also a bit of excitement at our place as the kids now know that Daddy is watching Doctor Who which is very scary so we have to close the door and sneak peeks when we have to come through to get something out of the fridge or whatever.

Of course a different but also enjoyable experience can be had by getting up early on Sunday and well … clicking on something and then joining in on the cryptic tweeting.


Melissa wrote at May 17, 02:21 pm

Yes! To the jacket thing! And it wasn’t even the same jacket as the one he was wearing earlier in the episode. So, HRM.

I don’t really have anything else to add. Although unlike others I didn’t miss Amy’s assertiveness in the majority of the episode; having your eyes closed all the time turns a familiar place into something strange, and a strange place into one full of potential risk. And a strange and dangerous one? Well I wouldn’t get too adventurous, either, if I couldn’t see. Not that I think Doctor Who is meant to be realistic, of course. ;)


Catriona wrote at May 17, 10:38 pm

Matt, that’s one of the interesting angles about live-blogging: no one (except for Nick) actually reads the live-blogging when I’m blogging it. I wouldn’t expect them to, or they wouldn’t be able to watch the show at the same time. But I do it in the expectation that people are watching the programme while I live-blog, so there is a sense of community.

It’s entirely different from the Eurovision live-blogging, where people normally do comment on the site while the programme is actually airing.

Melissa, I didn’t notice that it was a different jacket than the one from earlier in the episode! I’m currently assuming (and this is pure speculation, not a spoiler) that this has something to do with the missing two years at the end of “The Eleventh Hour,” but, really, with time travel it could be anything.


Tim wrote at May 18, 01:43 am

> Oh, dear! Does that mean…

Yes, I think it does. :)

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