Village of the Angels
Episode 4 of Doctor Who Season 13 whisks us off to November 21st 1967. With a lie detector running askew, Claire Brown is the woman in the hot-seat, as Professor Jericho continues to ask her questions. Suddenly, and inexplicably, she seems to become possessed, growling that there’s “no escape.” As she bolts upright, gasping that the Angel has the TARDIS, we jump back to The Doctor and the TARDIS.
The Doctor decides to reboot the TARDIS, supercharging two cables together to cause an electrical ripple that displaces the Angel and knocks it out the police box. However, the TARDIS needs a while to reboot so naturally, it falls to her, Yaz and Dan to go and explore where they’ve landed.
It’s dark and a search is one for a girl called Peggy. Gerald and Jean are her guardians, having looked after her since her parents died. Yaz and Dan head off to help while the Doctor is left to handle Claire and Jericho. In her absence though, Yaz and Dan find themselves face to face with an Angel. As the lights are lost and the moonlight fades, the Angel strikes.
The Doctor heads down into the basement of Jericho’s lab where she finds Claire’s sketches, including that of an Angel. Of course any image of an Angel can itself become an Angel (which is directly quoted later in the episode) so the Doctor throws it in the fireplace. Claire takes a brief respite from the action to use the bathroom. Only, in the mirror she inexplicably sprouts wings. Is she turning into a Weeping Angel?
Meanwhile, The Doctor finds herself with the Professor as Angels surround the house and prepare to attack. It doesn’t take long before they manage to make it through the flimsy backdoor but there’s a problem. Claire’s visions actually started back in Liverpool prior to the first episode and according to the newspapers, everyone in this village is scheduled to disappear on this very night. Interestingly, this also seems to be linked back to 1901 as well.
The drawing of the Angel inexplicably comes together, prompting the Doctor to burn the picture, quickly extinguishing it with a follow-up blast of water. Claire is a seer and because of her premonitions, the Angel has taken root inside her.
The only solution is for The Doctor to sort out a psychic link and root it out herself. As she sets up the psychic link and tumbles inside, it turns out the Angel inside the TARDIS is the same one in Claire.
However, this Weeping Angel happens to be a rogue Angel, on the run from the Extraction Squad working for the Division. It seems that the Divison used Weeping Angels to do its work. The play here is to stop the Weeping Angels. If she can do that, then this rogue Angel will let Claire go. This Angel is important because it holds the memories of the Doctor’s old exploits.
In the wake of all this, Bel continues to try and find Vinder. She touches down on the ruins of Puzano where she meets Namaca. Together, they join a whole crowd of people as they’re greeted by a projection of Azure. The pair offer up transport for these easily-duped villagers, taking them to an unaffected part of the galaxy. Only, it’s not freedom they’re offering and Bel knows it.
She grabs Namaca and drops to the ground, escaping a deadly outcome. It turns out Passengers take people to endless prisons, which appears to be where these people have ended up.
Dan and Yaz find themselves back in the village but in the past, way before the events of our other timeline. Interestingly, Peggy is here too, and it doesn’t take long before Gerald and Jean appear. Apparently being touched twice by an angel kills a person, as seen by Gerald. Except that doesn’t work for Rory, I guess.
Meanwhile, the Weeping Angels inside Jericho’s house work to manipulate the Professor, urging him to surrender and tying to get inside his mind. It doesn’t work though, but as time begins to run out, he awakens the Doctor to help. She sets up a psychic link for the Angels, intending to give them a cosmic headache.
Down in the basement though, the Angels work to displace the Doctor and the others. The Professor is caught and whisked back in time while Claire and the Doctor manage to slip away. But how?
Heading outside, the Doctor notices the rift with Yaz and the others. It appears they’re marooned in space, with quantum extraction the main cause here. The Angels have taken the village into space to isolate their target. The trouble is, the rogue Angel has brokered a deal with the other Weeping Angels to trade its own life for the Doctor.
Unfortunately, the Doctor has been recalled to Division and as the Angels all suddenly blinker into light, the Doctor inexplicably turns into stone, sprouts wings and becomes a Weeping Angel too.
As the episode closes out, we cut back to Vinder who remains on the trail of Bel, finding Namaca who leads her to a cave. Bel has left a message, confirming she’s heading off to try and stop Passenger. Unfortunately, just before giving out coordinates, the recording stops. Go figure!
The Episode Review
Much like The Haunting of Villa Diodati last season, Chibnall’s era is so much stronger when competent writers are at the helm. I’m not sure how much input Maxine Alderton had over this script with Chibnall but everything about this feels a lot more tighter and more, well, Doctor Who.
The Doctor is her usual snarky and confident self, with just the right amount of deep-rooted mystery to keep things interesting.
Likewise, you’ve got an interesting bunch of characters, a good mystery and the best use of the Angels since the two-parter in season 5. Much like that Smith episode, the Angels have expanded lore and there’s a decent amount of work done to try and give them some history. Their ties with Division is an interesting development and it’ll be interesting to see how that is explained in the final two episodes.
It does, however, explain why the Angels were after Claire in the first episode, even if it does feel like a weird and displaced subplot shoehorned into a very busy opening chapter.
One of the more pressing issues with this season – and the era as a whole actually – comes from the companions. This would have been the absolutely perfect episode for Yaz to start using her police skills and investigate more but beyond some questions, as soon as she’s whisked back in time she’s back to playing second fiddle.
Likewise, beyond a few jokes and quips with he Doctor, he and the Doctor haven’t really spent any time together and barely know one another.
However, this episode is easily one of the best this season, and a longer, continuous story is certainly an interesting development to take for this long-established sci-fi romp. However, the ending leaves things wide open for where this may go next.