Doctor Who 5.05 - Matt Smith, Alex Kingston and Karen Gillan
Doctor Who 5.05 Flesh and Stone - The Doctor (Matt Smith), River Song (Alex Kingston) and Amy (Karen Gillan) © BBC

In Doctor Who Season 5 Episode 5 the Maze of the Dead is left behind as the Doctor, Amy, River Song, Father Octavian and his Clerics make their way through the spaceship, closely persued by the rejuvenating Weeping Angels. And if that isn’t enough, the mysterious crack in Time ‘follows’ them, or rather, Amy…

A sigh of relief all round as this second episode proves every bit as good as the first part of this story, and confounds the low expectations created by the preceeding two stories about the space whale – I kid you not – and the plastic Daleks. In some ways this is a quest episode as the group makes its way through the spaceship, although it is never explained why the journey through the Maze of the Dead and the spaceship was necessary when the Doctor’s TARDIS was easily at hand.

The Weeping Angels move ever closer... © BBC
The Weeping Angels move ever closer… © BBC

What a delightful surprise, and some relief, to have plot devices that actually have some sense and intelligent thought behind them, rather than Russell T Davies’ “make up science as you go along” approach. Using the artificial gravity of the spaceship not once but twice was smart, and the cyber-trees is a lovely idea. The crack in time is also intriguing, and now that we know a bit more about it, those appearances in each story lose their irritation. In fact, this a story that really made me want to see what comes next – well, until I saw the next episode trail which looked rather daft, but these days you just can’t tell what eactly is coming next. Thank goodness…

The episode, never seemed to flag, always keeping the attention

As for the episode, well it never seemed to flag, always keeping the attention but not giving way to the oft-quoted trend of short scenes or quick editing. It’s still a bit of a puzzle why Amy is still quite so sure of herself after all that had been happening to her, and despite the fact that she saw soldiers vanish from time she seemed generally unaffected by the loss of these lives, more interested in why only she and the Doctor remembered them. That does make her rather shallow, even more so when she throws herself at the Doctor, on the night before her wedding. Is she really a nice person? The plot strand of amy having to keep her eyes closed might have worked better if I hadn’t been wondering why they didn;t just blindfold her.

River Song (Alex Kingston), The Doctor (Matt Smith) and Amy (Karen Gillan) © BBC
River Song (Alex Kingston), The Doctor (Matt Smith) and Amy (Karen Gillan) © BBC

I suppose I’m meant to lilke River Song, but I just find her irritating. These comments laced with double-meanings are wearing thin, and now we have the strong suggestion that she is going to kill the Doctor. What seems to have been forgotten is that the Doctor saw River Song’s death in Forest of the Dead? I expect, though, that Moffat has more than one trick up his sleeve concerning Song.

Along with the better writing and plot structure, another change has taken place, Murray Gold’s music actually became less bombastic and instrusive. Gold is a good composer, but I’ve always felt his music has been misused far too much of the time, drowning out speech and diminishing the drama of a moment. In this episode it underscored scenes, finally adding to the tension.

So is the series starting to change, or was this change in style and maturity a passing fad? Moffat’s arrival on the series raised many hopes and this might just be the beginning of a new direction for the series.

[Rating: 5]

Jan Vincent-Rudzki

UK editor of Film Review Online