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Review ‘Village of the Angels’

This review contains spoilers for Which doctor? Series 13, Volume 4. Line 13 of Which doctor? could have gotten off to a strong start with an interesting introduction to Flush miniseries, but each subsequent episode just makes more and more mistakes that kill off the original momentum of the season. And unfortunately, the same can be said about this week’s installment.

Part 4 of Doctor Who: Flux miniseries, titled “The Village of Angels,” was co-written by hosts Chris Chibnall and Maxine Alderton, the writers responsible for Series 12’s “The Haunting of Villa Diodati.” Here by Alderton has been hailed by fans and critics alike as one of the the high points of the Chibnall era thanks to its interesting premise, strong character text, and extremely chilling villains. But alas, these are all characteristics that “Village of the Angels” is sad.

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Crying angels are undoubtedly the most iconic monsters introduced in modern times Which doctor?. They were originally introduced in 2007 with the Series 3 episode “Blink”, written by Steven Moffat – one of the most beloved episodes in franchise history. The idea behind Crying Angels is simple: they are predators disguised as stone statues and can only move when unobserved. However, they can move at incredible speeds and send their victims back in time with a single tap, thereby feeding on their temporary energy. Because of this, Crying angels can attack a victim literally in the blink of an eye, making them one of the deadliest monsters of all Which doctor?.

But despite their ingenious notions, the Crying Angels are also victims of their own success. After becoming a host in 2010, Moffat brought back the Crying Angels in Series 5’s “Time of the Angels,” attempting to escalate the Angels threat further. They add new storylines and abilities, and even gain the ability to speak by stealing the victim’s voice. However, this approach is said to have backfired – by providing more information about the Crying Angels and making them feel less alienated, they lost some mystery that makes them incredibly scary and fascinating in the first place. By the time of the 2012 episode “The Angels Take Manhattan,” the Crying Angels had shrunk under the shadow of their former selves.

The Crying Angel scene at the Series 13 premiere proved to be an effective “back to basics” depiction of famous monsters, capturing the atmosphere like the envelop in “Blink” that not bogged down by the retellings of later volumes. Unfortunately, “The Village of Angels” takes the exact opposite approach. Instead of downsizing the Angels’ abilities and lore to better match their first appearance, Chibnall and Alderton attempt to increase the threat more than Moffat did. But like the Daleks, The continued attempts at one of the earlier Crying Angels stories were only meant to downplay their appeal.

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Besides granting the Crying Angel there are even more previously unknown abilities – such as the power to instantly kill anyone who is touched twice by the Angel, which is in direct contradiction to previous episodes – the biggest mistake of the episode was the way it further humanized the Angels. In “Blink,” part of what makes the Weeping Angels so terrifying is how inhuman they are. Although they are smart, they never speak. They cannot be reasoned with, and they do not have any personality or ideals that would make them more relatable. They are completely alien and unknowable, and that makes them all the more terrifying. However, “The Village of Angels” goes against that concept because there is a crying angel even more so than they did in “Age of Angels,” making them feel more reminiscent of standard monsters like the Daleks or Cybermen.

Largely confusing, the episode reveals that the Crying Angels – or at least, a specific group of them – have been working for the Mystery Division ever since. And even though this reveals the episode’s link to Flush plot, it also flies in the face of everything that was previously established about the Crying Angel. In previous episodes, the Crying Angels were motivated only by a desire to be nourished with temporary energy. They are apex predators that have never found it appropriate to cooperate with other species. Even in other groups of The Doctor’s greatest enemy, as in Series 5’s “The Pandorica Opens”, the Crying Angel has never participated. But now, it is revealed that the Crying Angel is an agent of Division, an organization seemingly controlled by the Time Lords. Why they wanted to work for Division or what they had to achieve was never even hinted at.

To make matters even more confusing, the episode ends with a wits with the doctor being captured by the Crying Angels and brought back to the Chamber, only to be transformed into a Crying Angel in the process. Why this happens is still not explained, and it is certainly not the power that the Angels have displayed in the past. Probably The following episodes will provide more information to make this change more meaningful, but it doesn’t seem feasible.

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The concept of a six-episode miniseries that tells a continuous story could easily lead to some of the most exciting, epic storytelling about the resurrected people. Which doctor? series. But instead of relying on a serialized format like the classic series, Flush tried to split the difference, balancing plot-heavy episodes like “Once, Upon Time” with more indie adventures like “War of the Sontarans.” This results in making both individual episodes and the whole season worse – stories that can be self-contained hilarious episodes get bogged down by tied into a larger story, while the larger plot is undermined by numerous episode-length detours that do nothing to solve the ongoing mysteries.

“Village of the Angels” could be a fun, creepy indie episode that restored the Weeping Angels to their former glory. But instead, it’s a bland re-read of the earlier Weeping Angel stories, introducing even more unnecessary retellings to tone down the Angel’s mystique. And despite the main cast’s best efforts to elevate a weak script, there aren’t enough character moments in the midst of chaos to make this clumsy story emotionally central. Only two episodes left in Flush miniseries and a lot of mysteries remain unsolved, any hope that Chibnall will land with this ambitious storyline is rapidly declining.

THAN: Doctor Who: Every Sontaran Story, Rating

Our rating:

1 out of 5 (Poor)


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