“A forest in a bottle on a spaceship in a maze. Have I impressed you yet Amy Pond?”
I’m certainly impressed, Steven.
Flesh and Stone starts with an extremely convenient cliff-hanger-solver (is that a real phrase?) with the Doctor and gang escaping their peril by way of breaking a ‘gravity bubble’ and landing on the ceiling. I’m willing to forgive this as it plays well into the more playful fantastical feel that this series has over the straighter sci-fi of the past.
It also gives the characters (and us) the chance to enter the crashed Byzantium, seemingly setting up the fantastic potential of prowling Weeping Angels tormenting claustrophobic spaceship corridors. Indeed, the Weeping Angels (who of course can only move when not seen) approaching our crew by the light of machine gun fire down a narrow corridor is wonderfully cinematic, ramped up in danger with the Doctor fiddling with the doors, which of course open just in time for the characters to escape.
What we quite brilliantly get instead however, is the unexpected change of scene within minutes to a forest. That’s right, a forest. Made of robotic trees acting as an oxygen laboratory for the ship. And there are Angels. Stalking through forests. Genius.
The fairytale motif continues through what could have been a rather simple ‘A to B while getting picked off’ plotline, but is made so much more watchable and tense due to some superb performances and scripting. Amy’s possesion and creepy countdown is brilliantly done and avoids being contrived as she slips numbers into her conversations.
The enigma that is River Song allows some great banter between herself and the Doctor, and we learn more about her past/his future in this episode. She killed a man? A hero to many? Speculation is rife that this could be the Doctor, but it will take some timey-wimey brilliance to make that possible.
The episode ends with a rather uncomfortable scene with Amy making a move on the Doctor upon returning to her bedroom the night before her wedding. I almost understand the impulse of it, and the physical comedy is rather brilliant, but it is rather jarring and I prefer to pretend this scene didn’t happen, as the rest of the episode was just perfect.
FEZ SEZ: “A tense, dramatic and satisfying conclusion to this two-parter”