Doctor Who: 10 positive things about Flesh And Stone (and 5 Big Questions)

I feel like I’ve been constantly moaning about the state of [[Doctor Who (TV Series)|Doctor Who]] since the [[Doctor Who Series 5|fifth series]] began. How long can this go on? Picking holes in the plot and being generally disgruntled?

Well, after I watched Flesh and Stone earlier this evening, I caught some comments on Twitter. Either I’m totally out of sync with the rest of the viewing public, or some people still have a case of Emperor’s New Clothes with regard to the new series. Or should that be Emperor’s New Tweeds?

So, I decided to rewatch the episode and say only positive things about it. Even if there are glaring errors. Because I want to love this series again, but I feel it’s slipping away from me.

  1. Daring escapes! The Doctor shoots out the lights, everybody jumps and the gravity field pulls everyone to the safety of the spaceship above. And nobody even smacked their head on the spacecraft’s underside! Hoorah for intelligent gravity systems!
  2. Forest in a spaceship. An oxygen factory. “A forest in a bottle in a spaceship in a maze. Have I impressed you yet, Amy Pond?” Treeborgs, the answer to tomorrow’s oxygen needs…today.
  3. Dumb humour: The Doctor tricks Angel Bob: “I made him say ‘comfy chairs’.” I love Angel Bob’s slightly droll voice and The Doctor’s insensitive comments to him: “Get a life Bob”
  4. The Angels starting to move. We see them briefly when they catch The Doctor by his jacket, and even more when Amy falls in the forest.
  5. The Doctor’s inability to filter his thoughts as he tells Amy: “You’re dying.” River Song: “Doctor!” Doctor: “Yes, you’re right. If we lie to her she’ll get all better.” And then: “As long as our eyes are open they can climb inside. There’s an Angel in her mind.”
  6. Companion-ship: That moment of tenderness between him and Amy in the forest where he tells her to trust him, then kisses her on the forehead.
  7. Octavian’s Sacrifice: When an Angel takes him from behind (fnar fnar!), Octavian realises that his days are numbered. He accepts his fate with dignity and it’s a great moment between The Doctor and the Bishop.
  8. River Song spoilers: “You can’t trust her. River Song. You think you know her but you don’t. You don’t understand who or what she is.” “She killed a man, a good man.”
  9. Amy’s Seduction: Yep, Amy tries to get a leg over with The Doctor. Because a guy who’s 907 years old is bound to have picked up a few tricks in his time. Unfortunately, she’s one regeneration too late. Tennant would’ve been humping her leg like a dog in heat, but Smith’s Doctor is oblivious to her signals. Great comedy moment, and a nice bit of dialogue when Amy keeps referring to Who she wants to be with. Bit of a reference to The Doctor’s mostly overlooked self-reference in [[The Eleventh Hour (Doctor Who episode)|The Eleventh Hour]] where he says “Who‘s the man?”
  10. Time Can Be Rewritten: The Doctor discovers that time can be rewritten with the help of the cracks. He seems positively gleeful about this. He also had a conversation with River Song about this before in [[Forest Of The Dead (Doctor Who episode)|Forest Of The Dead]] when he claimed “time can be rewritten” and Song replied “Not those times.”

And 5 Big Questions

  1. Octavian says to River Song: “Our mission is to make this wreckage safe and neutralise the Angels.” OK, for a bunch of futuristic clerics, on whose authority are they chasing down the Weeping Angels?
  2. The crack in the universe that erases people from existence. How does Amy remember Crispin and Phillip while the soldier who remains with her forgot them? Is this covered by The Doctor’s statement that Amy’s a Time Traveler now?
  3. Because if it isn’t, there’s a bit of a paradox here: Amy has forgotten other things like the Dalek invasions, etc. So she’s not immune to the effects of the crack. So, how come she remembers the soldiers when the guy beside her didn’t? Is the difference literally about her having traveled in time and her view of the universe changing?
  4. What rules do the Angels follow? In some scenes they move slowly, but in others they move in the blink of an eye. The Angel who caught Octavian moved so quickly, but the Angels circling Amy in the forest moved at a leisurely pace. Why toy with her? Why not snap her neck and move on?
  5. The mystery of River Song: She’s a prisoner, and freely admits to having killed a good man. Hopefully not a good Doctor? Will she trigger a regeneration? Ultimately, just who (and what) the hell is River Song?

And finally, if an image of an Angel itself becomes an Angel, can somebody please explain how this photo from the end of Blink didn’t cause merry mayhem?

Photo of the Weeping Angels from Doctor Who

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21 Comments

  1. jonmche

    Who is River song? A speculation: John Hart, Jack Harknesses partner played by James Marsters. James Marsters Anagram

    “Res Stream Jams”  or Re: means  Stream: river Jams: song

     

  2. ClazzaRose

    1)Think it also a worry that although she is in prison, she is allowed to go to parties on spaceships. This seems to be Moffat’s habit of popping stuff in an episode and not explaining it but Who cares really!

    2)& 3 – yes i think it literally is that she has now travelled in time. those that travel through have that energy glow thing (army of ghosts/doomsday) and they now have this new view of the universe. please dont say it doesnt make sense…this is a kids program about time travel!!!

    4) The Angel who caught Octavian moved so quickly because they moved in the blink on an eye when dr and octavian werent looking but the Angels circling Amy in the forest moved at a leisurely pace because they thought at first that she could see but when she fell over they start to doubt it. They dont want to move too quickly incase she still can. But there is still the issue that its meant to be something in the chemistry that means they cant move if someone can see them so not sure about that.
    5)The mystery of River Song: She’s a prisoner, and freely admits to having killed a good man. Octavian’s comments about how the dr wont help if he found out suggests that it is the doctor she kills but then again there is a lot of emphasis on the MAN bit so maybe its moffat leading us in the wrong direction.

    And finally, if an image of an Angel itself becomes an Angel, can somebody please explain how this photo from the end of Blink didn’t cause merry mayhem…stop nit picking!!! they obviously were weak on earth and dont have the power to change the image 🙂

    just my thoughts

    1. Hellbelly

      1) She was already working with the clerics when she attended the party on the ship.

      2) and 3) Indeed she could remember the clerics because she was a travelled on the Tardis, and had therefore absorbed a certain amount of Artron energy. This isn’t the same as the “void stuff” which the Cybermen and Daleks in Doomsday were saturated in.

    2. Gerard McGarry

      Stop nitpicking! Why? Because characters in a story don’t have to be consistent? Because they don’t have to conform to some kind of rules?

      The only similarities between the Angels in Blink and the Angels in these episodes was their appearance (duh) and their inability to move when being watched. Watched. That means with eyes opened, not closed-but-pretending-to-see. That’s utter guff.

      And one other thing…there may be ‘explanations’ built into the plot, but for the series to work, those explanations must be convincing. And so far, they’re not. And what’s worse is that these episodes were written by the most celebrated Doctor Who writer of the revived series.

      I think we can all be ambivalent about it and hope it’ll work out in the end, but on five episodes worth of evidence. Still, it feels more like we’re ignoring the obvious, that this series is worryingly bad so far.

      1. MarkJoseph

        you should stop trying to pick holes in it like it’s your average sci-fi. It’s a world apart. Feel like I’m quoting recent interviews etc. but it can be anything there are no hard and fast rules to the Doctor Who universe, never have been. You don’t like it that’s your opinion and problem.

  3. Ecto

    Honestly, this is pathetic. Why are you wasting your life watching a programme that you lack the imagination to enjoy, and writing long, incredibly boring, pointless and pedantic posts about it? The problem is with you, not the programme. Haven’t you got anything better to do? Just go and do something else.

     

    1. Gerard McGarry

      @Ecto: I’m going to beg to differ with you here. Doctor Who is one of my favourite shows, and I’ve had the “imagination” to enjoy the series up to this point. And yes, I’m going with the theory that I’m expecting too much because that’s better than the alternative – that Doctor Who suddenly sucks.

      And I’m sorry to report, upon a few watchings of this – none of it makes a bit of sense. I read gushing reviews from Den Of Geek and The Guardian (who dared to call it the best episode ever!), and I’m just not feeling this new series at all. It’s not holding together particularly well.

      As a matter of fact, I’m pretty sure that the crack in the universe is actually a graph showing the general quality of each episode. If so, we’re in for a couple of rough weeks and a reasonably good finale.

      1. redblu

        Seriously? Suddenly, after five atrocious years of farting aliens, belching bins, magic rewind buttons, magic god chanting, deus ex machina left right and centre, the earth being towed across the galaxy, Peter Kay… sorry I’m going to stop myself there before I really go off on a rant, but with all that you’re making these nit picks?

        Point #1 is an interesting question, but not a flaw with the episode. Points #2 and #3 are both explained in the episode and follow long established continuity, the first instance of which that springs to mind is the City of Death, but more and more frequently in the new series.

        #4 is the one point I’ll conceed, but given the holes in Dr Who I’ve learned to brave and stomach over the past five years I’ll forgive it due to the tension it added to the scene.

        #5 I count as a positive and am very much curious to see where it goes.

         

        Doctor Who is back, the theme and tone is in keeping with my childhood memories, and the quality of writing has improved dramatically. I honestly believe this to be the shows finest hour since the first year of Tom Bakers tenure.

        Edit: Point 6, the weeping angel is covering its eyes in that photo which would make as good a reason as any. Of course Sally didn’t stare at it for any great period, so maybe there is a sequel there? Hopefully not for at least another couple of years though, to give the Angels time to return as strong as they did this time.

  4. Haraguroi

    I agree, for my part I think there’s nothing wrong with picking holes in something you enjoy, and why do you bother to sign into a website like this if you don’t enjoy this sort of thing?

    My hole-picking question is this: when the Angels are stone, are they really stone? In which case (a) when the angel has the bishop in its grasp, why doesn’t the Doctor just try to break off its arm? Maybe it’s indestructible, but he could at least try.

    (b) why bother to go in there at all? why not just bomb the entire labyrinth?

  5. Haraguroi

    I also wonder – would it have made any difference if the Doctor had never gone in there at all? The ship would’ve still lost power and the Angels would’ve still been sucked into the hole.

  6. MarkJoseph

    They’re the future of the church, that in itself should give you an idea of on whose authority they could claim to be hunting the Weeping Angel down. Throughout history the amount of things done in the name of “God” are shocking. I don’t see why that’s so hard to imagine of a fictitious future.

    1. Gerard McGarry

      Yes, Mark, but that’s kind of my point. Why are the Church chasing down the Angels? It’s like they’ve suddenly decided to become intergalactic Ghostbusters. Have they taken a dislike to the Angels because they’re made in the likeness of God’s Angels? Perhaps they feel they own the copyright on the angel likeness.

      The point being, the “military clerics” theme could have been fleshed out more over the two episodes. It’s another compelling idea that didn’t really get the detail it deserved. Clerics in space. Perhaps missionaries. Perhaps the new Crusades?

  7. MarkJoseph

    I only signed up to this thing because the original poster is a fool. Hate feeling the need to respond to discussions. This series hasn’t disappointed and in the end won’t. Let it pan out rather than whinging halfway that its not how it used to be which again is not how it used to be which again is not how it used to be which again is not how it used to be. That’s the nature of the show!

  8. jon jon

    I have also signed up because of the original poster. There is a difference between things you just don’t like and things the writers are doing wrong. They can’t please everyone and clearly you’re not one of those people. But your nitpicking is a bit ridiculous.

    I also object to people who counter this nitpicking with “well, it doesn’t have to make sense.” It does have to, and it does make sense.

     

    1- On whose authority are they wiping out the Weeping Angels? The Church. That was made extremely clear last week and every time they say Bishop and Cleric.

    2/3- Why does Amy remember the soldiers and not the daleks? Because time-travel has changed her perception. It’s stated clear as day. What it hasn’t done is changed her memory. Events from before traveling were somehow erased, but now she can perceive/remember every happening now. I thought this difference was extremely clear. On a sic-fi show like Who, facts are thrown at you at light-speed. You either accept the info (Time travel changes your ability to retain memory, okay, got it) or just change the channel. PLUS – this is an evolving plotline. We don’t have the answers yet. Don’t kill your chickens before they’ve hatched.

    4- The Angels moved slowly because they weren’t sure. They were CLEARLY hesitant. Even the fastest animals in the wild will slow down if they’re creeping up on something.

    The Photo –  The answer to this was given in Time of Angels when the Doctor was asked if he has encountered the angels before and he said “Once. On Earth. A long time ago. But those were scavengers. Barely surviving.” So the writer is telling you (as best as he can without being completely expositional) that these angels are different. These angels are stronger. These angels have more tricks.

    I had huge problems with the “Victory of the Daleks” episode (“Imagine you’re not a bomb” – blech), but if you view the series through a negative lens, going looking for bad, you will overlook clear answers and good plotting to point out holes where none exist.

    That said, my only concern at this stage is Amy Pond’s character development. Over the last three stories I can’t quite get a grasp on where she is at and what she is feeling. Is she still in awe of it all? Does she regret leaving home? I don’t need the soap-opera of Rose and the others, but just a few more moments along the way of her appreciating her adventure would help to understand her reactions to things. Which is not to say that it’s ruining the show for me. Just a personal preference that I hope the show goes into at some point in the future. Perhaps “Amy’s Choice” will gather these threads together for me.

    1. Gerard McGarry

      Jon Jon and MarkJoseph: I totally expect to get disagreed with when I write review posts. They are opinions, after all.

      Here’s the thing – I’d rather be an objective reviewer any day of the week than a raging fanboy who swallows up big spoonfuls of shite and thanks Mister Moffat for dolloping out said shite. Any show that touches on sci-fi generally has a mature, underlying point, whether that be the Ninth Doctor’s often Zen musings or Ten’s raging against injustice. And let’s not have that debate about whether it’s a kids show when Angels are running around snapping necks everywhere.

      I’ve always been able to appreciate Doctor Who. And I like your point: “There is a difference between things you just don’t like and things the writers are doing wrong.” But I think you’re wrong. I think I’m experiencing a mix of both of these.

      I’ll hit a couple of your points quickly: the Angels in Blink were scavengers. OK. But the army of Angels inside the maze were crumbling. They were far weaker, hence snapping necks rather than displacing people in time. However, they regained their power by feeding from the wreckage of the Byzantium and regained their form. They continued to snap necks.

      As for the Angels moving slowly on Amy, they had no need. Even if they thought she could see, the forest was full of Angels, she was surrounded on all sides. Even with the ability to see, she could have been taken from behind (har har) in seconds like Father Octavian was. That whole scene was ludicrous.

  9. do me a melon

    Dude, you can’t just call someone a fool.  Fact is, I love Doctor Who and I desperately want to love this new series, but after the last three episodes I’ve come away feeling disappointed.  It’s just not quite right.  Sloppy writing rather than acting, I think; maybe being showrunner is affecting Moffat’s consistency as a writer?

    The Daleks are overused; the Weeping Angels were sloppily dealt with, and Amy’s character development is inconsistent.  I completely agree that because we haven’t seen the full story yet, we can’t judge it accurately; but as it stands it’s not that things don’t make sense yet, it’s that developments aren’t being written well.

    1. Gerard McGarry

      Hello, Melon, I was waiting for you to show up!

      Nice comment, short and to the point. If I’m right, we’re both feeling this vague dissatisfaction with the series. Sometimes it’s hard to pinpoint where it feels wrong, although the last couple of episodes have been blatant.

      This post was my attempt to watch the episode again just looking for the good stuff. But there’s no avoiding how disappointing it was. That’s how I ended up with five questions at the end. I had many more, and enough observations to write a “10 ways Flesh and Blood sucked” post. And I’m serious, I was genuinely trying to see just the good stuff. I really do question the impartiality of reviewers who say this was a good episode.

  10. jon jon

    First, I’d like to distance myself from the person calling Gerard a fool. I hope I didn’t come across like I was agreeing with that insult. Gerard ain’t no fool and he has interesting things to say.

    Thanks for replying, Gerard. You make some really good points that I do agree with. I will concede that the angels presented as many problems as good bits. I want more of them somewhere down the track, something that explains a few more things.

    Perhaps I do have blinders on at the moment (and should therefore take my OWN advice – in reverse) as I am enjoying Matt Smith so much I’m possibly not seeing what’s wrong. Then again, I do give Who a lot of quality leeway for some reason. More than a lot of other TV and movies.

    I wonder if some of the episodes are suffering from bad directing more that writing. I read that all of these directors are new this season. And many things that have gone wrong should be their job. Things such as “Wait. The angels have to move faster. They’ve decided to attack her.” Or “Gee, Danny Boy’s straffing run has taken a while. Shouldn’t we be cutting to him a bit sooner?” (Grrr, that episode sucked)

    I am surprised no one on here has brought up the “Jacket Theory” in relation to “Flesh and Stone” (the Doctor wearing the jacket when he gives Amy his “remember what I told you when you were seven” speech, despite having just taken it off). Many think this is the Doctor from a later episode and I tend to agree. They sure went out of there way to get it off him first. Forward planning gets me a bit excited…

    1. Gerard McGarry

      Hi Jon Jon – thanks for popping back to leave that comment (I cleared up the duplicates by the way!). I don’t mind being called a fool though, it goes with the territory, especially when we’re talking about a series so many of us love.

      We have a full discussion post about the “Jacket theory“, so jump over there and give your tuppenceworth, please!

      And I probably don’t say this enough, but I enjoy Matt Smith as The Doctor, Karen Gillan as Amy. We need more backstory, definitely. More mucking around inside the TARDIS, exploring those nooks and crannies and possibly finding out where the swimming pool went. I certainly don’t have a problem with the acting though. And I love The Doctor’s new rage issues!

  11. do me a melon

    ‘Vague dissatisfaction’ does it for me, bang on!

    If the point about all the directors being new this season, then that does go some way to explaining the troubles we’re seeing this season.  But if so, then having a new showrunner must be even more of a cause…?

    It’ll get better.  Think positively.  In much the same way as goldfish cannot comprehend the universe from our perspective, and we cannot understand the universe from the perspective of higher dimensional beings, so too can we not understand the subtleties and complexities of the ongoing storyline, with details yet to be revealed.  We’ll look back on the last three episodes one day and smile knowingly, as we realise it was all part of the plan…

    Mmmm hmmmm…

  12. Gerard McGarry

    I’d like to thank everybody who took the time to comment here, whether to call me a fool or otherwise.

    Can I just point out to you that Unreality Shout is a fan-driven community? You can – if you like – write your own blog posts about Doctor Who, raving about how good it is. I always appreciate other voices talking about shows we love.

    If you join the Doctor Who Fan Group here on Shout, you can share your blog posts with other fans of the show. Message me for more details on how to get started.

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