Series 1-7 Face-Off: Episode 5
Doctor Who TV is running new series pitting all the revival episodes against each other to decide your dream run. This will be done on an episode by episode basis. Today we continue with the 5th episode of each of the seven series so far.
Note: Splits are not counted and specials will have their own categories at the end.
Introduction by Luke Gwalchmai.
- World War Three (2005)
- Rise of the Cybermen (2006)
- Evolution of the Daleks (2007)
- The Poison Sky (2008)
- Flesh & Stone (2010)
- The Rebel Flesh (2011)
- The Angels Take Manhattan (2012)
What makes a good episode 5?
Around the time of the fifth episode of the series, we have pretty much fully adjusted to any changes introduced to us at the start of the series; be it a new Doctor, companion, or both. In six of the seven episode fives we have seen since 2005, we have seen one part of a two-part story. Two-part stories have many aims to achieve, such as setting up a cliffhanger for the concluding instalment of the story, or simply resolving the dangers shown in the first part. But whether it is a part of a two-part story or not, episode five is all about keeping the viewers interested. The story has to be good enough to make sure that you are going to continue watching the series. It has to tease the arc of the series enough to keep you intrigued, but not so much that it gives away the whole thing.
It’s tough to predict a winner here, as all of the episodes on that list are of such high quality. But I reckon that The Angels Take Manhattan will sneak this one. This was the heart-wrenching episode in which we were forced to bid farewell to two beloved companions; Amy and Rory. It told us a brilliant story and really put us in the Doctor’s shoes, as he was simply a bystander from start to finish. Everything that was going on in The Angels Take Manhattan was set in stone from the moment Rory went to get coffee. The episode was jam-packed with emotional moments, just one example being watching an aged Rory so happy to see Amy again after being prisoner to the Weeping Angels for decades, before passing away. The ending really tugged on the heartstrings as the rug was well and truly swept from under our and the Doctor’s feet when Rory was zapped back in time, the last time we would see him. Amy then made the decision to finally grow-up and let go of her Raggedy Man by bidding him an emotional farewell and making the ultimate sacrifice to be with her husband again. This episode was visually stunning, using New York as a backdrop for the episode really helped the episode. Murray Gold was on fine form with scores like Together or Not At All that really helped to get the tears rolling. The Angels Take Manhattan is a fine episode, superbly acted and would be a worthy winner.
The Dark Horse
An episode that is definitely capable of pulling off an upset here is World War Three; the concluding part to the first two part story since the shows revival. After escaping the Slitheen; the Doctor, Rose and Harriet Jones (MP for Flydale North, in case you don’t know who she is) find themselves sealed off in the Cabinet room, with only Rose’s “super phone” as a means of communication with the outside world. This episode plays a key part in the rest of the series (and beyond) in terms of the characters involved, with plenty of character development here. Mickey Smith is given the opportunity to shine, saving Jackie from the Slitheen, nobly offering to sacrifice himself for her to escape its grasp, and then saving the world with help from the Doctor. Speaking of the Doctor, he gets his moment to show off his intellect by identifying the Slitheen’s planet of origin, and we also realise that he can’t guarantee Rose’s safety, which makes Jackie more worried than ever and shows us that the Doctor isn’t a perfect character.
The episode has a satisfying conclusion as the Slitheen are blown to smithereens after Mickey launches a missile at Downing Street. The Doctor finally realises who Harriet Jones is; the future Prime Minister who brings about Britain’s golden age, and the Doctor is the man to start, and eventually end, it. This has dire consequences for him later on in the show. And finally, Rose joins the TARDIS as a full time companion, despite her mother’s concerns. World War Three is a very strong episode, with many layers, all actors involved on fine form, and it is more than capable of snatching this one.
Episode Fives across all seven series have all been extremely strong. Each has their positive and negative aspects, but on the whole they are all high quality episodes, so the decision to choose between them is a tough one. Due to a high feeling of nostalgia and sentiment, combined with the fact that it is high quality episode, I would choose Flesh and Stone. This was the first episode of Doctor Who I watched as it was aired, and it got me hooked on the show. Matt Smith shines and really shows us that he has settled into the role of the Doctor. Karen Gillan is outstanding and shows us that Amy, while having many positive aspects is a flawed character, showing her abandonment issues and pre-wedding jitters. The Angels prove to us just how sadistic they are, by making Amy countdown to her own death for fun.
Flesh and Stone succeeds in doing what I mentioned earlier on; teasing the arc of the series without giving it away. It does this by dropping little hints to the series finale, like the crack in Amy’s wall being caused by an explosion, or River ominously warning us that the Pandorica will soon be opening. I love the Doctor’s final confrontation with the Angels, and we were wondering how he was going to stop them, but he already knew, giving the Angels a hint by saying “I think they’ve forgotten where they’re standing. I think they’ve forgotten the gravity of the situation.” This episode is packed with action, comedy and some heartbreaking moments as well, like the scene of Father Octavian’s death, where he had some moving lines, and also gave the Doctor an ominous warning about River Song. And this was the first time we saw her with the Eleventh Doctor, and they were brilliant together, showing fantastic chemistry. Flesh and Stone would be this writer’s choice for top episode five, as it is a brilliant episode with plenty of character development for all of the main characters, and sets up the rest of series five perfectly.
You’ve heard Luke’s thoughts, but what about your own? Which one tops your list? Vote below.
Continues on Monday with episode 6.