Unpopular Opinion: The Weeping Angels
Guest contributor Greyson Harness gives an alternate viewpoint on the lonely assassins.
The other day I was talking with some friends about Doctor Who, and the question came up: what’s the scariest Doctor Who monster? Answers included the Daleks, Cybermen, and the Silence, but the consensus amongst everyone was ultimately that the Weeping Angels were Doctor Who’s most terrifying monster. I was the only one to disagree with the majority. I must say that I find the Weeping Angels to be the tamest of all of Doctor Who’s monsters.
Weeping Angel Landlords
I realize I’m in the minority here. Who doesn’t get scared when a stone statue suddenly jumps out at you? It’s stone after all; it’s not supposed to move. I’ll give Moffat credit where it’s due. The thought of a monster moving only when you can’t see them is terrifying. But think about what the Angels actually do to you. They don’t exterminate you like the Daleks, nor do they convert you like the Cybermen. They simply send you back in time. As the Tenth Doctor said, “the only psychopaths in the universe to kill you nicely.”
What’s so scary about being moved about in time and space? Even if it does take you by surprise, you’re still alive and in good health. You simply moved is all. I liken the Angels to your landlord. At any given moment, your landlord could evict you; kick you out on the street with no place to go. You would most likely be a bit upset about the eviction, and rightfully so, but eventually you’d find a new place to live and get on with your life. The Angels are nothing more than landlords that like to sneak up on people; they evict you from your time and place, but they don’t kill you.
The only scary thing about the Angels is that they sneak up on you. In the middle of the night, when you’re not looking, they come up behind you and when they get you… you’re sent back in time? Seems kind of like a lame ghost story you’d tell around a campfire doesn’t it?
Victims of the Angels
If this isn’t enough to convince you yet that the Angels are about as scary as your landlord, consider the lives of everyone we know whom the Angels have sent back in time.
Kathy Nightingale is the first person we know of who came into contact with the Angels. While investigating an abandoned house with Sally Sparrow, she was touched by an Angel and transported back to 1920s Hull. She arranged for a letter to be sent to Sally, explaining her sudden disappearance, in which she said, “Don’t feel sorry for me. I have led a good and full life.”
Billy Shipton was the next person we know of to be sent back in time by the Angels. While observing the TARDIS, he was touched by the Angels. The next thing he knew, he was in 1969 with the Doctor and Martha. While we don’t learn much about Billy’s post-Angels life, we know he eventually married someone and got into the publishing business. He obviously staked out a life for himself in 1969, one that sounds happy.
Now we come to Amy and Rory. The Angels heart-wrenchingly took the pair in 2012 in a graveyard just outside of New York City. While Amy and Rory’s departure was traumatic for fans of Doctor Who, was it really traumatic for them? In the un-shot P.S. short by Chris Chibnall, Rory describes how he and Amy were alive and well in 1920s New York. He’d picked up gardening. Amy presumably became a publisher. The pair even adopted a child in the 1940s. Most important of all: they had each other. Overall, I’d say Amy and Rory lived a long, happy post-Angels life.
Making the Angels Scary
All of the victims of the Angels were, in the end, happy. Sure, they were sad about leaving their old lives behind; who wouldn’t be? But they were happy. Being taken by the Angels was nothing more than a minor inconvenience in their lives. There’s no reason to be scared of them because in the end, you’re all right when they take you. You’ll be fine.
This begs the question how do you make the Angels scary? Certainly, they’d be scarier if they physically killed you, and indeed they are capable of such. This is shown in The Time of Angels/Flesh and Stone, but as the Doctor says, “That’s odd. That’s not how the Angels kill you. They displace you in time.”
So then what else is left for the Angels to do to be scary again? The fact that the Angels move when you’re not looking is scary; the thing that doesn’t work about them is what happens after they get you. This is where the Angels need changing to be scary. Moffat could introduce a mutation to the Angels to make them your average carnivorous creature, killing people to eat them, but does that really sound like Moffat? Looking at his track record of monsters, to do something so normal is very unlike Moffat. I would suggest that Moffat stick with his idea that the Angels move people back in time and space, as it is original and has scare potential. In fact, I would say Moffat already has redeemed his famous Angels with this concept.
In The Angels Take Manhattan, the Doctor and his three companions discover Winter Quay, which is a battery farm. Rather than letting their victim go free after they’ve fed on their potential energy, the Angels take their victim again and put them into an apartment where they live out the rest of their days confined to a bed until they die. Imagine being in that position: you’re walking along in New York City and suddenly you find yourself in the 1920s, in an apartment at Winter Quay, looking at yourself as you die. You hear the Angels closing in around you, getting ready to send you back in time again. You know if they catch you that you’ll be stuck in that bed for the rest of your life, waiting to die. You’ll never go to your favorite restaurant again, never take a walk in the park again, never read a favorite book again. You won’t even have contact with another human being. You’ll lie there, on a bed, for some fifty to eighty years depending on how young you are when the Angels take you, waiting for death. Is that not terrifying?
I welcome the return of the Angels if Moffat can design more situations similar to the battery farm at Winter Quay. The idea that I would spend the last fifty years of my life waiting for my death terrifies me, far more than being sent back in time a couple of decades. I could forge a new life for myself in the 20s, but I can’t be confined to a bed for decades on end.
I hope you enjoyed this case against one of Doctor Who’s most famous monsters, and hope I have made at least some people reconsider where the Weeping Angels should be on their scariest monsters list. After all, they’re about as scary as your landlord.