Village of the Angels isn’t the best Doctor Who has ever been, but it sure comes close. The fourth chapter of The Flux storyline features the return of the Weeping Angels, who bring some lite-horror concepts and visuals with them.
Episode 4 does suffer from a bit too much going on at once, and falls shy of fully embracing its 1960s setting and horror themes. Despite these shortcomings, it still manages to add intrigue to The Division storyline, while delivering a solid stand-alone episode, with one hell of an ending.
Doctor Who airs on Sundays on BBC One (UK) and BBC America (US), and is available to stream on BBC iPlayer in the UK.
Story – The Angels have the TARDIS
The Doctor runs off in 1967 to investigate some strange readings from her Sonic Screwdriver. While Yaz and Dan are left with finding the lost grand-niece of a couple who mistake the TARDIS for a real police phone box. Although a small addition, it was funny to see this long-running gag regarding the ship’s appearance make a return. While investigating, Dan and Yaz get sent back to the same Devon village in 1901. They find the missing girl here, along with a beautiful vista of outer space mysteriously surrounding the village. Meanwhile, The Doctor’s screwdriver leads her to Claire Brown, last seen in Season 13, Episode 1. Her prophetic abilities are now being studied by Professor Eustacius Jericho.
Bel and Vinder only get a few scenes this time, which continue to showcase their love and determination to locate each other. Bel’s POV also features baddies Azure and Passenger tricking Flux survivors into imprisonment. The storyline may have been shoe-horned into the episode, but at least it didn’t take up much time. It’s great to see Azure and her mustache-twirling plans again, at the very least. While it’s easy to root for Bel and Vinder’s reunion, it’s also great to see them getting involved in the Ravagers plot. This helps connect them to the rest of the episode, even if the cutaways do seem out of place.
Yaz and Dan don’t do much more than act as exposition this week. This gives The Doctor’s arc with Claire and Jericho the most screen time. Despite some poorly constructed info-dumps, nearly everything about the trio’s situation provides memorable, tense moments. Like The Doctor and rogue Angel’s conversation inside Claire’s mind. It manages to look beautiful, while revealing quite a few details about the Angels and The Division.
The inventive use of an Angel’s image on the polygraph machine, and using the TV as a way to give the enemies a voice also helps establish a creepy atmosphere. Something the Weeping Angels are well-loved by fans for. I suspect the image of hundreds of stone arms coming from the cave walls will inspire many a nightmare.
Village of the Angels features the most striking imagery of Season 13. Such as a half-formed Angel on fire, the beginnings of Claire’s transformation, and the full transformation of The Doctor, into an Angel. This shocking cliffhanger ending won’t be forgotten anytime soon. It’s not often The Doctor loses against a foe—and what a loss it was. This obviously isn’t the end of Jodie Whittaker’s thirteenth Doctor. However, writers Chris Chibnall and Maxine Alderton certainly make it seem like it is. It’s moments like these that keep audiences coming back for more.
Characters & Performances – Guest star, best star
Kevin McNally aces his turn as the stoic and curious soldier-cum-scientist, Professor Jericho. McNally might be familiar to Classic Who fans for his small part as Hugo Lang in The Twin Dilemma. Colin Baker’s 1984 debut as the sixth Doctor. He gets a meatier role here, giving a strong turn as a stand-in companion for Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor.
His character’s dedication to science, and his resilience against the Angels is the smart type of characterisation that the Doctor’s current companions could’ve used in this episode. Alongside McNally, Jodie Whittaker gives another stellar, zany performance. However, she isn’t given much of an opportunity to show her incredible range. No doubt future episodes will provide her with more angsty material now that she has been recalled to The Division.
Yaz and Dan don’t make much of an impact. Which has become something of a given in Season 13 at this point. They don’t need to be involved with The Division or Ravager storylines to make an impression, but they desperately need something to do, other than running from one exposition scene to the next. Dan’s role in War of the Sontarans is a great example of a subplot that works. It has him squaring off against the Sontarans and working towards a goal. Village of the Angels could have been made even better by following this blueprint.
Editing & Pacing – Reverse the polarity of the neutron flow, please
It’s yet another dizzying round of “let’s chuck everything at the wall and see what sticks” this week in Doctor Who. Fortunately, Village of the Angels withstands this barrage of content due to the strength of the ideas hanging from those Angel arms poking out the walls. Seeing the Angels on fire, surrounding the Doctor as she emerges from the underground passage, and those aforementioned creepy stone arms are undoubtedly some of the best elements of the episode. However, these moments, and many others, are cut way too short. Before audiences get a chance to process the horror of a situation, the scene has moved on.
Cutting some concepts to let stronger ones excel could have elevated the episode even further. Yaz and Dan’s scenes could even have been left out entirely after they were sent back in time to benefit The Doctor’s stronger storyline. This pacing and editing issue keeps cropping up in Season 13. This might be due to the episode count being reduced to six. Chris Chibnall clearly has a lot he wants to get across in his recurring Division storyline. With six episodes being a tight number to contain such a large-scale story. This might also account for how out of place Bel and Vinder’s story feels. It would be nice if the final two episodes slow down during key moments and let scenes breathe.
Cinematography & Sound – Insert dramatic revelation here
Unfortunately, some of the sound cues in Village of the Angels nearly ruin the impact of several important moments. Like The Doctor’s conversation with the rogue Angel inside Claire’s head. Not only does the dramatic music sound far too over the top, but it also drowns out the dialogue. It’s used as a shortcut to tell the viewer when something is important, but it really isn’t needed, even for younger audiences. The revelations stand on their own without intruding, cheesy music telling viewers how to feel.
The weird music placement can almost be forgiven when looking at the great 1960s sets and costumes. Claire blends in especially well, showing how much she has acclimatised. Professor Jericho’s house is the main source for showcasing the decade, but the setting could have been pushed a little further. This is probably another victim of the rushed editing, as there aren’t too many shots allowed to linger on the aesthetics. However, it’s not integral to the story. It’s understandable why this wasn’t prioritised, and is more of a small niggle than a major criticism. The episode manages to look fantastic even without heavily leaning into the cosmetics of the 60s.