“Some left me, some got left behind, and some – not many but some – died. Not them, not them Brian, never them.” – the Doctor.
I intended to write a review for this episode back in the same week it was shown, but life got in the way. Now it’s really too belated. So I’ll just add a few words, and refer you to Slouching towards Thatcham for an exhaustive blow-by-blow review.
I just want to say it was a brilliant, emotionally satisfying finale to the Pond’s life with the Doctor, delivered with the Moffat genius for story-telling. We knew it was going to be heart-breaking in some way, but I could not see how he could kill off Amy and Rory. It would be like murdering puppies on YouTube. The clue was in the Weeping Angels, who send people back in time. This is what happened first to Rory, heavily foreshadowed by the sight of his gravestone early in the episode. Amy sacrifices herself to the last Angel in the hope of joining Rory in the past, where they do indeed live long, happy lives together. The grief belongs to the Doctor and River, ameliorated by Amy’s Afterword in Melody/River’s 1930s detective novel.
A powerful ending, but something was still missing. Rory’s dad, Brian, who I had grown to like as character, willingly sent them off on their travels with the Doctor. And the Doctor had, perhaps foolishly, promised he wouldn’t let Rory and Amy die. Technically he didn’t, but the the effect on Brian would have been the same. There is no acknowledgement of Brian’s loss in The Angels Take Manhattan.
There was an alternative ending, written by Chris Chibnall, in which Rory sends a letter to Brian through a very special messenger. It’s difficult to see how this could have been worked into the ending of The Angels Take Manhattan alongside Amy’s Afterword, but I wish it had. Enjoy.