Fearful Symmetries

Witness a machine turn coffee into pointless ramblings...

22 June, 2007

Blink and You're Dead

If the couch I was laying on while watching "Blink" weren't against the wall, I would have been hiding behind it because this was one of the creepiest and downright scariest Doctor Who stories ever.

The episode is one those Doctor Who-lite dealies like last season's "Love and Monsters" which features very little of The Doctor and his companion. From what I've heard, this is due to the program's shooting schedule which apparently finds the crews shooting 2 episodes at once. Instead a 2nd unit crew heads out and shoots the bulk of these stories with the lead characters thrown in for good measure. I personally liked "Love and Monsters" quite a bit so I wasn't like some fans who were just biding their time awaiting "Utopia".

"Blink" tells the story of Sally Sparrow, a young woman with an adventurous spirit. One night she hops over the gates of an old, dilapidated house. She wanders through taking photographs when she notices some writing behind a bit of wallpaper which is no longer attached. Pulling it back, she is startled to find a message addressing her specifically which admonishes to beware the weeping angels. Oh, and to duck too. She does as a projectile is thrown at her. The message is signed by The Doctor and dated 1969.

Sally goes to the home of her friend Kathy Nightingale where she notices a room full of televisions that are all in freeze frame with an image of The Doctor. As Sally makes coffee, she call Kathy, who is just in another room, to wake her. After she hangs up, Kathy's brother, Larry, walks by but isn't wearing any clothes. Kathy looks scared and, after asking her what's wrong, the scene shifts back to the old house with the two women hopping the fence. It is midday as they wander around and they notice that the statue of the weeping angel seems to be moving ever so slightly closer. Suddenly the doorbell (a manual one) rings. Sally answers while Kathy hides in an adjacent room. The man is delivering an old, yellowed envelope to Sally and claims it is from Kathy. Thinking that this is a prank, Sally discovers that Kathy has disappeared and the messenger claims to be her suddenly-missing friend's grandson.

Let me pause here and describe just what precedes Kathy's disappearance briefly. She is poking her head through a doorway and hears a noise. She turns around to and sees the statue out in the yard. She then directs her gaze towards Sally. As you can see in the photo above, Kathy will turn her head and open the door a bit to reveal the statue having moved ever so closer. Quite frankly, this scene scared the bejeezus outta me.

Getting back to the story, we see Kathy emerge in a field. A man sits on a nearby wall and she learns that she is in Hull in 1920. Meanwhile, Sally is unable to find Kathy so she opens the envelope and finds old photos of a woman who looks just like her friend along with a later dated 1987 from her. Throwing down the letter in disbelief, Sally runs upstairs into a room with three of the angel statues. One of them has a familiar looking key in it hand. She grabs the key and runs downstairs after the man who has just left. As she emerges outside, the Weeping Angels watch her from the upstairs windows.

It is now raining and Sally holes up in a café where she finishes the letter. In it, Kathy tells of her life and how it was the Weeping Angels who somehow had sent her back to 1920. She also asks her friend to tell Larry what happened to her. He works at a DVD store which is where Sally finds him. She tells Larry that his sister had to go away and that she loves him. Their conversation takes place next to a television with yet another freeze frame of The Doctor. Inquiring about it, Sally learns that 17 different DVDs have an easter egg with our hero having half a conversation. Taking the list of the afflicted DVDs, Sally goes to the police.

DI Billy Shipton is investigating disappearances at the old house. He takes her to a lower level of the parking lot and shows her a blue police box which was found there. No one can open it despite it having a seemingly ordinary lock. Shipton flirts with Sally and gets her phone number. She hastily walks away in embarrassment and up the stairs. The DI turns around to see 4 angels gathered around the police box. He walks up to them to investigate and blinks…

Sally is out in the street when she realizes that the key she has would fit in the lock. She returns only to find it gone. Shipton finds himself sitting against a brick wall in an alley when he is approached by The Doctor and Martha who explain what happened to him and that it's 1969. The Doctor enlists him to give a message to Sally so, when she calls him, she find the former DI in the hospital – an old man. The dying man tells her to check the list of DVDs that Larry gave her plus he reveals that he got into the video business and thusly he was responsible for the easter eggs on the DVDs.

Sally calls Larry and explains that all the DVDs on the list are ones she owns. The pair go to the old house and watch one of them on a laptop. Sally's reactions to The Doctor's comments are missing half of the conversation. The Doctor explains that he got a hold of a transcript of most of their conversation which is how he knows what she's going to say. He also warns her of the Weeping Angels which are really aliens that are "quantum locked". By this he means that they turn to stone when someone is watching them but move very swiftly when unobserved. Hence his warning not to blink when confronting them. The reason why they shield their eyes is that they cannot look upon one another.

As the DVD winds down, one of the Angels begins creeping into the room. Larry keeps his eyes wide open starring at it while Sally tries to find a door that will open. She eventually makes her way to the creepy cellar and discovers the TARDIS. Larry joins her only to find that the Angels are moving in. The lone light bulb begins to flicker and they move ever closer. Sally manages to open the TARDIS door just in the nick of time. The Angels surround the TARDIS and begin to shake it about. Inside, an automatic mechanism is activated which sends it back to The Doctor but leaves Sally and Larry behind. They suddenly find themselves surrounded by the Angels but they soon realize that they are all looking at one another and have been permanently transfixed in stone.

We cut to the epilogue which finds Sally and Larry running the DVD store together. A taxi pulls up in front of the store and out pours Martha followed by The Doctor and they are both donning bows and slings of arrows. Sally runs up to The Doctor and gives him the transcript of their conversation and they say goodbye.

Despite the paucity of The Doctor and Martha in "Blink", it was a killer episode. I never knew that statues could be so bloody scary. Of course, the tense, shrill violins on the soundtrack helped but lots of credit must go to director Hettie MacDonald and DP Ernest Vincze for their wonderful work as well. One would expect the scenes that take place at night to be horrifying but they also managed to make the sequence where Kathy disappears one in which I desperately wanted to hide behind the couch. No wonder the fear factor for this story went off the 1-5 scale to 5.5. Any chance to have a door move provided a chance for the statue to appear from behind it. I haven't been this scared watching Doctor Who since "The Empty Child" from Series 1. ("Are you my mommy?")

Carey Mulligan played Sally and I have to admit that I have developed a little crush on her. If Sally were to join the TARDIS crew, the threesome could have some incredible adventures.

Prurience aside, although Martha is almost wholly absent, this episode was spearheaded by women. A heroine is at the center of the adventure and a woman directed this story who is the first woman to do so since the mid-1980s. Doctor Who has changed quite a bit since the classic series ended. The teleplay was written by Stephen Moffat who also wrote "The Empty Child", mentioned above, and last season's "Girl in the Fireplace", another excellent story. He based it on a short story of his own which was published in a Doctor Who annual from a couple years back. The story was called "'What I Did On My Christmas Holidays' by Sally Sparrow".

Since The Doctor and Martha are all but absent and the story didn't advance this season's story arc with the enigmatic Mr. Saxon, I can't really blather on about character development or thematic material but I rate "Blink" as one of the best of the season. Indeed of the new series.

|| Palmer, 10:03 PM


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