Weeping Angel

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This article is about the Doctor Who villains. For the style of grave statuary, see Angel of Grief.
Doctor Who alien
Doctor Who Weeping Angel from The Time of Angels.JPG
A Weeping Angel as seen in "The Time of Angels"
Weeping Angel
Type Winged humanoids
Home planet Unknown
First appearance "Blink"

The Weeping Angels are a race of predatory creatures from the long running sci fi series Doctor Who, resembling stone statues. They were introduced in the 2007 episode "Blink", making repeat appearances in "The Time of Angels"/""Flesh and Stone" (2010) and "The Angels Take Manhattan" (2012) as well as cameo appearances in "The God Complex" (2011) and "The Time of the Doctor" (2013). Since their initial appearance, they have been persistently nominated as one of the most popular and frightening Doctor Who monsters. Steven Moffat, their creator, attributes their appeal to childhood games such as Grandmother's Footsteps and the notion that every statue might secretly be a disguised Weeping Angel.[1]

Description[edit]

According to The Doctor, the Weeping Angels "are as old as the universe (or very nearly), but no one really knows where they come from." He also describes them as "the deadliest, most powerful, most malevolent life-form ever produced." Weeping Angels are unusual as predators in that they neither kill nor directly parasitize their prey. Their usual mode of feeding is to make use of time paradoxes - with a single touch, a Weeping Angel can send a person into the past to a point before his/her own birth, and can then feed off the "potential energy" of the years which that victim would have lived in the present. The Doctor describes the Angels as "the only psychopaths in the universe to kill you nicely" because their victims are otherwise uninjured and may live out their lifespans in the past.

In their usual form, Weeping Angels resemble silent human-sized stone statues in the form of winged angels in draped clothing (such as might appear as tomb statuary in a Victorian graveyard). Apart from the wings, their standard form appears to mimic Earth humans (two arms, two legs, two eyes) even when they are infiltrating worlds on which the inhabitants differ from this form. Generally their facial features are bland and serene and their proportions human-normal. However, as they close in on more aware victims they transform to a more horrific, bestial and demonic aspect with wide-open mouths, vampiric teeth and clawed hands. In the episode "The Angels Take Manhattan", another form of Weeping Angel is shown, the cherubim.[2] Unlike the Weeping Angels, the cherubim are not silent, making a childlike giggling and having audible footsteps. It is not explicitly stated that these are young Angels, but they are referred to as "the babies". It is also implied that Angels can mimic the forms or dimensions of a broader range of statuary if required: in "The Angels Take Manhattan", one Angel takes the form (or hijacks the existing form) of the Statue of Liberty (manifesting as a full-size Liberty with Weeping Angel features) and the final moments of "Blink" suggest that any statue might be a disguised Angel.

When they are not being observed by another being, Weeping Angels can move very quickly and silently. Their phenomenal speed allows them to close distances of metres literally in the blink of an eye. However, when they are being observed they become "quantum-locked", occupying a single position in space and becoming stone. In this state, they are frozen and difficult to destroy. They cannot suppress this reaction. If two Weeping Angels were to look at each other at the same time, they would be trapped in stone form until an outside force moves them apart. To prevent this, they often cover their eyes while moving, which makes them look as though they are weeping. When stalking a victim, Angels will generally take advantage of their speed to avoid being trapped in the quantum lock, moving to an unseen or darkened area before being frozen again.

Weeping Angels are very physically strong, although they rarely physically kill a victim since this wastes the time-potential energy which the Angels would otherwise consume. One exception to this behaviour is when an Angel or group of Angels wishes to communicate with other beings - in these instances they select a victim and snap their neck prior to "rearranging the brains" for their own purposes: the Angels are then capable of speaking and conversing via their victim's voice and senses. In the episode "The Time of Angels", a soldier of the Church nicknamed "Angel Bob" suffers this fate, becoming the "voice" of a group of Angels and explaining their motives and thoughts to the Doctor.

Weeping Angels appear to have little culture or motivation other than those serving their basic predatory requirement of gaining energy. The Doctor has described them as the loneliest beings in the universe, since their quantum-lock reaction makes it impossible for them to socialise with other creatures. However, Angels are capable of communication, as they often work groups and clearly communicate with each other. On those occasions when they have chosen to communicate with their prey or foes (using the gruesome proxy method mentioned above) they have demonstrated a cold and impersonal intelligence, but exhibit no empathy and no emotions beyond hunger, determination and occasional predatory sadism. While Angels can recognise individuals in other species when the situation requires it, they themselves speak collectively and appear to have little or no concept of themselves as individuals.

Weeping Angels prefer to take their energy from live victims, but if required they can drain other forms such as that from electric lights (as seen in "Blink") or other electronics. In "Blink," the Angels attempted to steal the Doctor's TARDIS after trapping him in the past. The engine of the vehicle contained enough time energy to feed them forever, but The Doctor stated that the possible damage they could cause "could switch off the sun". Without power, an Angel will start to decay and revert to a stone state even when not being watched. While still initially capable of movement, its speed will also be extremely hindered when close to a starvation point (as seen in "The Time of Angels"), with its range lessened from meters to a partial step. The effects of starvation can be undone by providing the Angel with energy, but it is implied that Angels can no longer acquire energy themselves in this state. A starving Angel becomes less and less active, and if dormant for too long will corrode as a stone statue does, or even lose its physical existence altogether (although it can still exist in an image-based or conceptual state).

Weeping Angels have also exhibited a startling ability to project themselves through images, suggesting that they are as much conceptual entities as physical ones. A warning in an ancient book on the Angels, found by River Song, states that "that which holds the image of an angel becomes itself an angel". Using this ability, the Angels appear to be able to hijack both audio-visual equipment and organic memory. In "The Time of Angels", an Angel trapped in the vault of the starship Byzantium took advantage of a video screen which was playing footage of it elsewhere in the vessel: the creature escaped by overriding the screen controls and nearby electronic equipment, took over the screen, and passed through it to physically manifest in another location. Weeping Angels can also imprint a mental image of themselves into a person's mind by looking straight into their eyes: the image then gestates and takes over the person's body to manifest as a new Angel. Amy Pond was infected in such a manner where an involuntary verbal count-down indicated her remaining open-eyed moments as a human. She was able to suspend the Angel's gestation (but not eliminate it) by closing her eyes, refusing to let it breach the 'filter' of her optic nerve. In the novel Touched by an Angel, a starving angel is reduced to the point where it no longer has a physical being, and instead exists in the image viewed by cameras. As such, whatever is within the sight of the camera is within range of the angel which retains fast movement, but at the cost of range. Normally, as in "The Time of Angels", the Angel image would walk right out of the screen; but when it is starving, it cannot do so. To stop movement, simply viewing the screen is enough to lock the angel.

The Weeping Angels are well known to Doctor Who companion River Song, who appeared in all three of their major stories to date. River has mentioned that she studied the Weeping Angels and wanted to learn more about them.

In the seventh series episode "The Angels Take Manhattan", despite being removed from New York's history, a lone angel gained a small victory in permanently trapping the Doctor's companions, Amy Pond and her husband Rory Williams, in the past.

The Time of the Doctor, the finale for the Eleventh Doctor, had at least two Weeping Angels being present on the planet Trenzalore when the Doctor and Clara Oswald teleport down. The Angels emerge from the snow covered ground of a frozen forest, the swirling blizzard causing both Clara and the Doctor to be unable to see the approaching creatures clearly thus allowing them free movement in the snow storm. However, they were able to escape the angels.

Appearances[edit]

Angel of the Waters, one of the real-life angel statues appearing in the episode The Angels Take Manhattan
Television episodes
Novels
  • Touched By An Angel
  • Magic of the Angels

"Melody Pond"

  • The Angel's Kiss
Short stories
  • Living History
  • Suddenly in a Graveyard...

In "Blink", a quartet of Weeping Angels send the Doctor and his companion Martha Jones to the year 1969, and seek to feed off the vast "time energy" reserves of the TARDIS he left behind in the present. But though they found the key to the TARDIS, they cannot find the machine itself. Sally Sparrow takes the key from one of them while it is in stone form, leading them to stalk Sally to recover it. During their pursuit, Sally inadvertently leads them to the TARDIS. Eventually the four Angels, having surrounded the TARDIS, are tricked into looking at each other when the box disappears, leaving them quantum locked in their stone forms.

In "The End of Time" The President of the Time Lords refers to the two dissenters on the return of Gallifrey as being forced to stand like the weeping angels, and the two Time Lords are posed with their hands over their eyes.

In "The Time of Angels", in the distant future, a large group of Weeping Angels have been trapped in a catacomb for centuries, slowly losing their form due to starvation. When a rogue angel causes a starship to crash into the catacomb, the Angels feed off its leaking radiation and revive. The Weeping Angels are seen moving on-screen for the first time when they realise that Amy Pond cannot see them. They are defeated when they fall into a crack in time and are erased from existence.

In "The Angels Take Manhattan", numerous Weeping Angels including one in the form of the Statue of Liberty have taken control of a building in New York, holding victims captive so they can repeatedly feed off their time energy. Rory Williams and Amy Pond create a paradox by having Rory kill himself before he can be fed off to death. This paradox kills all but one of the Angels and erases the events from history. However, this surviving Angel encounters the Doctor and his companions in 2012 and sends Amy and Rory back in time, separating them from the Doctor forever.

In "The Time of the Doctor", Weeping Angels are discovered on Trenzalore by Clara Oswald buried in mounds of snow. After Clara touches the hand of the Weeping Angel, believing it to be a statue, the Weeping Angels start digging their way out of the snow and surround The Doctor and Clara, the snowstorm making it difficult for either Clara or The Doctor to keep eye contact. They escape by summoning the TARDIS with the TARDIS key which the Doctor has concealed in his wig. Later in the episode another Weeping Angel (unspecified if it is one from earlier or not) is seen in the town of Christmas as one of the many species including Sontarans and Cybermen which have managed to bypass the forcefield around Trenzalore in an attempt to silence the Doctor. The Angel is seen staring into a mirror the Doctor has placed, thus remaining quantum-locked whilst it looks at its reflection.

Reception[edit]

In a poll conducted by the BBC, taking votes from 2,000 readers of the Doctor Who Adventures magazine, the Weeping Angels were voted the scariest monsters of 2007 with 55% of the vote; the Master and the Daleks took second and third place with 15% and 4% of the vote. The Daleks usually come out on top in such polls. Moray Laing, Editor of Doctor Who Adventures, praised the concept of escaping a monster by not blinking, something both simple and difficult to do.[4] In a 2012 poll of over ten thousand respondents conducted by the Radio Times, the Weeping Angels were again voted the best Doctor Who monster with 49.4% of the vote. The Daleks came in second place with 17%.[5]

The Weeping Angels came in at number three in Neil Gaiman's "Top Ten New Classic Monsters" in Entertainment Weekly.[6] They were also rated the third "baddie" in Doctor Who by The Telegraph, behind the Nestene Consciousness and Daleks.[7] The Angels were listed as the third scariest television characters by TV Squad.[8] In 2009, SFX named the climax of "Blink" with the Weeping Angels advancing on Sally and Larry the scariest moment in Doctor Who's history.[9] They also listed the Angels in their list of favourite things of the revival of Doctor Who, writing, "Scariest. Monsters. Ever."[10]

"Blink" won the Hugo award for Best Dramatic Presentation (short form) in 2008.[11]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Doctor Who Confidential. 2007-06-09. BBC. BBC Three.
  2. ^ Mulkern, Patrick (23 September 2012). "Doctor Who: The Angels Take Manhattan preview". Radio Times. Retrieved 23 September 2012. 
  3. ^ "New Companion Announced for BBC America’s ‘Doctor Who’". BBC America. Retrieved 21 March 2012. 
  4. ^ "Monster Hit". BBC. 2007-09-12. Archived from the original on 1 March 2008. Retrieved 2007-10-08. 
  5. ^ Jones, Paul (9 June 2012). "Doctor Who: Weeping Angels beat The Daleks to be voted fans’ favourite ever monsters". Radio Times. Retrieved 10 June 2012. 
  6. ^ "Neil Gaiman: My Top 10 New Classic Monsters". Entertainment Weekly. July 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-12. 
  7. ^ "Doctor Who - the top ten baddies". The Telegraph (London). 4 May 2011. Retrieved 6 August 2011. 
  8. ^ Wu, Annie (24 October 2007). "All-time scariest TV characters". TV Squad. Retrieved 13 March 2012. 
  9. ^ "21 Scariest Doctor Who Moments 7". SFX. 2009-02-01. Retrieved 2012-04-14. 
  10. ^ "27 Things SFX Loves About New Who 3". SFX. 2009-02-01. Retrieved 2012-04-14. 
  11. ^ "2008 Hugo Award Results Announced". Hugo Awards website. 2008-08-09. Retrieved 2008-08-11. 

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