REVIEW: ‘Doctor Who,’ Season 13 Episode 4 “Village of the Angels”

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Village of the Angels

Doctor Who is a sci-fi series created by the BBC. Village of the Angels is the fourth episode of Season 13.  The current head writer and executive producer is Chris Chibnall, who co-wrote this episode with Maxine Alderton. The Doctor is played by Jodie Whittaker, with Mandip Gil and John Bishop acting as her companions.

Time has been ripped apart by Flux, ignited by a being from the beginning of the universe. Now, things are not where or when they should be. The cosmos is shrinking, and races are squabbling over what’s left. A young woman searches for her life partner and the father of her child, scouring broken galaxies. Vinder, her partner, was unexpectedly involved with the Doctor. Protecting her friends, the Time Lord caused a time storm, locking the four in their memories. Yaz found herself hunted by a Weeping Angel. But after the adventure and in the perceived safety of the TARDIS, the Angel was still there. And this time at the controls of the Time Machine. The Angels have the TARDIS.

Steered by the angels, The Doctor, Dan, and Yaz land in a small town in Devon during the 1960s. Immediately things seem off, as a young girl is missing. As Dan and Yax help search for the child, the Doctor follows mysterious readings to a large house in the village. There’s a psychologist and a woman in there, Claire. The Doctor and the audience have seen her before, in different times. And the angels want her. On one of the last remaining places of the universe, Bel finds sanctuary.

This episode returns this series to one of its most essential genres: horror. But inside one episode, Chibnall experiments and interacts with various interpretations of the form. There is a stillness and expectation that comes with the Weeping Angels that causes the viewer to lean into their screen. Part of what makes them terrifying villains is their lack of movement.  But there is also a folk horror element to Village of the Angels as something isn’t right within the quiet community. Even within the angels themselves, there is a mystery. In each episode, several new questions are asked that change everything about Doctor Who. Lastly, there is a scientific, Stone Tape element to the horror.

The plot is excellently paced and structured. It moves slowly, keeping everyone in suspense. There is a feeling of being trapped, unable to escape from this powerful threat. At no point do you think there is a way out, and the ending is one of the most jaw-dropping that Doctor Who has ever seen.  The Angels are used perfectly, absolutely unrelenting in their cruelty.

The characters are phenomenal in this series, and this chapter adds more to the mix. One of the most endearing and intriguing storylines throughout the series has been Claire and the angels. A figure appearing throughout time and space, followed by a monster that sends a shiver down everyone’s spine. Annabel Scholey is great as the subject of the horror story, but also as a person with a plethora of twists. Just when the audience thinks they have it figured out, Chibnall pulls away the rug. In addition, Professor Jericho starts his appearance in this episode existing as the irritating thorn in the Doctor’s side. As she barges in, Jericho questions her every decision. By the end of this chapter, Kevin McNally has the audience genuinely caring for him. And young Poppy Polvinick delivers a chilling performance that really leans into this folk horror story. 

Credit has to be given to both the visual and the effects crew for their incredible work in this episode. Directed by Jamie Magnus Stone, the slow burn of the scares is perfectly matched by methodical and smooth camera movements. There is a shot at the beginning of Village of the Angels that may qualify as one of the coolest in Doctor Who history. Stone takes what the audience may expect and blows it out of the water in that scene. When CGI is needed, it is stunning and clean. The expanse of space always looks magnificent, and some heart-stopping events are beautifully created.

Village of the Angels is a haunting episode. Inspired by some of the most iconic films in recent years, Doctor Who tries out folk horror with its own twist. There are several storylines featured here, all of which are riveting and seek to stake a claim as the most important. This is a quiet chapter, seeking to unsettle instead of panic. The concept of a different set of classic villains in each episode fills the audience with excitement regarding who we will see next.  And having this ongoing story that envelopes an entire story is much more of Chibnall’s style, leading to an utterly fantastic experience. 

Doctor Who Village of the Angels is available on BBC iPlayer in the UK and on BBC America.


Doctor Who "Village of the Angels"
  • 9/10
    Rating - 9/10
9/10

TL;DR

Village of the Angels is a haunting episode. Inspired by some of the most iconic films in recent years, Doctor Who tries out folk horror with its own twist. There are several storylines featured here, all of which are riveting and seek to stake a claim as the most important. This is a quiet chapter, seeking to unsettle instead of panic.