The Silence of the Weeping Angels
Moffat’s crowning achievement to date was arguably Blink, the Tennant-era standalone that introduced us to some of the most terrifying and inventive modern-day baddies of our age; The Weeping Angels.
The genius of the premise, that they are quantum-locked when looked-upon (i.e. statues) meant somewhere in our imaginations we could see our way clear to believing these things could exist. They could terrifyingly spring to life the second you turn your back, or indeed blink. And they could be everywhere.
The second big invention of Moff-badness was the recent introduction of The Silence. Bad guys so sneaky they’ve been around since the invention of the wheel without anyone seeming to notice. A species intended to be the scariest and most original in the chronicles of Who.
There’s a lot more the just their founding premise that these two antagonists have in common. In fact so clear is it that they came from the same writer’s frontal cortex that under the lens of examination they appear to be flip sides of the same coin: The Silence are The Weeping Angels remixed.
Consider their respective defence mechanisms; whether turning to impenetrable stone or being forcibly yanked from one’s memory, both races are adept at hiding in plain sight. Both could be watching you. Right now. And you’d be none the wiser.
Then consider the less obvious complications. The Angels can appear via unlikely means; Amy nearly fell prey to a live one merely by looking at it through a video feed. They can even be conjured through just the texts in which they are described. Canton Delaware (the Third) was memorably wiped of his short term memory by a simple projection of The Silence in the TARDIS, meaning that they share the strange “nowhere to hide” proxy effect of the Angels.
(Personally I think that aspect of both baddies was stretching things a bit, and was used to keep things moving in the Blink sequel, The Time of Angels.)
Finally consider their weaknesses, both sprung from their greatest strengths.
When those Angels were rocking the TARDIS back and forth in Blink and all looked lost, they were rather cleverly caught out by their own defence mechanism; as the police box phased away they caught site of each other, freezing them – perhaps indefinitely.
The Silence didn’t fair much better. You see, those who clap eyes on them soon forget but before they do, they are very susceptible to hypnotic suggestion. The Doctor had Delaware fix his tie as a test. So the next step was clear; hack a TV image watched by the Earth (the moon landing) and plant the suggestion to kill the buggers on sight.
Wrapped up, slanted and executed differently. But underneath the ideas of the same writer are at play. Is it fair to knock the writing of some of the best Who we’ve seen? Or does the higher standard invite harder scrutiny?
PS: io9 had a similar piece up recently, discussing the psychology behind the bad guys rather than the similarity in their construction. It’s all interesting stuff…