A First-Timer Watches Doctor Who: “Blink”
Another standout episode! “Blink” feels like Doctor Who does Hitchcock: the meticulous pacing, the moody lighting, the repeated close-ups on characters’ eyes. While “Human Nature”/”The Family of Blood” provided us with a different angle on the Doctor—i.e. a human one—”Blink” shifts the perspective yet again, showing us the Doctor from the vantage of Sally Sparrow (Carey Mulligan), a 2007 human who gets caught up in a creepy time travel drama. We barely see Martha and the Doctor this episode, but that’s almost part of the fun. Sally must piece together the Doctor’s jigsaw puzzle with the minimal clues he’s left from the past.
In my write-up for “Human Nature,” I mentioned that the animated scarecrows were among the creepiest alien villains I’ve seen on the show so far—but that title has been usurped by the weeping angels. It’s a matter of taste, but for me the most impactful villains aren’t the ones with gooey green skin (or the ones who kind of look like industrial vacuum cleaners—sorry, Daleks) but the ones that disguise themselves as familiar Earthly things—in this case angelic statues. The angels’ silence—and their beauty—made them scarier than any giant lizard could have been.
This episode also plays with the idea of sight and being seen in interesting ways. The angels can only move when no one is looking at them. If someone—even another of their kind—gazes their way, they freeze. “Loneliest creatures in the universe,” the Doctor says—and I think we could draw a link to his own psyche here. As we saw so starkly last episode, he is incapable of true intimacy or closeness with another being—he does not let himself be seen. His final hologram meeting with Rose was a case in point: just when he was (maybe) going to tell her he loved her, his projected image faded away; she never go to see the “deeper” Doctor. In certain senses, just like the angels, he is made of stone.
It’s too bad we only see Sally for one episode. The gleam in her eye when she finally meets the Doctor suggests she would have made a great companion. Carey Mulligan’s understated performance carried this episode, and I especially liked the quickie love story between Sally and Billy. I know this is the episode in which the phrase “timey-wimey” was first coined, but Billy’s assertion to Sally that “life’s short and you’re hot” was easily my favourite line in the script.
The focus on Sally was also a good way to take a breather from Martha and the Doctor after the emotional intensity of the last two episodes. As a viewer, I know feel recovered and ready for some more space travel.