R.I.P. X – A Review of Dr. Who’s episode BLINK

For my second foray into the 2-month long event called Readers Imbibing Peril, 10th edition – RIP X for short – I’ve chosen to examine a very disturbing episode of Dr. Who, aired as the tenth episode of Season 3.

You can find more information on the event, running from September 1st to October 31st following the above link…


When I was walking my way through Dr. Who’s series on the recommendation of a friend, she warned me about this episode, telling me it was one of the scariest she had ever encountered.  I must confess I did not completely believe her: after all I can watch The Walking Dead with impunity (as long as I’m not eating dinner at the same time, that is) and horror movies don’t make me afraid of the slightest noises I might hear in the house.  So I sat in front of the tv with something resembling a jaded smile… one that did not last long.

Blink is indeed scary, mostly because it generates fright from one of the most unexpected corners of our mind, the one where the fears we can’t control usually dwell…

The story, in short: the Doctor and his assistant Martha Jones have been trapped in the past (1969 to be precise) without the Tardis, and through the “easter eggs” of a series of DVDs they come in contact with a young woman, Sally Sparrow, to enlist her help in preventing a group of alien creatures, masquerading as stone angels, from taking possession of the Tardis itself. The Weeping Angels, described by the Doctor as “the deadliest, most powerful, most malevolent life-form ever produced”, send their victims into the past, feeding on the potential energy of the life they could have lived in their own time. These creatures look like stone statues depicting angels, and are virtually unmoving when looked at directly, but once the prospective victims take their eyes away (or blink, hence the Doctor’s repeated warning about NOT doing it) they move fast, closing in on the target and transforming from innocuous-looking angels into demonic figures with fangs that resemble a vampire’s.

What makes these creatures so terrifying is their ability to move when you’re not looking: the horror genre thrives on the concept of horrible things that go bump into the darkness, and every time we see some character enter a dark room we know something ghastly is going to happen. But with the Angels the characters and the viewers are able to see them, in full daylight – it’s NOT seeing them, not watching them closely that allows them to exercise their peculiar brand of evil.  Total concentration is required, the slightest distraction – even one as fleeting as a blink – can bring them close to you, close enough to touch you and send you back into the past.

Unlike other “monsters” the Angels don’t kill or devour you, they just displace you in time – and the two people close to Sally that undergo this fate don’t fare so badly, finding a way to live a long and fulfilling life even in a time that is not their own, which in a sense should give the viewer a measure of comfort. What’s terrifying here is the notion of being forcibly torn from the familiar, from the net of human contact and relationships we all have built around us; of being sent, virtually naked, into the unknown.  We are not shown the last, frightening instants before the Angels pounce, and this is what makes their actions more dreadful: those brief seconds are left to our imagination, the meanest and scariest screenwriter of the lot…

What’s worse is that while the end of the episode seems to re-establish some sort of order, with the Doctor and Martha free once more to roam through time and everyone else settled, the last frames play on our fears once more: the Doctor’s warning is repeated over and over again, as a sequence of images of stone statues – the same we see in plazas or on buildings every day – rolls in front of our eyes.  Whatever measure of comfort and newfound safety the viewers might have achieved is shattered by the awareness that the danger lurks around us. And that we’d better NOT BLINK.

             Estella Society           ripnineperilscreen

6 thoughts on “R.I.P. X – A Review of Dr. Who’s episode BLINK

  1. Oh yes, this was frightening. Interestingly, it’s also the only episode of Doctor Who I have ever watched and it was totally random the way that worked out! I was at my brother’s place one time and his roommate is a huge fan of the show. This was the episode on that week and we all watched it. I had no idea it would go on to become one of the most talked about and iconic eps in the history of the show.


  2. I love ‘Blink’ so much! It’s one of those episodes which is incredibly tense, I think I was on the edge of my seat for the whole thing! I think I’d actually prefer to be taken completely unaware by them than see them moving closer every time I blinked. Eep! Terrifying.


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