A new classic Doctor Who meme & question popped up again last night on Facebook:
“If a Silence looks away from a Weeping Angel, does the Angel move closer, or forget the encounter.”
Under normal circumstances, a Weeping Angel would move closer, regardless of whether it remembers the encounter. That said, it’ll remember the encounter.
There are a mess of blog posts on the topic.
Sure, it’s fun to speculate: The ones who make you forget when you see them vs. the ones who ceases to exist when you see them. Who wins?
Most of them give the edge to the Weeping Angels. Under “normal” circumstances, I give the edge to the Weeping Angels.
The reason most favor the Weeping Angels is because of how The Doctor first described The Weeping Angels in New Doctor Who, Season 3, Episode 10, the classic, “Blink.”
In case your memory needs jogging, this is the episode that spawned the landmark chilling conversation between the Doctor in 1969 and Sally Sparrow in 2007 via a DVD Easter Egg. The Doctor explains this conversational possibility by describing time with the now-iconic catchphrase, “Wibbly Wobbly, Timey-Wimey…stuff.” Once Sally Sparrow wrapped her brain around the fact that the DVD Easter Egg was specifically made for her, The Doctor’s description of The Weeping Angels took its frightful hold.
Point 1: The key to The Doctor’s Weeping Angels speech is the sentence “They Are Quantum Locked.”
The Doctor: [on the DVD] “The Lonely Assassins.’ That’s what they used to be called. No one quite knows where they came from, but they’re as old as the Universe, or very nearly. And they have survived this long because they have the most perfect defense system ever evolved. They are Quantum Locked. They don’t exist when they are being observed. The moment they are seen by any other living creature they freeze into rock. No choice. It’s a fact of their biology. In the sight of any living thing, they literally turn into stone. And you can’t kill a stone. Of course, a stone can’t kill you either, but then you turn your head away. Then you blink. Then, oh yes, it can.”– The Doctor [10th Doctor, David Tennant. “Blink.” Doctor Who Reboot. Season 3. Episode 10. Written by Steven Moffat. Quote transcription original source, with modifications: IMDB.com]
Here’s the whole conversation Sally Sparrow has with the Doctor via the Easter Egg DVD:
For those who want to see just the Easter Egg:
That the Weeping Angels cease to exist upon sight is why I give them the edge.
The only real way The Silence could get around a normal chance-encounter with a Weeping Angel would be if they somehow won the who-saw-who-first duel and their biological process worked faster. At this point, they could program their hypnotic suggestions.
But even if the Silence’ instincts kicked in quicker than The Weeping Angel and they got their effect going before the Angel’s quantum lock, then there would be the second issue: The Weeping Angel’s “Fact of their Biology.”
The reason I continue to give the edge to the Weeping Angels is because, from what we’ve seen, The Silence only affect short-term memory. They don’t affect long-term memory or instincts.
In theory, one can interact with a Silence when looking directly at them. It’s when the Silence looks away do folks forget they saw them. Over time, the effect becomes more and more pronounced, as first seen in the New Doctor Who Series 6 Opening two-parter: “The Impossible Astronaut” / “Day of the Moon.“
The Doctor only wins when he eventually records the Silence own damaging words, pipes it into the TV feed during the Apollo moon landing, and programs the human race to kill all Silence on sight, forcing the Silence to run. The human race remains under hypnotic suggestion, but they still have primal instincts and can function. And now they’re continually programmed to defend themselves each and every time they see the moon landing video.
River Song’s shooting also helped.
In no time did anyone under the effect of The Silence lose long term memory, basic motor functions, intuition, or instinct as a result of the Silence’ memory wipe.
Even the orphanage doctor, Dr. Renfrew, in 1969, was so chronically affected he wasn’t aware that it was 1969 or that the orphanage was shut down in 1967, still knew how to do basic life functions as well as his basic job functions.
In that Season 6 premiere two-parter when Amy was first affected, she could remember what was going on, who she was, and that there was eminent danger ahead of her. Her anger also flared when that poor lady was killed Emperor-style. Amy also knew she was out gunned and couldn’t take the fight to them. Instead, she had the wherewithal to take a photo of them. When they stopped looking and she forgot, she was frazzled, but everything still worked. More importantly, she could still function.
Point 2: If the Silence don’t affect or alter anyone on a primate-brain / instinctual level, then the moment they looked away, the Weeping Angels would pounce.
It wouldn’t matter whether or not the Weeping Angel remembered the Silence. It wouldn’t matter if the Silence tried to program them with the hypnotic suggestions. So long as they still have the instinct to murder humanely and eat off potential energy, the Angels are going to attack regardless.
You’re not going to stop a scorpion from acting like a scorpion.
More importantly, there simply wouldn’t be enough time for the Silence to program any hypnotic suggestions – suggestions that wouldn’t work anyway. It would be like trying to slide a sealed envelop between grains of sand on the beach, and the grains are quantum, the envelope is quantum, and the time between the two “moments” is quantum.
Point 3: The only way The Silence wins this duel is if they are technically not alive.
The Weeping Angels’ quantum lock survival instinct kicks in when they’re being observed by the living. In, “Blink,” they do appear on camera. Cameras aren’t alive, yet. In theory, if The Silence were technically dead, they wouldn’t trigger the Angels’ quantum lock. From there, they could post their hypnotic suggestions, make the Angels forget them, and the Angels wouldn’t instinctively hunt them once The Silence turned their backs because there would be no potential energy to feast upon.
This also assumes that potential energy is related to life and lifespan. Otherwise, they could sit around all day sucking on Craftsmen tools.
Yet, it’s plausible The Silence could win. Here’s How?
1) The Silence, in addition to being Munch-“The Screamer”-humanoid species, are a religious order.
Not just any religious order. A religious order strong enough to have a rogue sect blow up the TARDiS in New Doctor Who Season 5, forcing the Doctor to reboot the universe. That’s not a small thing.
They’re descended from the Church of the Papal Mainframe thanks to their Mother Superious, The Doctor’s “Friends with Ben’s”, Tasha Lem. Sorry, Clara:
The only thing normal about religious orders in Doctor Who is the extremes they go to achieve their objectives are only slightly less unconscionable than their objectives.
Two words: “Headless Monks.”
Creating a sect of dead-Silences whose potential energy doesn’t extend passed a duel with a Weeping Angel in order to defeat a Weeping Angel wouldn’t be the most extreme act seen in Doctor Who, or any Sci Fi. It won’t be the most extreme thing you see in the next season.
But then the Church of the Papal Mainframe would have a lot of binary searching to do. Say what you will about the Weeping Angels, they’re respected and admired as much as they are feared. They bring balance and are as pure as they are predatory. They’re the universe’s sharks. They maintain balance and order. Creating a religious sect to create genocide could start a universal holy war the likes of which would make the Daleks run.
Even then, whose to say the Universe’s presumed longest-living predators couldn’t evolve and adapt.
- Assuming the encounter and “the moment…” is “normal”, the Silence wouldn’t have an initial impact on the quantum-locked Angels and the Angels would still pounce the moment the Silence looked away. “It’s a fact of their biology.”
- Even if the impossible was perverted. Even if the Silence won the duel and got the Weeping Angels to forget. Even if the conditions were so maliciously manipulated to where the Silence could sneak in an additional hypnotic suggestion, the Angels would still come once they’re out of quantum lock because of their instinct.
- Only a devout sect of Silences, created to circumnavigate Weeping Angels biology, could defeat the Weeping Angels.
Final Answer: Under normal circumstances, the Weeping Angels come closer and attack. They’re pure predators with, as the Doctor says, “the perfect defense system.”
There’s a reason why it’s presumed the Weeping Angels are as old as the universe. They’re simply incredible.
Anyone got anything to consider that would change the tide of this battle?
Sources and Fun Reads Included:
- “Doctor Who.” : BBC
- DoctorWhoTV.co.uk : I hope they put their comments back in.
- DoctorWhoWatch.com: Basic confrontation. Like many blogs.
- SpaceBattles.com: Some great out-of-the-box ideas