Blink was the tenth episode of series three of Doctor Who. It was the first appearance of the Weeping Angels and was the Doctor-lite episode for this series.
Writer Steven Moffat had intended to write a two-part story earlier in the series, but was too busy writing and executive producing Jekyll. Believing he had “messed everything up”, Moffat offered to “throw himself onto the grenade of the unpopular episode”, referring to the Doctor-lite concept. In a 2008 interview, he immodestly admitted that he had only just started realizing that Blink was in fact “a really great episode”. As of June 2008, it remained the quickest piece of writing Moffat had ever done because of its late submission, having gone straight from the second draft with no notes to the script and tone meetings before going into production ten days later. The script writing process took such little time to produce that Moffat claimed that Blink was such a “tiniest sliver” of his writing career that he couldn’t remember making it.
Young photographer Sally Sparrow breaks into an old house (Wester Drumlins) and takes photos of fallen chandeliers and moss growing in fireplaces. Entering a room upstairs, she sees peeling wallpaper and the letters “BE” exposed underneath. She pulls back the corner and finds the message “BEWARE OF THE WEEPING ANGELS”. She tears off more wallpaper, revealing a message telling her to beware of the Weeping Angels, and telling her to “duck, Sally Sparrow.” It is only when she reveals the words “duck now” that she actually does so, narrowly avoiding a rock that would have hit her head. She looks out the window, from where the rock was thrown, and sees the statue of an angel with its hands covering its eyes. She peels the rest of the wallpaper off to reveal the writer of the message — “Love from the Doctor, 1969.”
Sally goes to the house of her friend, Kathy Nightingale. The television is on, playing a video of a man with glasses. The man tells the viewer not to turn away, not to look away, and not to blink — “Blink and you’re dead.” Hearing the toilet, Kathy asks if Sally has met her brother, warning her that she’s about to. Sally turns to the hall to see Kathy’s naked brother, Larry, who desperately hoped he was wearing pants.
The next morning, Kathy and Sally return to the house. Sally shows Kathy the message on the wall and the Weeping Angel, but thinks it is now closer to the house than before. Someone rings the doorbell; Sally answers it, and Kathy waits in the room where the writing on the wall is. Sally answers the door to discover a man who is looking for her. He says that he was told to come to this place on this exact date and time and give Sally Sparrow a letter. As Kathy spies on the conversation from in the room, she fails to notice the Weeping Angel moving whenever it isn’t in sight; lowering its hands from its eyes, and creeping into the room and up on Kathy from behind.
When Sally asks the man who sent him, he replies that it was his grandmother, Katherine Wainwright, known before her marriage as Kathy Nightingale. Sally presumes she has figured out the joke and calls for her friend, but Kathy does not answer. When she goes back into the room where she left her, Kathy has completely vanished, and the Angel is back in its original spot and position outside.
Elsewhere, Kathy gets up in a field, and asks a local lad where she is. He replies that she is in Hull, but she refuses to believe it until he shows her the local newspaper, which not only confirms her location but also shows the year to be 1920.
Back at Wester Drumlins, eventually, the man persuades Sally to take the letter, which is from Kathy, who died twenty years ago in 1987. Kathy’s letter explains that this man is her grandson, who promised to carry out her final request. In anger, Sally flings down the letter and heads upstairs, only to find three more Weeping Angels. One of them has a Yale key in its hand. She takes it and heads out, only to find Kathy’s grandson leaving with his promise fulfilled. As Sally leaves, she fails to notice the Angels uncovering their eyes and watching her as she takes the key and leaves.
In a coffee shop, Sally reads the letter fully, learning Kathy led a full and happy life (with Ben, the first man she met in Hull) and started a family. She includes photographs of her and her children (with her daughter named after Sally), and grandchildren. Sally reads Kathy’s joke about living to an exceptionally old age and her request to tell Larry, who works at a local DVD shop, something; her parents are gone by this time, so he’s really her only close family. Sally goes to Kathy’s grave to pay her respects to her dead friend, then leaves for the DVD shop. Sally fails to notice one of the Weeping Angels from Wester Drumlins spying on her in the graveyard.
When Sally gets to the DVD shop, she goes into the back to find Larry. She sees the man with glasses who gave her the blinking warning on a TV. Larry explains that the man is an Easter egg found on seventeen DVDs and no one, not even the manufacturers or the publishers, knows how it got there. As they are talking, the DVD keeps un-pausing itself, and the man with glasses says random phrases, one of which shockingly fits with something Sally commented. In the end, Larry gives her a list of the seventeen DVDs that have the Easter egg on them. She leaves the shop, having gotten an idea from a comment in passing by Larry’s co-worker (“Why does nobody ever just go to the police?”) about what to do next.
Sally goes to the police station, and after mentioning the house’s name, meets up with DI Billy Shipton. He shows her a collection of cars with something strange in common: all of them were found outside the Wester Drumlins house (some with their motors still running) and all of their owners vanished without a trace. He shows her a fake police phone box, with a lock that will not open. Billy charms Sally to give him her mobile number before she leaves. After she leaves, Billy finds the Weeping Angels have appeared in the room with him, surrounding the phone box. While examining them closely, he blinks.
Outside, Sally finds the key she took from the Angel’s hand in her coat pocket. She heads back to the garage to try it out, but Billy and the police box have gone, and the outside door is broken. Someone has broken through it with great force.
Billy gets up to see the Doctor and Martha, who tell him he is in 1969, because of the “touch of an Angel.” The Doctor advises not to go swimming for an hour as time travel without a capsule is disorientating. Martha advises Billy to nod when the Doctor stops for breath. After they talk, the Doctor asks Billy to give Sally Sparrow a message, and apologizes that it will take “a while” to get the message through.
Back in the present, Sally gets a phone call. She goes to visit an elderly and dying Billy at the hospital. His message from the Doctor is to “look at the list”, the list being the DVD list Larry gave her. He mentions that he got into video production, and she realizes that he was the one who put the Easter eggs on the DVDs. He also says that she will understand one day, but that he won’t; the Doctor has told him that this is their last meeting, and that he has only as long as the rain stops before he dies. She decides to stay with him until the end.
After the rain has stopped, Sally calls Larry. She has realized what the DVDs on “the list” all have in common: they are all owned by her; specifically they are the only DVDs that she owns, which means that the Easter egg is meant for her. She asks him to bring a portable DVD player to the old house.
Larry does so, and brings the DVD with the best sound on the Easter egg. They play it, and see the full message from the Doctor. He makes the same random comments from the video store, but now they fit perfectly into what Larry and Sally are saying. Realizing this, Sally thinks he can hear them, but Larry explains that he always says it and that he has got a transcript of the Easter egg with him. As the Doctor gives his message, everything Sally says seems to fit in, so Larry, now very excited, begins to add her words to the transcript.
The Doctor mentions that he has a copy of the transcript on his autocue. That is how he knows what she is saying. He warns of creatures from another world, the “Lonely Assassins”, aka the Weeping Angels. They are incredibly fast, and they can send people back in time, which is how he got stuck in 1969. These aliens have a unique defense; if any living thing looks at the Angels, they immediately turn to stone until they are no longer looked at. He calls this a “quantum lock”. This explains the “weeping”; they cannot look at each other, since it has the same effect. Since a statue can’t look away or blink, the Angels who see each other never move again. These Angels feed off the days their victims never had, and now they are looking to get into the TARDIS, which is filled with time energy, which the Angels will feast on for a lifetime, and since Sally has the key, the Angels are after her now.
The Doctor is stuck in 1969, so he is relying on Sally to send the TARDIS back to him. When she asks how, he mentions that he has run out of transcript, but he can guess why: he surmises that the Weeping Angels are closing in, forcing her to flee and so left the transcript unfinished. Indeed, Larry has stopped writing. He says what Sally has already heard; she must keep her gaze on the Angels; she mustn’t turn away, look away, or even blink – the Angels can move with incredible speed when unobserved; “Blink and you’re dead.” Once the message has ended, Sally and Larry both notice at the same time that neither is looking at the Weeping Angel anymore. They look up. The Angel is now in the room with them, baring sharp teeth in a savage snarl and outstretching clawed fingers towards them.
As a terrified Larry keeps his eyes fixed on the Angel to stop it getting any closer, Sally tells Larry to stay in the room to keep the Angel where it is, while she searches for a way out. As she tries all the doors in the house, only to find the Angels have locked them in while they were watching the Doctor’s message, Larry is growing increasingly restless and fearful that the other Angels could come up behind him. Larry turns around for a split second, and the Angel moves to right in front of him. Keeping his eyes on it, he slowly backs out of the room. Sally finds an unlocked door to the cellar, and calls out to Larry to give him the news. Larry willingly flees to rejoin with Sally.
Larry and Sally descend into the cellar to find a way out. They find the TARDIS, along with the other three Weeping Angels. They head towards the door, keeping their eyes on the Angels. As they get to the TARDIS, the fourth Angel has appeared by the stairs and is pointing at the light. The light starts to flicker, and Sally and Larry realize in horror that the Angel is draining the light so that the Angels will be able to attack in the darkness. With each flicker, the Angels move towards Sally and Larry with their claws out and their teeth showing, as the humans frantically try to unlock the TARDIS door. At the last second, they open it and flee inside and lock the Angels out just in time.
As the two look around at the TARDIS interior in amazement, a hologram of the Doctor activates, and says that the TARDIS has detected an authorized control disc, valid for one journey only; it is the DVD that Larry played for Sally, which is now glowing. But the Angels outside begin shaking the TARDIS on each side, looking for a way in. Larry puts the DVD into the console and the TARDIS begins to de-materialize. But as the TARDIS begins to fade away around them, Sally realizes the TARDIS is leaving, but she and Larry are not going with it. She screams at the Doctor to help them, even as the TARDIS fades, leaving them crouching in the middle of the circle of Angels. Sally yells to keep looking at them, but Larry stands up slowly and realizes that the Doctor tricked the Angels – they’ve been left looking straight at each other, freezing them permanently.
A year later, Sally and Larry are running the DVD store together, but Sally cannot let all that has happened go, and she cannot move on until she discovers who gave the Doctor the transcript and everything else she recorded. When Larry goes out to get some milk, she sees the Doctor and Martha getting out of a taxi, and realizes in shock that it was she who gave the Doctor all the information: the transcript, the photos she took of the wall, everything. She rushes outside, but the Doctor does not recognize her. Sally remembers that since the Doctor is a time-traveler, it “hasn’t happened yet”. The Doctor asks what that means and Sally warns the him that he will get stuck in 1969 and that that is where it all starts. The Doctor asks her name and she tells him. Larry returns right at that moment with the milk and can only stare at the Doctor and Martha in stunned amazement. The Doctor is in a hurry and cannot stay, so he and Martha eventually head off to see “four things and a lizard”, while Sally clasps Larry’s hand and goes back into the shop, Sparrow and Nightingale’s antiquarian books and rare DVDs.
However, the scene shifts to montage across the public statuary, punctuated with the Doctor’s recorded warnings, as though to warn us that there might be other Angels lurking among the statues…
“Blink and you’re dead. Don’t turn your back. Don’t look away. And DON’T. BLINK. Good luck.” (Then he ironically blinks)