Monday, September 17, 2012

My Review of Doctor Who's 7x03: "A Town Called Mercy"


Written by Toby Whithouse
Directed by Saul Metzstein

The Doctor (re Kahler-Jex): “Today I honour the victims first. His, the Master’s, the Daleks. All the people who died because of my mercy.”
Amy: “See, this is what happens when you travel alone for too long. Well, listen to me, Doctor, we can't be like him. We have to be better than him.”

Oh boy – this was an interesting episode. Yes, we’ve been here before though. We’ve seen that travelling on his own for too long can have something of an adverse effect on the Doctor and if “The Waters Of Mars” didn’t emphasise the point three years ago, then this episode definitely rammed the message home big time.

When it came to mercy, the Doctor raised an alarmingly valid point. His mercy in past stories towards the likes of the Daleks and the Master certainly didn’t see either of them learn and become greater beings and it seemed that perhaps being merciful to the likes of Kahler-Jex could’ve resulted in the same thing as well. Except, it didn’t.

Sure, the Doctor had the right to be disgusted with Jex and the methods the scientist took to win a war back on his home planet but he also had to at least listen to Jex’s point of view as well. Even after being held at gunpoint by Jex, Amy managed to see that the Doctor allowing the Gunslinger to kill the scientist wasn’t a smart decision, even if it also ended up in Isaac’s death as well.

I did love that confrontation scene between the Doctor and Amy because for all the fans out there who don’t like the character, it’s evident that within the three series she’s travelled on and off with the Doctor that she can understand him and certain situations better at times. She stopped him from making a big mistake with Jex and the Gunslinger but only just.

The Doctor certainly wanted to see Jex pay for his crimes (namely being responsible for creating the Gunslinger in the first place) and the scenes between both Matt Smith and Adrian Scarborough certainly evoked similar themes that had been explored with the Doctor and Margaret back in “Boom Town”, except here they managed to be even more uncomfortable than they were back then.

As for the Gunslinger – if I had to pick, it would’ve been his, truth be told. He had every right to want to exact revenge on Jex for what had been done to him but at the same time, he also had no problem threatening innocent lives in order to get what he wanted. In the end, this episode certainly took an interesting turn of events for the Gunslinger and Jex.

Unlike the Master and the Daleks, Jex went from staunchly defending his actions, taunting the Doctor about his morality being a prison and fearing the afterlife to actually committing suicide in a bid to repent. Thematically, it did seem like Jex was genuinely atoning for his actions but it did make me wonder if he really did have the right to decide his own outcome.

The Gunslinger on the other hand seemed to fall into the role of Mercy’s protector, which was obviously a nice reversal on being the town’s threat I guess. That being said though, after Jex’s death, it kind of seemed obvious that was going to happen, even more so as it was unlikely that the Doctor and Amy were going to hold onto their appointed roles as Sheriff and Deputy following Isaac’s death.

Speaking of Isaac, I know some viewers felt that this episode was a wasted of Ben Browder’s talents but I thought it wasn’t. Sure, it would’ve been nice if he had actually survived the episode but the few scenes he had, he made work effortlessly and it made Isaac’s death all the more effective for it.

In fact, if there was any character in this story that was underused, it was actually Rory. A few comments here and there was all Rory really had to do in this episode, which was a shame but seeing as Whithouse has written for the character brilliantly in the past, I’ll let him off just this once. Besides, we all know the next two episodes are going to be big for Mr Williams anyways.

Also in “A Town Called Mercy”

I love the little changes we’re getting every week to the title sequence and the deep red this week worked really well.

Rory: “The sign does say 'keep out'.”
The Doctor: “I see ‘keep out’ signs more as suggestions rather than actual orders. Like ‘dry clean only’”.

There was a little girl who narrated the start and finish of this episode.

The Doctor (to preacher, re horse): “No, it isn’t. I speak horse and he’s called Susan and he wants you to respect his life choices.”

Jex: “You’re a mother, aren’t you?”
Amy: “How did you know?”
Jex: “There’s a kindness in your eyes and sadness and a ferocity too.”

Once again, we’ve been getting mentions of Christmas and seeing light bulbs and Jex’s ship resembled an egg for some reason.

Jex (re the Doctor): “He isn’t following the plan.”
Amy: “Welcome to my world.”

The Doctor (to Amy/Rory/Isaac): “This man is a murderer.”
Jex: “I am a scientist.”
The Doctor: “Sit down. Sit down!”

Because it absolutely has to be pointed out, even I thought multiple times that Sadie the barmaid looked way too much like River to the point where it was distracting.

Isaac (to the Doctor): “Protect Jex. Protect my town. You’re both good men. You just forget it sometimes.”

Amy: “Oh my God, you’re the sheriff.”
The Doctor: “Yeah, and you’re the deputy.”

Standout music: Murray Gold’s score music for this episode was exquisite. Some of the most beautiful and evocative music he’s done for the series.

Jex (to the Doctor): “You want to hand me over. There’s no shame in that but you won’t. We all carry our prisons with us. Mine is my past, yours is your morality.”

Gunslinger (to the Doctor, re Jex): “He behaved with honour at the end. Maybe more than me.”

Chronology: None was specified since Amy and Rory’s last encounter with the Doctor from “Dinosaurs On A Spaceship”.

“A Town Called Mercy” might not have been as action packed as the first two episodes this series, but it was certainly the heaviest episodes in terms of morality for the Doctor, Jex and the Gunslinger. For that reason alone, it’s definitely a standout episode.

Rating: 9 out of 10

1 comment:

noybusiness said...

Small correction: the little girl was the narrator's great-grandmother.