Monday, October 13, 2014

My Review of Doctor Who's 8x08: "Mummy On The Orient Express"

Written by Jamie Mathieson
Directed by Paul Wilmshurst

The Doctor (to Captain Quell): “I’m not a passenger. I’m your worst nightmare.”

I was seriously looking forward to this episode for many reasons. Okay, two reason. One involving the mummy and the other one being to see how this episode would deal with the fallout of the Doctor and Clara’s falling out from the previous episode. In both cases, I wasn’t disappointed.

Focusing on the Doctor and Clara first, this episode dealt with the bad feeling between the two of them from their previous adventure on the Moon rather well. Several weeks might have passed but Clara was determined that if she was going to stop travelling with the Doctor, it was going to end on a positive note. Which blatantly implied that she really wasn’t ready to move on at all.

Even when the Doctor seemed resigned to her not travelling with him again, Clara seemed visibly stung by the suggestion, even to the point of suggesting that he could come around for dinner. Then there was her whole exchange with the grieving Maisie Pitt, who also recognised that Clara wasn’t prepared to give up her time with the Doctor. In fact it seemed like everyone but Clara until the last minute realised this.

While it wouldn’t win points for subtlety, I did like the contrast. Last week, the Doctor’s actions horrified Clara over his handling of the Moon being an egg and this week it looked like his handling over the Foretold picking people off was going to do exactly the same thing. That was until the Doctor turned the situation on its head, became the hero and saved the day.

Throughout the episode we saw that Clara wasn’t ready to give it up. Whether the addiction analogy is the wisest of ones to use, it’s fitting enough. Clara didn’t even wait for the Doctor to investigate the strange goings on with the Orient Express and both she and Maisie made for a great team investigating previous ships that had been killed as well as the creepy sarcophagus they were trapped with as well.

I don’t think the lying to Danny bit about resuming her travels was the wisest of ideas either. I would’ve rather Clara told him on the phone that she wasn’t ready to pack it in and for Danny to be cool with that instead of Clara telling the Doctor. That being said, it’s hard to know whether this is leading to a bittersweet or tragic exit for Clara at the moment.

As for the main of the episode itself – the Foretold/mummy looked genuinely scary and the whole 66 second thing before it killed people worked a treat. Because it took the Doctor until nearly the last moment to figure how to stop it, we got a sizeable amount of character deaths as the creature went for picking off the weakest crew members.

However as creepy as the mummy was and as sympathetic as it’s eventual reveal also was, who the hell was Gus? I get the short for sarcophagus bit but we didn’t exactly get to see who was behind the dangerous mission. I read some theories that perhaps he might be connected to Missy and maybe that’s true but there’s also the possibility that like a certain creature on the bed, we might end up not knowing for quite some time.

In terms of the guest characters, some of them were a bit non descript but I did particularly like Daisy Beaumont’s Maisie, who I thought worked well with Clara while Frank Skinner’s chief engineer Perkins worked pretty well with Capaldi’s Doctor in assisting against the mummy. That being said, I’m not too disappointed that he turned the Doctor’s offer to work with him down.

Also in “Mummy On The Orient Express”

Both Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman looked their absolute best in this episode. The costuming in general looked fantastic.

Clara: “I really thought I hated you, you know.”
The Doctor: “Well, thank God you kept that to yourself.”

Christopher Villiers who played Moorhouse previously appeared in The Kings Demons while Janet Henfrey who played Maisie’s grandmother appeared in The Curse Of Fenric.

Perkins: “Perkins, chief engineer.”
The Doctor: “The Doctor, nosey parker.”

Maisie: “Do you ever wish bad things on people?”
Clara: “Oh yeah, all the time. Whoever designed this door for a start.”

The Doctor offering Moorhouse a jelly baby from a posh case was a nice moment as was the brief tone of Tom Baker as well.

Maisie (to Clara): “Life would be so much simpler if you liked the right people. People you were supposed to like but then I guess there would be no fairytales.”

The Doctor (to Moorhouse): “This probably is the end for you but make it count. Details please.”

Clara and Maisie alluded to the Bechdel Test at one point in this episode.

Gus: “Well done.”
The Doctor: “Don’t mention it.”

Standout music: Foxes (who made a brief cameo here) singing a sultry jazz version of Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now”.

Clara: “So you were pretending to be heartless?”
The Doctor: “Would you like to think that about me? Would that make it easier?”

Chronology: About a few weeks since “Kill The Moon”.

I know “Listen” might have initially become the classic of this series but “Mummy On The Orient Express” clearly isn’t far behind. A fantastic blend of horror, pathos, light comedy, historical lushness and a wonderful final scene between our two travelling TARDIS members. Mathieson gave us an impressive debut and it’ll be interesting to see how his next one fares too.

Rating: 9 out of 10

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