Monday, October 13, 2014

A Mummy only the victim can see! - Mummy on the Orient Express

A Mummy on the Orient Express. In Space. That's a concept only Doctor Who could get away with. But by embracing the very epitome of an Agatha Christie story (yet again), and having the train and its occupants act like they're in the twenties or thirties, this episode absolutely sings.

The use of a jazz version of Don't Stop Me Now alone is absolutely genius. It's one of those touches that settle it in the future, yet still have it feel like a time past, just like BioShock Infinite did with it's cover of Tears for Fears. But the song choice isn't a throwaway choice either. Don't Stop Me Now could almost be a rallying cry for this episode's endgame.


Clearly Clara's calmed down from her outburst last week, but she's sticking to her decision that this is the end of her travels with the Doctor. Though it's pretty clear she's still all in.

When the Doctor lies to get Clara to bring Maisie back to the lab, making it sound like he's just going to let her die, Clara has her beliefs confirmed. Then he pulls a classic Doctor moment and takes on the Mummy, and solves the whole thing. However, he does admit that if it hadn't worked she would have died and he'd have carried on, letting people die while he tries to find a solution. It's the pragmatism we saw back in 'Into the Dalek', but this time with more explanation and Clara having spent more time with him. She finally accepts this, and reveals that she has no intention of leaving, and is back to her behaviour from the start of 'The Caretaker', and not going anywhere yet.

However, it's noticeable that the Doctor tries to not get her involved. Going off on his own to investigate. He's trying to honour her decision to stop, and it's only her standard companion need to fuss about that keeps her in. For the Doctor, most importantly for me, was the scene in his carriage where he decides to look into it. That “A Mummy only the victim can see!” is pure Tom Baker. As I've drowned myself in Classic Who in the last year, I've noticed all the references to previous Doctors each have done, little hints in their performance to echo their predecessors. Matt Smith in interviews made no secret that he based a lot of his performance on Troughton. But this is so on the nose. Because that Tom Baker is perfect. It's not just a fantastic impression, but it's exactly the sort of line Baker would deliver with relish as he hears about a mystery and throws himself at it.

Then there's the jelly babies in a cigarette case. It's such a minor detail, doing the job a cigarette would do in the original setting of Orient Express and Agatha Christie, yet helps bring more of the old Doctor back. I've got a long theory about the underlying emotional state of the Doctor effecting the personality during a regeneration. And it's clear that with the Time War all wrapped up, this Doctor is a lot happier, and less afraid to look back at his life without feeling shame at that one incident. He's also a lot more capable of making the hard choices again but anyway.

I guess I should also mention the Foretold. A wonderful enemy that ends up being so much more than just a Mummy on the Orient Express. And the monster is actually a soldier. One stuck following orders, that the Doctor finally releases from service. That's an interesting choice, considering the plight of Danny Pink and the Doctor actually getting along.

Now that I mention it, the soldier is actually a reoccurring theme throughout this whole season. I've not realised before, but we've had quite a few now. I've put every one down to the Danny angle, but something bigger has to be going on here.

Obviously there's the soldiers in 'Into the Dalek', but then we also had the Dalek who goes against orders. The Skovox Blizter stuck following orders in 'The Caretaker'. In 'Time Heist' we had The Teller, trapped, stuck following orders because its mate was captive. In 'Kill the Moon' the woman who wanted to follow orders, and make what would have apparently been the biggest mistake in Human History. That's an pretty obvious pattern.

And in this we have Danny Pink, a man we only really know 'had a bad day' and there comes a point you can no longer follow orders.

Yet for all that, there's no answer to who was in charge of Gus. The obvious answer is Missy, but that doesn't seem to fit with what we know of her. Except for the part about making sure the Doctor and Clara did team up, if that is her. I'm starting to doubt a couple of the assumptions I've made. Does it all tie together? Or is there two things running here?
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