Doctor Who Review — Episode 8: Mummy on the Orient Express

I have to say, I started out skeptical that I’d like this episode.  After the disaster that was Kill The Moon, I was worried the fallout from the Clara Oswald Temper Tantrum Heard ‘Round The World would cloud this episode, making it nearly impossible to enjoy.  As it was, I was bit perplexed by how Clara did such a marked turnaround from her attitude toward the Doctor just one episode earlier.  I know she said in a later scene that she “hated him for weeks,” but then followed that up by saying she didn’t really hate him.  For me, this episode was less about a mummy (who actually was a soldier, a soldier that would stop killing when given the right command, which leads me to something else that annoys me, that I’ll get to in a moment) terrorizing people on a space train, but about Clara’s inability to shit or get off the pot, to use the parlance of the times.  I have a feeling the writers are setting us up for her to have a big fall, and I got that impression after she told the Doctor that as long as he got her back home safe and on time, she was perfectly fine to travel with him.  Anytime I’m watching a TV show or a movie, I can tell when something has been telegraphed.  For example, if the lead character says, “Oh, don’t worry about me, I’m fine.  I’ve never been in a car accident”…….they’re going to be in a car accident shortly.  I mean, it’s practically been spelled out for you.  So, that leads me to believe that sometime before the end of the series, Clara isn’t going to make it home on time or in one piece.  Just a gut feeling I have, it’s not based on any spoilers or teasers or advance information that might be floating around.

Clara lying to Danny about not traveling with the Doctor anymore is also going to present itself as a problem, especially as this episode also put into my mind the idea that perhaps all the hemming and hawing about how the Doctor and Clara don’t have “that” kind of relationship was just a bunch of hemming and hawing.  The sexual tension seemed to be ladled on fairly thick, and at the end, when Clara is telling Danny she loves him, but staring directly at the Doctor…..I don’t know about you, but when I tell someone I love them, I’m not looking at someone else while I say it, even if I’m on the phone.  Now, that’s not to say I think they’re in love with each other, just that maybe she still has feelings for him, and for all his protesting about not being her boyfriend, he still has feelings for her.  Considering how much the Doctor doesn’t like Danny, and how much Danny doesn’t like the Doctor, this is yet another telegraphed moment for me, about something we might see in future episodes.

Back to the mummy — Steven Moffat has had a bad habit of writing monsters that aren’t really bad, just misunderstood.  They’re killers, but not really, and all it takes is a switch being flipped, a command being given, or something else happening, and all of a sudden they’re fine.  The only consistently evil villains the show has had have been Daleks, Cybermen, Weeping Angels, and possibly the Silence.  In this episode, the Mummy was just a soldier (yet another soldier, just like the Skovox Blitzer), and upon being given the right command by the Doctor, promptly stopped killing.  Moffat has been doing this too often, and frankly, it’s annoying.  I’m not saying I want Doctor Who to be a dark, angry, bitter show, where everyone dies and there’s no happiness or redemption, but that doesn’t mean I want every single villain to be a misunderstood victim just looking for someone to care.  It’s okay for the baddie to really be, you know, bad.

On the whole though, I loved the episode.  Series 8 has been the most consistently fantastic series for me since Series 5, Matt Smith’s first year.  Peter Capaldi is amazing, as is Jenna Coleman, and I only wish Peter could do a seven-year run like Tom Baker, because he has the energy and the moxie to pull it off.

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2 comments

  1. zathra · October 13, 2014

    Peter’s Doctor has behaved like a complete ASS towards Danny Pink, knind of giving him the ” Mickey Smith ” treatment, so I can understand why Clara would be pissed at him – At least for a while. & since when did he develop such an aversion to the military ? In classic Doctor Who he ( Pertwee’s Doctor ) was almost completely at the beck & call of the paramilitary organization UNIT as well as being friends with the Brigadier. Tennant & Smith’s Doctors had encounters with UNIT. No aversion to the military there.

    The ” Mummy ” of the story, may not have been a mummy at all, in the traditional sense, maybe just a severely wounded / burned / maimed soldier kept in a semi – living state by a device that was originally meant to heal it. Anyway, it did make for an interesting story.

    If Capaldi’s Doctor hangs around long enough, Clara might eventually leave him for good, not unlike Sarah Jane Smith eft Tom Baker’s Doctor.

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    • Beth · October 13, 2014

      The Doctor has never liked the military. He bristled at having to work for UNIT (the Time Lords grounded him on Earth and disabled the TARDIS), and while he legitimately cared for the Brigadier, that didn’t mean he’s ever had a high opinion of soldiers. It’s also important to remember that he spent 900 years on Trenzalore, fighting a war against every conceivable baddie we’ve ever seen in the canon of the show. It would be out of character for him to suddenly embrace soldiers and the military as a whole. Need I remind you of Ten’s behavior, not just in The Doctor’s Daughter, but in The Sontaran Stratagem — he wasn’t exactly waving banners for any of them.

      As for Sarah Jane leaving the Doctor, it didn’t quite happen the way you described it. The Doctor was called back to Gallifrey and humans weren’t allowed there — she had to leave. It wasn’t like she chose to leave him or he just dumped her out the door…..it had to happen. Neither one of them were thrilled about it, but that’s the way it was.

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