Doctor Who: Mummy on the Orient Express

Another good episode from Doctor Who 🙂 Apparently two of the actors were people one should’ve recognised, not that I did – one was a singer with a brief cameo who we’d never heard of, the other a comedian (Frank Skinner) that J recognised but I didn’t.

SPOILERS AHEAD! Hover mouse over text to read, or read on entry page:

It made sense to me that once she calmed down Clara would want one last trip with the Doctor to end it on a high note, and I thought it was clear that not only had she taken a bit of time to reflect (as per the “I hated you for weeks” line) but so had the Doctor. Not that he had any intention of talking about it, of course. However, there was a blessed absence of nasty remarks about her appearance. And even after the initial awkwardness had faded a bit, when he goes off to investigate you can see him dither over whether or not to wake her up to join in the fun – deciding not to because he thinks she wouldn’t want to, was my interpretation.

I was a bit less pleased with Clara lying to both Danny & the Doctor at the end … but on reflection that happens so quickly after Perkins makes the point about not wanting to travel with the Doctor because “it could change a man” that I think we’re supposed to be unsettled by it. Travelling with the Doctor isn’t changing Clara in particularly good ways. She’s learning/learnt to lie when the Doctor asks and thinks it necessary and its bleeding over into everything. Of course she’d been lying to Danny all along, which undermines that reading of the scene a bit – but then she’d been travelling with the Doctor for quite a while by then.

I wonder if we got the thematic statement for this Doctor in the closing section of the episode? “Sometimes none of the choices are good, but you have to choose anyway”. And this Doctor is a lot more aware he’s not a god than the last couple (particularly more so than 10). This episode really played up the brutal pragmatism he’s been showing all season as well, but in a way that made it more palatable to me. In large part that’s because we could see him apply it to himself as well as to other people. When he saves Maisie by taking on her resentment & so on, he keeps talking about what he’s thinking about the creature, what he’s deducing and so on. I know he has to do that so we-the-audience know what’s going on but it works in story as well. This is what he was haranguing the previous victims about, and it when it was him he didn’t just try to save himself he tried to make sure if he did die then his death would’ve given them information.

Some nice callbacks to previous Doctors – jelly babies, and “are you my mummy?”. I have a feeling there was something else but I’ve forgotten now :/ Possibly New New York in the background in the closing section? Certainly that scene was reminiscent of a closing scene with Rose from an earlier season of New Who – I have completely forgotten which story it belongs with tho!

There wasn’t any explicit stuff with Missy, but wherever Moffat is going with that he’s got it set up well enough now that J and I can turn to each other part way through the episode and comment that one of the victims is likely to end up with Missy. But definitely some resonances with themes from other episodes. I’m not coming up with a pithy phrase (even by my standards for pith) to describe what makes several of the antagonists so far this season similar, but there’s definitely a pattern. Soldiers mindlessly following old orders/patterns, malfunctioning robots, old things seeking death (either explicitly or “the Promised Land”), the Doctor achieving success by taking on a command role often in an explicitly military fashion.

Oh, and I’ll end on a minor nitpick that amused me – we have a “monster” that’s definitely a horror movie interpretation of an Egyptian Mummy, “controlled” by a scroll/flag with what looked more akin to cuneiform than hieroglyphs, tsk tsk!