TV Review – Doctor Who “Mummy on the Orient Express”
Writer Jamie Mathieson really knocked it out of the park Saturday night with the latest episode of Doctor Who, “Mummy on the Orient Express.” It has everything a true Whovian wants: space adventure, the future mixed with the past, conflict between the Doctor and his companion, the Doctor showing off how he’s always the most clever man in the room, and a really great villain that the Doctor has to first understand before it can be beaten. It’s an episode to revisit, to say the least.
Death and technology seem to really be following the Doctor and Clara this season. With the ominous and little seen Missy and the “Promised Land” aside or, rather, forthcoming (cue ominous music), there’s been killer androids, killer robots in Sherwood, a killer robot creature-thing in a school, and now an ancient mummy, called “the Foretold,” which kills its victims exactly 66 seconds after the victim sees it.
The episode starts with an elderly woman on the Orient Express train in space seeing the mummy, which no one else can see (with, by the way, a great visual of an analog clock ticking down from 66 seconds every time he is seen), and then screaming and throwing a fit before the mummy puts his hands to her head and she drops down dead.
This is when the Doctor and Clara jump aboard the train during the “last hurrah,” a final journey together before she finally says goodbye to him forever. They quickly find out about the people on the train dying, and the Doctor starts discussing the legend of the Foretold with a mythology expert on board.
Meanwhile Clara and another young woman get themselves trapped in a baggage compartment, leaving them out of most of the action.
The Orient Express now stops in space, and all the antique furnishing – and even some of the passengers – disappear as it is revealed that the train’s computer operating system, Gus, brought the doctor and all the other people there because they are experts in their fields. The owner wants them to figure out the Foretold so he can capture and use it.
This is where we see a peculiar side of the Doctor – one that always sends his companions into fits. Several more people have to die so that the Doctor can study the Foretold and learn what it is, what it wants, and hopefully how to stop it. Unlike his normal charisma and persistence to save everybody, Capaldi as the Doctor makes the logical conclusion that there is nothing he can do to save these people, so he might as well use their deaths to help save others in the future. He seems cold-hearted, but it really is the only option that he has.
In the end, the Doctor saves the day. No, I’m not going to say how it ended. If you don’t know, then you didn’t watch the episode and you should go do that in about 5 minutes. If you did watch it already, then you know what he did. Suffice it to say that the mummy was being controlled by ancient technology. There’s that death and tech popping up once again.
And speaking of popping up, there are some great Easter eggs in this episode for Whovians to enjoy. When the Doctor first meets the mythology expert, he offers him a jelly baby – an obvious throw back to the Fourth Doctor. Another happens at the climax of the episode when the mummy is coming after the Doctor, and Capaldi asks, “are you my mummy?” Again, that’s a great allusion to Christopher Eccelston’s Ninth Doctor (series one, episode “The Empty Child”).
Interesting bits to look out for though… at the end of the episode, Clara is talking to her boyfriend Danny Pink, who mentions that he had a really bad day. That really bad day is probably going to come up again in future episodes. Just a guess, but he’s too much of an odd character to just be in the plot to pull Clara away. Something’s off about him. Plus, I just don’t like him.
Then there’s Gus, the computer operator of the train. Linked to Missy and the Promised Land? Maybe.
In the meantime, I’m enjoying the episodes which are good adventures by themselves, with the arc plotline only a subtle background note (a great change from the past two seasons). Looking forward to next week’s episode, “Flatline.”
On a side note, you can follow me on Twitter for more nerdy goodness at @PNGuinOfficial
Leave your comments below and tell me what you thought of the episode, and where you think things are going before the season ending!