Today’s episode was rather fun, it was a smart infusion of gritty sci-fi, comedic moments in the dialogue and excellent character development. The premise on the surface sounds ridiculous, a mummy on a space train killing the passengers one by one. However, like all good science fiction the episode draws you in from the off creating a mythology and seemingly logical explanation for everything that happens. Before you know it you are completely on-board with the episode and along for the ride.
The mummy was a very interesting featured monster, it wasn’t as simple as the Egyptian kind though, this creature was invisible to everyone except for it’s next victim. The mummy was like a character in itself, it had a fantastic physical presence, the way it sloped and groped it’s way towards its prey was genuinely menacing.
Clara’s character exposition had a return to form in this episode, in some previous instalments Clara’s character could be inconsistent and slightly irritating. This episode was a return to well written Clara, she was a key feature of the episode, not just someone for the Doctor to save. Clara’s character exposition advanced the story and the relationship between her and the Doctor. It was a nice change to have a relationship between the Doctor and the companion that wasn’t completely black and white. By this I mean that key characters in Doctor Who for some time have either been in complete adoration of the Doctor or leaving the TARDIS for a simpler life. In this case Clara had stormed out on the Doctor, demanding he fly away in his time machine and never come back but reluctantly returning for one last adventure to find some closure before she leaves for good. Clara’s story arc in the episode focusses on her decision, will she continue a life among the distant stars or settle into life as a teacher at Coal Hill? Clara’s progression from hesitantly entering the TARDIS for one last trip to being back on-board for good was a really nice addition to the character’s overall story.
This was another gorgeously designed episode, both in sets and in CGI. The interiors of the Orient Express were lit with a crisp and warm glow, for the most part it looked like the inside of a real train until we were treat to an exterior shot of the outside the train as it snakes its way through the stars. A trend I have noticed this season is we seem to occasionally get a quick glimpse of a planet at the end of an episode that doesn’t directly factor into the plot but needs to be visited for some reason. It is usually a place of refuge for someone the Doctor has saved, it is always a different planet with beautiful countryside and advanced civilisations. It is most likely just a reason for the show to parade its big budget around, a means of showing off what they can do with green screen now. Its nice though, catching a glimpse of alien planets that the Doctor and his companion can visit at any time, it adds to the immersion of the show that you get fleeting glimpses of the wonders that are out there and the possible stories within that could be exploited in later episodes.
This was a great episode that balanced a self contained plot with advancement of the characters and overall story. Going off the glimpse we got at the end of this instalment next episode looks wild. It looks dark and serious and a little bit scary, I am not sure why but the impression I got from the trailer was that it is much more important than your typical monster of the week episode. Perhaps this means it may have a bigger impact on the series in general than episodes like this week’s.