12th Oct2014

‘Doctor Who: 8×08 – Mummy on the Orient Express’ Review

by Paul Metcalf


Oh Doctor you are a complicated Time Lord, just when I was worried about the direction of the show you pull me back in.  I’m not convinced that this is some kind of miraculous fix, but I admit this week I was hooked, though at first just a little worried.  With the subject matter there was a risk that it would be just another one I was unsure about but the horror theme of having a Mummy on a train in space finally showed what Doctor Who can do so right.  Yep Mummy on the Orient Express is a good one.

With Clara (Jenna Coleman) questioning if she wants to continue on her journey with The Doctor (Peter Capaldi) he decides to take her onto the Orient Express for a relaxing trip without any danger.  With an invisible Mummy killing people though it seems that even when he’s trying, he can’t keep her out of danger.

When I heard about this episode and its guest stars I was slightly worried that this would weaken the episode (which is something that has happened in the past).  With Foxes as a performing singer in the background and British comedian Frank Skinner actually putting on a good performance as the engineer there was little to worry about, Skinner was actually impressive in his role as a temporary companion and as known fan I bet he loved it.  The most important part now was to get the story right.

The whole episode is overshadowed by the question surrounding Clara, and all the rumours that were circling in the press that Coleman kind of make sense now.  It almost feels like this episode was feeding off these rumours (were they created on purpose maybe?) but it works well.  There is a constant feel that this may be her last adventure.  With the tension between her and The Doctor though there was a feel that it could become too much of an issue and get in the way of the most important thing…the Mummy, but thankfully this didn’t happen.

Looking at the story of the actual Mummy and the mystery surrounding it, I was actually impressed.  What writer Jamie Mathieson has done is turn a Gothic feeling traditional Doctor Who episode on its head and played on the strengths of Capaldi’s version of the Time Lord.  There are plenty of nods to past Doctors in this episode (and one notably excellent one), but for me Capaldi debating with himself like a less deranged Golum was one of the highlights of the episode.  The Mummy on the Orient Express may have been what was meant to catch the audience’s attention, but this was all the Doctor really whether it be for good reasons or bad.

What this episode showed of Capaldi’s Doctor Who this week was that he is a contradiction, he definitely cares, especially about Clara, but he is also cold and calculating when he needs to be.  This is a doctor that feels dangerous, and to be fair this is what has driven him apart from Clara somewhat and that is what makes him interesting.  I think this episode finally hits the right spot between the coldness he uses as a shield and what is actually going on in his head, just look at Capaldi’s face at the end of the episode for some excellent acting to prove that point.  I can’t say just when because that would be a spoiler.  This Doctor is a complicated one, that’s for sure.

***** 5/5

After a few episodes that made me question the quality of the show Mummy on the Orient Express reminds me just how good Doctor Who can be.

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek

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