In an “interesting” coincidence which I pointed out to aka_kelly
, and which she treated with as much fascination as it deserves (she just about stayed awake with excitement) for the last two years our trips to Stratford Upon Avon have coincided with Toby Whithouse’s episodes of Doctor Who
. This year, it was
“The God Complex.” The titular phrase did get used by Rita to describe the Doctor – not that she was wrong but it’s ironic this accusation should be made to an incarnation that’s got that side of his personality a lot more under control than his immediate predecessor did.
Starting out as a classic frightener, the scariest stuff is before the credits and despite the presence of lots of classic nightmare images both generally and from within the Who
niverse, the rest of it is more about the puzzle than the scares, even though the hotel corridors were well designed for creepy effect. The only thing I didn’t really think came across from Nick Hurran’s direction was the idea that the hotel’s internal geography was constantly shifting; they could have just been running through a building with many identical-looking corridors, i.e. any creepy hotel. The story’s solution throws up some interesting ideas, like the fact that apart from the old phobias not being deleted after people died, this was actually the Minotaur’s prison working as it was supposed
to: Whatever alien intelligence put it there did in fact intend it to abduct unsuspecting life forms to use as food for the monster. I guess if the Minotaur had previously been that planet’s god, even if the society had become entirely secular I can buy that they would retain enough reverence for it to keep it fed with sacrifices, so long as it stayed away from their own planet. Also I found it interesting that David Walliams as, basically, Hans Moleman from The Simpsons
, was the only survivor – I like the unpredictability of a show where the least sympathetic guest character can be the only one who makes it, like in “Voyage of the Damned.”¹
The ending of course overwhelms the episode a bit but I like this exit for Amy and Rory. Losing the companions mid-series is less predictable than the series finale exits we’ve seen since 2005, and a low-key, Sarah Jane style exit is something else we’ve not seen much of, the closest until now being Martha’s voluntarily leaving the TARDIS, though that still came off the back of a big end-of-series battle. Of course we’ll see the two again, probably in two weeks’ time since even if they don’t return in their own timeline, we know they’re present for the Doctor’s upcoming “death” as seen in “The Impossible Astronaut.” But if this does prove their “main” exit from the TARDIS and they don’t make umpteen returns I think Amy and Rory’s low-key departure will come to be more fondly remembered than Rose’s series of increasingly overwrought goodbyes.
Interesting that once again Toby Whithouse’s episode has been allowed to overrun by about five minutes. Despite it probably not meaning much I’m choosing to think it means he’s first in line to take over when the Moff leaves so is allowed leeway. (In my mind there’s about four or five current Who
writers who have already run other shows and so could be in the running to take over; Whithouse is top of my list, not just because of Being Human
but because his Who
output has been superior to that of the other contenders, some of whom have done very badly here despite running good shows elsewhere. It may seem early to be pondering who’ll take over from a head writer in his second year, but people were already talking about the Moff as RTD’s successor at the end of the Eccleston run so it’s worth looking ahead.) I did wonder if the extra running time was because the episode order had been changed and the Ponds’ departure tacked on but I don’t think so – it fits in quite well thematically with the rest of the episode, from the Doctor’s Apprentice
gag to Amy when he meets the ill-fated Rita, to Rory starting to think of his time in the TARDIS as in the past, and the Doctor calling Amy by her married name for the first time. It fits in to the series’ theme of Rory getting a more prominent role both in the series and in Amy’s life, it’s all leading up to the Doctor releasing the hold he still has on Amy and letting her get on with the man she actually
cares more about. (Though ironically Rory himself was a lot more Series 5 Rory this week, a bit more gormless and wary of his wife.) Overall though an episode that doesn’t change my opinion that Whithouse would be a good choice of successor when Moffat decides to hand over the reins.
¹and while I wasn’t particularly fussed about his performance itself either way, kudos to Walliams for coming along, playing a relatively low-key character under heavy makeup and basically just being pleased to be involved in Doctor Who
and getting on with the job he was given; in contrast to Peter Kay a few years ago demanding a bigger role than he’d been originally cast in.