So we’ve dealt with Big Story Arc, done creepy and wrung out our emotions. This week we’re in mystery mode (though as always with Who, every episode has a little flavour of everything else to pep it up).
Talking of flavours, The God Complex (from the pen of Being Human creator Toby Whithouse) tastes a little like a Scooby Doo adventure. And that’s not a bad thing – I loved Scooby Doo (until they put bloody Scrappy Doo in anyway) – but I have to say neither Hat Jr or I were feeling any real sense of jeopardy. (Her concern for the alien Minotaur was quite touching though.)
(Spoilers below the line sweeties…)
Dragged off target again, the Doctor and companions find themselves in a hotel with hideous ’80s decor, walls and corridors that move around, rooms filled with your personal nightmares (ventriloquist dummies, a sad clown, girls laughing at you, weeping angels etc) and front doors that open onto solid brick walls. (Yes, I’d quite like Hotel California to stop playing in my head too now.)
They’re not alone. Also trapped are supersmart medic Rita, blogger Howie, Joe and cowardly mole-man Gibbis (David Walliams). And roaming the corridors is a monster…
It takes the Doctor a while to realise how he’s misjudged the situation and to put things right – but there are all sorts of lovely things to enjoy along the way:
- Another tantalising glimpse of the things we could be seeing with the Doctor: people 600 feet tall that you have to talk to in hot air balloons, and the tourist information office is built in one of their hats.Though of course, the Doctor is thrilled to be in what is clearly (to him) a fake 1980s hotel. “Whoever did this, I’m shaking his stroke her hand stroke tentacle…”
- A subtle performance from David Walliams as Gibbis. I did feel sorry for him to begin with, a poor Tivolian used to being oppressed and colonised by others, but once the Doctor exposes his cowardice as a sly survival mechanism, the sympathy rapidly drains away. We do get some good jokes at Tivoli’s expense though: “Our anthem is called ‘Glory to Insert Name Here…'”; “I work in town planning. We’re lining all our roads with trees so invading forces can march in the shade.”; “At times like this I think of my old school motto – Resistance is exhausting.”
- There are two doctors in the house and both are very, very clever and observant. No wonder the Doctor likes Rita enough to make that Apprentice joke: “Amy, with regret, you’re fired…”
- When the TARDIS disappears, the Doctor’s reaction: “Okaay. This is bad. At the moment I don’t know how bad, but certainly we’re three buses, a long walk and eight quid in a taxi from good.”
- The sheer glorious sight of the cast – including David Walliams in his mole prothestics wheeling Joe, gagged with duct tape and tied into a chair – creeping around the corridors with their ghastly floral wallpaper.
- The Doctor’s reassurance is actually the worst thing he could be giving in this situation. Once again Steven Moffat is using the Doctor’s strengths against him.
- Amy telling Gibbis about how the Doctor has always saved her and will save them all from the hotel: “But don’t tell him I said that, because the smugness would be terrifying.”
- Rory: “Every time the Doctor gets pally with someone I have this overwhelming urge to inform their next of kin.” And the little jump as he anticipates getting hit by Amy for saying it.
- A delighted Doctor to Rita: “You’re a Muslim!” Rita: “Don’t be frightened.” If only more Daily Mail and Express readers watched Doctor Who…
- Again with the mirrors, when the Doctor corners the Minotaur to get to know it better.
- It’s not just me who loves Rory. He gets some of the best lines these days – ‘not all victories are about saving the universe’.
- The Doctor being ‘literally an otter’s toenail from getting’ everyone out of there.
- The Doctor rationalising why it’s up to him do the saving – because he brought Amy and Rory to the hotel and that it’s hardly freewill, because “offer a child a suitcase full of sweets and they’ll take it. Offer someone all of time and space and they’ll take that too.”
- That the Doctor’s room is Room 11. And that it’s Amelia waiting for him inside.
- The Doctor is both saying what Amy needs to hear to save herself from the Minotaur – “I can’t save you from this. There’s nothing I can do to stop this. I stole your childhood and led you by the hand to your death. And the worst thing is I knew. I knew this would happen. This always happens.” – and also facing a truth about his life.
- We all knew the Minotaur wasn’t talking about himself – “An ancient creature, drenched in the blood of the innocent … for such a creature death would be a gift” before he made it clear, didn’t we?
- Rory does have excellent taste in cars.
But after all the larks with the alien Minotaur, comes the heart-rending moment when the Doctor says ‘au revoir’ to Amy. Although, famously, the Doctor lies, I believe him when he tells Amy she hasn’t seen the last of him (“Bad Penny is my middle name. Seriously, the looks I get when I fill in a form…”) because both Amy and Rory deserve a better send-off than that.
Even with the wonderful reply to Amy’s ‘why now?’: “Because you’re still breathing.” Even knowing how much it costs him to walk away (and damn, Matt Smith is a fine actor – the Doctor’s loneliness in that final shot is heartbreaking). Even though he is ‘saving’ Amy and Rory. She’s right that it can’t really end like this, as if they’d just shared a cab ride.
It’s a good job we’ve got cybermen to take our minds off it all next week.
Posted by Jo the Hat