For now the third episode in a row, Doctor Who shows exactly how awesome Capaldi can be as the Doctor. “Mummy on the Orient Express” was a fantastic episode that allowed the new Doctor to show once again his desire to solve a mystery, and the drive and coldness that can sometimes inspire.
Meant to be a “last hoorah” for Clara, the Doctor took her to the one and only Orient Express…in space. And in true Doctor Who fashion, things turned south when people started dying via a mummy.
Aside from Listen, this was Capaldi’s best performance as the Doctor to date in my opinion. Taking on the case, trying to determine the who, and what, and how, and why, and doing it all with a sense of awe, wonder, and style. You can just feel the energy that Capaldi brings to the Doctor, and throughout the episode it showed.
Yet as I stated earlier, the darkness within the Doctor was also on full display. Awe and wonder brought forth the cold equations side of him that we’ve seen before. Instead of comforting the dead, or allowing others to mourn he put emotion to the side and demanded answers. Even when the victim was right next to him and about to die he craved details about the monster (“make this count!”). This was brought full circle when he had to tell Clara to bring the next would-be-victim to him, no matter what.
One thing I really liked about the episode was the “logic” behind the monster known as the Foretold. From the timing of the deaths (literally 66 seconds until someone died), to the reasoning behind the choices of victims, and what it did to the victims as it killed them. All of it added to the mystery that was perfectly situated on the train, full of characters you’d expect to find in a murder mystery.
The real twist of the episode was finding out that the passengers on train were brought there for the express (ha, ha, ha) purpose of discovering what the Foretold was, and how to stop it. Add to that, the train itself was who set it up! Oh, and it totally killed people to prove it was in charge, take that HAL!
The true crux of whether a mystery is good or not isn’t just the setup, it’s the reveal at the end. As the clues started piling up it made me wonder how it was going to end. True to form, the Doctor not only solved the case, but got the last word in on the monster. Too bad the train didn’t want survivors…
There was one thing “Mummy on the Orient Express” did that rubbed me the wrong way. Clara. First off, it was kind of weak that she came back for “one last hoorah”, when we could all but tell she was going to come back (real world spoilers not included in that statement). Her whole subplot of “will she stay or will she go?” was very dragged out. The ending did it’s best to salvage it, to state how the Doctor and his Tardis and his time-traveling “impossible choice” thing was kind of like an addiction. One that the Doctor will never stop, and very few companions have ever willingly resisted.
Having Danny be her anchor to the “real world” was brilliant, as it showed she did have something to make her stop. Something she did not have in the previous series with Matt Smith’s Doctor. However, as if to undo it all she goes 180 and lies about being told to stay. Does she really think this won’t backfire? If not with the Doctor, than with Danny? Who made it clear that if she lied to him about the Doctor in any way it’d be over?
That part aside, “Mummy on the Orient Express” was a fun-filled mystery epic that hopefully left many fans on the edge of their seats. The end of the series is drawing near, and things really are picking up, let’s see how the next does! Full speed ahead!