Review: Doctor Who Season 8 Episode 8: Mummy on the Orient Express

Meh.

Haven’t we been here before?

Reproduction of a ludicrously opulent form of early 20th Century racing through space with unexpected danger aboard.  Ah, yes, the Titanic (“Voyage of the Damned“).  I wasn’t all that impressed with the earlier episode and, truth be told, I wasn’t all that impressed with this one.

The bad: The rehashed plot, the complete lack of explanation for why everyone not only looked but acted like refugees from an Agatha Christie piece; the nonsensical train motif (hyperspace rails?  really?); the artificial drama; the recurring need to save the pretty girl (but let the old woman or the two men die); yet another (unexplained) technique to defeat the sonic screwdriver; the TARDIS conveniently inaccessible until it magically isn’t. Most of all, Clara.  She’s whiny and conflicted, manages to get herself into trouble without actually contributing anything, and once again sees fit to lecture the Doctor for being exactly who he is and has been.  She lies to Maizy and scolds the Doctor for doing the same, yet he had a plan.

The good: Capaldi.  He really is growing into the role.  He is the most alien of the modern Doctors (perhaps of all of them).  He has layers whereas Clara just has sediment.  He’s also bitingly funny in his casual misanthropy.  I wish the writing this season were up to the task of matching his acting.  I do think he’s conveying well the Doctor’s understanding that he needs a companion to stay sane(ish), explaining his desperate attempt to entice Clara to stay (and even his attempt to co-opt Perkins — much as he tried with Courtney).

The ugly: Teasing us that this was the end of Clara Oswald’s journey (oh happy day), only to yank that away with an incredibly unbelievable last-minute change of heart.  I miss the Ponds more and more each episode.

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