Doctor Who: Mummy on the Orient Express (EPISODE REVIEW)

“Those that bare the Foretold’s stare have 66 seconds to live.”

This week’s episode of Doctor Who is the first episode in a while that the average rating per viewer is more consistent and less divisive. The general consensus is that it’s a solid episode, just short of being truly fantastic. What I find interesting however is that, due to its more consistent rating amongst fans, it’s currently tied up with Listen for the top episode of the season (an episode that is far stronger in my opinion). According to some 20,000 votes over on GallifreyBase, that put both episodes at about an 8.4 average out of 10. This didn’t factor into my review, but I found that truly astounding, in comparison to episodes I personally really loved.

Although I don’t consider it the best of the season to date, it is a very good, enjoyable episode – one that sticks closely to the classic monster paradigm we’ve come to know and love about the series. We’ve got the closed quarters, base under siege(ish) setting, dual storylines to give the companion something to do, a monster that is exceptionally well done, and a sinister plot devised by someone behind the curtain. And on top of it all we’ve got a more modernized take on how the companion deals with the Doctor’s personality. Aside from minor plotholes, there’s very little not to like.

The mummy, or as he’s called, The Foretold is wonderful monster. The myth explains that when you see the Foretold, it acts as a countdown death timer. 66 seconds left to live. I’m not sure if this is an actual myth, or if it just served its purpose in the episode, but regardless, it was an excellent plot device. And I don’t know if I’d consider the creature scary per say, but apparently it was frightening enough for the BBC to remove it from their next-time trailers and push the time back to 8:45. Maybe that stuff is scarier across the pond. The mummy itself was beautifully costumed and acted, which was accentuated by the direction and videography. Up there with the Teller, it’s the best season 8 has to offer. The fact that you couldn’t run from it made it more frightening than anything else though.

Who was Gus? The man behind the curtain who orchestrated the train ride full of professors and doctors and physicists to ascertain the true nature of The Foretold? The Doctor mentions he was invited by him via TARDIS phone call a few times, so he has his number. Could this be connected to the overall theme of the season, with Missy and Heaven? I doubt this’ll be the last we hear of it.

We begin the episode with the Doctor taking Clara on her last hurrah in the TARDIS. After her heated exit last week, and her noticeable absence from this episode’s trailers, I didn’t expect her to show at all. But this felt very natural, and true to her character and personality. She isn’t capable of merely closing that door after a fight and shutting the Doctor out for good. As we well know, the Doctor doesn’t make a habit of revisiting old companions, so her query about him popping by on occasion hit right at home with me. Right there we knew she couldn’t give him and that lifestyle up. It changes people. But how will her inability to do so affect her relationship with Danny? He clearly never said he wanted her to go forward with the Doctor, so that was a total lie.

Another excellent point in the episode is its overall music/soundscape. Murray Gold did an excellent job of combining 20s sounding music with the actual futuristic space setting. Aiding this is the guest appearance of English pop singer ‘Foxes’, who sang a jazzed up variant of Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now (which may or not have been meant as a symbolic representation of Clara’s mindset at the time). To listen to the full song, with mixed in clips of the next few episodes, check it out here.

What are your thoughts on the episode? Did you find Gus’ very Brit-humor voice a bit annoying? Were you overly confused as to how Clara and Maisey got locked in that room, but then easily got out? What are your thoughts on the season as a whole? And what about the Foretold? Can someone tell me if that’s a real myth or what. All I can find online are Doctor Who reviews. Sheesh. Guess I’ll throw mine in the mix.

18 thoughts on “Doctor Who: Mummy on the Orient Express (EPISODE REVIEW)

  1. The concept and plot had many flaws but I loved this episode because at its forefront was how harshly the Doctor dealt with everyone’s deaths. It was really refreshing but very realistic. He’s 2000 years old, he’s seen millions of people die, that’s how he would react. It was shown just once in ‘Into the Dalek’ but this was multiple times and never any less interesting, then it culminated into the final scene with him on the beach explaining what he did to the others (or didn’t). This plot line really spiced up a familiar and tired, but very well executed monster story. I’m also slightly addicted to their version of ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’


  2. A first premise for writing anything about a Doctor Who episode is; Did I enjoy it? The answer on this one is: Immensely!

    Discoveries were made as Clara, and the Doctor are having one last ‘hurrah’ together. The impossible girl is not impossible. Only perhaps difficult, and forthright with her opinions.

    She has been disappointed by this Doctor’s lack of empathy. So much so, she doesn’t feel she wants to continue on the further adventures with the Doctor.

    The beginning of the end of Clara? We’re lead to believe this is a very real possibility at the end of the last episode.

    The pivotal point in this episode is when the Doctor takes on all that is Maise before she is to be eliminated by, the Foretold in order that the Doctor might save her, not necessarily knowing for certain the outcome.

    A confirmation on the beach to Clara of all that took place to end the episode confirms the Doctor’s empathetic capabilities, and Clara discovers that perhaps she was wrong, and will continue.

    One of my favorites this season. See, there are good stories beyond Daleks……


  3. For me, this was a marked improvement on the last efforts. British comedian & chat show host Frank Skinner was an odd choice for guest star but just about got away with it although I got the impression he didn’t have a clue what was actually going on and didn’t get the script at all. The jelly baby cigarette case was a nice touch so yeah overall a thumbs up from this classic era fan. The biggest disappointment was whichever berk did their research on the Orient Express must have been looking at the wrong train carriages. Speaking from experience of the real thing they’re not remotely like the real ones, sleeping cabins or dining cars. Lazy research I say.


    1. Interesting. I know the Doctor mentioned this version of the Orient Express was just a tad larger, but funny you think it looked nothing like it. Aw well. Yes, I thought the Jelly Baby cigarette case was pretty great. It’s been bugging me since Into the Dalek – did he give that dying soldier a Jelly Baby? Now that we know he still carries them around I’d say that’s a strong bet.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I think this episode is getting a boost in popularity because it’s a decent, enjoyable episode, put right after an awful one (or at least a stressful one), making it seem that much better and more fun in comparison. 😉


  5. I really enjoy the season as a whole so far!

    The Doctor mentioning that he was contacted by Gus before, was actually a reference to “The Big Bang” where the Doctor got a call after Amy’s wedding, where he was told that an Egyptian goddess was on the loose on the Orient Express in space. Quite liked that reference to be honest.

    “Were you overly confused as to how Clara and Maisey got locked in that room, but then easily got out? ” – I wasn’t surprised at all that they got out. Gus clearly had control over the entire train and because he agreed that they needed to study Maiseys death for their research, he unlocked all the necessary doors for them, but enforced the invisible shield around the TARDIS so that they couldn’t flee.

    No, idea if the Foretold-myth is an actual thing or not though.


  6. This was pretty good… notwithstanding the oddity of how the girls got out of the room they couldn’t get out of previously.

    It was Murder on the Orient Express, with a Mummy… the Mummy was particularly well-done, even if it turns out to not be technically a mummy in the end.

    It’s hard to find a lot of fault with this one… though I too was surprised Clara was already back after last week’s threat of leaving… and on top of that how easily she found it to lie to Danny after he was so supportive of her previously in her distrust of the Doctor.


  7. As someone who’s grown up in an environment of British humour, Gus was the opposite of annoying. For me, he was parodying that style, which itself is a very British thing to do.

    “Were you overly confused as to how Clara and Maisey got locked in that room, but then easily got out?” Yes. Very.

    “What are your thoughts on the season as a whole?” Liking it so far. Only disliked two episodes.

    Regarding the Foretold: I’m also seeing just Doctor Who results. I’m guessing it’s fictional, or we’d have heard the BBC promoting it based on the real myth.


  8. This is Doctor Who, both as written by most writers and as remembered by the British public. The rest of us can enjoy the show but we neither pay for it nor have it on our prime time top ten list on Saturdays.

    Listen is Mary Sue redux, it won’t be remembered at all, let alone fondly. This one will go into the threadbare Hinchcliffe satchel as a welcome return to what the vast majority of viewers and readers are looking for.


    1. Yeah, I can agree with that. Extremely Hinchcliffe. I don’t know if Listen will be entirely forgotten, at least not in my book, but I see your meaning.

      I can’t agree that Hinchliffe style DW is the only real Doctor Who. Certainly a standard that’s held strong and true for decades. I prefer my Who open-genre’d. If it were the same Hinchliffe stuff every week I doubt it’d still be on air.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. No I think if it was purely Hinchcliffe style it would for sure have stayed on air, until Michael Grade took it off air under any pretext- it was his goal all along, the rubbish quality just made it way easier.

        I also like it to have a variety. I just think that variety needs to be orbiting around a bankable basic type.

        Likewise these inane and forced arcs- if they weren’t so monotonously “there” every year it would be a lot better. Ironically the more conformist Doctor Who is to the RTD sources- Buffy, comicbooks, etc.- the more boring it gets. It’s good to imitate highly successful and entertaining shows, for sure, but Doctor Who is sort of its own genre.

        I think it’s majorly lost sight of that, and is way too imitative now. Mummy is imitative too, of course- but there’s an ineffable Whoishness that it has.

        Listen commits the crime of explanation- the Doctor shouldn’t be explained- and it commits the great crime of Clara Sue saves the day. enough already.


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