“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.