There was the inevitability that the Doctor and Clara wouldn’t separate each other (at least until it reaches the end of the season/christmas that is), so the supposed ‘climatic’ ending in last weeks episode wasn’t as powerful of a scene – we knew they were bound to end up adventuring in a brand new romp soon; what became a complete peeve to many audience members was how quickly the resolution occurred.
After the chilling opener which introduced the mummy, Clara walks out of the TARDIS doors, causing many viewers to be baffled to her appearance whilst travelling with the Doctor. This wasn’t a continuity flaw, but rather an exploration of a different dynamic which the series hasn’t encountered before. Once a companion officially leaves in the show, the Doctor tends to evade an accidental (or deliberate) meet-up, which links to how Clara reacted when the Doctor called this trip the “one last hurrah”; she was unsure if the Doctor would actually return for her for a prompt visit in the future, and became quite worried on the subject. It’s intriguing, because as stated, the Doctor never went through the effort of a “one last hurrah” for his previous companions, once they’ve left, the Doctor assures that it stays that way. Normally, this episode would have been tackled with leaving Clara behind at Earth and instead focusing on the Doctor acting solo with a guest star to aid him throughout the episode. Instead, Jamie Mathieson uses the conflict which sparked in the last episode to further develop the status of the relationship between the Doctor and Clara, which Clara iconically quotes “Hatred is too strong of an emotion to waste on someone you don’t like“, clarifying the love-hate relationship the two bear.
Even though Clara’s character is used as a dramatic device by being abruptly dragged into this episode, she still spends much of this episode split apart from the Doctor, unveiling her independent thoughts, without her acting in awe and with limited thoughts as she usually is when around the Doctor. This allows fantastic performances on behalf of both Peter Capaldi and Jenna Louise Coleman; I practically congratulate the talent they portray on the screen in every review, however it really is a necessity to point out as they can transform even the dullest of scripts to a lively plot (however not to say that this script was dull, in fact, not at all).
There were various references to past events and jokes such as the jelly babies which the Doctor still conveniently carries around, the “Are you my mummy?” joke, and the clarification as to what the correlation was to the Eleventh Doctors phone call of the Orient Express and this episode. Throughout the episode it became a hunt of easter eggs and little call-backs, which livened up the viewing experience even more so.
Even the monster within the episode was particularly terrifying. I must say how impressed I’ve been with the alien choices for this season; I mostly do not feel too astonished by Doctor Who creatures, but this season has managed to make all the featured creatures either incredibly interesting, or just down-right frightful! The deaths, while not gory, were horrific to watch – and I don’t become too affected by shock or fear in television! There was a genuine construction of tension and pondering to figure out how exactly will this episode be resolved. Stylistic choices such as the close-ups and tracking of the mummy’s feet to create mystery, or the visual representation of the stopwatch all felt absolutely well produced.
Then there’s the ridiculous. It’s well-known to Whovians that this episode has a campy and extremely fictional premises; yet featuring items such as a iPad and attempting to sneak it off as being another hi-tech gadget from the train seemed completely laughable and pathetic; it feels as though the props department don’t even care anymore in creating a realistic setting (as far as realistic a train riding in space can go). Other factors such as CGI were considerably poorer than what we’ve seen before in the series, which made scenes such as the reveal of the death of the kitchen staff less menacing than it was intended to be.
‘Mummy on the Orient Express’ instantly became a classic episode for me, it dealt with the conflicts of Clara and the Doctor in an interesting way – despite what other critics have said of the lack of screen-time distance – while also representing the mummy in a petrifying manner and providing an overall extraordinary plot! I’m sure to re-watch this episode a multitude of times!
+ “Computer, can you open the door please?” and Capaldi’s response to the rejection… Yes I bursted out loud laughing.
+ All the guest stars were brilliant in tonight’s episode, playing over-the-top Cluedo-eque characters. Foxes was definitely underused though despite the attention the media made of the announcement of Foxes starring in this episode.
+ Clara: “Okay, so you can save her… right?”, Doctor: “Of Course not, why would you think that?”. I love how reassuring the Doctor is as to how brilliant he is!