The novel is a classic, and this particular episode stuck to a classic formula as well. Much like the Hercule Poirot story, the Doctor was faced with a seemingly straight forward murder mystery that turned out to have far more levels than initially seemed.
We’re not actually talking about the 'Foretold' mummy that leaves you with sixty six seconds to live, either.
No, what we’re talking about is the dark tones of the Doctor that come out in this episode, continuing the uncomfortable feeling around the protagonist’s morality under Peter Capaldi.
The grandeur of the actual space-train, ‘The Orient Express’, was captured perfectly by the Whovian production team, with wonderful costuming and a great swing cover of Queen’s ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ from chart star Foxes. The light comedy and gags were also on offer throughout to maintain the balance of severity and light-heartedness that defines Doctor Who.
The principles and decision making from the Doctor, however, were not nearly so convincing.
Faced with the choice of saving individuals or attempting to stop the Foretold from killing more, the character seemed completely unfazed at sacrificing innocent lives in order to ultimately stop the monster – and he only seemed to want to stop the mummy for the thrill of the chase rather than any caring touch.
"The storyline brought out the worst in the Doctor whilst keeping the audience on side. He saved a majority and sacrificed a minority. It would almost seem logical had he not been so callous."
When Clara asks about the others, the Doctor jokes that he left those remaining on the train to die and transported only her back to safety. It seems this may not have been a joke after all, with the decision to not show the escape inviting on questions.
The storyline was a clever one in order to bring out the worst in the Doctor whilst keeping the audience on side. He had a time limit in which to save a majority and sacrificed a minority to do so. It would almost seem reasonable had he not been so callous about it. But it has certainly left us keen to see more.
The primary school teacher senses the Doctor is not a truthful man, but she too seems addicted to the thrill of his lifestyle and destined to fall to an unhappy demise – think ‘this was my last day on the job’ type of shit. Once the mysterious sidekick, Clara is now the time-junkie who almost got away with it, but it seems unlikely that she will now be allowed to leave in one piece.
There was no sign of Missy meanwhile, but the riddle of Gus, the unknown controller of the Foretold experiment, is undoubtedly linked to her, and the link between the demise of the Foretold – openly branded ‘a soldier’ by the Doctor – and a certain Mr. Pink seems hard to ignore as well.
"Oh, and there was a terrible performance from Frank Skinner in there too. Seriously, it was like his character’s role was written for a ten year old"
Lots of questions then and lots of interesting plot points to make sure we keep an eye on. A good episode that ticked all the usual boxes and left the audience even more confused about the nature of the Doctor under Peter Capaldi... Quirky but heartless. Friendly but ruthless.
Oh, and there was a terrible performance from Frank Skinner in there too. Seriously, it was like his character’s role was written for a ten year old, and when no under-ager would take it they were forced to give it to him.
But don’t let that most cringe worthy of performances dampen an otherwise decent show.