JReviews: Doctor Who Series 8 Episode 8- Mummy On The Orient Express

It's review time.

Ok, so this episode has a title and premise that would lead you believe it is going to be terrible. A mummy, that only the people its about kill can see, going around murdering people on an Orient Express that flies through space. It just sounds too ridiculous doesn't it. Well, it's not. It's bloody brilliant actually. SO good I hardly have anything to say about it, because I didn't make any notes whilst I was watching it because I was too busy watching it. So sorry, this review is going to be very condensed.

Too kick off, lets talk about something I don't usually talk about, the design aspect of this episode. The fact it's the Orient Express, everything is really art deco and classy, it's gorgeous. The dresses, the set design for the carriages, it's all just so brilliant. And the design of the Mummy was pretty nice as well. Obviously it isn't all that hard to do a convincing Mummy well, just copy the classic design from the Hammer Horror movies and you're set. But still, he was decently creepy, especially when viewed from the back, which was more disturbing than the front because more rotten skin was showing. So, yeah, the episode certainly has the design down to pat as far as I'm concerned.

Next, Frank Skinner. He's a great person to get on the show and he played his part wonderfully, but I'm still a bit confused as to what his part was. He's just a simple engineer, yet he's smarter than all of the experts bar the Doctor and turns out to be able to suggest TARDIS repairs to the Doctor at the end, and we're expected to believe that he's just some incidental character? Sorry, but they could have done more. Half way through I began to suspect that he was the person behind it all, since he seems to know so much, and he'd have fit the part perfectly. But they didn't do it. Instead we're left with no explanation as to who is behind the events of this episode and a prodigy level intelligent train repair man. Excuse me if I'm a little disappointed. But not much.

Then we have the Doctor. These last two episodes have really given Capaldi a chance to shine. His Doctor is ruthless, hard to trust and hard to like. He was quite content to just observe people die, and even asked them to give commentary on their own deaths, in order to save the day and he seems completely unphased by it. His immediate predecessors would be agonising over all these deaths that he failed to prevent (probably saying "I'm sorry, I'm so, so sorry" a lot in the process), but he just doesn't care. And then he turns round and makes an "Are you my mummy?" joke and you just see a glimmer of Tom Baker in some of his actions. He's certainly growing on me and he definitely works best in situations where the only choices to make are bad choices.

And finally, before I sign off, I have one more thing to address. It's not entirely related to this episode, but it is still worth mentioning. I've finally figured out what's wrong with Clara. And to explain, I'm going to talk about the anime Fairy Tail, which some of you might have heard of (though if you haven't, I would highly recommend you checking it out) and I will be spoiling some non major storyline events in the process, so sorry. In Fairy Tail there's this one character called Elfman Strauss. He's not a main character or anything, in fact most of his early appearances are mostly along the joke character line, with him sitting around an making comments about how manly either he is or another character is/ isn't. So there's no real reason to care about him. However, there is an episode around 25 episodes into the series, where Elfman is forced to fight a much more powerful wizard and loses. Because he loses he is forced to relive the worst day of his life, the day in which he lost control of his magic and accidentally killed his younger sister, and the aftermath of those actions. Now, this is a character that has had no previous backstory or character development, but within a maybe 10-15 minute flashback sequence, you come to care about this character in so many different ways, and at this point only one of the main characters in the series has had a backstory episode, so you actually know and can understand this background joke character more than most of the main cast. Do you see where I'm going with this. Clara has not had anything like this. I'm not saying she needs to have a tragic backstory, but none of her character development has developed her character. It's taken Doctor Who one and a half series not to do to it's main female lead what it took the Fairy Tail anime 15 minutes to do to one of it's supporting cast. I know one's a animated fantasy show and one's a live action Sci-Fi show, but good characterisation and character development is universal surely. And if I'm being honest, I would not have cared if Clara wasn't in this episode or wasn't in any of the future episodes and I'm going to keep saying it until she gets some proper decent character development.

So with that out of the way, what do you guys think of this episode? Did you like it, did you dislike it, was it better than previous episodes or was it a bit meh for you? Also, what are your opinions on Clara's character development? What do you think they could do to make her a better character, or do you think she's a good character already?

Until next time, JR out.

JR19759

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3 Responses to JReviews: Doctor Who Series 8 Episode 8- Mummy On The Orient Express

  1. I’ve tried really hard getting into this show since all my friends keep going on about how fantastic it is, and I really love Capaldi as an actor. But I just don’t really see the appeal, and I sorta feel like I’m missing out, like I just don’t get it.

  2. Great episode of the best show ever, as always. And in this episode I definitely like Clara better than in all the previous. She does not go all hysterical, she is pretty calm and does her job as a companion – for the Doctor and for this lady with old hag.

    I liked everything. The plot, the actors, the special effects – everything. And especially the “easter eggs” – the hint to “The Big Bang” ending, Jelly Babies and “The Empty Child”. Although I, too, thought that this mechanic guy was involved somehow.

  3. I still feel like the engineer/mechanic might have a later role in the series, especially since we never found out who was behind the whole mummy mess. He just seemed too shifty, too interested in what was going on, and had significant scenes with the Doctor without any specific arc (that I remember). In thinking like a writer, with a character like that, it has to have a point and purpose as I don’t think he was just companion filler while Clara was stuck in that room for half the episode. Plus, looking at the image above, he’s second behind the Doctor and our title character, the mummy, is third. Hmm…

    As far as Clara goes. I still like her a lot and they definitely set up some potential trouble with her changing her mind about traveling with the Doctor and her lying about it to Danny. As far as character development, going back to Rose up until now in the modern ‘Who’, I feel like companions are sort of that classic sidekick/human type of character. They have purpose and significance, but ultimately they are a like a fan/audience proxy. Other than family dynamics or finding adventure/purpose in their mundane or directionless life I don’t think any companion thus far has had any ‘Fairy Tail’ like development (sorry, haven’t seen the anime) at least not unless it’s near the end of their run where usually something bad happens to the companion(s) or they part ways to do bigger and better things as a stronger individual.

    I will say these last two episodes have been my favorites of the Capaldi era thus far.