Agatha Christie is one of our greatest mystery writers and the Mummy one of our favorite movie monsters, and neither is a stranger to “Doctor Who.” They collide this week in an episode just bursting with guest stars. Meet me, after the jump for my thoughts on “Mummy on the Orient Express.”
“There were many trains that take the name the Orient Express, but only one in space.” You can’t get much more absurd than that, unless of course, you see it on your TV screen – a train chugging and puffing at a maddening speed through the black reaches of space. Inside the train is a world designed to the intimate detail of the original train, only in space. Only on “”Doctor Who.”
Add in a 66-second time table and a horrifying monster – sure to put you shuddering behind the sofa – that is invisible to everyone but its victim, and you have this episode’s premise. The Doctor appears shortly after, well, after those swell steampunk intro credits actually, someone asks, “Is there a doctor? I need a doctor!” What’s really puzzling is the presence of Clara, especially after how things were left last episode.
Hatred and Dislike
After an absolutely wonderful rendition of Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now” by Foxes (really, that’s all we get?), The Doctor and Clara really get down to it. She says she really hated him, hated him for weeks, but… and then she throws that Sixto Rodriguez quote at him – “Hatred is too strong an emotion to waste on someone you don’t like.” Clara clarifies that she doesn’t hate The Doctor, but she can’t keep doing this.
Wait, what? She got back together with him to break up with him again? Are we sure she’s not a high school student instead of a high school teacher? Seriously, I’m calling shenanigans on this mess. And if The Doctor was thinking clearly, he would too. Impossible girl or not, Clara has got to go. It’s a good thing for the viewers, and the writers, that this conversation is interrupted by the plot.
Splitting up (not like that, at least not yet), The Doctor makes quick friends with Perkins the chief engineer, played by actor and comedian Frank Skinner, a hardcore Who fan who would make a terrific companion. Who needs Clara? Speaking of the Impossible Girl, she chats up the train’s resident madwoman, and anyone who’s ridden SEPTA knows that most trains come with their own nutjob.
Maisie Pitt was with the old lady killed by the mummy in the opening, and the folks in charge of the train won’t let her see the body. While Clara follows her about, The Doctor makes more friends. On a space train full of doctors (accredited ones, not renegade Time Lords), it is crazy easy to pump folks for information. The Doctor hits up one versed in alien mythology to tell him about The Foretold.
The doctor and The Doctor trade notes on a monster, a mummy that calls itself The Foretold, the newest of the Who monsters that play by rules. Why do all the new Moffat monsters have to have rules? Only the victim sees this grotesque and sofa-worthy frightening monster, and it takes 66 seconds for the mummy to kill you.
While the men and the women compare notes on mummies, doctors, and relationships, The Foretold continues to take out passengers mostly invisible and in just over a minute. Including Maisie as an upcoming target. And you thought Clara and The Doctor’s relationship could not get worse, right?
And in The End
The Peter Capaldi Doctor is still reckless and thoughtless of human lives. Remember rule number one? The Doctor lies. And now, Clara lies as well, and effectively cheating on Danny with The Doctor. I have had just about enough of this wishy-washy Impossible Girl, and I don’t like what she’s doing to The Doctor.
Serious serious missed opportunity in Perkins saying no to becoming a companion. I think this was a mistake. His humor, earnestness, and brutal honesty could be what the series needs at this point.
Next: “Flatline” – another story from the newbie Who writer of this episode, Jamie Mathieson, check it out: