‘Doctor Who’ Recap: “Mummy on the Orient Express”

By October 12, 2014

There’s murder on the Orient Express…and this time, an ancient mummy is the culprit.

The Doctor and Clara arrive on the space-faring train, dressed in 1920s garb. It’s their “last hurrah” — a goodbye trip before Clara can move on. Despite her outrage in “Kill The Moon,” she’s decided she doesn’t hate the Doctor, even if she was very angry with him.

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A string of deaths interrupts their trip. 66 seconds before their deaths, the victims — and only the victims — can see the mummies. It’s picking people off one by one, starting with an old woman. Her granddaughter, Maisie, later breaks into a room with Clara, trying to see the body. Meanwhile, the Doctor poses as a mystery shopper, hoping to get answers.

He soon realizes that all the passengers in his train car are scientists, and that they have been brought here to study the mummy. The computer, ‘Gus,’ forces them to investigate, even as the creature picks them off one by one. When the Doctor fails to comply with an order, Gus decompresses a train compartment, killing all of the train’s chefs.

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As Captain Quell says, the Doctor has a terrible bedside manner. He implores the mummy’s victims to give him data in the moments before their deaths, and makes no effort to cushion the blow: once they see the mummy, they’re doomed.

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Discovering that the creature is picking off the weakest passengers first, the Doctor realizes that Maisie is the next victim. He demands that Clara bring the doomed woman to him, under the pretense that he can save her. Clara does so reluctantly. She then discovers that the Doctor knew there might be danger on the Orient Express all along, and she is furious.

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“This is why I’m leaving you. Because you lied to me again, and now you’ve made me lie. You’ve made me your accomplice.”

But, as it so happens, the Doctor lied yet again. He uses a device to steal Maisie’s anger and sorrow, transferring it into his own brain. The mummy, confused, switches victims, and the Doctor scrambles to save his own life. “I’m the Doctor, and I will be your victim this evening!” he states eagerly, then quips, “Are you my mummy?” He quickly deduces that the creature was a soldier in an ancient battle, and the words “We surrender!” finally pacify it. It disintegrates, leaving behind the piece of alien technology that was keeping it alive.

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Gus is pleased that the mystery is solved, but the computer—or whomever programmed it—has no intention of leaving any survivors. Gus begins to asphyxiate the passengers, but the Doctor gets them out in time, transporting them to the nearest civilized planet.

“You were pretending to be heartless,” Clara says hopefully, upon realizing that he’d planned to save Maisie all along.

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But the Doctor doesn’t agree. “Would you like to think that about me? Would that make it easier?” he asks. He wasn’t convinced he could save Maisie, and, had she died, he would have simply moved on until he finally beat the creature.

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“Sometimes the only choices you have are bad ones, but you still have to choose,” he says. Is he alluding to last week’s disastrous adventure, where he forced Clara to choose between a hatching egg and an entire planet?

They return to the TARDIS, and Clara asks the Doctor if his life of danger is an addiction. He can’t answer; he’s never tried to give it up.

But, if it’s not an addiction for him, perhaps it is for her. Clara calls Danny, and tells him that she’ll be home soon…but the minute she gets off the phone, she tells the Doctor she’s changed her mind. She isn’t ready to give up their life together.

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And was it just me, or was she looking straight at the Doctor when she said “I love you” to Danny? Her relationship with the Time Lord is clearly complicated; though he has been verbally adamant that there’s no romance between them, there have been occasional comments that suggest there’s still some sexual tension in the TARDIS. And whether it’s romantic or not, Clara did admit to Danny a few episodes back that she loves the Doctor.

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