Sunday, October 12, 2014

Review: "Mummy on the Orient Express"

I was all set to hate this one. I really was. The premise alone sounded too stupid for me to want to give it a chance.

I admit that this one caught me by surprise.

Spoilers follow.

Still there? You were warned.

It starts on an old-fashioned train. An old lady starts hallucinating a mummy that only she can see. Then it reaches her and she's suddenly dead.

It turns out the old-fashioned train is actually a spacecraft set up to replicate the old Orient Express for reasons. Everyone on the train is dressed up in period outfits and acts period for reasons.

The TARDIS materializes in the cargo hold and the Doctor and Clara disembark. This is to be their last journey together and the Doctor brought her for a last huzzah. They have drinks and exchange some talk. The Doctor talks of planets and phenomena. Clara talks of feelings. They're not really communicating. They have a brief encounter with the grand-daughter of the old woman who died. The grand-daughter is out-of-it and tips them off to the mysterious death.

It doesn't take long before the Doctor is poking around and investigating. Clara, in the meantime, winds up with the grief-stricken granddaughter. Shenanigans get them trapped in a cargo hold while more deaths happen by the mummy that only the impending-dead can see. A countdown of 66 seconds happens when the mummy appears until the target is dead. Nobody can stop it.

The Doctor's investigation brings him across the ship's engineer, the PSTD-plagued ship's captain, and a few other passengers. It turns out almost all the passengers are actually highly-skilled scientists. Everyone has been maneuvered on to the train to solve the mystery of the mummy (called "the Foretold") which has been killing people for millennia.

The Doctor reveals that the mysterious puppet master has even lured him, though the Doctor knew he was being lured. Clara, by this point, is furious at being dragged into danger and lied to by the Doctor. The Doctor, however, is more focused on figuring out the mystery of the mummy. As people are targeted, he remorselessly quizzes the soon-to-be-dead on giving him information on the mummy before the target is killed. The Doctor's callous behavior is angering and disgusting others, including Clara.

Finally, the mummy targets the grief-stricken granddaughter. The Doctor performs technological wizardry and tricks the mummy into thinking the Doctor is the target. He quickly decrypts the mummy's secret: it is a super-soldier kept alive by some sort of malfunctioning life-draining technology. The Doctor surrenders, and the mummy stands down then disintegrates.

The puppet-master behind tricking everyone on the train then tries to murder everyone on board to cover up the events, but the Doctor saves them all.

Clara finally decides to continue staying with the Doctor, lying to him about Danny Pink being okay with it. The Doctor seems dubious, but glad of her company.

All-in-all, it was an entertaining episode. A menacing, proper monster and the claustrophobic feel of "classic Doctor Who" coupled with memorable side-characters made for a pleasant change of pace. I even enjoyed the Doctor and Clara interacting (for a change). I'm really liking the seeming-misanthropic callousness of Capaldi's Doctor. Not a bad story. Not bad at all.

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