“Cowardice isn’t quaint, it’s sly.”
SPOILER ALERT! THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS.
And we’re paying a last visit to some old episodes from the Smith Administration before his impending exit in favour of Peter Capaldi, in the spirit of nostalgia and fair-mindedness and a general and deplorable lack of Doctor Who in everybody’s lives…
Actually, that’s a lie. Really I was just waiting for Derren Brown’s latest escapade to start on Channel 4, and reruns of Doctor Who seemed like a good way to fill the time. (When are they not, anyway?)
So The God Complex is, for the first half-hour, a promising episode. In a creepy 1960s hotel, the Doctor, Amy and Rory (who is a reason to watch this all by himself) find a bunch of terrified people who tell them that every room in this hotel contains someone’s deepest darkest fear…and when you find your room, something even more terrible comes to claim you…
Like I said, promising. That initial premise is embellished and improved upon by some well-placed humour (the race whose whole economy basically depends on successive invasions is particularly inspired), a Muslim character who for a change isn’t mad or suicidal and is in fact rather intelligent, and a nice twist on the by-now-rather-hackneyed theme of Saving the Day by the Power of Love.
This is all rather let down by the payoff, however, in which we are supposed to find out what the point of the whole setup is…and we don’t, really. The Doctor mutters something about a prison, and That’s All, Folks! Onto the Great Goodbye Scene in which Amy and Rory Leave.
I have a couple of questions: who is the prison for? The monster? But wasn’t he just a guard? And if so what’s going to happen now you’ve killed him? And don’t you think whoever built the prison would find a better food source for said guard? Like, the prisoners themselves? It feels as if the screenwriter (Toby Whithouse, allegedly) came up with a REALLY GOOD IDEA without really thinking it through and realised the night before he was due to hand the script in that there was no proper explanation for it, and so hastily tacked one on the end. This is sloppy story-telling, and it’s annoying, especially when you are expected to draw some deep moral from it. (“To such a creature, death would be a gift.”)
So, a request to the incoming Capaldi Administration: please remember that your viewers aren’t stupid. Thank you kindly.