Doctor Who – Mummy on the Orient Express review

As always beware of spoilers below…

So, remember last week when Clara stamped her foot and told the Doctor to leave and never to come back? Well, I for one thought that was pretty final. “Oh, the show will never be the same again.”

I thought.

So the next episode starts and guess what, Clara is with the Doctor again! Supposedly it’s for a final trip, a last hurrah, to say goodbye, but they are obviously on good terms. Oh, fickleness, thy name is Clara!

Anyway, the Doctor has taken Clara to the Orient Express, only this is some future Orient Express where the train is in space. However the passengers and crew have made the effort to dress like it’s the early part of the twentieth century.

And they have a singer singing period jazz songs. Only she’s singing Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now” in a jazz style. Seriously. And it works! I love that detail, that in the far future whoever is picking the songs just goes “yep, twentieth century, that’s close enough.” And well done to the BBC for clearing the rights.

Incidentally the BBC has put out a video of the whole song as sung by Foxes. The video also includes clips from episodes throughout the eighth season so beware of spoilers…

But on to the actual story. A mummy is appearing to selected passengers and crew, and only to those individuals, and then killing them. No one else can see the mummy and an interesting wrinkle is that exactly 66 seconds pass between the first sight of the creature to the person dying. The Doctor and Clara are trapped onboard by the train’s computer and must find out what is behind the mummy and stop it before everyone dies.

A nice detail is that a little countdown timer appears on the screen whenever someone sees the mummy. And whenever someone is ‘next’ the Doctor has to convince them to pass on as much information as possible in their last few seconds in the hope that it might help the next victim. It’s a chilling situation to be in and the Doctor acts very coldly about it.

The Doctor works out who is next, a passenger called Maisie who Clara is with. He tells Clara to bring Maisie to him and if necessary to lie about the Doctor being able to save her. So much to her disgust Clara lies for the Doctor.

But fortunately the Doctor has a plan. He is able to switch places with Maisie so he’s next and he realises that the mummy is a solder from an ancient war kept alive with technology. The Doctor says he surrenders and the mummy stops, salutes and disintegrates.

But they’re not out of the woods yet. The computer decides to kill everyone anyway and shuts off the life support. The Doctor works on a solution as everyone else collapses due to lack of oxygen.

And when Clara wakes up the Tardis is on a rocky beach with a futuristic city in the distance. The Doctor is writing something in the sand with a stick. It’s a wonderfully conposed scene made even more special by the fact that the viewer has no context on how the Tardis got there or even where it is.

The Doctor explains to Clara how he rescued the others and they go on to discuss impossible choices and pretending to be heartless. It’s a great scene for Capaldi who impresses. Along with the visuals the music is fitting as well. In fact I do believe that it’s one of my favourite moments from this season.

And it looks so stunning here are some screen captures. I’m not normally one for screen captures but I’ll make an exception this time…

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Back on the Tardis Clara has a change of heart and decides to stay with the Doctor. She calls it a “wobble”. Yes, telling someone to leave and never to come back is now just a wobble. Nice one, Clara.

I really liked this episode. I’d rank it in my top three of the season so far alongside with Deep Breath and Listen.