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Doctor Who Recap - The Rings of Ankhaten

By Edwin Davies

April 8, 2013

...in the name of love before you break my heart.

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Anyway, before all of that, Clara sees two robed figures chasing a young girl named Merry (Emilia Jones) through the streets. Clara lies about seeing her and finds out that Merry is the Queen of Years, a figure who takes part in a yearly ritual designed to appease a "sleeping God" who the people fear will destroy the Universe if it ever awakes. This was a pretty nice showcase for Jenna-Louise Coleman to demonstrate what kind of Companion she will be, which so far seems to be a mix of curiosity, wonder and Amy Pond. She's not an exact clone of Smith's first Companion, and she certainly doesn't have the relationship baggage, but she filled the same role as someone unafraid to wander off and find trouble without necessarily getting into trouble in the process. It's a dynamic the show has done lots in the past and it still works, even in an episode so generally lacking in incident as this one.

So having learned about the ritual - which involved a lot of singing - and convinced Merry that she'll be great, something seems to go wrong and the horrifying Mummy creature inside the pyramid wakes up, hankering for some juicy souls. Merry gets dragged away by a beam of light with The Doctor and Clara in pursuit astride a space moped, in scenes that looked like they could have been done on “Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!” Considering how much attention to detail was paid to making the star look as impressive as possible, the sheer cheapness of those scenes was eye-searingly bad.

It turns out that the Mummy isn't the "god" itself, just its watchdog. The star is the actual being in question, and the disruption of its steady feed of young, innocent sacrifices whose memories and souls sustain it causes it to get a bit pissy, which is no small matter where stars are concerned. The Doctor offers his own vast array of memories to save everyone else, though this proves insufficient, then Clara holds up the all-important leaf and The Doctor talks about how the potential it represents, of the life that her mother didn't live because she died at such a young age. This all proves to be too much for the star (and, if I'm honest, me) which calms down considerably. Love conquers all, The Doctor takes Clara home and continues trying to figure out just what is going on with her.

There's been a lot of discussion online already about this episode, much of which boils down to people thinking it's either a really strong episode or one of the worst episodes the show has ever produced. I wouldn't go that far, Lord knows it's no "Fear Her," but it is one of the weaker ones of Steven Moffat's tenure. Everything about it seemed off, from the distractingly sloppy visual effects to the script by Neil Cross (creator of the enjoyably pulpy Columbo-in-London cop drama Luther) which lacked a lot of the wit and panache that can sustain even the blandest of episodes. Because this was a bland episode. Not irredeemably bad, not without some effective moments, but it washed over me without leaving any trace.




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Rating: 5/10

Miscellanea

- Is it just me, or does the theme that plays whenever The Doctor is contemplating Clara sound a little like the bridge in "Belle" from Beauty and the Beast? I now cannot stop thinking "Here's where she meets Prince Charming. But she won't discover that it's him till chapter three" whenever it plays.

- Also, I know that the show is produced by BBC Wales, but did there really need to be quite so much baritone singing?

- I neglected to mention last week that I really like the new opening credits. They've very stylish and in keeping with the 50th anniversary theme of the show, even going so far as to incorporate Matt Smith's face in a nod to the opening titles of yore.

- As someone who was always excited/terrified by the notion of being trapped on a submarine when things go awry, next week's episode has me pretty excited.

- I'm also completely unfamiliar with the Ice Warriors, who haven't been used in the show since 1974, and I'm always interested in seeing a new take on the show's well-trodden history.


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