Doctor Who Recap - The Crimson Horror
By Edwin Davies
May 6, 2013
The process turns out to be really easily reversed, though, and The Doctor and his old chums find Clara, confront Gillyflower, and learn that Mr. Sweet is a disgusting red leech who has formed a symbiotic relationship with her. If there was anything that stood out as especially cool about this episode, which quickly devolved from that point on into another "the Doctor must save the entire world" plot once it became apparent that Gillyflower planned to use a rocket to spread her chemical across the globe, it's probably how utterly disgusting Mr. Sweet looked. It was a really nice physical effect which looked absolutely gross and horrible, and felt very much like the sort of thing kids will start worrying about finding under their beds. Great work from the production team on that one.
Anyway, things wrap up as you would expect them to: Ada learns that her mother has been experimenting on her; the rocket gets launched, but only after the poison has been surreptitiously removed; Mrs. Gillyflower falls to her death and Mr. Sweet is beaten to a gooey pulp by an enraged Ada. The Doctor and Clara leave the team to their own little adventures, though only after Jenny asks The Doctor if he has figured out what is going on with his new Companion, and Clara goes home. The only wrinkle in the story is that once she gets there, the two kids she nannies show her pictures of her throughout time, then blackmail her into taking them time travelling. It's a nice little ending which acknowledges the stresses of living a secret life with The Doctor, while also setting up some easily-packaged peril for next week's episode.
There's not a huge amount to say about this episode. It was a solid Doctor Who that was only really disappointing in the way it moved away from Vastra, Jenny and Strax so early on in proceedings. The fun of doing a 'Who, without The Doctor' episode is that it allows the audience to see something familiar from a new perspective, while also forcing the writers to come up with solutions that aren't just variations on "Use sonic screwdriver, declare greatness, repeat as required".
Admittedly, it's an approach that doesn't exactly have a flawless track record - "Love & Monsters", widely regarded as one of the worst episodes in the history of a show that has had its fair share of terrible episodes, is one such example - but it can be very interesting and can offer an opportunity to explore how other characters view The Doctor and his effect on the world. So to curtail that by having The Doctor show up weakened, then heal remarkably quickly, kind of feels like a wasted opportunity, even though the episode didn't exactly become awful after he showed up. It just felt like an episode that could have been a lot more interesting than it ultimately was.
- Not a terribly good week for Clara considering that she actually had stuff to do last week. I mean, that was largely because she was frozen for three-quarters of it, but even when she was unfrozen the script didn't make particularly great use of her.
- This episode marks the first time that Diana Rigg and Rachael Stirling have ever appeared on screen together, which is kind of neat, even if it did involve the former putting a gun to the head of the latter.
- Next week: Neil Gaiman! Cybermen! Space theme park! Please, please, please, please don't be awful.