The God Complex

They’re certainly trying to ramp up the scary episodes in this series of Doctor Who. Night Terrors was as creepy as could be, and this episode is just plain scary. Set in an 80’s hotel where every room is filled with somebody’s bad dream, it’s rare to see the Doctor looking and feeling so helpless. And I think that’s one of the scariest things they can show us.

Anyway, plot recap. Like I said, the Doctor and co land in an 80’s hotel where every room is filled with somebody’s bad dream. Once you see inside “your room”, you become a bit evangelical, calling out “Praise him” and welcoming death happily. And death comes in the form of a Minotaur who prowls the hotel waiting for people to call him, before jumping on them and stopping all of their organs at once. Not gruesome, but not exactly pleasant either.

Three of the four people already in the hotel are picked off quickly and easily; soon the Doctor realises that faith is what the Minotaur feeds on and Amy is in danger because of her faith that the Doctor will save her. The Doctor destroys that faith by saying he can’t save her from this, thus saving her from the Minotaur (paradox-a-rama) and dismantling the hotel. Then he drops Amy and Rory off at a new home with a new car, in order to save them from himself.

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I’m going to have to deal with the majority of the episode first and the final scene last, because I have completely contrasting feelings about both of them.

The majority of the episode is very, very good. The writer (Toby Whitehouse, who also created Being Human) did a brilliant job at creating an easy to grasp concept that has the potential to scare the beejezus out of you depending on your imagination. The idea that your room is in the hotel somewhere and that once you find it — and you will find it, and you will open it — you’ll be killed by a giant horned beastie is brilliant.

It was shot very well too. The scenes when the characters began to praise the Minotaur, flickering quickly between smiles to screams to the words “Praise Him” were incredibly unsettling but difficult to take your eyes away from. The characters experiencing different scary things in the rooms, from clowns to Weeping Angels to manic gorillas, meant that you were never sure of if what was going to be in the next room would be your personal fear (Mine would quite probably be a room full of fish. Just FYI. I have nightmares about being attacked by fish. I wish I was joking). The hotel itself felt claustrophobic and uncomfortable but similarly devoid of any shelter whatsoever from the baddies.

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And oh, what baddies. Oh, what characters full stop, actually. The four people that the Doctor encounters in the hospital — the gambler in the throes of his Minotaur faith, the bullied teenager with the CIA conspiracy theories, the doctor with her strong belief that this is hell and the alien from a planet that has been invaded more than any other — are all written and acted to perfection. I cannot stand David Walliams for more than five minutes without wanting to poke my own eyes out usually, but he was utterly perfect in this slimey, cowardly, thoroughly loathsome role.

However the stand out performance for me was Amara Karan as doctor Rita. I’ve only ever seen her play slightly camper role before in Poirot and St. Trinian’s but she was heartbreakingly good as the intelligent, kind, faithful and brave young doctor. Another person that would have been an excellent companion. Can’t we do a Freema Agyeman on her and get her back as Rita’s sister or cousin?

So, yes. Good episode that was scary, exciting, ruthless and generally very very good. Clearly borrowed influences from the Cretean Labyrinth, the polymorph from Red Dwarf and The Cube (The 1969 Jim Henson film, not the ITV gameshow), but that’s not a bad thing. And at least they were honest with it, what with calling the creature a Minotaur and having the Doctor fiddle with a Rubik’s Cube for part of the episode.

Although having said that, he also fiddled with a Rubik’s Cube in Night Terrors. Maybe I’m just being a conspiracy freak or maybe I’ve just become used to tiny insignificant things like Donna mentioning bees or the words Bad Wolf becoming mega important in series finales, but is that a coincidence? Are there any other examples of The Doctor playing with a Rubik’s Cube? But anyway, the majority of the episode was very, very good.

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Then we get to the end.

The whole Amy-and-Rory-being-left-behind thing was done very well. The Doctor clearly really, really cares about these two and their relationship, and it’s been made clear to him that Amy and/or Rory will almost certainly die if they stay with him. So he leaves them behind. And it was very sad and very well done, and I accept that. The ending was almost — almost — beautiful.

But I can’t accept Amy’s line “And if you see my daughter around, tell her to visit her old mum”.

No. No. No.

This implies that Amy and Rory have decided that it’s fine that they don’t have Melody, because they know she grows up to be safe as River and they have seen her grown from child to adult via their friendship with Mels. So they’re happy to let some eye-patched scary lady take her away and brainwash her into being a total psychopath who wants to murder the Doctor, as she was in Let’s Kill Hitler. They are happy not to raise her.

Sorry, but no. Rory wouldn’t allow that. Amy certainly wouldn’t allow that. You’ve seen how protective she is over her family, she would not let her daughter be turned into the Mels we saw in Let’s Kill Hitler, or be the scared child in the astronaut suit from The Impossible Astronaut/The Day Of The Moon. It just wouldn’t happen.

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More than anything, Amy would want her baby back. She would want to raise her as a parent, not a friend. I’m nowhere near as headstrong, stubborn or fierce as Amy, but I bloody would and I would fight the entire universe to get her back. It does not ring true that she would be happy to let her go, and unless this gets sorted out somehow at the end of the series I will be most cross.

However, this didn’t spoil the rest of the episode. This episode was utterly fantastic, minus Amy’s line, and this makes it four very good episodes in a row. Only two more left in this half of the series; fingers crossed they’ll both be just as fantastic and we'll have a perfect half-series.

Last updated: 20/04/2018 00:51:06

Doctor Who

The long-running BBC TV science fiction series that started in 1963 and recently celebrated its 50th Anniversary. 2017 saw Peter Capaldi regenerate into the show's first female Doctor played by Jodie Whittaker. The Thirteenth Doctor's first season debuts in 2018, with Chris Chibnall replacing Steven Moffat as the current showrunner.

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