Doctor Who: Mummy on the Orient Express Review

Posted October 13, 2014 by Ryan Campbell in Nerdy Bits

This season of Doctor Who has focused on one thing, “is the doctor good?” And tonight’s episode “Mummy on the Orient Express” continued to explore that question. You can imagine my surprise when very early on in the episode we see The Doctor show up on the space train historically recreated to resemble the Orient Express with none other than Clara Oswald. After the events of last week and the scenes and previews for this episode it appeared this would be a sans companion episode. Instead we get a understanding between Clara and the Doctor that this will be their last pleasant evening together. Of course that’s never how it ends up (although it would be a great curve ball just once to have a episode where nothing did happen). Anyway the passengers are quickly woken up to the fact that a centuries old mummy known to legend as “The Foretold” is appearing to passengers that mysteriously die 66 seconds later.


Lucky for all the passengers the Doctor is on board. The episode features an interesting mystery as the Doctor is rendered helpless so he is forced to plead with those who are about to die to give up and spend their last moments giving him as many details about the mummy as they can. The Doctors is always entertaining when he is helpless and clueless and in this episode his struggle to piece the mystery together before everyone on the train is killed presents an interesting dynamic.

Of course in the world of Who there is never just one thing going on as we discover there is a computer system that has gathered all the passengers together for a reason. The passengers represent the leading scientific minds in history and alien technology, they are forced to try and figure out how to harness the power of the mummy and they discover they are not the only train this “Gus” has collected. So of course Clara discovers the Doctor has been requested for this trip before and came on board knowing something was up. I’m not sure I completely understand or agree with Clara’s issues with the doctor, I like the idea that she feels so small when he is in God mode but as for her issues with him lying that’s always been known, it’s rule #1 in fact. When the focus is put on how small he sees the human race I can enjoy the angle especially when we contrast it with Smiths doctor who would go to the ends time and space to save humankind. When the focus shifts towards his lying and putting them in danger I have a harder time buying it.


Another fault I found with the episode was in the resolution. It’s somewhat become a typical trope of Who when the entire mystery is wrapped up in the final few minutes and leaves a whole ton of questions. We find out the Mummy is some sort of phase shifting soldier (keeping with the soldier motif this season). The soldier is waiting to hear certain words or a command and is staying close to a flag that is kept on the train. That’s really all we ever know about it. Not how old or what species the soldier was. I suppose there is only so much time in the episode and if I had to pick between a great mystery or tons of exposition I take the mystery but to not find out more specifics about the monster missed the mark a little for me.

The real point of this episode was to continue to explore the layers of the Doctor and whether he really does care or not. Last week we saw what appeared to be his best attempts at caring only for it to blow up in his face with Clara, (I think most guys have been there). This week we saw again him appear to be very cold and apathetic towards human life only to see it was all an act to keep Gus on his toes and the Doctor take the place in front of the Mummy and defeat it. It says something about Capaldis doctor that no matter what when he plays this callous uncaring role we buy it. Previous doctors, especially since the re launch, have not been able to pull this off. They were very up front with their appreciation and love of the human race and even though they flashed a dark side every now and then it wasn’t enough for us to ever worry they might be losing their way. Capaldi is very different, Moffat and co. are capitalizing on this new doctor and giving us a role with so many defined layers we don’t know week in and week out what type of doctor we are getting. He’s funny and yet cold, he’s callous and yet caring, he’s distant and yet engaging. After 5 weeks it’s clear this isn’t just Capaldi finding his doctor but a choice about where this character is heading.

This episode continued to build on all the previous arches and themes of the series and with the ending of Clara seemingly over her issues and now on board for more adventures it will be interesting to see how this affects her relationship with Danny who has to be joining the crew sometime right? So Who keeps pushing on for another week without losing steam but not much was here to really shake things up. Also this episode gets bonus points for not only a Jelly Baby reference but also a “are you my mummy?” reference, well done.

About the Author

Ryan Campbell

Avid gamer from Cincinnati Ohio. Also love Star Wars and Wrestling. Big basketball fan and dabble in really every other nerd thing out there. I would rather have a Gundam then Superpowers, so there is that.