This is the recap and review for Doctor Who “Mummy on the Orient Express” spoilers ahead.
This is a great example of how well they can do on this show, showing just how disappointing the majority of the episodes from this season have gone. We get the campy fun, the fake science, the Doctor being clever, plenty of humor, and a decent one off monster. So let’s jump in and break this mother down.
It opens up with a crabby old woman complaining about everything in the dining car, presumable in the 1920’s on THE Orient Express. She sees a mummy no one else can see and promptly dies. They seem to think that she’s just a batty old bird who died and was hallucinating due to lack of oxygen because of the heart attack that killed her. Surprise, this is a prefect recreation of the Orient Express, in space. NOW THAT is how you do a setting, Doctor Who.
We find the Doctor and Clara stepping off the TARDIS to join the festivities just after the old woman’s death. They are talking about how this is the last trip they’re taking. Clara needed to say goodbye. With the announcement before this season started that it would be Jenna’s last season and the events of the last episode between Clara and the Doctor it’s plausible enough.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the AMAZING costume and set work on this episode. Seriously production designers, bravo, a beautiful job capturing the roaring twenties at their best.
Now back to business, Clara and the Doctor find out about the death, and the Doctor reassures Clara that it was nothing. They are just here to have a relaxing time. That evening they head to bed and neither can sleep (after the Doctor has an extremely entertaining argument with himself), so they separately go off investigating. The Doctor is sneaking around and meets what, In my opinion is that shining star of the episode, the engineer Perkins. You see some of the space tech behind the classic facade, and find that there’s a life support system built into the train to keep people from dying while aboard. It failed, which is suspicious
Clara runs into the old woman’s granddaughter, Maisey Pitt, who proves to be suspicious of why they won’t allow her to see her grandmother’s body. Maisey promptly destroys the electronic lock with her shoe and they find nothing but a creepy old sarcophagus inside.
The Doctor realizes there are an inordinate number of experts and researchers on board, and starts asking questions going straight to the one expert on the legend of the foretold, an ancient myth from a dead planet.
The Doctor finds that Clara is trapped in the room with the sarcophagus and tries to rescue her, but the sonic doesn’t work on the door, it does however open the sarcophagus in the room. The Doctor takes off to find more answers after another death on the train. Clara gets some knowledge dropped on her in a poignant moment with Maisey who tells her “Life would be so much simpler if you could just like the people you’re supposed to like, but then I guess there would be no fairytales.” Something that I think causes Clara to rethink her leaving the Doctor. It’s where you see her waiver for the first time.
The Doctor figures out this was all a set up, and calls the ship’s computer on the deal. Immediately the roaring 20’s facade is dropped and a lab is made available, and many of the passengers were revealed to have been holograms. Here’s where the action begins. The Doctor begins talking to Clara via phone, and the computer gets a little angry when he won’t hang up the phone, and destroys the kitchen crew, in order to motivate the Doctor into work. Before the Doctor’s chat with Clara is so rudely interrupted Clara and Maisey have found some records in the cabin they are stuck in and relay some of that information to the Doctor. This isn’t the first train that’s been set up to catch the mummy, the rest have been destroyed.
Eventually the Doctor works out how the mummy is picking his victims after the expert on alien myths is killed. He’s picking the ones who are weakest first whether through physical or mental illness. They work out that the captain will be next all the while having him describe everything about the mummy that he can. After this revelation the Doctor declares that one minute with him and the mummy would be toast, to which our fantastic Mr. Perkins says “You know Doctor, I can’t tell if you’re a genius or just incredible arrogant.” The Doctor replies withe a snappy “On a good day, both” before running off on another science riddled tangent about how to stop it.
After this they realize Maisey will be the next victim because of her guilt over her grandmother’s death. The Doctor has Clara lie to get her to the lab and she does. The mummy appears to Maisey, and the doctor takes her guilt and transfers it to himself so that the mummy will come after him. And if course we get the always great “Are you my mummy” crack. I mean seriously it’s a Doctor Who episode with an actual mummy, that was necessary. He realizes the mummy is a soldier and surrenders informing him that the war is over and he is done. The mummy disintegrates leaving behind only his bandages and personal teleporter (how else was he getting around so fast).
The computer informs the remaining passengers and experts that they have fulfilled their function and will now be destroyed. The Doctor, while everyone around him faints due to the evacuation of oxygen from the cabin, rigs the teleporter to get everyone to the TARDIS. We find the Doctor on a beach with Clara finally waking up. I think it was New New x13 York in the background, correct me if I’m wrong in the comments)
The Doctor finally explains himself and his seeming heartlessness to Clara by saying “Sometimes the only choices you have are bad ones, but you still have to choose.” You again, see that little shift in Clara. Back on the TARDIS Clara asks him if he’s addicted to making those hard choices in these impossible situations. The Doctor doesn’t deny it, but says he doesn’t actually know. It’s a nice little Sherlock easter egg, I think. We find that Perkins is still on the TARDIS and the Doctor offers him a spot as his companion, which Perkins sadly turns down. We see Clara deciding to continue traveling with the Doctor, for now anyway. And that’s where we’re left for the end of the episode.
As I said, this was a great example of a good episode. I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was funny, intriguing, and just a little bit hokey. We see tragedy and triumph, the Doctor is somewhat humanized again, and the companion is still traveling, for now.
I do have one burning question after all that, well maybe two: Who the hell was Perkins, and can we please see him again?!
Let me know what you thought down below,