Check out this week’s episode of Doctor Who, set in Victorian Yorkshire. The Doctor is mysteriously missing, and you can see why in our weekly recap of the Doctor Who episode The Crimson Horror! Violet recaps, while Josh comments (in his usual blue font). Beware of spoilers!
This week’s episode brings us to Victorian Yorkshire in 1893. A man tells his wife that they must get to the bottom of “this” no matter what the cost, kisses her, then bravely walks into a room which appears to be glowing red. Just then, an old woman named Mrs. Gillyflower arrives with a group of women to offer condolences for the loss of her late husband. She is confused, then hears her husband scream from the other room.
The man’s brother has come from London to bring home his body, which is now colored red, and he is informed that there have been others who have suffered “The Crimson Horror” death. His investigations bring him to the house of Jenny and Lady Vastra, who we last saw in Victorian London in the most recent Christmas Special The Snowmen. He mentions an optogram, the belief that an eye can retain the image of the last thing it sees, and hands Jenny a picture he had taken of his dead brother’s eyes. Upon seeing Lady Vastra’s reptilian face when she removes her veil, the man faints. Jenny and Lady Vastra go on to enlarge and enhance the image and we find out the last image that the man saw was none other than the Doctor!
I enjoy seeing Vastra, Jenny and Strax again, as they are fun to see every now and again. I like the Doctor having friends that come and go in his time travel endeavors.
Jenny and Lady Vastra, along with Strax, the Sontaran, who is now their butler, head to Yorkshire by carriage. The plan is for Jenny to infiltrate Mrs. Gillyflower’s Sweetville community, which only recruits the brightest and most beautiful. After Jenny attends a presentation, where Mrs. Gillyflower offers preservation from the coming apocalypse, she is accepted and signs up to join. Strax and Lady Vastra then discuss how Jenny will find the Doctor: by running toward any form of danger — business as usual.
Mrs. Gillyflower’s blind daughter slips some food into a the cell of her “dear monster,” who we cannot see behind the closed door.
I am curious to know who this “Monster” is we keep hearing about. The arm we see at one point seems human, just affected by the Crimson Horror.
The man from earlier shows up to visit Lady Vastra and check on the status of the investigation, but faints when Strax answers the door. Lady Vastra wonders how the Doctor’s image came to be in the dead man’s eyes, as it is a scientific impossibility.
Jenny is in line with several other people to get into Sweetville. She bribes a woman to faint in order to cause a distraction while Jenny breaks into and sneaks behind a locked door. She hides as she sees men walk by carrying bottles of a red liquid.
Lady Vastra is able to obtain a bottle of the Crimson Horror, and comments that she’s seen these symptoms before — 65 million years ago.
Mrs. Gillyflower is having dinner with her blind daughter, who asks where Mr. Sweet is. But it turns out that Mr. Sweet is too busy to join them. Mrs. Gillyflower spills some salt, pretending it’s an accident, and sprinkles it in the top of her dress when no one is looking.
I guess this scene is a hint to what is revealed at the end of the episode…which I will bring up later.
Jenny finds the red room, and goes through the door, where she finds the monster’s cell. She opens the food compartment, and a red hand tries to grab her. Jenny then gets the door open, and reveals that the “monster” is the Doctor, who is all red and chained up, with his mouth is stuck open, so he cannot talk. She releases him and leads him down the hall, and he is very stiffly walking. They go into the red room, where we see groups of bodies being submerged into large vets of red liquid. The Doctor points toward something. Meanwhile, the blind girl has discovered that her “monster” is gone.
I am very curious how the Doctor was able to reach out the sliding door at floor level, yet he walks like a stiff corpse, seeming very inflexible. Seems kind of inconsistent even for Doctor Who’s standards.
The Doctor reaches toward the door of some sort of shower closet, and Jenny opens it for him. We see that the Doctor’s clothes and sonic screwdriver are in there. He steps inside and she closes the door. After a few seconds, he pops out good as new! He then dips Jenny and kisses her, to which she responds by slapping him. Remember, Jenny and Lady Vastra are married. When she asks him how long he had been like that, he has no idea, and all he cares about is finding Clara.
I am curious what this special tiny room is doing to fix the Doctor. This isn’t really explained as far as I can tell. I guess we’re just supposed to accept it.
We then get a flashback to when the Doctor and Clara first arrived in 1893 Yorkshire. The Doctor had intended that they arrive in London, but he figures Yorkshire is close enough. One can assume that he wanted to go to London to trigger something that would help solve the mystery of the “impossible girl” by returning to the time period and place where she died. (In The Snowmen, she died on Christmas Eve 1892.) For some reason, Clara has some distractingly curly hair on the top of her head — was that the fashion back then? Anyway, they soon figure out that something is wrong at Sweetville, since no one who goes in ever seems to come out, and they pose as Dr. and Mrs. Smith to investigate. However, they quickly find out that Mrs. Gillyflower and her silent partner Mr. Sweet have been preserving people alive behind glass. By then it’s too late for the Doctor and Clara to escape, and they are captured and dipped into the red liquid. We find out that the Crimson Horror deaths occur when the preservation process goes wrong, and although it went wrong on the Doctor, it did not kill him because he is not human. Mrs. Gillyflower’s blind daughter, Ada, who is in charge of disposing of the reject bodies in the canal, discovers that the Doctor is still alive, so she puts him in a cell to keep as her secret monster. When the man from the beginning of the episode was dipped in the red liquid, he ran and found himself in the Doctor’s cell, then fell over dead, so that is why the Doctor was the last thing he saw, and the preservation process was the reason that the image remained.
I am curious why the Doctor would want to take this Clara back to 1893 London. Also, what is the motivation of This crazy old lady? Is it simply just insanity driving her?
The Doctor explains to Jenny that the red liquid is a poison, a sort of venom. They discuss crazy Mrs. Gillyflower’s plan to preserve everyone against the coming apocalypse, and Jenny remembers a phrase that Mrs. Gillyflower said during one of her sermons: “When the end of days has come and judgment rains down upon us all,” which catches the Doctor’s attention and reminds him that he has to find Clara. Jenny is confused, because as far as she knows, Clara is dead. The Doctor says it’s complicated. Meanwhile, Strax is driving the carriage to Sweetville when he gets lost, and a little boy named Thomas Thomas helps him with directions that sound curiously like that of a GPS, or “Tom Tom.”
The GPS joke seemed a bit on the nose for me, and rather cheesy. As for the Doctor dealing with explaining Clara, I am curious as to why he didn’t simply tell his friends what was going on. I don’t see why the Doctor seemed dodgy when they asked about her.
The Doctor finds Clara preserved behind glass with another man in a living room, and uses a chair to break her out. Meanwhile, Mrs. Gillyflower finds Ada crying in the cell over her missing monster. When she finds out what Ada has done, she denies her entrance into “New Eden.”
I think Ada was denied due to her lack of “perfection”. I think the letting of the monster go was just some icing on the cake for why she wouldn’t be going.
They put Clara inside the container that the Doctor went into earlier. The Sweetville army finds them, but Jenny has a plan. She strips off her dress to reveal a black pant suit underneath, and attacks them. Just then, Strax shows up with Lady Vastra and chases them up by firing his laser gun at them. Clara emerges from the container good as new, although a bit out of it. Lady Vastra comments that she was right, that the Doctor and Clara have unfinished business.
What is with this room thing? Can we have an explanation please!
Lady Vastra tells them that the origin of the Crimson Horror was a repulsive red leech that infected their drinking water and secreted a fatal poison. As the Doctor tries to figure out the parasite’s connection to Mrs. Gillyflower, and the phrase “Judgment will rain down on us all,” Clara brings to the Doctor’s attention the fact that the chimney that doesn’t blow smoke. They determine that Mrs. Gillyflower is trying to poison the air with some sort of rocket looking device, and the poison is all ready to be loaded up into it. The Doctor says he has a plan. Mrs. Gillyflower has pulls a switch next to her organ, and the wall flips around to reveal some sort of control panel.
As the Doctor and Clara walk down the hall, they come across Ada crying. She knows that it is her monster. The Doctor tries to comfort her, and asks her who Mr. Sweet is, but Ada says she cannot betray her mother.
The Doctor and Clara go talk to Mrs. Gillyflower, and we discover that Mr. Sweet is a lobster-looking parasite attached to Mrs. Gillyflower’s chest, and that they have a symbiotic relationship. She reveals her plan to release the venom on the world, and admits that she used her daughter as a guinea pig to find out how much venom she would need to produce as an anti toxin for immunity, and that is the reason why Ada is blind. Turns out Ada has been eavesdropping on this conversation, and she gets angry and starts beating her mother. Clara then throws a chair into the control panel, breaking it. As Ada is crying, her mother hugs her, but then holds a gun to her head and escapes out the door.
Kind of a gross little monster thing. Reminds me of those things that attach to sharks. What I am curious to know is if “Mr. Sweet” had mind control powers over Mrs. Gillyflower, or if she was simply just insane.
The Doctor uses a chair to break through the window (yes, the third time this episode with this chair breaking technique), as Mrs. Gillyflower orders her people to load the venom, and she drags Ada up the stairs with her. The Doctor and Clara follow close behind, but the old lady releases her rocket. Fortunately, it turns out that Jenny and Lady Vastra have confiscated the venom. Mrs. Gillyflower pulls out a gun and is about to shoot them, but Strax pulls his gun on her from the top of the chimney and shoots toward her, causing her to fall down the middle of the stairwell to the ground. Mr. Sweet realizes that his host is dying, so he detaches himself from Mrs. Gillyflower and crawls away, as she desperately calls after him. She then calls Ada over to ask her forgiveness, to which Ada replies, “Never,” and Mrs. Gillyflower says, “That’s my girl,” and dies as the rocket explodes. The Doctor says they’ll take Mr. Sweet back to the Jurassic era where he’ll be out of harm’s way, but Ada finds the parasite and smashes it with her cane.
Ada is kind of violent as she smashes the parasite. A little surprising for a Doctor Who episode I thought.
As the Doctor and Clara are getting ready to hop in the TARDIS and leave, the Doctor remembers that they were heading to London. When Clara asks if there was any particular reason, he says no, he thought she might like it. However, we all know that he was headed there to help solve the mystery. But looks like he won’t get the chance to try that out again, as Clara says she’s tired of Victorian values, and he tells her “You’re the boss,” and she rubs it in that she’s the boss. The Doctor says his goodbyes to everyone, and Jenny stops him saying that he hasn’t explained about Clara, and he agrees, saying no, he hasn’t, and gets in the TARDIS and leaves. Just then, the man who’s been investigating Sweetville shows up to check on the group’s progress, sees the TARDIS disappearing, and faints one last time.
I really wasn’t sure of the point of this fainting character. He seemed to just be a random comedic relief that had no ties to the story for the most part. Kind of odd in my opinion.
When Clara returns home (with perfectly straightened hair), she keeps muttering about how she’s the boss. She then finds out that the kids of whom she’s the nanny have discovered pictures of her and the Doctor (who they refer to as her “boyfriend”) from the 70s, 80s, and Victorian London. When Clara says that’s not right, she was in Victorian Yorkshire, not Victorian London, the kids realize they’ve just gotten her to admit that she’s a time traveler, the kids tell her that she has to let them have a go at the time machine, or else they’ll tell their dad she’s a time traveler.
So Clara now knows something up, seeing the other Clara version, and I really want the show to start getting into that plot, it is really most of what I think about when I watch episodes lately, which is quite distracting from the rest of the episodes.
Next Week: Looks like the Doctor does indeed take the kids along, intending to go to an amusement park, but turns out it’s shut down. Plus, the return of the Cybermen!
My thoughts: Another “meh” episode. Not very exciting or interesting. The attempts at humor with Strax felt forced and mostly fell flat with me, but then I’ve never really been a Strax fan. The premise of the episode was a little odd with the crazy old lady and her visions of the apocalypse. Not a very worthy villain for the Doctor, in my opinion. However, I did appreciate the Doctor’s attempt to return to Victorian London, although they ended up in Yorkshire instead. Unfortunately, this episode leaves us in the same place as the last episode did in terms of unraveling the mystery, with yet again no progress being made. On the other hand, I do wonder if there is a reason that the TARDIS ended up in Yorkshire, rather than London, as in some sort of force deflecting Clara from returning to the city of her other self’s death. Further, I wonder what Clara thinks of seeing a picture of herself in Victorian London rather than Victorian Yorkshire, and if she’ll bring it up to the Doctor in the next episode, as well as what his answer will be. As for the kids finding the pictures of Clara, I’m sure she could have easily played it off as being photoshopped, and if not, then when the kids brought up their “time travelling nanny” to their dad, he wouldn’t take them seriously. I also find it hard to believe that the Doctor would actually agree to take children along with him, knowing the kind of danger that always follows him. In any case, I am excited about the return of the Cybermen next episode!
I have been fairly bored this season of Doctor Who, and I think it is because the show is dragging its feet when it comes to explaining Clara’s mystery. I didn’t have much to say this episode, and wasn’t very entertained either. I have a feeling there may be more subtle things related to Clara through the episodes, but I am beyond ready to jump into the mystery head on, rather than deal with these mediocre episodes that are lost on me because I am dwelling on Clara’s story that isn’t being focused on at all. I hope this changes sooner rather than later.