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TDP 420: Mummy on the Orient Express

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Reprinted from wiki

 

Following from Clara's admission that she does not want to see the Doctor again after the events of "Kill the Moon", several weeks have passed, and she realizes that she doesn't hate the Doctor as she allows him to take her on one "last hurrah". He takes her via the TARDIS to a space-bound recreation of the Orient Express with passengers dressed in period pieces, all controlled by the computerized operator, Gus. Aboard the train, they find that an elderly woman, Mrs. Pitt, had recently died, claiming that she was attacked by a mummy that no one else could see. They retire to separate cabins for the evening, where Clara calls Danny in her present and gets advice how to properly end her relationship with the Doctor. She later encounters Maisie, Mrs. Pitt's granddaughter, who is distraught over the death and frustrated with the inability to see her body. The two get trapped in the luggage car, where a mummy's sarcophagus sits, and the two talk and bond while waiting for help.

 

Meanwhile, the Doctor, claiming he is a mystery shopper, starts to investigate the murder with the help of the train's engineer Perkins who is also curious about the death as well as the nature of the train. The Doctor speaks to Professor Moorhouse to talk about the myth of the Foretold, a supernatural being who claims its victim 66 seconds after the lights flicker, which they are able to confirm when the train's chef dies in a similar manner as Mrs. Pitt. The Doctor discovers Clara's situation but when he tries to rescue her, the lights flicker and the sarcophagus opens; before he can save her, Captain Quell and his men arrest him for falsifying his credentials. When the 66 seconds are up, they find that one of the Captain's men has died. The Captain, realizing the Doctor was right, releases him.

 

The Doctor begins to question what is really happening on the train, recognizing that most of the passengers are scientific experts and demands to know why. The train suddenly stops in space, and the illusion of the original Orient Express and several of the passengers disperses, revealing they are in a laboratory. Gus tells them they are now to study the attacks of the force behind the attacks so that they can reverse engineer whatever power it has; Professor Moorhouse soon is the next victim, and he stammers out a few details of the Foretold before he dies. The Doctor contacts Clara, who has discovered that the sarcophagus is meant as a containment unit for whatever the force is, and that this is not the first attempt by whomever is controlling events to discover the nature of the force, having gone through and lost ships and crews previously, in some cases, purposely killing them due to poor performance. Gus forces the Doctor to end the call and return to work when it expels the air from the kitchen car, killing the kitchen staff and threatening to kill more.

 

The Doctor and Perkins discover that the past victims were all suffering from various medical conditions and the Foretold is targeting the weakest. Captain Quell reveals he suffers from wartime post-traumatic stress disorder and soon sees the mummy; providing enough information to the others before he dies. The Doctor and Perkins identify that Foretold drains the victim's energy through phase shifting, a process that takes just over a minute to complete. Perkins identifies the next likely victim to be Maisie, due to her trauma over losing her grandmother, and the Doctor tells Clara to bring her to the lab, having Gus unlock the storage door. On the way there, Clara sees that the TARDIS is protected by a force field, and when she talks to the Doctor about this, she realizes that Gus must know about the Doctor and his Time Lord nature to create the field. The Doctor is forced to admit that Gus had been trying to bring him here to help for some time, and Clara accuses the Doctor of taking her into a dangerous situation again. At this point, Maisie sees the Foretold, and the Doctor absorbs some of her memories as to be able to trick the mummy into thinking he is the intended victim. Within the 66 seconds, the Doctor is able to realize the Foretold is a former soldier from a war thousands of centuries ago, having been modified with phase-shifting camouflage to be an assassin. The Doctor offers their surrender to the Foretold, halting its attack and appearing before everyone before saluting the Doctor and then disintegrates into dust with only its phase-shifting device remaining. Gus congratulates the passengers on their success and then begins to evacuate all the air aboard the train, their services no longer necessary. The Doctor takes the device and rewires it as a short-range teleporter, rescuing all the remaining passengers on the train to his TARDIS before the train blows up when the Doctor made an attempt to hack Gus to find out who is behind all of this.

 

On a nearby planet, regaining consciousness while told what occurred, Clara has a brief discussion on the nature of her relationship to the Doctor. On the TARDIS, the Doctor offers Perkins a job to maintain the time machine, but he politely refuses. Clara takes a call from Danny, who is expecting that she will finally end her trips with the Doctor, but when she ends the call, has reconsidered her earlier decision and wants to continue her travels with the Doctor.

 

Continuity[edit]

The question "Are you my mummy?" is a reference to the Ninth Doctor episodes "The Empty Child"/"The Doctor Dances". The Tenth Doctor repeats the question in "The Poison Sky".[1]

 

The Doctor confesses to Clara that the mysterious force which enticed him to the Orient Express "even phoned the TARDIS once", recalling the last line from "The Big Bang", when the Eleventh Doctor, answering the TARDIS phone, replies "an Egyptian goddess loose on the Orient Express, in space?"[1]

 

The Twelfth Doctor is shown offering jelly babies to Professor Moorhouse, a tradition associated with past Doctors, particularly Tom Baker's Fourth Doctor.[1]

 

Danny Pink reminds Clara that the Doctor is "not your boyfriend." This is what the Doctor himself tells her at the end of "Deep Breath".[2]

 

Production[edit]

Filming[edit]

The read through for Mummy on the Orient Express took place on 1 May 2014. Shooting started on 20 May and finished on 10 June. The episode was primarily studio-based in filming, however the scene with the Doctor and Clara on the planet was shot in Limpert Bay in the Vale of Glamorgan.[1]

 

Casting[edit]

Christopher Villers previously appeared in the classic serial The King's Demons, and Janet Henfrey previously appeared in The Curse of Fenric. Frank Skinner considers himself a die-hard Who fan, and previously had appeared in the special The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot.[1]

 

Broadcast and reception[edit]

Overnight ratings show that this episode was seen by 5.08 million, a 22.1% share of the available audience and third for the night.[3]

 

Critical reception[edit]

"Mummy on the Orient Express" received very positive reviews. Guardian columnist Dan Martin was positive towards the episode and praised the Mummy, saying, "At last, a proper new scary monster to get us behind the sofa," something he felt had been lacking so far in the current series. He called it "a triumph of production design matched with imagination," and praised first time writer for the show Jamie Matheson for blending "cool monsters" and "awkward Tardis dynamics." He did however feel that the reveal of the monster's true nature was "underwhelming."[4] Ben Lawrence of The Telegraph was positive toward the episode and awarded it four stars out of five. He praised the style of the episode and its ability to make the viewer a part of it: "as a viewer you felt hemmed in by the train’s narrow corridors, stalked by an invisible creature that could strike at any moment." He believed that Skinner "started well," but more impressive was David Bamber, describing his performance as "poignant," and praised the development of the relationship between the Doctor and Clara.[5]

 

Morgan Jeffrey of Digital Spy praised the episode, giving it four stars out of five. He praised the chemistry of the two leads: "Capaldi and Coleman remain an utterly magnetic coupling on-screen," citing the final Tardis scene and the beach scene as "magic." He felt that the main problem of the episode was the decision to keep the two apart. He was positive towards Frank Skinner's "genuine love for Doctor Who", which meant he was "practically beaming throughout," and called him "an endearing replacement" for Clara in the episode. He thought that the episode, like the previous one, had a Hinchcliffe vibe to, and that "'Mummy' is a joy, with excellent production design and a roster of perfectly-pitched performances all adding up to create an enchanting atmosphere," and believed it had a "wonderful mood," which felt like "vintage Doctor Who."[6] Tim Liew, writing for Metro, was positive towards "Mummy", calling it "another strong standalone story. ... [The] period costumes helped create a distinctive look and feel, the mummified Foretold was well realised and the repeated use of the 66-second countdown clock injected a real sense of pace and jeopardy."[7] Neela Debnath of The Independent praised the guest stars, Foxes and Skinner, saying Skinner "acts his socks off." She remained critical of Clara, arguing that "her poorly conceived and written character fails to charm," despite praising Coleman's acting. Overall she felt that the episode was "a delightful outer-space romp."[8]

 

Forbes gave a positive review. They praised the "fantastic core principle" to the plot. However, they were disappointed with the run time, believing it would've benefited from another five minutes, citing some areas that could've been explored further, particularly the escape from the train. They praised the cast and the lead, reflecting that "The Doctor infects Capaldi’s performance. Drawing on his love for the series I could see the influences of many of the previous actors to take on the role," and praised the development of the Doctor and Clara's relationship. They called Mathieson's script "an impressive debut."[9] The A.V. Club also heavily praised the episode, awarding it another perfect "A" grade. They said, "When the time comes to write the final accounting of the 12th Doctor—and hopefully we won’t need to do that for a little while yet—'Mummy On The Orient Express' will loom large. This episode is a triumph for Peter Capaldi." They added that it was "the latest superb episode in a strong season" and that "Peter Capaldi’s performance is enough by itself to elevate this story to classic status, but Jamie Mathieson’s script provides him excellent support".[10]

 

 

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