This episode was a return to form for Doctor Who. There were no kids, practically no Danny, and there was no nonsense. Just the Doctor and Clara doing their thing, and I couldn’t be happier. The episode deals a lot with soldiers and lying again, both of which seem to be central to overall story this series. We also get to see what has become of The Doctor and Clara’s relationship after last week’s falling out. We start out by seeing a light bulb flicker and a clock counting down from 66 seconds. We then cut to an old woman, Mrs. Pitt (Janet Henfrey) and her granddaughter, Maisie (Daisy Beaumont) in the dining car of a train when suddenly, Mrs. Pitt sees a mummy walking towards her, but, no one else can see it. She assumes it’s a man in costume, but, as the clock counts down and the mummy gets closer, she begins to get frightened until finally the mummy puts its hands on her head and she dies. The shots zooms out to reveal that it’s a train… in space! The Doctor and Clara arrive in the baggage car, which is slightly confusing as the last time we saw Clara she was telling The Doctor to never come back. Of course, we later find out that this is supposed to be their last adventure together and that Clara decided she doesn’t hate The Doctor because you can’t hate someone you don’t like. The Doctor is confused and, frankly, so am I. The Doctor changes the subject and starts telling her about all the different kinds of planets there are when they are interrupted by Maisie who claims The Doctor is lying since this one planet has existed in thousands of years. She is ushered off by Captain Quell (David Bamber) and he apologizes to Clara and The Doctor. After introductions, Quell mentions how they have lots of doctors and professors on the train. Clara asks what was wrong with her and Quell tells them about Mrs. Pitt and the mummy. Of course this piques The Doctor’s interest so he and Clara head off to investigate.
As they make their way through the train, The Doctor starts saying his goodbyes in a way that only Capaldi’s Doctor could do. Clara asks him if he’ll come over for dinner, but, it quickly becomes apparent that this is probably goodbye forever. Clara seems sad, but her choice has been made and she’s sticking to it….for now. We then cut to The Doctor who is now alone in his room and is talking to himself, trying to figure everything out and he believes he’s getting closer. He heads to the engineer’s car where he meets Perkins (Frank Skinner) the train’s chief engineer. It’s a very awkward meeting and you’re not sure whether he’s a good guy or bad guy, but, he does seem very intelligent. In the mean time, Clara has decided to go speak to The Doctor but he’s not in his room so she goes to the TARDIS in the baggage car when she see Maisie heading towards a sealed compartment with her shoe in hand. They won’t let her see her grandmother’s body and she’s intent on breaking into the compartment to see her. She smashes her shoe into the control panel and the door opens. However, the door immediately shuts and they are now locked in the room. Oh, and there’s a sarcophagus in the room with them as well. The Doctor finds Professor Moorhouse (Christopher Villiers) who is a professor of alien mythology. They speak about the legend of The Foretold, a mummy who kills you 66 seconds after seeing it. He also informs The Doctor that there is supposedly one word that will stop it and that nothing else will. The Doctor offers him a jelly baby, which if you’re familiar with “classic” Who you’ll get a kick out of. As they speak, the mummy is attacking a chef in the kitchen who runs into the freezer and shuts the door. The mummy disappears only to reappear inside the freezer kills the chef.
At this point, The Doctor ambushes the Captain where he uses the psychic paper to make the Captain think The Doctor is a mystery shopper. I know they’re scary and all, but that’s your worst nightmare Cap? That’s weak. Anyway, Quell refuses to admit they have a problem and the Doctor leaves where he runs into Perkins in the hall who has a bunch of papers and information to give The Doctor about the mummy. Cut back to Clara and Maisie who are talking about The Doctor and how Clara is done with him and this is their last time together, Maisie doesn’t believe a word of it and is seemingly convincing Clara to stay with him. Of course they had to do something like this because we all know Clara’s not leaving the show just yet. I just wish they had done it in a different way. Having some random character push Clara to a point that she could have naturally gotten to anyway is just awkward and, in the end, it is mostly Clara that makes the choice to stay, so this scene was slightly unnecessary. The Doctor calls Clara to tell her that she should join him and the whole time Clara is trying to tell him she’s trapped until she finally blurts it out. The Doctor rushes to help her but cannot get the door open, his sonic screwdriver isn’t working due to some sort of containment field. The Doctor asks the computer to open the doors when it says it prefers to be called Gus and that it cannot open the door without executive orders. Suddenly, the lights flicker and the sarcophagus begins to open. We’re led to believe that Clara or Maisie is the target but what’s inside is just a bunch of bubble wrap encasing some red lights. At this point, the Captain shows up after having found out there was no mystery shopper on board and has The Doctor arrested. As they are transporting him, another member of the crew is killed by the mummy and the Captain finally relents and lets The Doctor help. At this point, the Doctor realizes that everyone on board were scientists and doctors. Gus congratulates The Doctor for figuring this out and suddenly the other people in the car disappear leaving only The Doctor and all the scientists. Hold on, is that Albert Einstein?? Well, he sure looks like him, and he has a significant amount of screen time, but, it’s never addressed and he has no lines for us to hear if he has a German accent….oh well, I’d like to believe it was Einstein who had somehow made it into the future. Either way, it’s obvious they’ve all been selected to study the mummy, and Gus informs them it wants them to stop it. In the lab is a partial scroll that has some writing on it.
Suddenly, the lights flicker, the clock starts and Professor Moorhouse sees the mummy, which is a shame, I really liked him. He starts to describe it to everyone but as his time winds down he wants to try and bargain for his life, knowing there’s a word that can stop it he tries to figure it out, but, unfortunately, he is unsuccessful and Prof. Moorhouse dies. Clara then calls The Doctor to tell him what she’s found out the sarcophagus is meant to store the mummy once it’s captured and they are not the first team to try to stop it. Gus has been telling The Doctor to hang up the phone but is getting the cold shoulder so he blows the kitchen crew into space. At this point, The Doctor hangs up.
The Doctor orders a full history on all the victims trying to find something in common with them all. After some research, and the help of good ol’ Perkins, they discover that all the victims were sick, either physically or psychologically, or, had false organs. They then set out to find out why this could be when Quell pulls The Doctor aside to tell him he suffers from PTSD and The Doctor tells him he’s probably next. Almost on cue, the lights flicker the mummy appears for Quell, and the clock starts. Quell first shoots at it and realizes there’s nothing he can do so he decides to help. The mummy teleports and approaches behind Quell and he describes how the mummy is reaching up to grab his head, he dies. The Doctor immediately gets back to work after figuring out that teleportation means technology, telling everyone else they don’t have time to mourn and that they all need to get back to work. They find out that Maisie is likely the next target and everyone, including Gus, think it’s best they come to the lab. The Doctor asks Clara to lie to Maisie and to tell her he could save her, even though he does not believe that to be true. As Clara and Maisie head out Clara tries to get into the TARDIS, but, there is a forcefield around it and she is unable to. When she gets to the lab she asks The Doctor about it and he claims it’s Gus. Clara comments on how if Gus knows what the TARDIS is he knows what The Doctor is, she accuses him of knowing and he admits that he had been invited before. In fact, if you go back to the episode “The Big Bang” in series 5, the 11th Doctor gets a phone call on the TARDIS and replies, “an Egyptian goddess loose on the Orient Express, in space?” It’s the second call back to a previous Doctor in this episode, something that Capaldi’s Doctor does quite frequently. It’s a lot of fun, and every era of Who is fair game.
Before Clara has a chance to get too mad, the lights flicker and the mummy appears for Maisie. Perkins asks if he should start the clock and The Doctor says no. Instead, he jumps in front of Maisie with a scanner and scans all of her fear and pain and puts it into himself. The mummy vanishes for Maisie and appears for The Doctor. They start the clock. The Doctor runs towards the mummy and asks it, “Are you my mummy?” an obvious reference to The 9th Doctor episodes “The Empty Child & The Doctor Dances.” Another great call back and it’s a phrase that Who fans love saying which makes it better. As the mummy advances, The Doctor notices some writing under it’s bandages. From this, he is able to put it together with the writing on the scroll and figures out it’s not a scroll but a battle flag and the mummy is a soldier. Just as the mummy is about to place its hand on The Doctor’s head, he says, “I surrender.” The mummy stops and is suddenly visible to everyone on board. It salutes The Doctor and he tells it it’s dismissed and it turns to dust revealing the technology inside. Gus congratulates everyone and informs them that they are no longer needed and begins evacuating the cabin of oxygen. The Doctor furiously gets to work on the device to get the teleportation function to work as Clara and everyone else begin to pass out. Suddenly, we see The Doctor and Clara on a beach, Clara is still asleep and The Doctor is playing in the sand. She wakes up and he tells her he teleported everyone into the TARDIS and dropped them off on the nearest inhabited planet. Clara works out that The Doctor made her lie to Maisie because he didn’t want Gus finding out his plan and accuses him of not being heartless after all to which he basically says, whatever helps you sleep at night. Back in the TARDIS, Perkins is giving it the once over, saying it’s mostly beyond him but needs new drive stacks, The Doctor offers him a job on the TARDIS, but he refuses, saying a job like that could change a man, The Doctor tells him it does. I actually really like this Perkins guy and would have loved to see him become the TARDIS’ engineer, appearing every few episodes to help Clara and The Doctor. But, he’s right, and it’s probably best that they went their separate ways, at least for Perkins sake. They then return to Earth and it’s obvious that Clara is having trouble saying goodbye to The Doctor, but, finally does it. She gets a call from Danny whom she tells she did it and it’s over with The Doctor. They hang up and, much to The Doctor’s surprise, she says that Danny didn’t want her hanging out with him but had a change of heart is okay with them “knockin’ about”. The Doctor is obviously thrilled to hear this and Clara says they had a big wobble but that she’s okay now. She tells The Doctor to “Shut up and show me some planets!” They each grab a lever on the console, pull, and off they go. If only Clara could travel with Capaldi forever.
I’m very glad to see the series return to the kind of show it was for the first five episode of the series. I was getting worried that Clara was getting soft and while she wasn’t back to her old self here, she definitely still has it in her. Another highlight were all of the guest characters. While they all were great, Prof. Moorhouse and Perkins were the stand outs for me. This weeks episode pulls in a solid B for having one of the scarier monsters yet this series, for having a story that got Who back on track (Pun definitely intended), and suffers only from Clara’s lack of involvement for most of the episode, might have been higher if she wasn’t stuck in a closet for half the episode. Tell us what you thought in the comments below!