I was slightly underwhelmed by Toby Whithouse’s previous Doctor Who penned episode, The Vampires of Venice. It was a solid episode, it was fun and it reminded me a bit of old school Who. He also wrote School Reunion in series 2, which saw the return of the wonderful Sarah Jane Smith. I’m a huge Being Human fan and I just hoped for something as equally dark and character driven. The God Complex not only plays to Whithouse’s strengths it also gives us the scariest episode under The Moff’s reign. Again.
The God Complex continues the run of stand alone stories that have been every bit as good as the core story. This week The Doctor, Amy and Rory are taken to a 80’s looking hotel. Not the strangest place team TARDIS have been, but hiding behind each door is your deepest fear. There’s a room for everybody here, even The Doctor. When he opens his door (which I loved – room 11) he says “Of course, who else’, he said the same thing in The Impossible Astronaut, was River Song his deepest fear?
It’s not just scary rooms to fear in this hotel, a Minotaur roams the halls hunting the guests down one by one but only when they start to praise him. This reminded me of The Impossible Planet and The Satan Pit, which is a huge compliment as those were standout adventures as well. The hotel was a collage of horror, from Weeping Angels to Dummies, aimed to frighten us adults as well as the kids. There was a real old school Who feel to this episode which only aided the tone and story.
Some clever camera work helped with the uncomfortable feel, you don’t quite trust your environment. We later learn that this is with good reason, it’s not a real hotel. We are swiftly introduced to the other guests, including an almost unrecognisable David Walliams as Gibbs providing good comic relief, but it was Amara Karan as Rita who really stood out. She was as quick and smart as any companion before, she also saw through the Doctor’s bravado, so it was a real shame she got killed off. We have been teased before with companion worthy characters, Sally Sparrow would have made a superb full-time addition but she went off to star in movies and be nominated for awards.
Throughout the escalating events The Doctor tells everybody to hold onto what will help them through this, their faith. Once the origin of their captor is revealed they soon discover that their faith is what it needs. In order to get out Amy must lose her faith in The Doctor, a tender and sombre moment in the episode. The Doctor did tell Amy once that it was important that she knows he is just a mad man in a box, her life would depend on it.
It’s only after Rita dies that the Doctor sees the ongoing danger he puts his friends in, the risks he takes to satisfy his own God Complex. The Doctor feels for the Minotaur, he wants to help him and help him he does. So much of the Doctor’s actions lead to death, it’s great that the full complexities of his personality are being shown. It may go over the heads of some of the younger viewers but this is TV that doesn’t insult its audience’s intelligence regardless of age.
It was a sucker punch of an ending, whilst Amy and Rory are obviously not out for good, it was sad to see The Doctor leave them behind for now, even sadder that Amy took it so well. The final shot of The Doctor alone again in the TARDIS highlights that his is lonely life full of wonder and adventure but ultimately one of solitude. The Doctor can’t keep people around too long, he already has the guilt of what happened to previous companions. Every week I seem to be saying ‘This was my favourite episode’, I think I might just label series 6 my favourite series to date. It’s been consistently brilliant, superb acting, clever scripts, no filler episodes and a doozy of a series story arc.
Next week sees the penultimate episode and we are treated to the return of James Corden as Craig Owens, which got me thinking about next years reduced episode count. As we only get 7 adventures next year, could a series of guest companions work? A couple with River, a couple with Amy and Rory, maybe the Doctor’s Daughter, Captain Jack even Christine De Souza could be interesting. These are just fanboy wishes, in Moff we trust.
If that wasn’t enough Doctor Who discussion for you click the link to hear the latest @Jellyfielders Doctor Who Podcast Special, which was recorded before The God Complex aired and features @Moviegrrrlreview top Who moments which includes The Curse of Fenric.
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