5
May
2013
Doctor Who: Series 7, Episode 12
The Crimson Horror
Sam
Running late with less time before other pressing matters (like the Review to Be Named podcast) I'm afraid I'll have to keep this review of Doctor Who brief. And that's a shame because I really enjoyed this episode. "The Crimson Horror", written by Mark Gatiss, had me grinning or laughing out loud the whole way through, which is weird because: 1.) None of the episodes have made me do that and 2.) I generally don't like Gatiss' Who scripts.

But this episode had so many damn things going for it, that it was nearly impossible not to enjoy. The time and location had me wary, but the casting of Diana Rigg and her daughter (playing her blind, fucked up daughter) was a brilliant choice and a big get for the show.

What fascinated me further was that the Doctor and Clara took a back seat this week to Madame Vastra, Jenny and Strax. It was a bold decision by Gatiss, but it absolutely paid off. That crime-fighting trio works astoundingly well. Whether the three of them could carry a show, I'm not so sure. But for a one-off episode a season, it works brilliantly.

I'll cut to the chase of the story: Rigg plays Winifred Gillyflower, a religious zealot who seems to welcome the impending apocalypse. She also is recruiting people for her not-suspicious-at-all compound that promises to be a "city on the hill". Of course, it's just a way for her to sign people up for their own deaths. This week's creative way of killing people? Preserving them (really just killing) with some red space goo. Her plan is all well and good, but what made this episode superior is the relationship between Gillyflower and her blinded daughter and the mysterious Mr. Sweet , who seems to be the brains behind the operation.
The reveal that Mr. Sweet was actually a parasitic alien slug thing gave me a jump and made me happy that Gillyflower was actually just a crazy person. She wasn't a scientist or an alien in a human mask. She was a good old-fashioned abusive mother with religious zealotry. The daughter, played Rachel Stirling, had sweet moments of revenge on her mother (big smile on my face) and the slug that tries to slink away after Rigg is amazingly disposed of (bigger smile on my face).

This episode bumped up the violence level to "High-for-Who" which was fine by me. Seeing Jenny break out her leather jumpsuit and kick some ass is always welcome. We saw Vastra's katana, but we didn't see her slice anyone in half which was a bit disappointing.

To nitpick for a moment: I wish we had more Clara, who managed to get in some great one-liners, but was mostly relegated to the damsel in distress. I didn't like the kid that was hanging out with Strax, but I think that just may be my predisposition to hating little scamps who show up and ruin stuff. Yeah, but honestly there wasn't much to dislike in this hour. The quickly-forged relationship between the daughter and "her monster", the Doctor was sweet. The allusions to Clara's weird existence was a nice nod to the season's arc and Rigg's evil bitch of a mother was glorious. As unexpected as it was -"The Crimson Horror" was likely my favorite outing of the season - and the Doctor was barely in it.

Grade: A-

Stray observations:

- Why an A- you ask? I think this was a great episode, but I try to save A's for supreme episodes. It's a testament to the quality of the show that I know they can do better than this, and that's a good thing,

- Favorite Quote: "Can you ever forgive me?" "Never." "That's my girl." - Diana Rigg being a badass insane person was great. Also, great job by her on-screen and real life daughter.

- Any joke with the chairs made me laugh out loud. Well done.

-The recurring joke of the fainting guy also kept me smiling, even if it was a bit obvious. What I don't understand is, how does anyone think Vastra is a human just because she wears a dark veil. You can see right through it fairly easily.

-Given that there was a character named Mr. Sweet and all the red-faced folks, I was wishing for a return of everyone's favorite musical villain from Buffy's "Once More, with Feeling."
Tags: Doctor Who
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