Well, here we are, sitting on the brink starring at Doctor Who‘s Season 7B finale. A rather big finale at that, where all sorts of wild things are promised: The Doctor’s name, the truth of the “impossible girl”, the Fall of the Eleventh. (OOOoooOOOooohhh.) And, how did we get here? Let’s go back, two weeks back in fact because if you’ve been paying attention you’ll have noticed last week’s episode, “The Crimson Horror” wasn’t reviewed. My bad. To get us all back on track, Nerd Bastards proudly presents, a mini-review.
Welcome to Sweetville. And, what was probably the weirdest episode this season since “The Rings of Akhatan”, and unfortunately, the weakest. Actually, that may be unfair because even after all this time I’m not sure what to think of “The Crimson Horror.” It began like one of those episodes where The Doctor wasn’t in it except as a peripheral character with Madame Vastra (Neve McIntosh), Jenny (Catrin Stewart), and Strax (Dan Starkey) taking the lead. But that isn’t what this episode ended up being at all, and maybe if it had things would have worked better. Once The Doctor is back in action Vastra and Strax are basically sidelined and used entirely as comic relief. Though the episode was genuinely funny, on a second viewing a good chunk of the comedy falls flat. Jenny’s the only one of the trio given some time to shine, but even she’s eventually rendered useless.
The premise is weird, no getting around that. Mrs. Gillyflower (Dame Diana Rigg) finds a prehistoric parasite, Mr. Sweet – now a good front runner for creepiest, grossest Who villain – and by using his “necter” creates a toxic disease that’ll both preserve her chosen people for the second coming and wipe out the rest of the planet. What saves this episode are the pretty fantastic performances, especially from Rigg and her actual daughter, Rachael Stirling, who also plays her daughter. Rigg relishes the role of the absolutely mad Gillyflower, and Stirling gets a good bit of range, too, flipping from sweet, downtrodden Ada to going completely postal on her mother and Mr. Sweet. Y’know, turns out this is a great episode for Mother’s Day, even if it’s highlighting the worst kind of mother.
Plans are foiled and the day is saved, but I felt the real reveal of this episode would be The Doctor admitting something to Vastra, Jenny, and Strax about Clara. I mean, otherwise, what was the point of visiting Yorkshire in this period? Especially once they turned up and all kept asking how Clara was alive. So that was a bit of a let down and a wasted opportunity. What we are given is an ending that wonderfully sets things up for where they go next, a family holidy – The Doctor, Clara, and the kids off to visit the amusement park planet, Hedgewick’s World, in “Nightmare in Silver.”