Doctor who, My review of Episode 11 “The Crimson Horror”

Posted: May 5, 2013 in Gossip/News/Reviews - TV

Here is my review of episode 11 (series 7) of doctor who which was on BBC1 on Saturday 4th May 2013.  Please don’t read if you have not seen this episode, spoiler alert.

This episode is set in 1893, where Silurian Madame Vastra, her human partner Jenny, and their Sontarium butler Strax investigate “The Crimson Horror”, a mysterious cause of death in which victims are found with red skin. Superstition states that the retina retains the image last seen by the person, and they are shocked to find that the latest victim had seen the Doctor. They travel to Yorkshire, where Jenny infiltrates Sweetville, a community led by Mrs. Gillyflower and Mr. Sweet, who is not seen. Mrs. Gillyflower preaches about the coming apocalypse to encourage people to come. She has a daughter, Ada, who is blind because she had been beaten by her late father, according to Mrs. Gillyflower.

Jenny discovers the Doctor, who is chained up and exhibits red skin and a stiff stature. The Doctor enters a chamber to reverse the process, and explains to Jenny that he and Clara had arrived and discovered the mystery of “The Crimson Horror”. They had joined Sweetville to investigate, but learned that they were to be preserved to survive the apocalypse. The process did not work on the Doctor because he was not human, and was saved from being destroyed by Ada, who affectionately calls him “my monster”. The Doctor finds Clara and reverses the process on her. Meanwhile, Vastra recognises that Sweetville is using the venom of a prehistoric red leech. The Doctor and Clara confront Mrs. Gillyflower, who reveals that she plans to launch a rocket to spread the poison all over the skies. “Mr. Sweet” is also revealed to be a red leech that has formed a symbiotic relationship with Mrs. Gillyflower. The Doctor berates Mrs. Gillyflower for experimenting on Ada to get the preservation formula right. Ada, overhearing this, angrily advances toward her mother, but Mrs. Gillyflower holds a gun to her head and heads into the rocket silo, which has been disguised as a chimney.

Mrs. Gillyflower launches the rocket, but Vastra and Jenny reveal themselves with the vat of poison that they have removed from it. Mrs. Gillyflower turns on the Doctor, but Strax appears at the top of the chimney and shoots at her, causing her to tumble over the staircase. As she dies, Mr. Sweet abandons her. In rage, Ada strikes the leech with her cane. The Doctor and Clara say goodbye; Ada says that she is looking forward to finding new opportunities on life. Vastra and Jenny ask about Clara, as they had previously met a Victorian version of her in “The Snowmen”, in which she died. The Doctor does not wish to explain, however.

Clara returns home, where she is confronted by the two children she babysits for, Angie and Artie. They pull of pictures they have found of her in the past on the Internet, and question if she has been travelling in time with the Doctor. They also find an 1892 photo of Clara as seen in “The Snowmen”, who they assume is also their Clara. They then blackmail her by threatening to tell their father if she does not take them on a trip, which means they will probably be joining us in the next episode.

The Crimson Horror is hugely entertaining. It is a sort of sequel to last year’s Christmas special ‘The Snowmen’. I really enjoyed it and there is much fun to be had with the peculiar threesome of Jenni, Vastra and Strax.  Strax is really funny in this episode and gets some of the funniest lines (“We are going to the North”) and did any one else spot the gag with Tom Tom.

It’s a long time before we actually see the Doctor in “The Crimson Horror” as the episode really centres around the exploits of Madame Vastra, Jenny and Strax.  The Doctor and Clara do not enter the episode until around fifteen minutes into the episode. The grainy flashback by the doctor of how he and Clara ended up in such dire straights is a nice touch and means the story moves along very fast.

Former Avengers icon Diana Rigg is the guest star and plays the thoroughly vile a villainess Winifred Gillyflower. She has no redeeming qualities, no vestige of human kindness; she’s wicked to the core. And Diana Riggs daughter Rachel Stirling plays Mrs Gillyflower’s daughter Ada. It’s the first time that they have acted on-screen together and they were pretty good.

There was also a nod to one of the past doctors where we have a reference back to the fifth doctor (Peter Davison).  The current Doctor tells Clara: “I once spent a long time trying to get a gobby Australian to Heathrow Airport.” This is a reference to the 5th doctors companion Tegan (Janet Fielding).

On the whole I thought it was a good episode but not brilliant.  It was entertaining but did little to further the ongoing mystery of Clara or to build up much-needed momentum for the season finale, which is only a 2 episodes away.

But what did you think? Do you agree?

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