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Who Review: The God Complex

September 19, 2011

The latest episode of Doctor Who started out light-hearted, as the Doctor attempts to put the dark decision he had to make in The Girl Who Waited far behind him, but this wasn’t going to be a fun adventure. The creepy hotel and the people in it only forced the Doctor to make more tough choices and to leave even more people behind. Spoilers ahoy!

Once again, the TARDIS takes the crew somewhere unexpected and scary, and once again Rory is peeved about it. But who can blame him? This time it’s a creepy Overlook-style hotel where every room contains a new horror. And one room holds your nightmare. (Mine would be the one where all my teeth fall out.)

Even the Doctor has a room, and while he discovers it, the audience is left in the dark. We do hear the cloister bell, which is an interesting clue. So we’re left to wonder what is the Doctor’s greatest fear, but we’re also left with the question of what does the Doctor put his faith in?

That’s right, faith. This episode was all about faith, and a beast that feeds on it. A very interesting concept that is well executed. I also loved all the little touches, like the portraits on the wall, lining the dummies up beside the bodies, and even the magazines in the salon. Yes, Doctor, the attention to detail was very impressive. Each of the rooms were weird (gorilla in the bathroom) and/or terrifying (sad clown!), with a wide variety of interesting horrors. The writers must have had a lot of fun coming up with them. The dummies were undoubtedly my favorite.

And the monster! The Minotaur was a great costume, and I loved all the swirling wrinkles in his skin, indicative of the Minotaur’s mazes. Doctor Who has battled Minotaurs in the past, including one that disappeared when he and his companion stopped believing in it.

This was another beautifully shot episode, with great use of camera angles, editing, and dolly zoom shots down endless hotel corridors. That’s right, if you want something to be creepy as hell, just use a dolly zoom.

The guest stars were interesting and once again multi-dimensional. Contrast Rita, Howie, and Gibbis to any character in The Rebel Flesh to see what I mean, and how much a fully realized character can contribute to the plot. Speaking of Gibbis, I had no idea he was played by David Walliams of Little Britain. The alien was a fun character with, once again, impressive makeup. Walliams was unrecognizable. I can’t help but wonder how much ad-libbing Walliams was allowed to do.

And a random side note: What was with the fish? Was it just another instance of the Doctor not leaving anyone behind? Seriously. What was with the fish? That damn fish got a lot of screen time.

But getting back to the more serious heart of the tale. The God Complex was all about preparation for death. This entire season has been pushing towards the Doctor’s death, and this episode is largely about his accepting that and getting himself and those he cares about ready for the inevitable. I believe he broke Amy’s faith in him, not only to save her from the Minotaur, but also to make his death easier on her. He’s not a hero, he is just a man. A deeply troubled and flawed man who is going to die.

His referring to her as Amy Williams at last could be construed as his giving the woman to her husband for safe keeping, but I saw it more as his telling her it’s time to live in the present. She needs to give up her raggedy Doctor and be who she is, who she would be if he never dropped into her life.

Leaving Amy and Rory behind was the kindest thing to do, but it didn’t leave me with the emotional upheaval it should have. I suppose I didn’t believe it. I told myself that he wouldn’t leave them behind, not forever, which I suppose reveals where my faith lies.

We have only two episodes left, kids. So I leave you with these questions: What was in the Doctor’s room? What does the Doctor put his faith in? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. September 19, 2011 5:04 pm

    Great review!

    I don’t think I was as positive about the episode as you though. I think the biggest problem in the episode was that it was too easy for the Doctor to take Amy’s faith away from her.

    But so many of the problems in the narrative of this episode stem directly from the writers having no idea of Amy as a character, as I discuss in more detail here:

    http://theoncominghope.blogspot.com/2011/09/doctor-who-god-complex-aka-characters.html

    • September 19, 2011 9:20 pm

      Well, as I said, this ep didn’t leave me with much of an emotional impression. I actually was stumped as to what to write about until I sat down and started typing out the words. But yeah, initial reaction when the episode was over was, “Meh.”

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