Review of Doctor Who ‘The God Complex’
Toby Whithouse returned to the writer’s chair with an episode that examined faith and in particular Amy’s belief in the Doctor.
Whithouse has written for the show before and his credits include ‘School Reunion’ from series 2/28, which saw the return of Sarah Jane Smith and K-9. He also contributed to last year’s ‘Vampires in Venice’.
‘The God Complex’ was another frightener in a series which has been full of watch-from-behind-the-sofa moments. This episode was just as creepy as ‘Night Terrors’ because it took elements from a whole host of different nightmares: animated ventriloquist dummies, Weeping Angels, social humiliation, letting one’s parents down, etc. Although there was enough horror to disturb younger viewers, this was more focused on the bad dreams of older members of the audience.
Therefore, it was no coincidence that the hotel looked like the set of Stanley Kubrick’s ‘The Shining’. Nor was it by chance that there were odd camera shots used throughout the episode. At times the audience sees the Doctor on a black-and-white CCTV monitor – as if being observed by someone, at other times the alien Minotaur is gazed at through a spy hole, creating a fisheye lens effect. Additionally, there were shots from unusual angles, either from below or uncomfortably close up, which added to the warped tone.
In the tradition of ‘Doctor Who’, the famous face is usually hidden beneath extensive layers of prosthetics and make-up, Sarah Parish as the Empress of the Racnoss in ‘The Runaway Bride’ is just one example. David Walliams’ was unrecognisable as the cowardly Gibbis. Although he gave a fair performance, it was Amara Karan as Rita and Dimitri Leonidas as the conspiracy theory-obsessed nerd, Howie, who really stood out. Rita, the Martha-esque figure, was the voice of reason and saw the Doctor as he truly is: imperfect and fallible. Karan’s performance gave the impression that she could be a future companion, so it was a disappointing when she was killed.
After Rita died, it suddenly dawned upon the Doctor just how much danger he had been putting Rory and Amy in. Consequently, there was a clear shift in Amy and the Doctor’s relationship. He told her to let go of her faith in him and to stop believing that he would always save the day. He knows he has limits and that each of his companions is a liability. So, it was unsurprising when he decided to move on without Rory and Amy. Yet there was sombreness to his farewell.
Nevertheless, the truly sad moment was when he was by himself in the TARDIS; it was a reminder that the Doctor’s life is a solitary one. Despite his cheery outlook, there is an overwhelming sadness to his life that he tries to keep concealed. This scene emphasised that his life is characterised by loneliness punctuated by periods of company.
It seemed odd that Amy so readily accepted that the Doctor was leaving without her and that her daughter was still out there somewhere in time and space. In the past Amy has said that she didn’t want to miss out on those years with her child and yet she seemed to just let go of the one man who could bring Melody back. Has she resigned herself to the fact that maybe the Doctor cannot help? Or does she still have an element of faith left in her “raggedy man”? Last week a version of herself lost her belief in the Doctor but the younger version has not endured what the older one did. Is there the implication that she still thinks that the Doctor will make sure everything ends well?
With the departure of one set of companions, the Doctor re-visits an old one. Craig Owens (James Corden), who was last seen in ‘The Lodger’, will encounter the Doctor again and by the looks of it, there will be some Cybermen to contend with as well.
Image credit: BBCTagged in: doctor who, Doctor Who series 32, Doctor Who series 6
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