comScore
  1. Mediaite
  2. Gossip Cop
  3. Geekosystem
  4. Styleite
  5. SportsGrid
  6. The Mary Sue
  7. The Maude
  8. The Braiser

What's with the name?

Allow us to explain.

Recap

Doctor Who Recap: “The Crimson Horror”


It says a lot of things, none of them good, when, after a good twenty minutes of episode without the Doctor, I get vaguely disappointed that he’s finally shown up and now the episode is going to revolve around him. Well, I suppose it does say very good things about the trifecta of two lesbian detectives (one of them a lizard) and a Sontaran warrior with some memory problems. “The Crimson Horror” is a good solid episode of Doctor Who with a classically mad villain with a plot to destroy the world, an intimate betrayal, and the third act reveal of a squicky monster. Let’s begin.

The year is 1893 and the place is Yorkshire, which, for the benefit of fans with a grasp of British geography so small as to be inconsequential, is in the north of England, a few hours drive from London and probably a bit longer by stagecoach, because it’s 1893, after all. In Yorkshire, a couple of time-appropriate people are in distress over a door with a lot of red light behind it. The man, however, swallows his fear and enters, after which our episode’s villain, Mrs. Gillyflower, appears with some of her minions and expresses her condolences over his death. This presumably means doom for both of them, and indeed we next see the man’s brother identifying his body in a Yorkshire morgue. It’s bright red. He decides to consult with London’s foremost detective, and yet somehow this episode is called “The Crimson Horror” and not “A Study in Scarlet.” Perhaps they didn’t want to piss off the Sherlock fandom?

Anyway, he’s taken a picture of his dead brother’s dead eyeball, upon which is preserved the image of the Doctor’s face, something we are told is physically impossible, but it puts Madame and Jenny on the case. The dead man was an undercover reporter, looking into an apparently religiously motivated utopia-seeking gated community that preaches a sort of Kelloggiean abstinence and offers salvation only to the the fittest and most beautiful. John Harvey Kell – I mean, Mrs. Gillyflower, is the leader and co-creator of Sweetville, who uses her daughter Ada, a young woman blinded by her own late father in a drunken rage, as a prop in her preaching demonstrations, as an example of the harms of excess. Ada has her own secret, her “dear monster” who she keeps chained in a secret attic room.

Since Madame and Strax are both aliens, it’s up to Jenny to infiltrate this anti-hedonist group in search of the Doctor. She shows up to be considered for Sweetville but upon passing a door that says “No Entry” pays a girl a guinea to pretend to swoon so she can pick the lock in the confusion. Jenny finds a room with no machinery that’s full of gramophones playing machinery sounds, and hides from men carrying containers. In her own investigations, Madame Vastra uncovers some red liquid from the bodies of the victims of the Crimson Horror. She thinks she’s seen it before, 65 million years ago when Silurians ruled the Earth.

As Mrs. Gillyflower and Ada eat dinner, Ada inquires after Mr. Sweet, her mother’s mysterious “silent partner,” for whom a place at the table has been set, but her mother says he will again not be joining them, and then chucks a pinch of salt down her bodice when no one is looking. Jenny finds the red room from the beginning of the episode, as well as the cell with Ada’s “dear monster.” She picks his lock and finds the show’s favorite lonely monster, the Doctor. He’s all red and too stiff even to talk, but he’s still alive. Jenny helps him out of there just as Ada arrives for a visit, and she doesn’t notice them even though they’re making plenty of noise, and instead walks up to his empty cell, where she gets very sad that he has escaped.

But the Doctor has already led Jenny into the red room, and oh. My. God, it’s…

(Red) DIIIIIIIIIIIP!

The Doctor climbs into some kind of chamber with his original clothes and sonics it until it fixes him, because I guess Mrs. Gillyflower has some machines that can be manipulated to extract the red venom even though her entire plan hinges on dipping people in it in the giant vat and then tossing the ones that turn red? The Doctor takes this moment of recovery to grab Jenny, bend her over backwards and lock lips. He gets a great big slap from a very unhappy Jenny but appears in no way remorseful and it’s the grossest point in the episode. In an episode where the Doctor kisses no less than three women during fits of emotion, Jenny is the only one who he pins in a submissive position and then kisses on the lips. It would already be creepy enough if she weren’t A) married and B) uninterested in not only the Doctor but his entire gender. But the episode just moves on from its little “haha isn’t it funny/cute/just an example of his happy exuberance when the Doctor does a nonconsensual sexual thing to somebody” joke and moves on to the Doctor quick-firing dialogue about they’ve got to find Clara and stop Mrs. Gillyflower.

Then we get a real oddity in Doctor Who. A flashback. Clara and The Doctor blipped into Yorkshire, and hear all about the Crimson Horror from our inaugural newspaper man. The Doctor discovers that the eyeballs of the victims, who keep washing up in the canal, preserve their last sight before they died, which should be impossible, but their “chemical composition… has been massively corrupted” by the red venom. So Clara and the Doctor enroll in Sweetville, where Mrs. Gillyflower reveals that the town was named in tribute to her “silent partner” and reveals what appears to be a married couple frozen in a giant glass bell jar. The Doctor and Clara are abducted, and get dipped. Those who turn bright red from the “preservation process” are the “rejects,” and it’s Ada’s responsibility to dump them in the canal. But upon discovering that the Doctor has survived, albeit in a limited state (because he’s an alien, he believes), she decides to hide him so as to have one consoling secret from her cold, emotionally abusive mother. Our flashback ends with the newspaper man in his death throes, stumbling into the Doctor’s cell (through a locked door, no less), looking at him, and dying. Presumably getting rid of that body was also Ada’s responsibility, though how she got it out of there without anyone else finding out about her “dear monster” is unexplained.

At this point Jenny, who remembers the twice-dead Clara from “The Snowmen,” and not our modern Clara, asks the Doctor what’s up with Clara. This continues to happen for the rest of the episode and the Doctor avoids answering, so I won’t mention it again until the very end. And who cares anyway because we’re getting to my favorite thing in the whole episode: Strax yelling at a horse.

“HORSE. YOU HAVE FAILED IN YOUR MISSION.” Horse jokes. They work on me. Strax is lost, can’t find Sweetville, and considers executing his horse for its disobedience. “Fourth one this week. And I’m not even hungry.” Then, in the dumbest joke I’ve seen on Doctor Who in a long time, he finds a street urchin who talks like a GPS and is named Thomas Thomas. Seriously? Seriously. The kid doesn’t even do anything else. Strax getting lost is not plot important. Strax finding this kid is not plot important. His uncanny directional abilities are not important. It’s like there was a scene deleted from the episode at the last minute that made all of this tie into the episode’s coherent whole, and then the continuity editor forgot that now this entire scene and character seem superfluous. Good thing it had that horse joke or I’d be even more disappointed by it. Unrelated: I love Strax in part because he is small and so am I.

Anyway, while all this is happening, Mrs. Gillyflower finds Ada in the Doctor’s cell empty cell and disowns her both from family and from heaven for forming a “sentimental attachment.” Also I hope you all checked the box on your “Quintessential Villain Lines” bingo card for “My plans must be accelerated.” The Doctor and Jenny search Sweetville’s bungalows until they find Clara inside a bell jar, smash it, and drag Clara to the magical fix the red stuff chamber.

Unfortunately, a number of Mrs. Gillyflower’s pilgrims show up and so the chamber needs defending. Jenny changes into her sexy fighting outfit™ and completely seems capable of fighting all of the bad guys off, even the ones with bats, but Madame Vastra and Strax show up to “save” her and the Doctor, I guess. And ding! Clara’s done, a bit out of it, but recovers quickly. Lady Vastra explains that all the red stuff being used around here is the venom of the Red Leech, a parasite that plagued the Silurian species million of years ago. Clara points out that the chimney of this match factory doesn’t blow smoke, and that puts it all together for the doctor. Mrs. Gillyflower has a rocket full of red poison and she’s going to launch it to spread it all over England. Now there‘s a good mad villain plan.

Speaking of, Mrs. Gillyflower sits down at an organ console and I genuinely got exited at the prospect of some evil organ playing and was disappointed at the reveal of a revolving panel with a rocket control center on it. I think there might be something wrong with me, here, not the episode. The Doctor’s plan is to find Ada, or possibly he just runs into her, and actually gives some good advice to an abuse survivor, telling her, probably for the first time in her life, that what she’s suffered was neither her fault nor due to any defect in her. They journey on to confront Mrs. Gillyflower in her organ room, whereupon she reveals that Mr. Sweet is a gross little red wormy leech thing that she keeps on her chest. YES. GROSS BUG BREAST FEEDING MAD VILLAIN. This is something I can get behind, also, her response when the Doctor tells her that the venom she’s collected from Mr. Sweet could be used for terrible things in the wrong hands. “Do you know what these are?” she giggles. “The wrong hands.” Then she pulls an important lever.

To stall her, the Doctor confronts her about how he knows she experimented on Ada, left her scarred in order to develop the anti-toxin that would allow her to survive being fed on by Mr. Sweets and therefore to be able to collect his venom. Which apparently, more than using her as a prop in moralistic demonstrations, more than browbeating her, shaming her, and disowning her, gets Ada very mad. In the midst of Ada caning her mother, Clara smashes a chair into the control panel, destroying it, but Mrs. Gillyflower puts a gun to Ada’s head and hostages her way out of there and all the way up the stairs the secondary firing mechanism of the rocket. She throws the switch, the rocket launches, but fortunately Jenny and Madame Vastra have removed the venom so it will explode harmlessly in the upper atmosphere. Strax shoots out the railing nearby and Mrs. Gillyflower falls to her imminent death, dying slowly as she begs (the quite agile for a leech) Mr. Sweet not to abandon her, begs her daughter to forgive her. “Never,” says Ada. “That’s my girl,” says Gillyflower, and expires. Then Ada smashes Mr. Sweet to bloody bits with her cane and can we all stop using “it’s a kid’s show” as an excuse for Doctor Who‘s lapses in continuity or characterization? We just watched an old woman die slowly in considerable distress while her uncaring daughter looked on. I don’t mean to imply that I felt this episode was inappropriate, but rather that if kids can handle this, they can hand good, complex storytelling full of complex emotions as well.

The Doctor scoots Clara off into the TARDIS and while he says good bye to all the Victorian characters Jenny finally gets a moment to press the Doctor on the subject of Clara and of course he has no answers. He takes Clara back to her own time of London and leaves her there for a bit, where she finds that the kids she takes care of have found a bunch of pictures of her on the historical adventures she’s been having all season, and speaking as a person who’s done a good bit of reverse image searching in my day, lord knows how. Maybe they used the readily available near-instantaneous face matching software Clara used in “The Bells of Saint John?” If so, remind me again to never go to England. Her kids even found a picture of Clara from “The Snowmen,” which confuses Clara enough that she lets slip about the time travel. Naturally, they want to know all about it, which sets us up for next week’s NEIL GAIMAN EPISODE WOOOO.

I don’t have a lot of thoughts to sum up for this episode. Unless I missed it, however, the episode never refers to the girl from the episode’s first scene, which doesn’t necessarily bother me except that it’s established that Madame, Jenny, and the deceased’s brother are all aware the she exists but not that they know her to be dead. If the brother doesn’t care whether she escaped Sweetville, it doesn’t seem out of the bit of character he’s been given, but I would expect better from Madame and Jenny. If this had to be the episode standing between me and Neil Gaiman’s return to the series, we could have done worse than an adventure in Victorian England far less Dickensian and shmaltzy than “The Next Doctor,” with some fan favorite secondary characters, a gross monster, and a nice solid villain.

Are you following The Mary Sue on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, & Google +?

TAGS: | |


  • http://twitter.com/Proi_RS Robin S

    “We just watched an old woman die slowly in considerable distress while her uncaring daughter looked on.I don’t mean to imply that I felt this episode was inappropriate, but rather that if kids can handle this, they can hand good, complex storytelling full of complex emotions as well.” – YES!

    As soon as the episode passed the halfway mark and there was still no Clara, I was like, WELP. Here’s yet another episode where we get little to no character development for our newest companion, and yep, she’s a freaking damsel in distress again. This is all getting incredibly frustrating and annoying. Neil Gaiman, save Clara, please.

    Madame Vastra, Jenny and Strax should have their own spin-off show. I too didn’t really miss the Doctor in the first half. Also, I’m starting to wonder if it’s network pressure that is keeping Clara so incredibly boring. The writers write for Vastra and Jenny just fine, and gives them plenty of agency and things to do. We’ve even got a solid, creepy lady villain, and Mrs. Gillyflower’s daughter had more of an arc in one episode than Clara’s had all season.

    Two things really bugged me about this episode. One, was the dip kiss the Doctor gave Jenny. That is wildly inappropriate, not cute and out-of-character. I can see him hugging excitedly, pecking on the cheek or even spin-hugging. But a romantic dip-kiss? No. Please. Please no. The other thing that made me dramatically roll my eyes was, Clara out and out SWOONING into the Doctor’s arms after she’s rescued once again.

    I am hoping next week’s episode can redeem things, and maybe we’ll see some life injected into Clara with the kids there. And, it’s always a treat to see Matt Smith interact with kids. He’s very good at it.

    Oh, and was anyone else picturing Mr. Sweet as this guy up until the reveal? http://www.toptenz.net/wp-content/uploads/2008/11/sweet.jpg

  • Anonymous

    You know, it’s strange. My brain noted the godawful GPS joke kid was still there in later scenes… and that info got purged from my short-term memory after the episode ended. Completely forgot. Something is definitely up there. I’d love to hear from the writers about that one. One way or another, someone fucked up bad here. (At the very least for including the joke itself at all.)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1048764900 Joe Littrell

    I’m just throwing this out here, but the 50th Anniversary issue of Detective, #572, had a Sherlock Holmes story by Mike Barr entitled “The Adventure of the Red Leech”, taken from story hint in The Adventure of the Golden Pince-Nez from the original canon:

    “As I turn over the pages, I see my notes upon the repulsive story of the red leech and the terrible death of Crosby, the banker.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000327677376 Suzanne Larsen

    Vastra, Jenny, Strax, and bonus Tegan reference! I really liked this episode. It felt like I was watching one of the “classic” old school Whos. *laugh* it even inspired me to buy a bunch of Tegan episode dvds as a birthday present to myself. (yes, I’m odd, Tegan’s my favorite companion besides Sarah Jane).

  • Edward Tiegs

    Two things. What kind of lame being, intelligent enough to build a rocket in Victorian times, is too stupid to make sure the virus is on board before launching?

    Much less leave it out in the open, in a basket, unguarded?

    Also, everyone present at the launch would have been incinerated, but I guess blocking your face with your hands wards off intense heat.

    PS. Can you imagine the 4th Doctor grabbing a woman, bending her over, and forcing a kiss on her? Way classy, people.

  • Kathryn

    Thank you, I’m glad I’m not the only one bugged by the Doctor’s Jenny kiss. It was so out of character, and gave me the skeevies about the Doctor for the first time ever.

  • http://tyrannyofthepetticoat.wordpress.com/ Vera

    Okay, let me preface this by saying that I completely respect the opinion that the Doctor’s non-consensual kissing of Jenny was not cool. I understand that we have a real problem in our culture with people not seeing that kissing a woman against her will is a form of sexual assault.
    That said, even as a feminist I did not have a problem with the Doctor kissing Jenny in this episode. I thought he was giddy with excitement and lacked impulse control after being suddenly restored to life after weeks of immobility and (horrors for the Doctor) silence. Kissing Jenny was part of an outpouring of emotion.
    I also don’t think the show condoned it, because the Doctor was immediately slapped across the face, hard. The Doctor didn’t act surprised or offended by this slap: he deserved it, and he knew it, but his brain was racing super fast and he had to get on with other things.
    Finally, I think the context of Jenny and the Doctor’s relationship matters in this case. The Doctor isn’t assaulting some woman he barely knows: he’s being silly with a friend, who smacks his face when he gets out of hand.
    I’m really not trying to start an argument here: I’m just presenting a different viewpoint on the particular context of what Susanna found so offensive, and I’m sorry if anything I said offended anyone.

  • http://twitter.com/Rockybalboa211 Louis Gonzales

    Are kisses sexual? I grew up in a Hispanic family and we (my relatives/friends) kiss on the cheeks and lips when we are happy. I mean, I understand some people might think it sexual. I did get slapped in the face when greeting someone with a kiss on the cheek. Overall, I’ve never really seen kisses as sexual.

  • linda petersen

    “Madame Vastra, Jenny and Strax should have their own spin-off show.” Seconded!

  • Adam R. Charpentier

    I wish I had more time to comment on this but I’m in a bit of a rush. Suffice to say, for all the reasons listed above (but beyond all else, because it was just STUPID) this was the worst episode of the show ever. The Doctor wasn’t acting like the Doctor, Clara continues to spiral down the drain of interest and has ever since The Snowmen, and I wish I could throttle people through the TV for the TomTom joke. Ridiculous.

  • http://twitter.com/Proi_RS Robin S

    The kiss just seemed really out of character for me. A kiss on the lips while standing, well, he did that to Rory, even. I can see that. But that was very much a romantic sort of kiss, and once Jenny was flung off-balance, she had no way of stopping it.

    I have a bunch of really close guy friends, and if one of them ever did that to me, I might just knee them out of impulse. I don’t think that sort of thing is ever appropriate in the context of a friendship, especially when one knows said friend is married.

  • Anonymous

    Yeah, this might just be my cultural background speaking, but kissing a friend in a moment of celebration seems totally normal to me. If it had been Ada or someone, that would have been way out of line, but given the context of the scene and the fact that they’re friends, it reads rather differently.

    Of course, the problem with analyzing such scenes in TV is that you can’t ask the characters how they felt about it… so there’s going to be some differences in interpretation.

  • http://tyrannyofthepetticoat.wordpress.com/ Vera

    I agree: I definitely think it was inappropriate which is why she smacked him for it. Madame Vastra would have run him through for his impertinence!

    I thought it was in character because of his giddiness about being out. It was an impulsive and silly dramatic gesture, that came from the Doctor acting out after a long imprisonment. Ordinarily, I don’t think the Doctor would ever have done such a thing, which I think Jenny understood: that’s why she let him get away with it without anything but a slap. That’s all I meant by “the context of their relationship.”

  • Anonymous

    Watching the final scene: “Oh, I guess it’s good that they’re taking the little guy back home to the dinosaurs—MR SWEET, NOOOO”

    Also, did anyone else get the feeling that the Doctor was paralyzed for half the episode because Mark Gatiss subconsciously wants him to stop talking for once?

  • http://tyrannyofthepetticoat.wordpress.com/ Vera
  • http://melancholywise.tumblr.com/ Sophie

    I’m curious why you think Clara’s weak characterisation would be network pressure? To what end? Moffat’s characterisation tends to not be that great. I suspect it’s as a result of that. Gatiss who wrote this episode, does do much stronger characterisation, though I find his storylines hit and miss.

  • http://www.commonplacebook.com electrasteph

    That one seemed to be. People generally don’t dip their relatives and friends while kissing them in happiness. They do that in a romantic way.

  • http://mangabotblog3000.popanime.net/ Brand

    While this episode wasn’t without it’s problems it was way more interesting and fun than the two previous episodes. “Hide” was alright but kind of meh, and “Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS” really rubbed me the wrong way.

    I was fine with Amy and Rory leaving, I thought the time had come. But Clara needs more characterization. It seems the two previous times the Doctor meet her she was much more interesting than this time. I think “Cold War” was so far the episode that made her the most interesting.

  • http://twitter.com/Proi_RS Robin S

    I have no idea. I think they might think she’s easier to market if she’s completely non-offensive and bland? It just seems strange to me that secondary characters are written well, and Amy had a personality, but Clara is just so utterly dull.

    My running theory is that all of these episodes were commissioned and drafted before Jenna-Louise Coleman was cast. They all feel like they were written for a generic companion instead of a fully fleshed out character.

  • Anonymous

    Why is nobody talking about the best dialouge of the night?
    “Strax, you seem a bit over exicited. Have you been eating Mrs. Jenny’s sherbert fancies again?”
    “…..Noooooo.”
    “Go wait out in the carriage!”

  • Anonymous

    Possibly my favorite episode of the season. Yeah, no, I got nothing. I swear half the time I’m watching a different show to everybody else.

    Intriguing premise, great villain entertaining supporting characters. Most importantly serves to develop Jenny’s role and personality better.

    My only problem is that Clara is starting to feel a bit… superfluous? She didn’t add much to the plot. With a bit of rewriting, you could have had Jenny do most of the things she did without having to have been the Damsel in Distress. BUT I am looking forward to seeing the kids in the next few episodes that should be different. (Also if it turns out that Clara is the Master somehow I’ll forgive the show everything because THAT would take guts.)

    Hoping that Ada becomes the fourth member of the Victorian Inter-species Detective Agency. Because it has been a very long time since I’ve out and out loved a character as much as her instantly.

    I even liked the Tom Tom joke.

  • http://www.facebook.com/shelley.barnard.5 Shelley Barnard

    The Tegan references made me super happy too! And you’re not odd. Tegan was awesome. :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/shelley.barnard.5 Shelley Barnard

    This has been my favorite episode for quite some time, and I suspect that it’s because there was so little Clara in it. I’m done waiting for her to get a personality; now I’m just waiting for the next Companion.

    While I would agree that the Doctor kissing a married friend like that was inappropriate and out of character, I thought the episode as a whole was rather progressive. Twice, the Doctor pulled out his screwdriver and was like, “I’ve got a plan,” and twice Jenny/Clara was like, “screw that. I’ve got this.” I quite liked that.

  • http://melancholywise.tumblr.com/ Sophie

    I don’t know, it just doesn’t seem like the BBC’s style. Since they’re funded by the public they tend to be a little less obsessed with marketing than their American counterparts. Amy’s personality was a bit all over the place as well. You can tell this because it’s often hard to say why she takes any one action, or what she wants from life, or really anything about her that isn’t Doctor/Rory related. I honestly think it’s just a writing failure.

  • http://tyrannyofthepetticoat.wordpress.com/ Vera

    I know exactly what you mean about watching a different show! But I dunno, I agree that the episode could have been written without Clara if necessary, but I think she did add something. I enjoyed the group dynamic of the five leads, and I thought her character and the development of her relationship with the Doctor were fun. Or maybe it’s just that I’m a shameless Clara fan :) I didn’t even mind the Damsel in Distress, since the Doctor was also damseling this episode!
    Thank you–I also laughed at Tom Tom, and I was starting to wonder what was wrong with me!

  • http://www.facebook.com/brian.adkins.77 Brian Adkins

    In the flashbacks,thought the Doctor looked a little like Charlie Chaplin.

  • http://www.facebook.com/brian.adkins.77 Brian Adkins

    In the flashbacks,thought the Doctor looked a little like Charlie Chaplin.

  • http://twitter.com/Proi_RS Robin S

    Still, there seems to have been a push to get Who more attention across the pond. It’s all just speculation! I guess I’m hoping there’s a reason behind it. Because they can’t possibly believe that Clara is a good character as she is. They clearly know the difference between a good character and an undercooked, underdeveloped one.

  • http://twitter.com/Proi_RS Robin S

    Still, there seems to have been a push to get Who more attention across the pond. It’s all just speculation! I guess I’m hoping there’s a reason behind it. Because they can’t possibly believe that Clara is a good character as she is. They clearly know the difference between a good character and an undercooked, underdeveloped one.

  • http://twitter.com/Proi_RS Robin S

    Still, there seems to have been a push to get Who more attention across the pond. It’s all just speculation! I guess I’m hoping there’s a reason behind it. Because they can’t possibly believe that Clara is a good character as she is. They clearly know the difference between a good character and an undercooked, underdeveloped one.

  • Sabrina

    I have to side with Robin here: Kissing a friend in a playful manner for the sheer happiness of being alive? No big issue here, I really get that. But the whole dipping her and putting her in that stereotypical “romantic kiss” position in which she can’t really object was just a bit too much. It came off as too forceful. Whatever playfulness or giddiness was involved here it got overshadowed by the sheer disregard for Jenny as a person. We’ve had quite a few “surprise kisses” in Doctor Who but none of them have been this forced.

  • Roberta

    My only explanation to it is that if I was nearly killed, confined and put under something as horrible as the Crimson Horror, and pretty sure that there was no way out, and someone rescued me, I would probably react the same way the Doctor did. I did like how Jenny didn’t take that shit though.

  • Roberta

    I kinda want them to encounter Captain Jack Harkness, just to see how everyone would get along. No clue how that would be managed, but frankly I would gladly ignore logic for that one.

  • Anonymous

    What bugs me is that for previous companions to 9 and 10 it’s been an important point that while they may be in distress they always make significant contributions to resolving the situation and helping to save the Doctor. He wouldn’t make it without them.That was always so refreshing! This starts to feel like the opposite. Unless Vastra and Jenny become the companions…

  • Anonymous

    “Perhaps they didn’t want to piss off the Sherlock fandom?”

    WHOLOCK – With Gatiss and Moffat also being in charge of the oh-so-very popular Sherlock starring Bilbo and Smaug…er, Benedict Cubmerbatch and Martin Freeman, there are ever going to be in-jokes that trickle through. An unrecorded adventure of Sherlock Holmes was “the repulsive story of the red leech” as reported in The Adventure of the Golden Pince-Nez.

  • Anonymous

    This may be the closest to a true solo adventure we get, unless the folks at Big Finish want to take up the baton.

    You DID buy the e-book about the victorian trio, didn’t you?
    http://amzn.to/1078YMC

    And I’ll keep saying it till I’m blue in the gills, but I will not be truly happy until we get a crossover between Vastra and Jenny and Jago and Litefoot

  • Anonymous

    “I’m gonna go play with my grenades…”

  • Anonymous

    I rather wrote the small launch gantry as a budgetary concern, but I imagine you could choose to believe that Mrs Gillyflower had created a new propellant that worked more on pressure than heat, if you like.

  • http://tyrannyofthepetticoat.wordpress.com/ Vera

    I took it as a dramatic “sweeping her off her feet” gesture *shrugs* in keeping with the general exuberance. I didn’t really see it through the lens of him trying to keep her from protesting. But I can understand how you might be offended by the “sweeping her off her feet” and its connotations.

  • Anonymous

    Trying to remember the death or fainting scenes in Cold War, Hide and Rings of Akhaten.

    Let’s see, helpless, hapless Clara –

    Bells .of St. John – hacks into the GI’s company.
    Rings of Akhaten – rides a moped through space to save The Doctor, sacrifices her most precious remembrances. (even if she gets one back)

    Cold War – volunteers to palaver with the giant Martian
    Hide – pilots the TARDIS into a bubble universe, after convincing her to LET her do it.
    Crimson Horror – blows up the rocket launch controls. Helps alert The Doctor to the chimney/launch gantry

    So yes, a couple of times in distress, (but in TCH, BOTH are in distress) but I’d say she’s more of an asset FAR more often.

  • Infophile

    A lot of this is cultural, of course. This is a British show, with the Doctor kissing a British, Victorian-era married woman. By all of her standards, this was wildly inappropriate. (Even by what we know of Time Lord standards, this is out there.)

  • Sabrina

    Oh don’t get me wrong – I don’t see much malice on the Doctor’s part in the sense that he was “trying to keep her from protesting” which sort of implies some evil plotting. But there’s a lot of thoughtlessness in this scene. The Doctor doesn’t think about Jenny’s feelings in this situation, the writer didn’t think about why including a forced kiss could be problematic and the director didn’t think about the implications about using this iconic pose. *not thinking* is exactly the problem here.

    I give you though that at least the episode didn’t frame it as acceptable behaviour – or at least they tried. Jenny slapping him was absolutely justified and a clear sign to back off. However, shortly after she gets objectified again when she reveals her skin-tight battle outfit and the audience is served a boner joke courtesy of the Doctor raising his screwdriver (and quickly adjusting after he notices). The kiss and the boner joke happening in quick succession is really stretching whatever sympathies I might have left for the whole Doctor/Jenny team up here.

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    “Madame Vastra, Jenny and Strax should have their own spin-off show.”

    This is exactly what Mr. ShifterCat and I said to each other! We would watch the hell out of that.

  • http://twitter.com/Proi_RS Robin S

    I also think it’s problematic that the whole sweep-and-kiss thing was played for laughs.

  • Sabrina

    Jenny slapping him was a bit of a token protest but yes, overall it was played for laughs and I agree with you. It’s the icing on the cake that was this mess of a scene.

  • Anonymous

    Another thing not mentioned, Madame Vastra’s front door. TARDIS much?

  • Anonymous

    The sexual assault really bugged me. I liked moffat for giving us the best episodes of the RTD days, and for having a great first season as showrunner.

    But all that goodwill is spent, too much misogyny for me.

  • http://tyrannyofthepetticoat.wordpress.com/ Vera

    THANK YOU!
    And the Doctor’s been playing the damsel plenty this season as well!

  • http://tyrannyofthepetticoat.wordpress.com/ Vera

    I do think it’s important that it was a sweep-kiss-slap thing being played for laughs…
    And although Doctor Who may not be perfect in objectifying women, ever since 11 arrived they’ve also gone out of their way to objectify men. Women constantly comment sexually on the Doctor and (before all this) “Hello Pretty” Rory. And remember, the Doctor may have kissed Jenny against her will, but just a few episodes ago Clara kissed the Doctor against his will too. I get that this doesn’t exonerate some problematic portrayals of women on the show (I”m thinking of Amy Pond and her terrifying/magic vagina), but I do think the constructions are more multifaceted than they first appear.

  • http://twitter.com/Proi_RS Robin S

    I also think it was disrespectful to Vastra and Jenny’s relationship. I don’t think the Doctor meant to be, but I also don’t think the writers considered how it might look.

    Would the Doctor have dip-kissed the significant other of a man? Or more accurately, would the writers have made it a dip kiss if Jenny were married to a male friend of the Doctor’s?

  • http://twitter.com/Proi_RS Robin S

    The big difference here is that Jenny was off her feet and unable to shove him away before he got a proper kiss in. That’s the distinction between someone kissing when it might not be welcome (and having a chance to pull away because they’re on their feet) and someone forcing a kiss by physically throwing them off-balance.

    Also, commenting on someone’s appearance =/= objectification. It’s treating someone as an object and not a person. I don’t think Who has an objectification problem so much as it has recently had a problem with creating well-rounded female characters. That’s a different problem.

  • OdinsEye

    Yes a Victorian era woman who wears a “sexy fighting outfit” , who is married to a nonhuman woman. Tell us more about what she finds inappropriate……

  • OdinsEye

    Hey no bringing facts and valid points into this….

  • Infophile

    I’d say the slap tells you all you need to know. Just because she defies her culture in some ways doesn’t mean she defies them in every way (we just don’t know in the end about most of it, given her limited screen time). And let’s not get into the sexy outfit != consent discussion…

  • OdinsEye

    Thank you, I have failed to dislike an episode this season. They’ve all been great. I’m just waiting for Clara to come into her own.

  • http://twitter.com/aussiejed Jeremy Sadler

    “Madame Vastra, Jenny and Strax should have their own spin-off show.”
    Said the EXACT same thing while watching this episode. They could aim it at a slightly younger audience (ala Sarah Jane Adventures) and every week Strax could suggest ultra-violence and be turned down, except for that one week when that’s the best option. :)
    But seriously, a married gay couple investigators, one a Holmesian lizard the other a kickass Watsonesque, and their manservant/warrior sidekick. What’s not to like?

  • Anonymous

    I agree – the boner joke was totally unnecessary, and her outfit didn’t seem to be that sexy. She couldn’t fight in what she was wearing, so she changed, no reason to make a big “Oooh, sexy” deal out of it. Then she didn’t even get to fight, and I was sad, because a big fight scene with Jenny in the middle would have been so fun.

  • Anonymous

    He’s been giving me the skeevies with Clara the whole time. He keeps touching her, and modern Clara hasn’t done anything to welcome that. It seems weird that she doesn’t find it weird.

  • Anonymous

    This is the first time all season I haven’t been Steaming mad at the Doctor for being a creepy, selfish asshole, so I counted it a success

  • Anonymous

    This is my favorite episode all season, mostly because I wasn’t mad at the Doctor for being a selfish asshole the whole time. He was still kind of creepy with Jenny and Clara though. He keeps touching Clara, for no reason, and it skeeves me out. Also, he’s married now, isn’t he? Where’s River in all this? They never really established what happened with her after the “Angels Take Manhattan” episode, did they?

  • OdinsEye

    Just quoting the review.
    Clearly from all of the screen time shes had, and what we know about her, if she had felt violated or abused, she would have given him more than a slap. She would have hurt him.

  • Anonymous

    This episode was a FU*KING BLAST!!! I loved every minute of it, Mark Gatniss, you wonderful wonderful writer. Please take over Doctor Who when Moffet leaves, honestly bro, between you and me, secretly, not to distress the vicious fans, but your a much better writer than Moffet. Yeah I said it.

    Also was I the only girl thinking…The Crimson Horror….really Doctor Who, Victorian period jokes…really? hahahah

  • Adam R. Charpentier

    That’s terrible. Our standards shouldn’t have to fall to keep up with the show.

  • Selina_Elessar

    I agree, except that I was glad we didn’t get any more of that atrocious fight scene. Fight scenes like that are really hard to choreograph and film and edit, and the little bit we got felt cheesy and forced to me. I liked seeing Jenny be tough and all, I just feel like the editing wouldn’t have done it justice had it been any longer.

  • Selina_Elessar

    Overall, I liked this episode more than most this (half) season. I thought that the dip was overkill. We already know that this incarnation of The Doctor likes kissing people. We also know that Matt Smith likes kissing people (I’ve heard that The Doctor kissing Rory was unscripted, Smith just likes kissing people) and part of me wonders if this wasn’t scripted, or the dip wasn’t scripted, and everybody just thought it was funny and made the wrong call of leaving it in. This is the first villain I kinda liked/was impressed with in the last several episodes, way better than mindless space zombies, some weird bone creature thing, and an alive sun that felt highly reminiscent of ’42.’ Strax was definitely the best part of the episode, though. I felt like Clara was really pushed to the side, and that her chimney revelation was thrown in only to be like ‘see, she’s still here and doing stuff,’ but it didn’t bother me too much. Not my favorite episode of Eleven, but I enjoyed it more than most of season 7.5.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sidney-Tucker/100001091061061 Sidney Tucker

    Episodes like this make me miss David Tennant’s Doctor. Of course, Madame Vastra, Jenny and Strax would have been great regulars in his tenure.

  • Anonymous

    Well, she’s no longer in Stormgate, so after she dropped off the manuscript to Amy (because the Vortex manipulator can go places the TARDIS can’t, or that Moffat doesn’t want it to), she goes off on her own.

    But she is in the season finale.

  • Anonymous

    Yes! I noticed that – he’s very kissy and cuddly from minute one with this Clara, and I feel like this is bad writing – you have to actually write in a relationship, you can’t just go straight to the Doctor and Clara being close without it ever being shown.

  • Anonymous

    The TomTom joke was very odd, I have no idea what it was doing here. I could imagine the idea being used successfully: for example, you could have a story where aliens are using some sort of psychic technology to exploit the human brain’s computing power, so you get people spouting calculations and navigation and not knowing why…

    In the context of this episode it just came across as a silly, distracting joke. and it was a shame because the Strax/horse joke was very, very funny :)

  • Ellie

    In Cold War, when she dives under the water to get the Sonic, her vision gets all wibbly, and the next thing we see is her waking up.
    I think Rings of Akhaten is the one that there was none, and I don’t remember the one in Hide. Maybe there wasn’t one, and I was just confused with all the other fainting going on.
    I’m definitely not saying that this means that she’s not an asset or that she’s helpless! I agree with everything you’ve said. But she does faint a lot. It’s just something that annoys me. It’s more of a criticism of writers not knowing how to transition/get Clara away from the Doctor than it is one of Clara herself.

  • Anonymous

    But my point is that he’s still married, and now he’s all touching Clara all the time and acting oddly toward her, as well as randomly kissing other women. He’s not the startled virgin character he was, so clearly River’s taught him a trick or two, but we can’t pretend she just doesn’t exist anymore. We need a proper ending for her.

  • http://twitter.com/Deggsy Deggsy

    I liked the flashback done as an undercranked black and white film. Apart from that…

  • Anonymous

    Mr. Sweet’s evil plan is to leech onto people and have all of them dance and sing themselves to death! But no, Sweet from Buffy would be an amazing Doctor Who villain.

  • http://twitter.com/spoonfedkitty Kit McGee

    The Doctor kissing Jenny almost ruined the episode for me.

  • http://twitter.com/meliciousness Melynda

    I was so happy that Vastra, Jenny, and Strax were in this episode and that it wasn’t all the Doctor and there was even less Clara. The girl is boring, bless her. I want to like her. She seems nice. But that’s about all she seems. And a little bossy sometimes but not in the same lovable ways previous companions have been bossy. I miss the Doctor being a hugger, not a smoocher. Lastly, this season has been a disaster. I really hope Moffat goes away soon or they at least go back to a more traditional season format. This ‘blockbuster blahblahbalh whatever” crap every week isn’t working and it’s offered zero character development.

  • http://twitter.com/Tonks07 Mandy

    “As soon as the episode passed the halfway mark and there was still no Clara, I was like, WELP. Here’s yet another episode where we get little to no character development for our newest companion”

    Ditto. I can’t decide if the writers are just trying to draw out us learning some Important Backround Infomation about her or they are just clueless and being lazy. I mean we even had Jenny ask the Doctor MULTIPLE times WTF is up with that girl didn’t she die? & the Doctor is just like IDK whatever? They truely want me to believe the Doctor doesn’t even have a theory yet? The writers need to step it up and really make me care about modern!Clara so I feel something when we learn what her Big Secret Mystery is. Victorian!Clara & Oswin were more exciting for me in 1 episode each than most of what modern day Clara is doing. (Even WITH how charming the actress is! But acting can only compensate for writing so much here.)

  • http://www.facebook.com/veronica.viscardi.9 Veronica Viscardi

    I know the Thomas Thomas bit was silly and plot un-necessary…but it made me and my husband crack.

    Strax and the sherbert fancies….I want to adopt a Sontaran and feed him sherbert fancies!

  • http://twitter.com/Tonks07 Mandy

    Could this handsy/touchey thing be a quirk the writers are trying to hang on to from the Doctor/Amy relationship? Like, they interpretted the Doctor’s handsy approach with Amy to be the Doctor is now a hands on person/likes physical touch rather than 11 is handsy with Amy (& also Rory) because they were suppose to be best friends and bffs can get very comfortable with each other and caual touch?

  • http://www.facebook.com/JamesMauriceAlexander James Alexander

    Wasn’t the Doctor a grandparent years before the show began?

  • http://www.facebook.com/JamesMauriceAlexander James Alexander

    The short answer, Alex Kingston isn’t being paid as a regular cast member. But some of the stuff between the Doctor and Clara is weird when you consider that the he’s still married. And will be until River goes to the library.

  • http://www.facebook.com/JamesMauriceAlexander James Alexander

    Clara used to be awesome. But she’s basically spiraled into a non entity as the series continues.

  • http://www.facebook.com/JamesMauriceAlexander James Alexander

    Remember when the Doctor kissed Rory and it wasn’t a big deal because it wasn’t

  • http://www.facebook.com/JamesMauriceAlexander James Alexander

    I know she’s technically supposed to be a different character anyway, but it feels like a big about face was done with Clara in the second half of the season where she does from being the female Doctor to a generic non-entity that stands behind the Doctor when he does stuff.

    The Doctor could have remained solo all this year and it would have made no difference. The Clara mystery/concept is still really cool. She’s just painfully underwritten.

  • http://melancholywise.tumblr.com/ Sophie

    Yeah, it’s a shame. I feel like River’s characterisation followed a similar path.

  • Adam R. Charpentier

    Yep! At the best of times, she’s Amy-lite, and at introduction I was smitten because she seemed so UN-Amy.

  • Anonymous

    Yes, I mean Smith’s incarnation of the doctor. Tennant was rather sexy from the beginning, but Smith seemed pretty clueless about the whole thing until recently (for example: Bunk beds for the married couple?)
    I’m ok with him switching interests every regeneration. I imagine that would have been understood in Gallifreyan culture (especially since they switch genders).

  • http://elisabethflaum.wordpress.com/ Elwyne

    I think a moment or two of organ music would have been entirely justified. And awesome. :)

  • http://elisabethflaum.wordpress.com/ Elwyne

    The Attack of the Supermodels scene could have been longer. I wanted to see Jenny go all River Tam on their butts…

  • http://elisabethflaum.wordpress.com/ Elwyne

    Actually I thought it completely IN character for 11. He kisses everyone.

  • http://www.facebook.com/gefen.lavee Gefen Lavee

    I found it, for some unintelligent reason, really funny you said Ada looked on while her mother was dying because; blind…

  • Anonymous

    Exactly. She needs a finale before I’m at all ok with the Doctor feeling up anyone else. Also, it’s weird that he’s feeling her up at all, and that she doesn’t think his handsy-ness is at all strange. It’s weird. By husband is getting irritated because I keep shouting, “stop Touching her!” at the tv.

  • Anonymous

    Well, yeah, it was a bad fight scene. But maybe they were lazy with it because they knew it would be short? Maybe if it were longer, they’d have taken more time? Oh wait, this is Dr. Who…