What’s the Story?
The Doctor, Amy and Rory find themselves in a replica of a 1980s hotel where the walls move, the corridors stretch beyond them and behind each door lies someone’s biggest fear. They are not alone however, and trapped with another group of poor unfortunate souls they must face their fears and escape from the beast that is picking people off one by one…
What’s the Verdict?
Like ‘The Rebel Flesh’ in the earlier half of the series, it is going to be difficult to think about ‘The God Complex’ without immediately skipping to its surprising final moments. But I’ll try, as up to this point Being Human scribe Toby Whithouse had delivered a funny, atmospheric and multi-layered episode of Doctor Who that was brimming with big idea, from phobias to faith.
The 1980s hotel was a clever setting, I know I have certainly been in hotels where the wallpaper looked much like it did in this episode, where every corridor looked the same and seemed to stretch on forever without another soul in sight. The direction from Nick Hurran was excellent here, with some wonderful shots emphasising the space and the use of reflections in the door plates and handles.
Whithouse had also created a strong set of supporting characters, that although perhaps fell into some familiar stereotypes (the coward, the geek etc) their interactions with the Doctor were entirely believable. This is particularly true of Rita who of course was doomed from the moment the Doctor said he would take her with him. Despite the attention on David Walliams’ turn as Gibbis it was Amara Karan who shone the brightest in this episode and gave a strong and memorable performance as Rita and it was a shame to see her go. Although please, no more Sally Sparrow-esque campaigns!
The part of the episode that did not entirely work for me was unfortunately the Minotaur itself. Not that it is not a clever idea, to have a Minotaur trapped prowling a labyrinthine maze as per Greek mythology. However although a lot of work had clearly gone into the prosthetics, I always feel that animal-based creatures on television should only be glimpsed at best, as any lingering or full-body shots take me right out of the moment and leave me just examining the prosthetics!
With hindsight however, the first 35 minutes of the episode, seem to be building up to the ending, the apparent departure of The Ponds. Matt Smith gave another wonderful performance as he delivered the speech that broke Amy’s blind faith in him and Karen Gillan also excelled as she realised that The Doctor was going to leave them behind, why he had to do this and why she also had to let him go. Their final scene together was pitched perfectly by both actors, although it seems a shame that The Doctor would not say goodbye to Rory after they seem to have become good friends themselves. It was an emotional moment, but not as much as it would have been had I for one second believed this is the last we will see of the Ponds. I have no doubt they will be back for the finale and Lake Silencio and hopefully back again in the future.
Rory speaking in the past tense about his time with the Doctor was very interesting, personally I thought it was just that he had decided in his own head that he did not want to travel much longer (especially after he said so outright in anger last week), but is there more to it than this?
It is certainly true that although seemingly a standalone episode, ‘The God Complex’ provided a surprising amount of insight into our main characters and posed some interesting questions. In fact, watching it through a second time, it is impossible to shake the feeling that something else is going on, something you can’t quite put your finger on, but that is there in front of you and is very significant.
The Doctor, completing a Rubik’s Cube he was unable to complete in ‘Night Terrors’, eating an apple he did not like in ‘The Eleventh Hour’, close ups on his boots (which boots did the Ganger have again?), opening his door (Number 11 of course), hearing the Tardis cloister bell and saying ‘Of course, who else?’. This episode certainly gave lots to speculate on and perhaps the theories that there have been two Doctors running around all series are gathering pace.
Or perhaps as Rory would say, we are coming up with theories more insane than what is actually happening. Not long to wait now, time will tell….
The Doctor - ‘Amy. Beaky. This could be the most exciting thing I’ve ever seen’ - Aww poor Rory!
The Doctor - ‘Amy, with regret…you’re fired.’ - who would have thought The Doctor was a fan of The Apprentice?!
The Doctor - ‘I take it from the pathological compulsion to surrender, you’re from Tivoli’
Gibbis - ‘Yes the most invaded planet in the galaxy. Our anthem is called ‘Glory to Insert Name Here’.
The Doctor - ‘Well, that killed the mood’.
Rory - ‘Every time the Doctor gets pally with someone I have this overwhelming urge to notify their next of kin.’
The Doctor - ‘This is a cup of tea.’
Rita - ‘Of course, we’re British, that’s how we cope with trauma. That and tutting’
Rita - ‘Gibbis is an alien isn’t he? Ok, I’m going to file that under ‘Freak Out About Later’.
Amy - ‘Don’t talk to the clown!’
The Doctor - ‘Maybe you’re not scared of anything’
Rory - ‘Well, after all the time I spent with you in the TARDIS, what was left to be scared of?’
The Doctor - ‘You said that in the past tense’
Rory - ‘No, I didn’t. You know, Howie had been in speech therapy, had just got over this massive stammer. What an achievement. I mean, can you imagine? I’d forgotten, not all victories are about saving the universe’.
The Doctor - *opens Room 11, cloister bell tolls* Of course, who else?
The Doctor - ‘I stole your childhood and now I’ve led you by the hand to your death. But the worst thing is I knew. I knew this would happen, this is what always happens. Forget your faith in me. I took you with me because I was vain. Because I wanted to be adored. Look at you, glorious Pond, The Girl Who Waited for me. I’m not a hero. I really am just a madman in a box. And it’s time we saw each other as we really are. Amy Williams. It’s time to stop waiting.’
Amy - ‘It didn’t want just me. You must believe in some God or someone or they’d have shown you the door too. So what do Time Lords pray to?’
The Doctor - *translates* “An ancient creature, drenched in the blood of the innocent. Drifting in space through an endless, shifting maze. For such a creature, death would be a gift” (to Minotaur) Then accept it. And sleep well. *translates* “I wasn’t talking about myself”.
Amy - ‘Don’t tell me, this isn’t Earth, that isn’t a real house and inside there’s a goblin who feeds on indecision’ - ah deadpan, sarcastic Amy, I do love you!
Rory - ‘That’s my favourite car. How did you know that’s my favourite car?
The Doctor - ‘You showed me a picture of it once and said ‘That’s my favourite car’.
Amy - ‘So, you’re leaving aren’t you?’
The Doctor - ‘You haven’t seen the last of me. Bad Penny is my middle name. Seriously, the looks I get when I fill in a form…
Amy - ‘Why now?’
The Doctor - ‘because you’re still breathing’
Amy - ‘Well I think this is about the washing up personally’ *laughs*
The Doctor - ‘And what’s the alternative? Me standing over your grave? Over your broken body? Over Rory’s body? *they hug*
Amy - ‘If you bump into my daughter, tell her to visit her old Mum sometime’
Rory - What happened? What’s he doing?
Amy - He’s saving us.