REVIEW: Doctor Who 8×08 “Mummy on the Orient Express”

The Missy story-arc appears to be getting tighter and tighter with the latest episode of Doctor Who – “Mummy on the Orient Express”. Disguised as a highly amusing Douglas Adams-esque take on the murder mystery genre, writer Jamie Mathieson takes us on a perilous ride through the cosmos on a perfectly reconstructed Orient Express.

A mysterious assassin is hell-bent on killing the express’ passengers via a chillingly-produced mummy that can only be seen by those who have 66 seconds left to live. Death has been the overarching story throughout this season, and for an episode that features so much of it (and placed in such an important factor of the story) the Missy connection is, strangely, not mentioned at all. Only at the episode’s end where the Doctor, having saved the day once more, attempts to discover who it was controlling both the mummy and Gus, HAL’s Victorian cousin, does some possible mention to Missy gets mentioned as the Doctor causes the train to blow up when trying to find the culprit.

It’s been a while since we’ve had a Capaldi-era adventure that’s set in the past (albeit a reconstruction), and it’s a welcome addition to this new era of Doctor Who. Even when the passenger carriage de-morphs somewhat into a slick, pristine laboratory, it’s still rather amusing to know we’re still inside a vintage steam train.

But retro locomotives aside, the Doctor’s malevolent personality continues to shine. His flippancy at the death of Professor Moorhouse, as noted by chief engineer Perkins (played by the ever-weak-was-water that is Frank Skinner) resonates with a firm grasp that reminds us how strongly the majority of us have taken Capaldi to our hearts as a Doctor.

Also, one can’t help but feel like taking Maisie’s shoe and using it to whack some sense into Clara. What began as a ‘last hurrah’ for the pair turned out to be not quite as such (mind you, if it were, the internet would have been up in flames weeks before this episode’s broadcast speculating over who might be what next companion – thank God it wasn’t Skinner!). Clara’s relationship with Danny, at one point a seriously interesting subplot of this series, now appears to have been shunted into a siding as Clara would much rather go gallivanting with the Doctor, which if the last fifty years is anything to go by, can only end in tears.

But when those tears do come, it must surely be a confrontation not to miss, and that might well be before we find out who the elusive Missy is, as well as why death hangs so heavily over this series.

Overall grade – B

Pros –

The mummy is quite the terror.

The idea of the characters being picked off one by one remains superbly eerie.
Gus brought some serious comedy to the table.

Cons –

Is Clara really so stupid to think that she can continue bopping round planets and not get hurt like she has done in the past?

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About the author

Fred McNamara