Sunday, 18 September 2011

Review - "The God Complex"

The current run of terrific episodes continued with "The God Complex" - I know some are waiting for the other shoe to drop and expecting a clunker of an episode to break this consistently good run but, sorry to disappoint you, because "The God Complex" was as good as the previous episodes. Written by Toby Whithouse - creator and writer of "Being Human" - we knew we wouldn't get a bog-standard "monster of the week" episode and "The God Complex" was somewhat surreal.

There was no slow start with this one - immediately after seeing a policewoman "die" at the hands of an unknown creature, the Doctor, Amy and Rory were quickly involved in the situation when the Tardis materialised in what appeared to be an 80's kitschy hotel. At first glance, the episode seemed to be about fear - the photographs on the walls showed various species such as a Sontaran - whose photo was labelled "Defeat" and I found myself somewhat intrigued by the guy whose photo was labelled "Plymouth"! (Fear of Plymouth makes sense if you're an Argyle supporter though...) The hotel had no exits (apart from the one seen by Rory which soon disppeared) and every person had a "room". A room where their worst and most deep-rooted fears would be realised.

Of course, first impressions are rarely the correct ones and this episode was really about faith. The creature in the hotel fed off the faith of those who were confronted by their worst fears so we had chilling scenes of laughing ventriloquist's dummies and weeping angels along with PE teachers and fathers.

What we really wanted though, was to see what was inside the Doctor's room - room 11. And although we saw him open the door, heard the sound of the Cloister Bell, we were left to speculate as to the contents of the room. The Doctor's comment of "of course...who else?" together with the underlying theme of the season (which seems to be examining the Doctor's motivations and choices) leads you to believe that the Doctor saw himself in the room. Going back to the Dream Lord, we know the Doctor loathes himself - and River pointed out previously what the Doctor could become - so it makes sense to think that the Doctor's fear is himself - and what he's capable of.

After deaths a plenty, we discovered that it was Amy the creature was after - or more specifically her faith in the Doctor - which led to a superb scene, reminiscent of "The Curse of Fenric" where the Doctor has to destroy the faith Amy has in him. "I'm not a hero. I really am just a madman in a box." This destruction of Amy's faith allows the Minotaur to die - which is what he wanted all along - and the hotel disappears and we get a quite wonderful "Tron" type imagery in it's place.

With the theme of the season seeming to be what it is then it was quickly obvious that the Minotaur's dying words were directed at the Doctor and not himself. Once again, we got a glimpse into the pain and loneliness that is so much a part of the Doctor: "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." With the Minotaur dead and the Doctor given food for thought, we come to THAT ending.

A surprise? Yes. But not a shocking one. In a scene made more emotional by it's underplaying, the Doctor restores Amy's faith in him by making another hard and difficult decision. He leaves. Having taken them to their new house (and Rory gets a new car), the Doctor does the noble thing and leaves because, as he puts it, "you're still breathing". It was beautifully played by Matt Smith and Karen Gillan - words cannot describe how much emotion was in their eyes during this scene.

The Tardis has rarely seemed so big, empty and lonely as it was at the end of this episode. The Doctor is on his own - for love of his friends, he lets them go. As the old adage goes, "if you love someone, set them free".

The episode had a good balance, the supporting characters were excellently realised and didn't overshadow the main cast, questions were raised and motives examined. Of the supporting characters, I loved clever Rita and had a definite soft spot for the blogger, Howie. Gibbis - played by David Walliams - could have undermined the episode had Walliams not put in a restrained and quiet performance so kudos to him for making us forget who it was under the makeup. The awards this episode though, go to director Nick Hurran for his gorgeous camera angles and lighting and Matt Smith, Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill - specifically Matt Smith for showing the temper of a 9 year old and pain of a 900 year old.


These are just a few noticeable things that occured during the episode - they could be clues...or red herrings...

1. The Rubik's Cube. In "Night Terrors", the Doctor got a bit irritated because he couldn't solve it. In this episode, having seemingly carried it around in his pocket, we see that he's managed to finally crack the puzzle and solve it.

2. The apple. In "The Eleventh Hour", the Doctor hated apples. Spat it out, in fact. In "The God Complex", he's munching away on one with total relish. I know some have pointed to this as "evidence" that we're seeing a ganger Doctor at times - personally, I'm going with a "two different timelines merging" theory.

3. Rory speaking in the past tense - as pointed out by the Doctor in this one, Rory spoke in the past tense when referring to their travels with the Doctor.

I'm sure there are more - but those are the obvious ones. Interesting...

"I'm not a hero" - you are to me, Doctor.

Episode Rating: 9/10

Screencaptures courtesy of "enchantedfleur"