‘Doctor Who’ – ‘The God Complex’: The minotaur’s labyrinth

Senior Television Writer
09.17.11 45 Comments


A review of tonight’s “Doctor Who” coming up just as soon as I have a degree in cheese making…

“I took you with me because I was vain – because I wanted to be adored.” -The Doctor

For most of Steven Moffat’s stint as showrunner, the monster of the week episodes have lagged notably in quality behind the Moffat-penned episodes dealing with the complicated histories of Amy, Rory, River and the Doctor. But last week’s “The Girl Who Waited” (by Tom MacRae) was one of my favorite episodes of the modern “Who” era, and the Toby Whithouse-penned “The God Complex” was pretty damn splendid as well, both as a creepy iteration of the show’s familiar “Ten Little Indians” riff(*) with a random group of characters(**) being hunted and killed while the Doctor tries to save them, and as a character study for Amy and the Doctor.

(*) Though I thought it was funny when Amy told Gibbis that the Doctor always saves everyone, since she’s been in at least one of these kinds of stories before (when the Weeping Angels were killing all the soldier clerics). Of course, it could have just been her trying to be kind.

(**) My favorite of those, unsurprisingly, was Gibbis, played by David Walliams from “Little Britain.” The character started out as a (very amusing) joke, and then evolved into something darker as the Doctor realized the whole surrender monkey thing was actually a cunning defense mechanism. On the other hand, the Doctor kept making so many references to turning Rita into a new companion that you knew she wouldn’t be the lucky survivor.

And perhaps that’s why these last two episodes have been so strong: they haven’t entirely been standalones. Both have been stories about the evolution of the Doctor’s relationship with the Pond/Williams family, both have been about him acknowledging just what a selfish bastard he can be by taking vulnerable innocents around to the galaxy’s most dangerous locales, and this one ultimately ended with the Doctor deciding that enough was enough and he should say goodbye to Amy and Rory before they wind up dead in a way that he can’t undo.

I don’t expect this is the last we’ll see of the duo, at least for this season. While it’s entirely possible that Moffa has kept planned departures for Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill under wraps, I can’t imagine the Impossible Astronaut story concluding without them being involved somehow, and I can see a circumstance where Amy and Rory convince the Doctor that they want to return to the TARDIS of their own free will, and not because he tempted impressionable little Amelia Pond all those years ago. But much as I’d miss the two of them (Amy’s my favorite modern companion), I almost don’t want them to come back. Those final scenes between the Doctor and Amy (and, briefly, the Doctor and Amelia) were so effective, so well played by both Matt Smith and Gillan, so touching and sad and honest(***), that it could feel like a cheat for the two of them to reunite within an episode or two.

(***) While I didn’t love Whithouse’s “Vampires of Venice” episode last season, his “School Reunion” from the first Tennant season was terrific, and another story that dealt at length with the emotional impact of being a companion of the Doctor – and, particularly, of eventually being left behind by him. This is clearly an aspect of the series he’s thought a lot about.

Really strong all around. Only two episodes left in this season, and based on recent episodes, I am really going to miss this show while it’s away.

What did everybody else think?

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