Mummy on the Orient Express
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This topic contains 311 replies, has 57 voices, and was last updated by janetteB 1 week, 1 day ago.
23 October 2014 at 12:46 #34027IAmNotAFishIAmAFreeMan @pedant
Did we see LindaLee in this? Here best review yet.28 October 2014 at 21:43 #34247Anonymous @
How good was Frank Slkinner?…one of Britains best stand ups and quite the George Formby fan as well19 November 2014 at 05:32 #35738lisa @lisa
Watched this episode again because of Perkins and now having seen thru to ‘Death in Heaven’ my new hunch
is that maybe Perkins knows Missy thru helping to engineer the ‘nethersphere’ project ? Is that why
he had cold feet about staying on with the Doctor? Or maybe I wonder if he might have collaborated
with Missy on something else which could be a future episode. He did turn down the Doctor in such a way
that seemed sort of strange. Anyway that is what I am thinking now.
This Perkins character [mystery] is still bugging me
.10 September 2015 at 00:48 #42469Arbutus @arbutus
I thought there was a really unique pace to this episode. It was a series of quiet, intimate scenes and conversations, punctuated occasionally by 66 second bursts of intense excitement. And the soundtrack! Absolutely pitch perfect, classic mystery mood music. As far as I noticed, we didn’t hear the familiar heroic DW theme until the Doctor made his move, taking on Maisie’s emotions to confront the Mummy.
It was filled with lovely small moments. The Doctor finally said what had clearly been bugging him all series– We don’t have time to mourn! Meeting a real monster is “everyone’s dream”, and, when accused by Clara of knowing that there would be danger, “I didn’t know… I certainly hoped.” And Clara, on being asked if the good times had always been like this, “Now that you mention it…” The heroic death of the damaged captain was very moving. He had submerged his best qualities to the point where his worst nightmare was a mystery shopper! But he recovered himself and died bravely, thanks to the Doctor.
The last few minutes were lovely. The Doctor and Clara on the beach, when the Doctor finally, in a sense, explains himself and why he acts the way he does. Then the moments in the TARDIS with Perkins. He and the Doctor had enjoyed such a lovely chemistry throughout that I was as disappointed as the Doctor when Perkins turned down his offer. It was beautifully done: the Doctor looks briefly surprised and then quickly accepts it, and Perkins looks regretful, as though he is well aware of what he is giving up.
Clara, by contrast, is unable to give it up. It was hard not to view the ending as a bit of a cliffhanger, in that her decision to lie to both Danny and the Doctor was clearly a hint that things were not going to end well. On thinking about it, I really don’t think there was a single piece out of place in this! (Possibly the fact that Clara chose to lie to the Doctor about Danny, rather than just say, “I’m coming, I’ll sort Danny later.” But that’s really a nitpick, especially given where we now know the arc was heading.) I may have to rethink my placing Time Heist in first place now.11 November 2021 at 11:47 #72353
Arbutus’s review (posted 7 years ago now!) was, I thought, very good.
At the risk of being superfluous, I scribbled some comments on the episode, I might as well post them here.
This starts with a bit of a surprise – Clara and the Doctor behaving as normal. What happened about the meltdown at the end of Kill The Moon? Well, it transpires that this is the farewell trip. They manage to evoke some of that slightly melancholy ‘last time’ feeling.
This episode builds quite slowly. Danny (on the phone) seems to have accepted Clara’s relationship with the Doctor, even as Clara has decided to end it.
Perkins, who initially seemed to be about to attack the Doctor, turns out to be an ally. The other characters are quite well sketched in, even Quell, who turned out more sympathetic than we’d expected.
The sarcophagus was a neat bit of misdirection, I was sure the Mummy was going to come out of it.
The climactic scene moved surprisingly fast. The Mummy’s fingers coming out of the Doctor’s face were a uniquely horrid scare.
‘Gus’ sounds remarkably similar to Max Capricorn from Voyage of the Damned. The Doctor was shockingly clinically cold-blooded as he proposed summoning Maisie so they could observe her assassination by the Mummy. Even worse, he recruited Clara into lying to her. And it turned out he was expecting trouble on this trip (without telling Clara) which almost prompted another showdown. And then the Doc took the ‘curse’ off Maisie onto himself. Which allowed him to utter the immortal words “Are you my Mummy?” In between fascinating asides to Maisie (“By the way, you weren’t being paranoid. She really did poison your pony….. Oh, and your father. Sorry.”)
And he solves the riddle of the Mummy by surrendering. At which point the weaponised old soldier no longer has any function and just – stops.
However, the real enemy, Gus, hasn’t stopped – “Survivors of this exercise are not required.” Nasty. The identity of Gus is a mystery for the future – but I don’t think it was ever taken any further. Just a thread that was never developed, I guess. But that’s okay, not everything has to be accounted for.
Clara was really lying rather recklessly to the Doctor at the end of the episode. Still, nice to see she’s reconsidered her decision to leave. I think she’s addicted to her travels with the Doctor, which is a good omen for the future.12 November 2021 at 03:15 #72362winston @winston
@dentarthurdent There was a lot I liked about this episode including the clothes, music and the spaceship made to look like a very elegant train. The cast was great and I was disappointed when Perkins didn’t want to travel with the doctor. What? The cigarette case filled with jelly babies brought a silly grin to my face during a very melancholy scene.
The mummy was scary in its relentless attack once it had found a victim and the Doctor demanding details during the attack was shocking . The Doctor stops the mummy and saves the train but Gus will remain a mystery.
I must also say that Clara was very beautiful in her costume, that period suited her.
Stay safe.26 May 2023 at 13:09 #74152
Further thoughts on re-watching Mummy on the Orient Express.
The Mummy looks sufficiently dilapidated and horrifying. But it’s nice to find a story where the danger is finite and not cataclysmic.
“Your train awaits, milady” “Wonderful” “The baggage car. But thanks for lying”
The locomotive looks typically French, which is quite appropriate for this train. Nice to see the designers did their homework (and so, of course, did the Who set designers).
This is a reconciliation after the events of the Kill The Moonlike Thing. Or, as it soon becomes apparent, a last hurrah. This adds an air of melancholy to the episode which is not displeasing.
Danny, however, seems to have become resigned to the fact that Clara may travel with the Doctor occasionally, even urging her not to be too hasty in writing him off. That is remarkably conciliatory of him. Or maybe he’s just hedging his bets against any later accusations of prejudice. It’s what I’d do.
Perkins manages to look really sinister until he turns into an ally. The Doctor is showing an unusual (for him) degree of ‘people skills’ as he talks to Perkins and then the professor (?) Moorhouse.
The countdown timer is a really neat touch. It’s accurate, by the way, guess how I know. [/geek mode]
“I’m your worst nightmare” “A mystery shopper. Oh, great”. I really wasn’t expecting that.
As in any good mystery whodunnit, there are a number of red herrings for the Doctor to suspect. The obliging Perkins, the alien mythology expert Moorehouse, the chef de train Quell.
Then, with the third death, the Doctor deduces that the whole passenger complement have been carefully selected to investigate the Foretold and the whole episode moves up a level. Nicely symbolised by the transformation of the carriage interior. And Gus shows his hand. (Gus reminds me quite strongly of Max Capricorn from Voyage of the Damned)
Full credit to Moorehouse for calmly describing the Mummy the moment it appears. Even if he got a bit agitated moments later. But he was right – there were magic words which would stop it.
And Clara (and Maisie) have been doing some good detective work in the baggage car. Gus really, really doesn’t want them to spill the beans of his M.O. to the Doctor, does he?
I was rather pleased that Quell conducted himself with honour at the end. The Foretold’s hand emerging from the Doctor’s face is, I think, the most horrific effect I’ve ever seen. By the way, Quell’s pistol looks passably like a 20’s-vintage automatic of the Luger style (with a bit of extra tinware added to give a touch of the Flash Gordons).
Perkins turns out to be remarkably competent. The bit about taking people out of phase so it can drain their energy is pure gobbledegook, but I don’t mind it for the sake of the story.
Then the Doctor deduces that Maisie is next. And he coerces Clara into lying to Maisie to bring her to the laboratory car, suggesting that the Doctor can save her. And (I’m guessing) Gus allows the strongroom door to open and release them because it’s now in his own interests – more data on the Foretold. But it’s an interesting moral conundrum – are ‘white lies’ justified. The Doctor certainly redeems this one ex post facto by taking on Maisie’s phobias, making him the next target.
“Are you my Mummy” (and a thousand fans went “Yay!”) And I love the asides from the Doctor to Maisie – “By the way, you weren’t being paranoid. She really did poison your pony. Oh, and your father. Sorry.” (How does he know? Nevermind)
And brilliantly, the Doctor deduces that the Foretold is a zombie, kept going by military tech, and surrendering will permit it to stop.
So of course Gus, having no more use for them, just leaves them to die without air. Which the Doctor foils. And manages to save everybody. And tries to back-track Gus who just blows up the train. So we never did find out who Gus is.
I like the little post-mortem with Clara on the beach. And the Doctor explains his white lie to Clara and Maisie. This is a very different Doctor from the one who buggered off in KTM and left Clara and Courtney holding the (nuclear) baby.
I thought Perkins was going to become a companion, there.
And there’s a lovely, telling dialogue right at the end, where Clara asks the Doctor if the danger is like an addiction. And then she lies like a bastard in telling the Doc that Danny’s fine with her travelling. The Doc isn’t the one with the addiction.
I like this one even better on re-watch. All the characters are sympathetically handled, as is the slightly fragile relationship between Clara and the Doctor.26 May 2023 at 15:04 #74153
@dentarthurdent Yes this is a cracker of an episode. It is well written and beautifully designed. The tension between the Doctor and Clara is perfectly balanced. I think he is able to relate to Perkins and Moorehouse because they are scientists at work. It isn’t a personal interaction. Love the touch with the jelly babies. The twenties look suits Clara. I am not surprised that she went onto a major costume role after leaving Who. Some actors fit period roles better than others.
I think Danny is trying but he has his own demons to overcome, such as being abandoned as a child and PSTD. I feel that Danny is better written in Moffat’s head than he is on the screen.
Perkins is a good character, and would have been a fine companion.
Janette27 May 2023 at 14:42 #74154
@janetteb “I feel that Danny is better written in Moffat’s head than he is on the screen.” Yes you’re probably right. Of course, also, characters sometimes suffer from inconsistency due to different writers doing different episodes.
Jamie Mathieson, who wrote Mummy on the Orient Express, also wrote the excellent Flatline (up next), The Girl Who Died and Oxygen. Incidentally, he has a website https://www.jamiemathieson.com/doctor-who in which he talks about his scripts for those episodes. Interestingly, he considered having the villain Gus return for Oxygen. Could have been intriguing.
If you have time to disappear down an Internet rabbit hole, he’s got the whole first draft and the (significantly different) shooting script of Mummy up on his website. That’s my next few hours booked! (Ten minutes later: In fact he’s got the same for Flatline and Oxygen. That’s my next few days booked…)
Back to inconsistent characterisation (which I feel was particularly evident with the Doctor in Kill The Moon), I could blame Peter Harness who wrote it, but then he also wrote The Zygon Invasion / Inversion (the second half co-written with Moffat), which I really like. So I dunno.
Yes it did occur to me that Danny has PTSD or if you prefer PSTD (Post Seeing-Tardis Disorder?). This does raise the question of how much people with unfortunate character defects are responsible for their own problems, and how much allowance we should make for them. I’m ambivalent on that. And the standards by which I judge fictional characters are different from those I use for real people.
Anyway, off to Jamiemathieson.com, see you later…30 May 2023 at 11:24 #74155
Was pondering the episode while prepping dinner. Soldiers are very much a theme of this series. In Into the Dalek the Doctor rejects Journey Blue because while she might be a very nice person she is a soldier. Soldiers are not evil but they obey without question which makes them easily manipulated by evil. The Mummy is simply following orders, a mindless robot being manipulated by the evil Gus. Weary of war it is a creature to be pitied though it is also a killer and an object of fear and loathing. Danny is a solider for a reason. He is in some ways a opposite to the Doctor. In Listen the Doctor asks, “am I a good person”. Danny describes him as a warlord, and we know that he was once the War Doctor. In some ways this harks back to the end of the first AG series with Ecclestone when he opts to be a coward rather than a killer. The Doctor is still working out who he is, and Danny accusing him of being an officer highlights just who the Doctor is not because he rejects the entire military ethos.
Janette30 May 2023 at 12:00 #74156
Oh yes, I’d forgotten about Journey Blue. I liked her and I thought the Doctor was too hasty in rejecting her because she was a soldier. Of course in previous series Rory was a Roman soldier for millennia (though it could be argued that was through force of circumstances rather than choice).
The Mummy I also felt sorry for. A bit like Cybermen (though Jamie Mathieson skilfully disguised the resemblance so it has only just now occurred to me). An old soldier zombified by alien tech, not acting out of malice but because he couldn’t stop.
Danny, now, was being deliberately offensive when he called the Doctor ‘Sir’. This Doctor is extremely averse to anything military, I think previous incarnations of the Doctor were much more at home with military organisations like UNIT. (Could be wrong about that though, I’m no expert on OldWho).30 May 2023 at 13:53 #74157
@dentarthurdent Though the Doctor worked for UNIT he was always anti military, and continually ribbed the Brigadier for his “five rounds rapid” approach to problems. The Doctor was always a little anarchic but also clever, using “science” (inverted commas because science in Dr Who isn’t always scientific) rather than brute force, as per the military.
I think the Doctor as non military even anti military is a theme in this series working towards the final episode where he has to make that choice, take on a army or not and i think Danny calling him Sir is written to preempt that. (Danny is being rather offensive in that scene)
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