Friday, September 23, 2011

Doctor Who 6.11: "The God Complex"

Since my life is insane right now, Sarah was nice enough to take on the latest episode of "Doctor Who." This was a good one, written by "Being Human" creator Toby Whithouse. Toby for next "Doctor Who" head writer, please!


“Forget your faith in me. I took you with me because I was vain. I wanted to be adored. Look at you, the glorious Pond. The girl who waited for me. I’m not a hero. I really am just a madman in a box. Now it’s time we see each other for who we really are, Amy Williams. It’s time to stop waiting.”
- The Doctor

The last few episodes, including “Night Terrors” were billed as scary. To be honest, I haven’t been all that scared. A little creeped out, definitely. But not scared. Maybe that’s because I’m not a little kid. We begin this week with creepy sort of elevator music playing as a black and white camera flips through various places and we learn it’s a hotel with lots of winding staircases. Next we meet Lucy, a police woman giving us a somewhat creepy voiceover about being the only one left. She explains that you don’t know what’s in your room until you see it, but that afterwards you know it couldn’t have been anything else. Like I said, that’s kind of creepy. She opens a door and sees a giant gorilla and screams. And then she starts saying “praise him” and we see a giant blue eye open. Whatever owns that blue eye seems to be after Lucy now, and it gets her just as we hit the opener act break.

As usual (or at least in the last couple episodes), the Doctor promises to take Amy and Rory somewhere spectacular (this time with people 600 feet tall), and they end up in the creepy, dingy 80’s-style hotel. But they aren’t on Earth. It just looks like Earth. And in short order, they find a wall with photos of people and aliens with odd phrases under them like “defeat” (under a Sontaran) and “Daleks” (under a woman’s photo). And Lucy’s photo is up there, too. The Doctor rings the reception desk bell, and three other inhabitants burst in brandishing weapons (well chair legs mainly). They’ve been in the hotel two days and explain the shifting corridors and rooms with scary/bad dreams in them. We’ve got Howie who is a blogger, Rita who is a nurse and Gibbis, a mole man from the most invaded planet in the galaxy. The Doctor says they’ll use the TARDIS to get out of the situation, but they find it’s disappeared. No big surprise there, Doctor.

They decide to stick together, and Rita leads them to Joe in a dining room full of laughing ventriloquist dummies. And for some reason Joe is tied to a chair. And Joe definitely ups the creep factor. Joe sounds a bit like an ultra-religious person going on about how he’s seen the light and is now redeemed. He even uses a food analogy (they weren’t ready to be ‘eaten” when they first arrived). Joe is waiting for Him to arrive (which will be soon), and the Doctor decides it best to bring Joe along with them. It reminded me a little bit of the scene in “The End of Time Part 2” where the aliens and Wilf are rescuing Ten and he’s still strapped to the chair).

Now the real fun begins. The gang is back in reception, and they’re trying to figure out how to escape. Rita is concerned that whatever is coming will kill them all, and Gibbis just wants to be enslaved. Joe pipes up and says that He is coming, and everyone ends up roaming the halls. But the Doctor’s given orders not to open any door that they feel drawn to. And quite mercifully, they’ve gagged Joe. Things are a bit spooky for sure as they wander the halls. Howie makes the comment that he thinks they’re in a secret city in Norway that the US established to hide rich people when another planet collides with Earth. Yay conspiracies? Rory thinks it’s amazing that Howie could come up with something even more out there than reality. As they walk along, the Doctor is accosted by a burly gym teacher. It’s quite an odd scene, and the look on Matt’s face is priceless.

Unfortunately, Howie opens a door and see a bunch of girls (who honestly looked like Playboy Bunnies a little bit), and we see this weird transformation (from scared to happy and giggling) as Howie utters “praise him”. Not good, Howie. Not good at all. He begins to stutter, and in no time at all the group gets split up as heavy footsteps echo nearby. Rita and Joe end up in a room where she sees her father scolding her for getting a B in math. She too has the weird scared/happy-giggly face. Rory sees a Fire Exit door, but when he tries to draw everyone else’s attention to it, it disappears and he, Amy, Howie, the Doctor and Gibbis end up in a room full of Weeping Angels. It’s unclear whose bad dream it is because Gibbis seems really freaked out, too.

The Doctor decides to peek through the eye-hole in the door of their room and catches a glimpse of what’s been following them. And much like whenever he sees something big and alien, he thinks it’s beautiful. Too bad it hauls off Joe, and when the Doctor finds him, Joe’s dead. The group reconvenes in the dining room and Rita’s made a pot of tea. Every hotel kitchen (alien fake ones include) should be well stocked. Amy tries to reassure Gibbis that she knows what the Weeping Angels are like and promises that the Doctor is going to save them all. Rory makes the comment that every time the Doctor gets close to someone, he feels the urge to notify next of kin (more on this later). Amy laughs at it and then remembers she found Lucy’s notes in the corridor.

The Doctor and Rita share a brief chat over tea and Joe’s dead body. Rita thinks they’re in the Islamic version of Hell. But she’s not scared of it. She’s strong in her faith and has to believe that will keep her sane. Amy shares the notes with the Doctor and as soon as he finishes reading them aloud, Howie gives another “praise him”. The Doctor manages to get Howie to shed some answers the next time he’s possessed and realizes that the monster feeds on fear. He tells everyone to hold on to whatever makes the not afraid and that they’re going to catch themselves a monster.

It’s really an ingenious plan. They broadcast Howie’s voice rambling into the dining room to draw the creature in. Amy, Rita and Rory block the doors so the monster can’t get out. The Doctor is waiting in the room and they play a sort of hide and seek (so you don’t quite see the creature fully) but it turns out to be a giant Minotaur. The Doctor (sine he speaks all kinds of languages) can communicate with the Minotaur. We learn that the Minotaur is in a prison, but the Doctor and the others aren’t ready. The Doctor learns the Minotaur wants to die because it’s lived so long it just wants to stop. It’s operating on instinct now.

Howie is being guarded by Gibbis, and Howie convinces Gibbis to let him go so he can die. Howie wants it to end, and Gibbis can always say he was overpowered. Unfortunately, just as the Doctor is getting somewhere, Howie shows up and leads the Minotaur away. In its rampage, it knocks Rory down. Amy and Rita arrive, but of course, Amy runs off in search of the Doctor. He’s found Howie, dead just like Joe. And Amy looks in room number 7. Rita shuts the door, but we still hear “praise him.” It looks like it may have gotten Amy, too. And they find Gibbis, and it’s quite clear the Doctor is not at all pleased.

Back in the dining room, they’ve now laid Howie’s body next to Joe. The Doctor and Rory are talking by the wall of dead portraits, and the Doctor asks if Rory’s found his room yet. Rory says no and that maybe after he’s spent so much time with the Doctor, he’s not scared of anything anymore. The Doctor wanders off and tells Rita he’s very close to getting them all out. She comments that he’s got quite the God complex. I have to agree. I think we’ve had hints of it throughout the series (and not just series 6), but it’s really showcased here. He says he brought Amy and Rory (even though it was their choice), so it’s his job to save them. As they’re talking, he notices a CCTV camera mounted on the wall, and he takes off in search of the control room. On his way, he sees room number 11 and takes a peek. Whatever he sees in there, it makes perfect sense, though he doesn’t start saying “praise him”. He finds the control room and sees on one of the CCTV screens that Rita is wandering a corridor. They have a brief conversation where she talks about being at peace and wanting to be left to lose her faith in private. Amy and Rory show up just in time to see the Minotaur show up. The Doctor blanks the screen before they can see anything else.

If you thought he was mad before, he’s absolutely ripping now. The Doctor is smashing things and screaming. And it’s at this point he realizes the Minotaur isn’t feeding on fear, it is feeding on faith. Religious faith, faith in external forces, luck. And it’s got the biggest meal of all waiting in Amy. She’s got so much faith in the Doctor. They end up in Amy’s room, and we find little Amelia, sitting and waiting. The Doctor tells Amy there’s nothing he can do to save her. He destroyed her childhood and now he’s led her by the hand to her death. He tells her to lose her faith in him and that he’s a vain old man to who took her along to be adored. The scene was intercut nicely with bits of Amy (Karen Gillan) and bits with little Amelia. The Minotaur breaks in, but as the Doctor continues to talk, it backs out and in the end, it collapses. The Doctor talks to it, telling it that the food source is severed and it can die in peace. He makes reference to a creature thousands of years old drenched in innocent blood welcoming death. He denies it is about him, but he’s not fooling anyone. He would gladly welcome it with all he’s seen and done.

We end with the Doctor, Amy and Rory back on Earth, and they’re at a new flat (with a shiny new sports car). Amy asks why he’s doing this, and the Doctor says he’s leaving because she’s still alive. He could take her on more adventures but he’d only end up over her grave or her broken body. He’s saving her by leaving her. And I think he’s finally realized that Rory is right. He makes people dangerous to themselves. And this isn’t the first time we’ve seen him just leave his companions behind and move on. But Amy tells him that if he runs into River, tell her to stop by for a visit. I’m sure this isn’t a final goodbye.

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