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“So you were just pretending to be heartless?”

– Clara Oswald

Your mileage may vary, but the ticking clock gimmick totally worked for me.

Whenever the lights flickered and that clock appeared on the screen, I got really excited. And even as the mummy was bearing down on the Doctor and I knew he’d find a way to stop it, I found myself getting oddly nervous as the clock got down below 20 seconds.

It was a really fun conceit and having a mummy that only the next victim could see was a wonderful idea. I loved seeing people’s different reactions to knowing they were doomed and the Doctor trying to get information from them to save the next person.

The whole struggle to be noble in the face of death and to sacrifice yourself in order to save others is a very Doctor Who idea. And, in a lot of ways, this felt like the quintessential Doctor Who episode. At times the Doctor came across heartless, but it was only because he was more concerned with the greater good than any one person. And, in the end, he was willing to sacrifice himself in order to save everyone (or, at the very least, in order to have a showdown with the mummy).

Having it be Clara’s “last” mission made their dynamic more intriguing as well. Even though you knew going in that she couldn’t quit quite yet, I liked the idea that she was in for one final caper. And it really says a lot about her character that even though he put her in harm’s way for the final mission and even though he was willing to sacrifice quite a few passengers to save the day, in the end Clara found herself unable to walk away.

Danny told her last week that as long as she was angry with the Doctor, she wouldn’t be able to leave. She still cares too much about him to just walk away, even though her life back on Earth is much more stable and happy than it was when she started traveling with the mad man in the box.

I find myself wondering what her breaking point will actually be. What will happen during the Christmas episode to end her journey once and for all? What does she have to see at this point to make a clean break?

As much as I enjoyed that part of Clara’s story, I’m annoyed that it seemed like she is lying to Danny about quitting. If next week we discover that Danny thinks she’s given up traveling with the Doctor and she’s doing it behind his back, I’m going to be very annoyed.

The show already had her hide this from Danny. And he’s been incredibly reasonable about the whole thing. So having her hide it once again would be having conflict for conflict’s sake. And it makes Clara look like an asshole.

Hopefully we will find out that after she blurted out to the Doctor that Danny is fine with it that she had a long talk with Danny about continuing on. They’ve made Danny really likable and I genuinely enjoy the two of them together, so hopefully they won’t go the hacky sitcom route of having two character fight over something that could have easily been resolved by having a normal adult conversation.

And another thing …

  • I have mixed feeling about that end scene on the beach.I don’t know that we needed to see every step involved in the Doctor saving everyone in the nick of time, but having him monologue about it after showing the train blow up seemed like a bit of a cop out. I feel like there was a happy medium in there somewhere.
  • I really thought we’d see the train passengers who died end up in Paradise at the end, but once again there was nothing.
  • If the Orient Express was just a long con to get smart people to track down the mummy, why make them wear the vintage clothes?

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Written by Joel Murphy. If you enjoy his recaps, he also writes a weekly pop culture column called Murphy’s Law, which you can find here. Follow Joel on Twitter @FreeMisterClark or email him at murphyslaw@hobotrashcan.com.

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