Doctor Who series 6 episode 11: The God Complex

Has the writer of the brilliant Being Human finally written a Who episode to stand as tall as his own series? The Fan Can books in...

 

4 stars

 

 

Air date: UK 17 Sept, 2011, BBC One

 

Doctor Who: The God Complex - Rory and Amy on the run…again

It's odd that Steven Moffat doesn't just employ PJ Hammond and have done with it. For the second time this season, it's Sapphire & Steel that Doctor Who has plundered for inspiration. But unlike Mark Gatiss's Night Terrors, which was a great concept looking for a better execution, The God Complex was satisfyingly tied up in a way that felt in line with the idea.

 

There was a lot of Sapphire & Steel in The God Complex, but there was also the distant hum of Russell T Davies's Midnight in its sticky claustrophobia and motley band of trapped victims. It's undoubtedly Toby Whithouse's best script for Who so far, assuming that School Reunion underwent a thorough RTD-ing, and should reassure many, given that he could well be the next showrunner.

 

What we knew about this episode beforehand was that people's worst nightmares are contained in each room, but that concept was actually used pretty sparingly. Most of the creepiness of The God Complex is in the hotel itself, in its reception and corridors, and it's helped by some stunning direction from Nick Hurran.

 

Doctor Who: The God Complex - A table full of dummies. But not in the Houses of Parliament

It's certainly the best edited Who story this season - all those flashes of pulsating pupils and cuts to CCTV footage keep it fizzy. Curran also makes good use of lighting, bathing the hotel in a dim, oppressive 30 watt hue.

 

The great disappointment of the episode is that Amara Karan's Rita manages to get herself killed off. Like Blink's Sally Sparrow, she's now one of the great "what ifs" of Doctor Who. I'm not sure I can think of anyone who had potential companion written so obviously all over her, to the detriment of the current one.

 

But even though her death was meant to have an impact, it doesn't quite justify the Doctor's violent grieve-rage, which while it gives Matt Smith a brief bit of BAFTA clip acting to do, doesn't really tally with the Doctor's character. If it did, he'd be having a spaz-fit or two every week.

 

The God Complex's only real dropped stitch was its resolution. While the scene between the Doctor and Amy, as he tries to shatter her faith in him, is touching and beautifully played, it just isn't very convincing. The Doctor's attempt to make himself sound like a bastard wasn't believable enough to really demolish Amy's adoration of him, or if it was, she's a clueless cretin.

 

Doctor Who: The God Complex - The Monster tries to convert a goldfish

Nice touches include the Doctor peeking into his nightmare door, and us being denied seeing inside (what could it be? Adric?), the wall picture cameos from the New Earth cat-people and the Sontarans, and all the little 80s titbits like the Rubik's Cube and the copy of Look-In. And of course the fleeting and possibly brave reference to The Horns of Nimon, lest we forget, broadcast to over six million people on a Saturday night.

 

A small niggle is that the adventure proper ended a little too early. And the Earth coda was a little overlong given that we're only saying goodbye to the family Pond for two weeks.

 

But doesn't Closing Time look absolutely cracking?

 

Callum Smith

 

 

Doctor Who: The God Complex
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