|“||Learning that 4chan has a positive consensus about this episode actually makes me like it less.||”|
— Jamie Mathieson
Mummy on the Orient Express was the eighth episode of the eighth series of the television programme Doctor NUWho and was written by based Jamie Mathieson. I just sat down and rewatched it and my god this shit is the fucking GOAT of GOATS. This is by far the very best Mark Gatiss script that Mark Gatiss never wrote, but probably still cries himself to sleep over wishing he had, and I say that as a fan. The story chugs along (see what I did there?) without one bad, boring, or plot-derailing moment, only gaining speed the further along it goes. BLOODY HELL! This was pure no bullshit Platinum Age shit right here yo.
The episode also introduces us to Gus, who is probably Omega.
After a falling out, The Doctor takes Clara on one last trip to a space train modeled after the Orient Express, which I guess might seem really silly, but fuck you if you think so. Aboard, they find an invisible mummy that can only be seen by its victims to-be-in-sixty-six-seconds and the passengers all turn out to be experts in alien mythology, physics, etc. (I spotted an Einstein-looking guy and a Charles Darwin dude, so there may have been other famous scientist look-a-likes; no Stephen Hawkins though, that would have been an easy one). Turns out everyone was brought on board to figure out who or what the mummy is for "Gus," the shipboard computer. People die, a lot of them too so none of that crybaby "Moffat's too wimpy to kill anyone like the good old days Of Doctor Who wah wah" bullshit.
Along the way we get some great character moments from the Doctor, Clara and some passengers, another look at the themes about "lying" and "soldiers" that run through this season, a great looking and properly fucking scary mummy monster, and a story that even passes the Tumblr Test too (if merely reading the words "Bechdel Test" twists your panties, then learn to man the fuck up or piss off you overly-sensitive victim-card playing cunt). The original script was to have had the space train stopping off at "the Seven Wonders of the Universe" along the way, but that had to be cut to keep it the right length. I'm fucking ready for a whole goddamn season of that train trip if it's this good, who's with me?
It might be strange to think of now, but there was a time that no body believed this episode would be good. After the nuclear level letdown that was Make an Omelette, it was widely percieved that the following episode would be a throwaway Gatiss level (or god forbid Cottrell-Boyce level) romp about a choo-choo in space.
Where were /who/ when you first saw Mathieson's magnum opus? Do you remember the excitement and joy you felt at that moment? It was almost as if you were reincarnated back into an innocent child - where everything was good and perfect, and the only worry in your mind was whether or not the Doctor and Clara would survive this time. All doubt, all logic, all cynicism was cast out. Basically, it was pure kino.
And then it hit you as soon as the credits rolled: could he follow this? The very next episode, it seemed, would also be penned by television's modern Beethoven. Suddenly, you didn't know whether to GET HYPE or panic- should you be excited to hear another symphony, or would it be nothing more than scraps that would leave you scrounging for the same euphoria you once felt?
Flatline was just as good so yeah, everything worked out for once. Mathieson a goat.
Many of the stories this season were about robots and cyborgs and echoed the two-part season finale, but none were really tied to that finale with a solid "now I get it - remember that one time when...?" moment. It's pretty fucking obvious that Missy set this up here and that Gus was... I don't know, part Cyberman or some shit? because his onscreen monocle logo looked a hell of a lot like a Cyberman's eye, which we saw a lot of in the final two episodes. If you think about what the Cybermen from the finale were, the mummy here is pretty much a dry-run or test-model; makes you wonder if Moffat didn't get Mathieson's script and think "cor, nice one! I'm nicking this idea, me!" But... no pay-off in the finale, it rhymed but didn't get nailed down. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not: it leaves us to make the connection without having it shoved at us in a bullshit flashback or lame explanation, but it also perhaps leaves the season arc feeling a bit under-connected or supported somehow. Minor complaint for some top-tier shit though.
The name of 4chan, sure to evoke both fear and loathing within the logical mind of any upstanding intellectual, was mentioned in discussion on the Tardis Eruditorum, relating the favorable rating the denizens of /who/ have passed upon this televisual story. One of Mister Sandoffer’s esteemed and famously astute colleges fatuously opined “Learning that 4chan has a positive consensus about this episode [of children’s programme Doctor Who] actually makes me like it less.” We remind such brilliant folk that we like Doctor Who very, very much and they are free to completely despise it and deprive themselves of its whimsical adventures based upon our tastes; we also remind them that the participants of 4chan’s /who/ are so very quite enamored of breathing, the practicing of safe sex (if not indeed total abstinence) and not driving several five-inch nails into our skulls using a pneumatic nail gun.