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Review: The Crimson Horror

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The Premise

In Victorian England, Lady Vastra and her sidekicks Jenny Flint and Strax investigate a series of mysterious deaths. Soon they discover the Doctor and Clara have been captured by the mastermind behind the evil scheme.

The Best Line

"Do you know what these are? The wrong hands!"

What Works

Devoting the first part of the episode to Lady Vastra and her companions. The use of oldie time film to recap the Doctor and Clara’s failed investigation. Jenny Flint slapping the Doctor. Jenny Flint kicking ass. Jenny Flint in general. Strax in general. Diana Rigg in general. I’m the Doctor, you’re nuts, and I’m gonna stop you.” The Doctor’s enthusiasm over the name ‘the crimson horror’. And this:

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What Doesn’t Work

Where does Mrs. Gillyflower get a rocket? Does the prehistoric monster tell her how to build it? Lady Vastra doesn’t get much to do compared to Jenny and Strax, and it’s awfully convenient that the parasite was something her people dealt with. The final scene (where Clara’s charges ambush her) feels rushed and silly. Why would they jump to the conclusion that their babysitter is traveling through time instead of assuming the pictures they’ve found are her relatives/ancestors? How did they come across them in the first place? And why wouldn’t Clara call their bluff on telling their father, who wouldn’t possibly believe their story anyway?

Speaking of Clara, the further we get into this (half) season the less I like the dynamic between her and the Doctor. If he really thinks she’s a potential trick or trap (as he said last episode), why isn’t he keeping her a bit more at arm’s length? Why is he so affectionate towards her? They act as though they’ve been traveling together for years. And when did the Doctor start taking companions home at the end of every adventure? This needs to stop.

Who Continuity

The Doctor tells Clara about a “gobby Australian” he tried to get back to Heathrow airport, a reference to the Fifth Doctor companion Tegan Jovanka (he also tells her “brave heart”, something he frequently said to Tegan). Lady Vastra, Jenny, and Strax all appeared in “The Snowmen” and “A Good Man Goes To War”.

Clara Who?

It is implied that the Doctor’s reason for taking Clara to Victorian England was to further investigate her mysterious origins. Lady Vastra and Jenny both recognize Clara as the girl they saw die at Christmas.

My Rating

Seven out of Eleven.

Despite a goofy third act (everything from the reveal of Mr. Sweet on), “The Crimson Horror” is a fun bit of Who. It’s great to see the Doctor’s Victorian gang again, although it seems like a wasted opportunity not to make their history with Clara a bigger part of the episode. Diana Rigg is suitably batty as Winifred Gillyflower and her daughter Rachael Stirling turns in a great performance as Ada. However, I just can’t rate it higher with the forced ending and the fact that Clara still doesn’t feel like a fully developed character (honestly, if she’d stayed frozen until the very end of the episode would it have even mattered?).

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