REVIEW: Doctor Who – The God Complex

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The God Complex was far more effective than Night Terrors at bringing a creep factor (I want make a comment that it also has a Crete factor, but I will refrain) to this season. There was a real sense of dread fueled by the psychological terror characters were experiencing and the revelations were nicely paced throughout the hour. I much prefer the incorporation of mythology than history into Doctor Who and seeing a Minotaur in a labyrinth will always be more appealing to me than meeting Agatha Christie or Charles Dickens.

A large number of parallels were drawn between the Doctor and this week’s monster. He even makes reference to it when he says that the creature wasn’t talking about itself in its final exposition about the nature of his existence. What stood out the most to me was the mention of someone living so long even their name was lost to time. The way the Doctor’s name has been referenced recently has me thinking it will become critically important before the season is over and this amounts to more evidence. The episode’s title and its treatment of faith evoked a powerful connection to the Doctor and the way he has operated throughout his history and much of that is weighing upon him here. I also appreciated the reference to the Horns of Nimon from the classic series. It was similar to the Macra appearing in Gridlock a few seasons ago and I fully approve of these nods to the past.

Each of the hotel’s rooms were designed to show each guest an image that would shake their faith in whatever it was they believed in. The burning question is what the Doctor saw in his room. We heard the TARDIS’ cloister bell ringing when he opened the door, and the Doctor said, “Of course, who else?” The bell is part of a warning system that I first remember hearing as the Doctor regenerated from his fourth to fifth incarnation (incidentally an apparition of the fifth existed alongside the fourth throughout that episode). If I had to guess, I’d say he saw himself and some vision of his own (or perhaps even the TARDIS’) mortality. Throwing out a theory, I’m thinking the Doctor will save himself at Lake Silencio by having himself pulled out of an earlier point in his timeline as seen in last week’s The Girl Who Waited (or with the help of the Flash, hedging I realize). The result being another season where everything we’ve seen doesn’t truly happen and some of the darkness of Matt Smith’s Doctor is subsequently wiped away.

It’s also possible the Doctor may have seen the times he’s failed one of his companions or even himself standing over Amy’s grave as he suggests when they part ways. It may have even been what brought him to that decision. Personally, I find it far more interesting that Rory didn’t have a room at all. The reasons for that aren’t fully explained, but I’m fine with what’s suggested. Rory’s speaking about his time in the TARDIS and its effect on him in the past tense may mean he’s lost faith in anything and this could have been another factor that pushed the Doctor to put the Williams family in a safe place. Also left unexplained are the reason the labyrinth appeared to be a hotel on Earth (the whole thing had a brilliant aesthetic), the Doctor’s newfound appreciation for apples and his ability to solve a Rubik’s cube, but I’m still happy with the end result.

The God Complex is an important episode for the season and series as it sees Amy and Rory Williams leave the TARDIS and end their travels with the Doctor. After three straight weeks of adventures that weren’t specifically directed at trying to find their daughter, it was becoming the elephant in the control room. I’m sure many fans were wondering how they could keep choosing to go anywhere in time and space that wasn’t exactly where their daughter was without coming right out and saying that they’d given up on finding her. I really enjoyed the way their departure was handled particularly the idea that the Doctor was saving them by leaving them behind and freeing Amy from “waiting” for him. We may see them travel with the Doctor again, but I’ll be satisfied if things are left as they were.

Next week sees the return of the Doctor’s roommate Craig (James Corden) in what should be a fun episode with Cybermen and their accompanying Cybermats as the threat this time around. I’m wondering how BBC America will handle the show’s opening credits now that Amy won’t be along for the ride. I’m not a fan of the video they roll before the credits and wouldn’t be sad if it disappeared. Although I’d love to see it replaced with a package of Craig’s history with the Doctor for a week. After all, he knows all about the Doctor after their mind transference last time around.

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The Girl Who Waited / Closing Time (coming next week)

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  • theoncominghope said,

    Great review!

    I don’t think I was as positive about the episode as you though. I think the biggest problem in the episode was that it was too easy for the Doctor to take Amy’s faith away from her.

    But so many of the problems in the narrative of this episode stem directly from the writers having no idea of Amy as a character, as I discuss in more detail here:


  • ptb said,

    Thank you! It’s great to hear from you.

    I see where you’re coming from about the relative ease with which Amy gave up her faith in the Doctor. I was ultimately OK with it when I considered she had just seen three people die in the hotel despite the Doctor promising no one else would die, and that in many ways Amy had already given up some of that faith earlier this season. In The Girl Who Waited, she met a future version of herself that had come to hate the Doctor for what had happened to her and was ultimately left behind. In Let’s Kill Hitler, the Doctor continued to fail her by not finding Melody after leaving them at Demon’s Run. What really brought it home though was when she was telling Melody that someone would always be there to save her she was talking about Rory and not the Doctor in A Good Man Goes to War.

    I realize it’s selective and it does nothing to address your valid point about the writers not entirely doing Amy’s character justice here.

  • theoncominghope said,

    That’s fair enough! But Amy never really expressed that she felt the Doctor failed to save Melody, as she doesn’t give a crap about Melody anymore (apparently)

  • ptb said,

    You’re absolutely right. I just put a lot of weight on the Let’s Kill Hitler prequel video, and her first question to the Doctor being “did you find my daughter?” when he shows up in the crop circle. She hasn’t seemed very concerned since.

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  1. REVIEW: Doctor Who – The Girl Who Waited » MyLatestDistraction
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