Monday, August 25, 2014

Doctor Who--"The God Complex"

It is a given with BBC productions that certain episodes are going to be low budget bottle shows. With Doctor Who, that generally means a character driven story with a claustrophobic feel. Such episodes are hit an miss because the character drama and claustrophobic feel has to be spot on or else the low budget aspect becomes too obviously a detriment. I am happy to say ’The God Complex” overcomes it lack of budget to produce an intriguing episode.

The TARDIS lands in a contemporary hotel instead of the planet the Doctor was seeking. They discover four other people there. They have been trapped for a while and stalked by a creature. The otherwise empty hotel has a ever changing design and a number of rooms. Opening a room leads to the creature being able to consume victims. The Doctor surmises there is a room tailor made for each one of them. The room contains the greatest fear of the person for whom it was intended. One guy had already opened his door and begun offering praises to the creature before being consumed. Two others ignores the Doctor’s warning and suffers the same fate.

The Doctor learns the creature is a Nimron, an alien that feeds off people’s faith. The creature’s design looks to be based on Baphomet, a pagan deity of Christian folklore which now represents the occult and Satanism. The Nimron attracts people of faith to face their biggest fears behind those doors. Confronting those fears destroys their faith, allowing them to be consumed. When Amy feels compelled to open her door after repeating praises to the Nimron, the Doctor realizes it was her faith in him that brought them here.

I liked the visual of the doctor explaining that it is her faith in him that the creature is after. The two are sitting at a the lounge bar with Rory across the room. The camera is out of focus with Rory in the distant background, so he is like a mirage. There is a feeling that he is unimportant to Amy while she is learning her connection to the Doctor is the catalyst for all this trouble. It is a very sad image, but wonderfully done. Much better than the frequent dismissal of Mickey when the Doctor and rose were doing their thing in the past. Mickey was not all that likable. I sympathize with Rory. Team TARDIS finds Amy’s room. Inside is Amy as a little girl waiting for the raggedy man. The Doctor convinces her younger self to stop waiting. This disapates her fear. The hotel fades away to reveal a prison. The Nimron dies because it has no further faith to consume.

The Doctor open Room #11 to face his fear. While we do not learn what it is, he decides it is best to leave Amy and Rory behind out of fear their faith in him might get them killed. One assumes that might be his greatest fear, or that could be a red herring for something coming up. I am satified thus far with either possibility. Considering there have already been periods of time in which the doctor has been separated from the two of them, I am surprised how melancholy the split felt, even though I know it is only temporary.

If I may play with a theory, however, I think the Doctor currently running about is a Flesh Doctor. When he open Room #11, he saw the real deal, which is his biggest fear. Perhaps he dumped Amy and Rory because he knows he is not the real deal, and they might get into serious trouble with him instead. Just a thought.

“The God Complex” is a good episode overall. It is extremely disturbing in parts with a lot of references to past episodes to keep longtime fans happy. I will confess a couple were pointlessly thrown in to make the series trailer more exciting. Why did we need to see an illusion of the Weeping Angels on screen for less than a minute otherwise? The mention of a Sontaron is also some pointless name dropping. But neither point is a real detriment. The story is very absorbing, as well as moving in parts.

I might give ’The God Complex” higher marks if I understood what it was trying to say about faith. The first three victims died when they lost their faith, but the Nimron died when Young Amy lost her. The Doctor also assumes Amy and Rory’s faith in him will get them killed. So is faith good or bad? Faith has mized result in “The God Complex,” so who knows? I prefer stories that let the audience make up their own mind, but something about how faith is dealt with seemed too lazy. But, hey--I am a man of faith who set through five years of Russell T. Davies telling me how stupid I am for it, so maybe I should not complain the issue is left ambiguous.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

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