The Ninjabot

Doctor Who – “The Crimson Horror” Review [SPOILERS]

Posted on May 5, 2013 at 3:09 pm by Amanda Andonian


Doctor Who takes us back to Victorian England this week in “The Crimson Horror,” where we get to visit with Madame Vastra, her sidekick Jenny, and their somewhat dull muscleman Straxx as they attempt to solve the mystery of the Crimson Horror. Not that there’s usually big twists and turns in Doctor Who, but be warned that this review is chock full of spoilers.

Rather than dropping us in the middle of the action with the Doctor and Clara, “The Crimson Horror” firsts focuses on the investigation of a series of strange corpses found floating in the river–corpses whose faces are frozen in horror, with skin glowing bright red and waxy to the touch. Madame Vastra is initially intrigued because the latest body has apparent connections to the Doctor, and so she and Jenny set out to find the Doctor.

doctor-who-the-crimson-horrorTheir journey brings them to Sweetville, a town founded by Mrs. Winifred Gillyflower and her silent partner, Mr. Sweet. Mrs. Gillyflower is convinced that the end is nigh, and she urges the best and brightest of Britain’s population to join their utopian society before the apocalypse comes. At her side is her daughter Ada, whose sight has been tragically burned away, ostensibly by Mrs. Gillyflower’s evil husband (who is nowhere in evidence in this episode). Of course, we already know that Mrs. Gillyflower is the bad guy here, but Ada’s burned face definitely adds to the creepy-factor in this mother-daughter duo.

As Jenny investigates the town, she finds out that Sweetville is a front for something more sinister. Eventually, she finds the Doctor, whose nearly been turned into a red corpse himself. The only thing keeping him alive, presumably, was his two hearts and, surprisingly, Ada’s ministrations. A sonic screwdriver helps too. In true Doctor Who fashion, Ada turns out to be more a friend than a foe, drawn by the Doctor’s strength even when he was incapable of speaking. Ada’s a truly tragic figure, trying to earn the love and regard of her mother, but ultimately failing since her mother has no love to give her. When eventually she does turn on Mrs. Gillyflower, Ada’s wrath is actually kind of frightening, though it doesn’t accomplish much in the end.

doctor-who-the-crimson-horrorMrs. Gillyflower herself falls prey to her own hubris, which is often the downfall of many an evil villain. So consumed with her dream of creating a perfect world, her mind becomes warped and detached from the harm that she’s causing to her own daughter. Turns out she’s using some prehistoric parasite’s venom to wipe out humanity, thus the presence of Madame Vastra (who is also a prehistoric creature, coincidentally!). Although Mrs. Gillyflower was planning on using the Red Leech’s venom to kill everyone on the planet, I’m still a little fuzzy on what its purpose was exactly. In the end, I guess it was just a parasite, and Mrs. Gillyflower just wanted to murder a bunch of people.

While this week did have more of the upbeat adventure and tongue-in-cheek dialog that I like in Doctor Who, it felt like there was just too much going on and too many characters to keep track of. Everyone got to play their part, but at the same time, it felt like they were all kind of relegated to the background. Can anyone explain to me what the point of that urchin child was?!? I didn’t think so.

My Score: B-

Doctor Who: Season 7 Episode 11, “The Crimson Horror” aired May 4th, 2013 on BBC America.

You can follow Amanda on Twitter at @reiko516.

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