How do you top/recover from the idea of putting dinosaurs on a spaceship? Well, you take a hard left and do a western of course! Or rather you do a story set in the American frontier with a gun-armed cyborg looking to settle a score with the alien doctor that took his paw. Paw. Gun-arm. Arm equals paw. Paw equals arm. Get it? Aah, anyways
Toby Whithouse was the writer of this wild, wild episode. You might remember him from previous Doctor Who episodes, “School Reunion” (2006) meh, “The Vampires of Venice” (2010) not bad, and “The God Complex” (2011) pretty good. But you might know him more so for being creator of the BBC original series Being Human.
“A Town Called Mercy” opens with a voice over of a woman telling a story about a man who fell to earth. Something tells me she’s not speaking of David Bowie. Keen ears will have noticed that “Asylum of the Daleks” also opened in a similar fashion. And then death. Well, not so fast, first there is a cyborg-cowboy and a dude with a face tattoo and right before cyborg dude kills face tattoo he says there is only one more person he needs to kill and that’s the doctor. But we hear it as “The Doctor”. Then he kills him. Then title card.
From dialog in this episode you find out this is set about five years after the American Civil War, which would make the year roughly 1870. Location of Mercy is unknown save for that Mexico is somewhere due south 200 miles. Why did you need that information? I don’t know. Moving on.
There are 81 residents of the rock and wood pile bordered town of Mercy, State-Unknown when The Doctor and the Ponds arrive. They had intended to go to Mexico to celebrate Dia de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead festival, but Rory’s bread crumbs had other plans. Anachronistic electricity, keep out signs, and aggressive stares fill the town giving The Doctor glee because these are all on his Christmas list, which we know about from the last episode.
Now the first thing you do when you go to any American Frontier township is head to the saloon for the latest information. But be sure to order your tea extra strong and have them leave the bag in to show them you mean serious face. When the patrons find out that The Doctor is, well, a doctor they quickly measure him for a coffin and ask him if by chance he is an alien. Agreeing that by their position, he is an alien, they promptly pick him up and throw him outside of the town, past the borderline.
While the preacher recites the Lord’s Prayer, the cyborg-cowboy appears off in the distance with an air of menace and by means of teleportation every few yards he advances towards The Doctor. But right before bullets can fly, Marshal Isaac shows up and tells the “Bow Tie” to walk back over the border and into town effectively saving his life.