Doctor Who S7 Ep12 – The Crimson Horror

If I’ve learned anything from watching Doctor Who, it’s that if you’re going to time travel the best people to have in your corner should be a diverse group of underdogs. Followed closely by never stopping to pose for pictures unless they’re for your own private collection, lest the people you don’t want knowing about your travels in space and time find out. I’ll get into that later.

“The Crimson Horror” was good for me. I liked it in a way that a person is partial to imperfect IKEA furniture that they assembled and own. Sure, it’s not perfect, and you have a few extra pieces and it wobbles, but it’s those quirks that make it more than the sum of its parts, extra pieces and all.Doctor Who S7 Ep12 Poster

I won’t turn a blind eye (no pun intended towards the character of Ada) to the fact that every time “Victorian values” are brought up in Doctor Who, it’s merely as satirized caricature. And I won’t gloss over how an elderly Victorian-era engineer and a primeval leech were able to discern a preservation chemical agent beneficial to the human race, or how they made their steampunk rocket. But I’ve come to expect this kind of camp from the show, and doing so has kind of charmed it to my heart.

Now, if Mark Gatiss has any faults in his writing it’s that he always has a fanboy focus on something in it. In “Cold War” it was the Ice Warriors, nearly to the exclusion of a decent story. Here it’s the Victorian Era, to more positive results. Maybe this is best; he last visited the Victorian Era with season one’s “The Unquiet Undead,” and that wasn’t a bad episode at all. Gatiss seems to write better period pieces than episodes centered on Classic Who monsters. Seriously, compare “The Victory of the Daleks” and “Cold War” to any of his others. Hands down, I think “Night Terrors” is his best to date, and it’s neither a period nor a classic monster story.Doctor Who Paternoster Gang

I’m also very happy that the Paternoster Gang has received their hour in the limelight. It’s no secret that I want them to get their own spin off (I think maybe they could help fill the Adventures of Sarah Jane half-hour holes in our hearts), if not their own weekly webisodes. I had really hoped that they would feature more in The Doctor’s travels this season, as per Amy Pond’s request that he not travel alone. I had also hoped the mystery of Clara would feature more in The Doctor’s travels, but more on that later as well.

Very much thank you for giving Jenny Flint (Catrin Stewart) a larger role to play other than Madam Vastra’s wife. The first time I saw her in season six I didn’t catch that they were married; I just assumed she was a lady’s maid/squire to Vastra. (Looking further into it, yes, at first Jenny is introduced as a handmaiden in season 6. It is not until season 7 that she is referred to as Vastra’s wife. Still doesn’t give The Doctor any reason to be kissing another woman’s wife, though.)

So yes, Jenny is more so the lead for half of this episode, which technically makes this what is known as a “Doctor-lite” episode. She is the public acting arm of the Paternoster Gang. Being the only human member of the trio she can move about society unnoticed, when Madam Vastra is contacted by a guy about his red-skin-stained dead brother. Also, it’s Yorkshire, 1893. Oh, and frozen in the victims’ eyes are images of The Doctor.

Doctor Who S7 Ep12 GillyflowerWe’re informed that the brother and a female companion were acting as undercover reporters getting the low down and dirty on Sweetville, its owner Mrs. Gillyflower, and the connection to the aptly named Crimson Horror. Sweetville is a gated factory town that serves as a haven for Mrs. Gillyflower’s beautiful doomsday cult members, named after Gillyflower’s silent partner Mr. Sweet. After attending a public lecture by Mrs. Gillyflower, Jenny signs up with the cult under the pretense of sharing their views, and is thus allowed on the property for further review.

Once on the grounds Jenny sneaks off to find The Doctor, which as Madam Vastra points out shouldn’t be too hard as, “she needs only ignore all keep out signs, go through every locked door, and run towards any form of danger that presents itself.” Your basic Doctor Who 101. When she finds him he’s been locked up and bears the red-stained skin, oh no! But that doesn’t last for long; he finds a machine that he sonics to undue the process that made him as such.

Now that The Doctor has been restored, he brings Jenny up to speed as to why he’s there, in a very lovely vintage-film-style flashback. Also, he’s travelling with Clara, much to Jenny’s confusion. From here the story writes itself, as The Doctor races to find Clara and stop Mrs Gillyflower. She’s been recruiting young and beautiful people, and dipping them in a preserve bath of chemicals to protect them from a designed apocalyptic chemical attack. Some of the people who undergo this process die and have the red skin, but fortunately enough The Doctor’s alien physiology kept him alive.

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