“The God Complex” – Review: Redux

Lucy “My name is Lucy Hayward. And I’m the last one left. It’s funny. You don’t know what’s going to be in your room until you see it. Then you realize it could never have been anything else. The gaps between my worship are getting shorter. This is what happened to the others. It’s all so clear now. I’m so happy. Praise him. Praise him.”

The God Complex

“The God Complex” is a fascinating story and stands up well to repeated viewing. The tone is very much in keeping with “Night Terrors” earlier in the series with its claustrophobic, gloomy interiors and peculiar camera angles adding the sense of not-quite-rightness to what superficially appears to be a 1980’s hotel. It soon becomes clear, inevitably, that all is not as it should be. It is also an ensemble piece with Rita, Howie, Joe and Gibbis being the other people who have found themselves trapped in the mysterious Scooby-Doo-esque hotel. Any fears that David Walliams would be hamming his part as the alien, Gibbis, were soon diminished as he was revealed as an interesting, three-dimensional character, perhaps more so than the other three guests. Also thrown in to the mix, right from the title itself, we get one of Doctor Who’s most interesting explorations in to matters of faith. All that, before the ending that sees the departure, for the moment, of the two companions.

This is another of the episodes that I have not blogged about before, although I recall upon first watching back in September 2011, an overriding feeling of being unsettled and disconcerted by it all. It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy it: quite the opposite in fact, rather it left me wondering what the point of it was. It didn’t feel like the kind of episode that should culminate in a companion’s leaving; Bar a touch of foreshadowing, courtesy of the minotaur, it didn’t feel like a cohesive part of what preceded or followed it (which in itself, is no bad thing Doctor Who-wise); and as an exploration of faith, specifically faith in the Doctor, it didn’t feel like it made its point particularly clearly. Hence the reason that some of the enjoyment here comes from watching again and picking up points to explore more deeply.

The Orwellian rooms in which a person’s deepest fears can be found were used to great effect and provided the most intriguing of the story’s elements, the fact that we are left to imagine what the Doctor saw in room 11 was especially delightful. And it was not until we visited Amy’s room that we begin to uncover the truth of the place. Rather that the assumption to that point that it was the person’s faith being challenged that allowed the beast to possess them. However, the discover of young Amelia waiting for her raggedy man to return, demonstrates that it is faith itself that the Minotaur is feeding upon. Persuading Amy once and for all that the Doctor is just a madman with a box and not a hero to be idolised is what finally breaks the illusion. Again, it’s another example where twenty-first century Who penchant for a love-conquers-all ending is trotted out albeit turned on its head somewhat. And it is this breaking of Amy’s faith in the Doctor that leads directly to Amy and Rory leaving.

We finally get an explanation that it is a prison ship and it revealed that the beast is related to the Nimon – classic fans rejoice. The automated systems on the ship provided food for the inmate, but as the inmate fed on faith, it was people with faith who were provided. The beast’s comment “An ancient creature, drenched in the blood of the innocent, drifting in space through an endless shifting maze. For such a creature, death would be a gift.” was intriguingly turned around to reference the Doctor himself. The fascinating part to this story though is, obviously, the ending. The Doctor decides (or may be realises) that the time for travelling with Amy and Rory may be reaching its conclusion. Buying them a house and car as a leaving gift the Doctor flies away with a feeling of melancholy, knowing that his own death at Lake Silencio is drawing ever nearer. On first viewing, it came as a completely left-field decision to see the departure of Rory and Amy a good seven episodes before we’d come to believe they would leaving. The departure was in no means permanent but was clearly a milestone in the relationship between the couple and the Time Lord.

Highlight: The unsettling, disconcerting mood

Lowlight: The ill-fitting ending

Talking Point: Do you like these darker, spooky stories?

Demon’s Run Rating: 16 out of 20

Original BBC1 Broadcast: 17th September 2011

Marathon Status: 85 down, 17 to go

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  1. December 20th, 2013
    Trackback from : Second Trailer | Demon's Run

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