Towards the end of Season 6 of Doctor Who, the creators have been hinting at a possible Western themed episode, randomly giving the Doctor a cowboy hat or giving a random scene a strong western feel. This week we were giving our Western episode in Season 7’s third episode, “A Town Called Mercy.”
This week’s episode brought the Doctor (Matt Smith) to Earth, specifically to the town of Mercy in Western America. The Doctor arrives in town, which is surrounded by a manmade circle of stones and logs, only to be thrown out upon announcing his name. It turns out the town is under the attack of a cyborg they refer to as the Gunslinger (Andrew Brooke). An honorable killer, the Gunslinger will not cross the line surrounding the town, only killing those that cross said line. He has made it very clear that his main target is a doctor, an alien doctor. Convinced the cyborg is trying to kill the Doctor, the townsfolk attempt to leave him for dead to protect their own lives. Saved at the last minute by Mercy’s marshal, the Doctor finds that the town has already found an alien doctor, a Kahler-Jex (Adrian Scarborough).
Jex came to Mercy during an outbreak of cholera, using his advanced technology to save many people in Mercy. Due to his service in the town, as well as him bringing heat and electricity to the town before its time, the sheriff will not turn in over to the Gunslinger. As always, the Doctor decides to lend a helping hand and discovers the truth about the Gunslinger. After torturing and experimenting on a species of humanoids, Jex created the Gunslinger and others like him to end a war. The Gunslinger must kill Jex to bring him to justice.
This episode focuses on the Doctor’s morality. Upon discovering the horrors that Jex committed, the Doctor’s immediate reaction is to kick him out of town and leave him for dead. While Jex did commit horrible crimes, he did it to end a horrible, seemingly endless war. On top of that Jex is a doctor, a man who has dedicated his life to helping people. Mercy owes Jex a debt for his ability to get them through a cholera outbreak, something they were not equipped to deal with. The dilemma at the center of this episode perfectly defines the difficulty of being the Doctor. The Gunslinger becomes tired of waiting and gives the Doctor an ultimatum; Jex is delivered to him or he starts killing without remorse for innocents. Again, a horrible decision is left to the Doctor. If he cannot find a way to stop the Gunslinger he will have to either turn Jex over, basically condemning the man to death, or risk the Gunslinger attacking Mercy. It is obvious that the situation weighs on the Doctor for he wants to turn over Jex but there are things that stop him. While the physical battle in the episode is against the Gunslinger, the real battle takes place in the Doctor’s mind.
Rory (Arthur Darvill) and Amy (Karen Gillan) took a backseat in this episode which is alright after last week where Rory piloted a spaceship with his father and Amy managed to survive without the Doctor and even lead the people she was with. Amy and Rory were still there but acted more as background characters, letting the Doctor once again take center stage like he deserves to do. Next week’s episode is titled “The Power of Three”, a title that makes me excited for endless number of things it could refer to. My first though is the power of the Doctor, Amy and Rory. The previews for the next episode seem to hint at Amy and Rory’s inevitable departure, something that promises to be outstandingly devastating, like most companion departures.
This week’s episode of Doctor Who can be aptly described by its title, “Dinosaurs on an Spaceship.” When an unknown, unresponsive spaceship heads towards Earth in the future, Earth sends out a distress call to the Doctor (Matt Smith). Telling the Doctor that he has six hours to stop the spaceship from crashing into Earth or the ship will be fired upon, the Doctor gathers the troops. Rather than just gathering Amy (Karen Gillan) and Rory (Arthur Darvill), the Doctor brings two new companions to the battle, the African big game hunter Riddell (Rupert Graves) and Queen Nefertiti (Riann Steele). While picking up Amy and Rory, the Doctor accidentally brings Brian Williams (Mark Williams) along with making Rory’s father the second parent to be accidentally transported through time and space on the TARDIS. Landing the TARDIS on the unknown ship, the group finds it uninhabited by anybody that could pilot the ship. The only life forms on the ship are dinosaurs. Upon further investigation the Doctor finds a smaller ship has boarded the large ship. The Doctor has to find out what happened to the inhabitants of the spaceship, figure out how to gain control of the spaceship and defeat the episodes villain, all while dealing with dinosaurs on the spaceship.
Just like the first episode this season, this episode was fairly light hearted throughout almost all of it. With quick witted jokes and quick snappy dialogue, the episode was amusing and intense. One aspect of the show that I really liked was the small Harry Potter reunion. Brian Williams was played by Mark Williams who was Mr. Arthur Weasley in all of Harry Potter films. This episodes villain, Solomon was played by David Bradley who was Argus Filch in the Harry Potter franchise. David Bradley played a great villain, a remorseless psychopath dead set on getting whatever he wants by whatever means necessary. Though he doesn’t react as much as I wanted him to when he is transported in the TARDIS, Mark Williams was a perfect person to cast as Rory’s father. Not only do the two look somewhat alike, or at least enough to make them believable as relatives, Mark Williams even copies some of Rory’s mannerisms and actions.
There were no real hints towards a season long plot save the Doctor distancing himself from Amy and Rory. His visits to Rory and Amy are getting further and further apart. Though he plays it off as if he is just busy, I have a theory as to why the Doctor is not visiting as often. I believe that the Doctor realizes that eventually he is going to have to leave Amy and Rory so he is starting to distance himself to make the moment when the part ways easier. This theory comes from a single look between the Doctor and Amy towards the end of the episode where they are each forced to consider the other’s mortality. It is a beautiful scene that hints at Amy and Rory leaving the show, something we all know is coming.
There was only one aspect of this episode that I didn’t like. Just a few minutes after they get on the spaceship, the Doctor, Rory and Brian get separated from Amy, Riddell and Nefertiti. While investigating the ship without the Doctor, Amy begins to talk and act like the Doctor, explain complicated things that she has no business knowing. The writers try to say that because Amy has been hanging with the Doctor so often that she is picking up some of his knowledge but I couldn’t help but think that Amy should not be explaining these things to me. I did not like the new knowledge that Amy seemed to develop out of nowhere.
Next week we finally get a true Western episode. The writers and creators have had Matt Smith wear his cowboy hat in a number of different episodes and now we get a Western episode. It is called “A Town called Mercy” and will have the Doctor go up against a cyborg who simply calls himself the Gunslinger. As always I will be counting down the minutes until the next episodes and will let you know what I think of it.