The episode picks up where last weeks left off with Clara vowing never to travel with or even see the Doctor again which means she is now on a space train, insert your own Galaxy Express 999 reference here, named after the Orient Express as you can probably tell by the title. Well okay the episode doesn’t really begin there it begins with another nice in universe timer that syncs up nicely with the run time to make the whole thing seem a bit more suspenseful. In this case however it matches up with the pre-credit sequence of an old rich woman being killed by a mummy only she can see. Of course everyone takes her for delusional, or possibly mad. Enter the Doctor and Clara on their “last hurrah!”
Now once again the whole, adventure, dashing heroic thing is given a bit of a back seat to Clara discussing out her so called character arch as Moffat tries to give her something to do now that the whole impossible girl thing is over and done with. Well mostly. Thus they arrive to witness the carnage brought by the first murder and in time to see the next as a young chef is driven back into the walk in freezer where the thing emerges from amongst the hanging meat. This doesn’t stop the Doctor and Clara discussing whether this should indeed be it; though the Doctor can’t really tell how she feels as he seems stumped now no longer by age but ambivalence , though perhaps it was just because Clara looked like a dog chewing a caramel toffee at the time. Fortunately this episode doesn’t waste too much screen time on her “problems” this time and instead allows the plot to flow and the guest characters to shine, though there is a nice moment toward the end that if I didn’t know any better was planned to add depth to the two main stars of this show and build on what has gone before.
Perhaps the guest star most will walk away remembering is Frank Skinner’s turn as Chief Engineer Perkins. Skinner, a long time fan of Doctor Who, was last seen getting locked in a dressing room by Peter Davidson, Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy. As the chief engineer Skinner seems to fall into the companion role if only to stop Capaldi having to do it himself as Clara talks to her boyfriend over her “space” i-phone. The Doctor’s Gollum like turn reminded me of the big finish audio productions and it was interesting to see the Doctor ration it out without a sounding board to bounce stuff off, emphasising the importance of characters like Dr Watson in all good detective literature. However I was just as glad when it was gone to be honest. Thus as Perkins hands over all he’s collected on the murders thus far and the Doctor buys himself some time with the trains captain via psychic paper and the claim of being a mystery shopper Clara deals with Maisy the young woman who watched her grandmother die at the start.
That is technically a spoiler by the way as we find out later that it was her grandmother but I genuinely missed the line where she apparently called her mum, so the twist was lost on me and now on you. It wasn’t that big really as they spend more time asking why when Clara said goodbye to the Doctor she didn’t act like a normal person and just close the door and send him a Christmas card once a year while hoping not to run into him at the super market and get stuck in an awkward conversation. (By the way if anyone I know is reading this and you’ve seen me acting oddly at a super market it’s probably because I’ve seen you and am trying to subtly avoid you so I don’t have to talk to you. No offense.) Anyway while Maisy is living out an obscure Ray Bradbury short story, the Doctor is realising that maybe not everything or everyone is as they seem. After all the original tale had the twist that everyone on the train was the killer and here and now the Doctor just happens to run into an expert on the very same Mummy now stalking the passengers not to mention a very large handful of other Doctors, Scientists and the like. One of whom looked distractingly like Albert Einstein. That’s not a spoiler or twist or anything by the way just something that I noticed and got a little distracted by toward the end.
To wrap things up I’d first point out that the voice you were trying to place all episode was John Sessions who Who fans might recall from “Death comes to time”, something I will be returning too in some way soon hopefully. As for the episode itself I felt it was best summed up near the beginning, where the Doctor announces that this Orient Express is in space and the best Clara can sum up is “of course it is.” As a whole the episode wasn’t bad, nor was it brilliant it just was. As I said there is a nice bit of character near the end but that was kind of ruined by the bit of character between the two at the actual end. The plot went along okay but it just felt a little ordinary but it’s a step up from abortion plot lines and the Doctor jumping at his own shadow for a whole episode.
Next week the Doctor takes on modern art….
One of the highlights of the episode was ‘the Foxes’ cover of zombie killing hit ‘Don’t stop me now’ as a slow jazz lounge song. Well the BBC have now released a music video of the track covering this season of DW with a few sneak peaks of what’s to come such as a jungle covered London and a Cyberman invasion of London.