It doesn’t take the shining to know what inspired Toby Whithouse’s most recent foray into the world of Doctor Who. This weekend’s episode, “The God Complex,” was clearly inspired by either Christine or Cujo. No? Something else involving a spooky hotel? Tommyknockers, maybe? Anyway, I’m sure it was one of those Peter Straub books.
Okay, before we get totally sucked down the “it’s funny because I’m pretending to be ignorant” rabbit hole, let’s get into the plot of this episode, which managed to mix some of my least favorite bits of Who into something that actually became rather good, heartbreaking, and magical.
s usual, The Doctor thinks he’s taking Amy and Rory to a delightful location for a vacation, but instead they end up in a spooky hotel without windows or doors. Not only that, but there’s creepy music playing, and the hotel bar is full of laughing marionettes. Oh, and there’s a room somewhere in the hotel with your greatest fear, which is weird, because the only thing we have to fear is that Matt Fraction won’t stick the landing on the end of Fear Itself. But that’s an entirely different joke-rabbit hole we’re heading down, so let’s continue.
When they arrive, our trio encounters another trio, who also seem to have just woken up in the hotel. One of them – an Indian nurse – seems to be jockeying for “new Companion” territory, while the others break down into “nerd” and “alien who wants to be enslaved.” They, however, had a fourth member of their group, who ended up facing his greatest fear, and going a little bit mad sometimes. Specifically, he keeps cackling about how he’s at peace now, and keeps repeating the phrase, “Praise Him.”
One by one, as our brave companions face their greatest fears, they end up going crazy, shouting about praising him, and then having their life force sucked out by an alien minotaur. Except, here’s the catch: the minotaur, the warden for this alien prison, is as much a prisoner as they are. As The Doctor finds out in a clever little turning the tables bit, the minotaur doesn’t want to do this anymore, he just wants to lay down and die.
Before he can, though, the rest of the group gets eliminated, and Amy starts to praise him, too, mainly because she saw her greatest fear… Or did she? Turns out, in another twist, the minotaur doesn’t feed on fear, he feeds on faith. Once he eliminates your need for other faiths, he fills it up with his own, and eats your soul or whatever. What’s Amy have faith in? Why, The Doctor, of course… Which means in order to triumph, kill the minotaur, and save Amy, The Doctor has to destroy her faith in him.
It’s a rather heartbreaking scene that follows, similar to Rory’s profession of love for Old-Amy last week, and brings everything that’s played out in this half season to a head. So much of a head, in fact, that The Doctor gives the Ponds (who he now calls The Williams, after Rory), a house, a cool car… And leaves.
I mean, granted, I fully expect them to be back in two weeks time for the season finale, if not one week (though we get The Doctor’s hilarious roommate from last season back, so maybe he’ll fill the gap). But in terms of moving on, this is the point where we would get a new Companion in the series, usually. Here though? Probably not. I’m just curious to see how they’ll get out of the finality of the end of the episode.
A few other interesting bits, up for debate… Rory keeps getting shown the exit, because he has no faith in anything, we’re told. What about his love for Amy? Isn’t that what he believes in more than anything? And for The Doctor, we never see what his faith/fear is. We know he goes in Door #11 (a clear wink to the fact that he’s the eleventh doctor). Some people online have said they heard the TARDIS doorbell from inside the room. But we don’t know, do we?
The most obvious thing he sees in the room is, of course, himself. It’s the eleventh door, he says, “Of course. Who else?” when he sees what inside, and he is, you know, Doctor Who. And why wouldn’t he be most scared of himself, or what he’s become?
The other possibility is The TARDIS, as he’s scared of losing her… Though given that, other than the blue box disappearing at the beginning of the episode, the TARDIS doesn’t play into the hour, I’d discount that.
My immediate thought, though, was Amy. Amy’s fear-room has a different number, sure, but her vision is of her as a young girl waiting for the Doctor. Isn’t that his fear, too? That he’ll keep her (or any Companion) waiting forever, while they get old and die, and he stays forever young? And wouldn’t it make sense that as The Doctor is breaking Amy’s faith in him, he’s breaking his own faith in her, saving both of them? I think so. Granted, the evidence does seem strongly in favor of option A, but I like my theory, and I’m stickin’ to it.
What’s your theory, Whovians? What did the Doctor see in the room? And what’s going to happen on next week’s episode? Anyone know? I’d really love to watch it.