Who Review: The Crimson Horror


by Kevin Rigdon (@pralix1138)

A return to Victorian London is just what the Doctor ordered. Of course, we are rarely taken to where the Doctor intends. This time, we wind up in Victorian Yorkshire in the newest episode of Doctor Who, “The Crimson Horror.” It turns out to be a wild conflagration of mysteries, faintings, wellness-obsessions, alien parasites, bad puns, nefarious schemes, apocalyptic sermonizing with puritanical sensibilities, and a horror…that’s crimson. I didn’t see that one coming.

In the land of savory puddings and rat-sized terriers, Madam Vastra, Jenny, and Strax are sought out by a distraught man to investigate his brother’s death. This death is similar to others, and is becoming something of an epidemic. They all share the same state of death: a look of shock, or horror, and crimson skin. As this is going on, Mrs Gillyflower, bit of a crotchety, puritanical prophet of the coming apocalypse, is recruiting people, and offering them the only way to escape the coming apocalypse. An apocalypse, mind, that she is going to bring about. But why quibble over trifles like that, eh?

It is through their investigations that Jenny happens upon the Doctor, who’s been dipped in the red poison, but didn’t die, because, you know, he’s the Doctor. It seems that the not-so-well intentioned Mrs Gillyflower is coating the young and the beautiful with red toxin secreted by a parasite that she’s dubbed “Mr Sweet.” The parasite, and its secretions, turn out to be an incredibly dangerous enemy from Madam Vastra’s own time, some 75 million years ago. Through the symbiotic relationship with the parasite, Mrs Gillyflower intends to launch a rocket into the atmosphere, release the toxin, destroy all the people, and then the beautiful people she’s preserved in her “Sweetville” will be woken up to repopulate. So, only with “perfect” people left, I suppose that’s her version of heaven. But her heaven doesn’t include her disfigured daughter. Nevermind that she’s the one that disfigured her daughter by experimentation with the toxin to get to this point.

So, Jenny finds, and revives, the Doctor. He tells a lovely little backstory about how he and Clara got there with some nice Charlie Chaplin-style music and grainy film filters. Turns out they were investigating the same place, and both underwent the “treatment” that was supposed to inoculate them from the apocalyptic poison. So, find Clara; shut down Mrs Gillyflower; stop the parasite and the destruction of humanity; help Ada, Mrs Gillyflower’s disfigured daughter; and save the world. Easy peasy. And with a group like this, how could it not be? The Holmesian Vastra keeps raising her veil and freaking people out, Jenny goes all ninja on brainwashed hooligans, and Strax finally gets to run around and randomly shoot stuff with his blaster rifle.

In the end they stop the Gillyflower hag, and Ada kills “Mr Sweet,” which didn’t look dangerous at all. It was kind of like a demonic baby sea turtle with a sucker mouth, that is until it was thoroughly and emphatically squished. Though they saved the day, questions remain. The fabulous three (Vastra, Jenny, and Strax) remember Clara, the other Clara, the Victorian London Clara. They were there when she died, and every time Jenny tried to point this out to the Doctor, she was met with “It’s complicated.” To “complicate” matters further, the children that Clara is a nanny for, have discovered that she’s a time traveller through various pictures they’ve found of her throughout time, including one from 1893 London. This sets off something for Clara, but we’re not sure what yet. Though I’m sure she remembers that rant the Doctor had about how she’s still alive, and how she’s died and whatnot.

The Doctor seemed to have accepted her answer at the end of the last episode. He accepts that she doesn’t know about how she keeps dying and coming back. Be that as it may, he still hasn’t given up the question. He wanted to take her to London to confirm something with the other Clara, but got derailed. Now that a picture of her in London at the same time she was in Yorkshire has been discovered, the wheels begin turning. Something is up. And, again, the children know she’s been traveling through time. All of this sets the stage for the upcoming Neil Gaiman episode. Can’t wait!

…Oh, and bowler hats, ’cause bowler hats are cool.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars


  1. darth martyMay 6th, 2013 at 10:32 am

    Best episode of the series so far & i’ve said it before & i’ll say it again vastra , jenny & strax need their own spin off show . Any episode which features them is brilliant.

  2. Kevin RigdonMay 6th, 2013 at 11:23 am

    I agree completely. Love to see them in a show together. Great chemistry. Great dialogue. Thousands of story possibilities.

  3. ShibvouhnMay 6th, 2013 at 12:12 pm

    This episode was very fun to watch! Loved the bowler hat…the 11th Doctor is certainly growing on me…And as my daughter said…”What with all the kissing?!” 😉 good! good! good!

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