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Published on September 20th, 2011 | by Christian Cawley

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Reaction to The God Complex

The God Complex - baffling, memorable and once again visually stunning. What did you think of it?

Bloggers from around the web were impressed to varying degrees, and while there are some unflattering summaries concerning the Series 6 arc the general consensus is that this was an enjoyable episode.

Usually we deal with the overnight audience figures for the episode first, but thanks to some poor performance in face of mediocre opposition we’ve already covered this.

This week we’re going to start with a great new way of reviewing Doctor Who – with three reviewers watching the show! Okay, it doesn’t work that well, to be honest, but it is interesting to read for something a little different.

It’s a “tag team review” at Chud.com; they make some great points (hardly surprising given the ability to riff off one another in that way) so it is well worth checking out. Particular praise is set aside for Little Britain‘s David Walliams who played cowardly alien Gibbis.

This episode boasts some of the finest guest performances we’ve seen so far this season. I’m not really a fan of David Walliams but I had as much fun watching him snivel and scheme as he seemed to have doing it. To be fair, I thought everyone was great. There were memorable, quotable lines aplenty (something we’ve not had a tremendous deal of) and the second act escaped the lull I’ve found on more than one occasion. Even the mildly annoying dorky teen blogger character template was enlivened with a fine performance.

TVPixie (really) features a positive review of the episode, also drawing attention to David Walliams’ appearance (interestingly a few hours after the actor had completed a 140 mile swim along the Thames). Sadly, Walliams character is misnamed…

For all that Walliams was a bit of a spare part in his Roland Rat costume, the concept of Tibbis being part of a race who’ve been conquered so frequently their national anthem is ‘Glory To (Insert Name Here)’ is pretty amusing: although it would have been nice to be told why his biggest fear are the Weeping Angels. Presumably his planet was conquered by them: but if so, wouldn’t they have just killed all of the population?

Tor.com, meanwhile, has a fascinating discourse on the development (or otherwise) of Amy Pond throughout the current series. The reviewer has totally keyed into what I like about Karen Gillan’s character:

Now, suddenly, Amy is told there is no Santa Claus, having faith is bad, and then gets dropped of at home. The end.

It feels like everything that has been built up in Amy for two seasons has been shattered for the sake of a plot device. What makes it worse is that she also doesn’t seem to have any faith in herself here, which is strange and unlike the Amy Pond we’ve gotten to know.

Arnold T Blumberg is a long-term fan of Doctor Who and a regular poster for many years on Outpost Gallifrey/Gallifrey Base. He is also a reviewer at AssignmentX, and you will find a fascinating review over there that focuses on how the whole matter of faith and the departure of Amy and Rory is at odds with the River/Melody/Doctor’s death arc of Series 6.

If Amy’s faith in the Doctor is at the heart of it all, once again we’re left with the arc issue. When Amy talks about the Doctor, she comments on how he’s never let her down and came back for her years ago. She doesn’t mention the part about how he’s the reason her baby was stolen from her.

…At the end of the episode, we seemingly say goodbye to Amy and Rory, who are content to settle into their life at home knowing that a tiny baby is crying somewhere in time and space as it’s twisted and programmed into a heartless killer.

Now [the Doctor] he says goodbye to them here, and it’s possibly the last time they will ever speak to him. So do they bring it up one last time? Do they warn him, or even privately express a moment’s worry about what that whole thing was about and what his death might mean?

No of course not. They don’t care about anything. I’m beginning to understand how they feel.

It’s an interesting reaction, and Arnold raises some valid points there. Will it all be sorted out satisfactorily by the end of the series?

Doctor Who: The God Complex

The Yorker’s Lois Cameron reserves particular praise for episode writer Toby Whithouse, whose earlier episode School Reunion brought Sarah Jane Smith back to the Whoniverse; he’s also the creator and lead writer on Being Human.

One Whithouse speciality is the creepiness created by mixing the unknown with the familiar. Even if many flock wallpapers of the hotel setting did somewhat distract me (I love a flock wallpaper), the unfriendly setting coupled with the plot worked wonders; this short run of Doctor Who has certainly been ramping up the creepiness and it’s worked a treat.

On the MTV website there is an interesting “what was in the Doctor’s room?” theory, suggesting that what the Doctor quickly glimpsed at was Amy

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?

Occasional Kasterborous contributor Scott Varnham also gave this area of the episode some attention, and despite what is implied he is right from a particular point of view – we don’t actually find out what was in the Doctor’s room…

What annoyed me about this episode was the buildup to the Doctor’s room (including the question in the programme synopsis on the iPlayer, “What lies in wait in the Doctor’s room?”), which let us down by not actually showing us the room in question. We just saw the Doctor’s face as he looked inside it and heard the cloister bell going off before saying “Who else?” Naturally this was supposed to cause speculation but it just annoyed me.

TVGeekArmy (beware their anoraks!) attempts to unravel the true meaning behind The God Complex, and to be honest does quite a good job of it.

If this episode tells us anything at all, it’s that in order for the Doctor to even begin to formulate a solution to the problem of dying, he’s first going to have to realize that he wants to survive. How will he do that without Rory and Amy (or Rose and Miki and Jack or Martha or Donna or any of the others at his side)?

We’ll end with our “old friend” Gavin Fuller, supposed Doctor Who expert who once won on Mastermind with our favourite show as his specialist subject. These days he writes poorly for the Telegraph, and in his largely positive review of The God Complex manages to coin one hell of a poor cliche.

The God Complex was a bit of a curate’s egg of an episode, and in all probability one of the antepenultimate episodes that helps set things up for the denoument, but we’ll have to wait another fortnight to see whether that is the case…

(I think he might have learned his trade as a writer from watching TV.)

So there you have it – an interesting episode with some moments of bafflement but largely enjoyed and certainly memorable.

Will we ever see Amy and Rory again? You’ll have to wait and see…

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About the Author

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A long-term Doctor Who fan, Christian grew up watching the show and has early memories of the Graham Williams era. His favourite stories are Inferno, The Seeds of Doom and Human Nature (although The Empty Child, Blink and Utopia all come close). When he’s not bossing around the news team, Christian is a freelance writer specialising in mobile technology and domestic computing, and enjoys classic rock, cooking and spending time in the countryside with his wife and young children. You can find him on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.




3 Responses to Reaction to The God Complex

  1. avatar A Fan says:

    Did anyone else notice that the Doctor seemed to really enjoy biting into that apple? The last time he bit into an apple he involuntarily spit it out and said, “Apples are rubbish.” Just saying…

  2. avatar 616 says:

    In response to the people wondering what was in the Doctor’s room, I have my own theory. I believe that what the Doctor saw in his room was himself. After all the things he’s seen, done and knows. Who else could it be?

  3. avatar Alex says:

    @616 – I think the whole point of not showing us what’s in the room (other than a working cloister bell suggesting it had something to do with the TARDIS) was to make the audience fill in the blank for themselves. Too many people are used to being spoon-fed the answers on TV. What he saw could have been anything from Susan to a room full of past Doctors to, I don’t know, a cat. Or maybe he saw himself making out with Amy, or killing someone. Or he saw himself the moment he destroyed the Daleks and Time Lords. One of the many things I loved about this episode is they didn’t spoon feed us the answer. And anyone who thinks this is a non-arc standalone needs to go watch A Good Man Goes to War again and pay attention to what people say to and about the Doctor. This was totally a sequel to that episode.

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