Paul
Welcome back to the The Companion Piece. I’ve called shotgun for the driver’s seat as Matthew Hurd is away on a secret mission. Very secret… Anyway, after the mediocre to downright bad feelings we had for the previous Doctor Who episode, we were worried that Season 8 was going to slip back into being disappointing…There are spoilers from the start, so stop reading now unless you’ve seen this week’s eerie episode.So, to start with, without getting into specifics, what did we think of this episode? Better than the last, the same or worse?
Cookie
A lot stronger than last weeks, it had some very interesting little quirks. I especially liked the monster…
Matt K
A bit better
Paul
I thought it was an improvement, but it still had some problems.
Matt K
The mummy was an interesting subject, so was the 66 seconds

66 Seconds until death.

66 Seconds until death.

Paul
I thought it was better than last week’s episode – less bad science to take you out of the moment
Cookie
Def liked how the 66 seconds became a part of it – how it was so specific.
Paul
Very true. It seemed as though they at least tried to explain things in a more coherent and believable way.
Which was pretty surprising considering I was actually kind of dreading this episode based on last week’s trailer.
Cookie
It certainly felt a lot more thought out than parts of last week.
Paul
I think it benefitted from a much simpler (and much more entertaining) story than last week, which felt a bit ponderous at times.
Matt K
It had a fair bit of tightness inside the train scared of a creature that only you can see as it creeps up to you.
Paul
I quite liked the explanation to that. Seemed to fit quite nicely. But can I jump in and say that it felt a little disjointed in relation to last episode – where Clara pretty much vows to never travel with the Doctor again, only to have her appear with the Doctor in this episode with a few throwaway comments explaining why she’s still there…
Cookie
yeah i thought that it was a little quick, especially the whole last hurrah excuse – however its time travel so i can let that lie a little.
Matt K
Yea I must admit I would of thought Clara would have been more reluctant to go this time.
Paul
Yeah. I felt that too about Clara’s reappearance and attitude towards the Doctor. I honestly thought at the start that it might turn out he was just imagining her being there.
Matt K
That would have been a good idea to imagine her being there.
Paul
My question is, why didn’t we see Clara slowly pine for the adventures with the Doctor before arriving on the train? That would have made things at least a bit better. Though I can kind of understand in a way, because Clara hinted at the Doctor that the danger could be his addiction – maybe she was speaking of herself instead. But even so, the Doctor isn’t exactly renowned for being reachable when you want him to be…
Cookie
This is true, although he does seem to be getting better at turning up where Clara’s concerned – just at the right time. He certainly seems to have more control of the TARDIS than he used to.
Paul
That’s actually fairly true. He does seem to have tamed it.
Cookie
Yeah, which is a shame at times. I quite liked the TARDIS being erratic. Making his next destination that little more unknown for him and everyone else.
Paul
Did it started behaving after “The Doctor’s Wife”, because that would be very clever if that was the case…
Paul
It would be a nice little nod to it if it was.
Matt K
I loved the jelly baby bit.
Cookie
Yeah that was awesome.
Paul
I did notice that.
Cookie
It had quite a few little touches like that, which made it stand out to me.
Paul
The “Are you my mummy?” reference was a good one too.

"Are you my Mummy?" - Actually quoted by The Doctor

“Are you my Mummy?” – Actually quoted by The Doctor

Cookie
Like the Sonic Screwdriver being blocked.
Paul
Did anyone else pick up on the fact that the Doctor seems to talk to himself more now?
Cookie
Yeah he does indeed, seems to add to his eccentricity.
Matt K
Must be his age getting to him.
Paul
It makes sense though – it would be a little weird if he never did it again after his long speech to himself in “Listen”.
Paul
They seem to be playing on his age a bit more now. Before he was timeless, but now they seem to reference how long he’s been alive a fair few times.
And I do feel like he was answering himself a bit more too.
Cookie
Agreed, I also want to know more about this Gus – especially as he seems to know that the Dr is a Time Lord.
Matt K
Maybe he might be part of those Paradise lot.
Paul
We theorised that – fits in with the machine and AI aspects of the series so far. We’ve had a lot of those.
Cookie
True. Very true, whoever or whatever he is – he does seem to know the Doctor and his tricks very well.
Paul
It makes me wonder if it’s a new thing he WILL encounter or if it’s something old he has encountered…
You can never tell with these timetravellers…
Cookie
Very true, I get the feeling there was more to Perkins than meets the eye as well.

There's something about Perkins...

There’s something about Perkins…

Matt K
It’s interesting how the mummy seemed to work on how it targeted people who had some problems mental and such.
Paul
True. Did that really ever get explained – why it went after the weakest?
Paul
I don’t think it was every explained – maybe it was just natural hunting instinct?
Cookie
Makes sense.
Paul
Possibly.
Matt K
I guess Gus had access to the staff and passenger backgrounds, or might be an A.I. and could sense it.
Paul
It did seem to be able to transfer the target once the Doctor used that scanner on the lady.
Meaning it was probably working from some other instruction that couldn’t be updated in the 66 seconds.
That bit was a bit MacGuffin-y.
Paul
Gus did say that it couldn’t be controlled though. I got the feeling the mummy was just following it’s own orders.
Cookie
From an ancient war.
Paul
Then I’m confused – why did it go after the Doctor instead, if technically he wasn’t the weakest?
I suppose maybe the creature got confused as to which entity was which…?
And it’s interesting how we’re dealt with the soldier theme again.
It’s another recurring theme of this series. But what does it mean?
Cookie
I get the feeling the soldier theme is paramount events yet to be seen.
Paul
Definitely foreshadowing…
Matt K
Looks like the Doctor might have had more secrets during the War Doctor Era, maybe Missy might be another Time Lord.
Paul
I did theorise in a previous discussion that she might be part of a Timelord court…
Danny and The Doctor - Friction isn't a strong enough description.

Danny and The Doctor – Friction isn’t a strong enough description.

Paul
At least the Doctor seemed to sympathise with the mummy soldier, rather than just outright hating it like he does with Danny Pink.
Paul
Very true. Although it does make me wonder whether that has something to do with the fact that theoretically, the mummy kind of had no choice in what it was doing.
Whereas human soldiers are more “willing”.
Paul
Yeah, it was as much of a victim as the people it was killing.
Paul
Exactly.
Matt K
Might be a possible preview of soldiers being unwillingly used.
Paul
That’s happened a few times in previous seasons.
Was it me, or was there reference to a “life extender” in the first bit with Perkins (Frank Skinner)?
Cookie
Yep there was indeed, it was the chair that the gran was sitting in.
Paul
Was it just hooked up to the Gran, or was it for the entire carriage?
Although at least the explanation they came up with made sense in that way…
Paul
I figured it was just the Gran rocking the life extender chair – she was over 100, after all. I guess it’s the future’s version of walking around with an oxygen tank or an IV drip.
Paul
Ah, fair enough.
Matt K
Wasn’t the Orient express mentioned at the end of series 5?

Cookie
Not that I remember, but it may have been.
Paul
When do you think it was mentioned?
Matt K
Right at the end after the wedding when the Doctor was about to leave.
Paul
Ooo, okay. Sounds like the invite has been kicking around for quite some time then.
How did we feel the murder mystery handled when it was put on its head?
I kinda of like the fact that most of the train and passengers were holograms and not real people.
Cookie
I liked the fact it was a setup, seemed to add a little more depth and deepened the whole mystery for me.
Matt K
It was quite a twist tricking us to make it feel like it was a proper express train.
Paul
I thought it was a pretty good twist. I certainly didn’t see it coming.
Matt K
But I found the train a little reused since they already did it with the Titanic.
Paul
Definitely. They do seem to recycle some of these ideas. A bit like the school episode, though at least they seem to have improved on it though.
Cookie
Practice makes perfect.
Paul
It does make me wonder about GUS and why it lured the Doctor there. He seems to be lured to places a lot in this season – like with the vault.
Hopefully it won’t be as damp a squib as the eye patch organisation.
Paul
I guess he just can’t resist a mystery – like Clara said, it’s basically an addiction…

But who's the addict?

But who’s the addict?

Matt K
Well this was was just a “last trip” treat with Clara or at least it was supposed to be.
Paul
But then, why did it take so long for him to get around to accepting the invite?
Cookie
Guess he finally had some time on his hands.
Matt K
But like you said she’s becoming addicted. I wonder if that might cause something at the Christmas special.
Paul
Well, it’ll either end in one of two ways – she’ll either walk away forever or die adventuring…
Cookie
That it will, all companions come to the end of the road.
Plus he seems a lot more curious in this incarnation.
Paul
True. In a way, despite him playing an old grumpy Doctor, he does seem to have retained his curiosity.
So any theories about the endgame of the season?
Paul
I’m guessing something about Missy and the Promised Land, but that’s about as much as I’m willing to put my money on!
Cookie
Not as such, I’ve got some ideas but no real theory as such.
Paul
Ideas?
Cookie
I’m thinking Perkins has more to do with Gus. He seemed to be watching the Doctor a lot more closely than the others. He may tie in with the promised land and missy.
Paul
Very true. I noticed that. And the ease at which he walked away from the Tardis and the Doctor…
Cookie
Exactly.
Matt K
He certainly left an impression on The Doctor I think.
Paul
This Doctor certainly seems to be fond of the techies. First Psi from “Time Heist” and now Perkins…
Paul
Looking at the themes of this season so far, we have eyes, soldiers, robots and The Promised Land…
And gears (although unsure if that’s more just a style for the Doctor)….
Matt K
And also a glimpse of The Doctor’s past as a child.
Paul
I think they’ve at least done well with the drama between the Doctor and Clara. She at least seems less of a shadow and more of an individual – even if they’ve sacrificed some of the logical aspects of the relationship.
Cookie
Definitely agree on that one.
Paul
I do like the idea of them being adrenaline junkies (to a certain extent). Gives it an interesting darker drive. It’ll also explain why we only ever see them when they run into problems….
Paul
I think the general writing of all the characters has been better this series – pretty much every episode has had a decent supporting cast, which wasn’t the case in the last series. Matt Smith’s Doctor pretty much had to carry that entire series himself.
Paul
I can kind of see that actually. Since Amy and Rory left (in spectacular fashion admittedly) the series does seem to have lost that spark…
Cookie
The dialogue between the characters has also been a lot stronger this season.
Matt K
The Doctor does seem to be meeting some very interesting characters this season.
Paul
Which is kind of interesting. The stories themselves seem to take a back seat to the drama between the characters, and each of the characters that appear just once seem to be getting more interesting. I do wonder if that’s by design (maybe to mount a defense on my Timelord court theory)…
So, to wrap up; any last words on the episode? How it went, what stuck with you, what you thought of any particular aspects?
Cookie
I really enjoyed this episode, it had a very strong story. Liked the whole mummy and 66 seconds aspect. It was a good episode, making the season even stronger as a whole.
Matt K
Well it was cool to see another remade machine in space, the mummy was a fair bit of a scare factor and the whole lab and Gus character was something.
Paul
I thought it was an effective and creepy episode, that had some great moments for the Doctor to showboat and a great supporting cast as well. Capaldi is growing from week to week, and his sheer bluntness and apparent callousness towards death is a treat to watch.
Paul
For me, the highlights were for the explanation behind some of the mummy lore, despite not really explaining some things, I liked the whole “phasing” thing. On the whole, I’m encouraged by a stronger, stubborn and more curt Doctor and hope that Capaldi’s carries on. Clara I feel kind of needs helping more – and she really needs to emphasise already established skills like working with computers instead of just being the traditional maternal shoulder to cry on for the characters they meet. On the whole, the episode was far better than the last episode and I hope this is a sign that things will continue on an upward trend.

What about you, readers? Did you pick up on anything? Did you enjoy this one, or was it as old and soiled as a Mummy’s bandages? Let us know, as always, via the comments below, on Twitter , Facebook and Google+ , or by tooting the horn of your nearest train.

That’s it from The Companion Piece , but we’ll be back next week when we will go all Link-like and become 2D – with a horrific twist. How will the Doctor deal with an attack on the third dimension? Find out, here, when the show sheds a dimension in Flatline.