What a breath of fresh air, after two uncomfortable episodes.
Moffat mostly fails when it comes to character stuff. For one thing, Doctor Who is not primarily a character kind of show. When Davies developed Rose and Mickey and Donna, he did it as part of the adventure, not as a side track. With ‘Caretaker’ and ‘Moon,’ the adventure is the side track and the character development – weak and inadequate as it is – takes center stage.
‘Mummy on the Orient Express’ is a return to proper Doctor Who. It’s beautiful to look at, it’s scary, it’s fun, it brings in all sorts of interesting people and gives the Doctor lots of theatrical speeches. The music is fantastic and the in-jokes a delight. It’s also sharply clever; the Doctor solves the problem with his brain, without need for weapons, with a little help from the ordinary people around him, just as it should be. Capaldi is at his best in this episode.
Clara isn’t bad either, in spite of being relegated to second string. Her care for Maisie and her mixed feelings for the Doctor are reminiscent of some of Rose’s early adventures. However, after raging at the Doctor for lying to her and making her lie to Maisie, she turns around and tells the biggest lie of all, to the two people she supposedly cares for – and who supposedly care for her – the most of anyone in the universe.
Still, ‘Mummy’ remains a spectacular episode, easily the best of S8 and one of the best of the series as a whole.
I look forward to ‘Flatline,’ where Clara and Mathieson get to shine.