Doctor Who: “Mummy on the Orient Express” and Unanswered Questions


S08xE08 “The Mummy on the Orient Express”

In the eighth episode of series 8, we get a pretty decent monster-of-the-week mystery, fabulous costuming and lovely music that reminded me why this show reaches across generations and captures the hearts and minds of so many different types of people. Reminiscent of an Agatha Christie murder mystery, this story poses more questions than it answers, and we see the Doctor doing what he does best; saving people, hunting things, the Timelord business.

Spoilers ahead, sweetie!

The Changeable Companion

Well, Moffat fooled us again (or did he?). Clara is back in the TARDIS, after a few weeks away from the Doctor that, of course, we do not see. While Clara’s relationship with the Doctor seems to be solid, the episode starts off as a sort of “last fling” for the pair. The lines are a bit blurry as to what kind of relationship Clara shares with the Doctor, with Danny reminding her that the Doctor isn’t her boyfriend, while Maise recognizes the two share something special. In my opinion, this storyline is a bit overdone and I’m wondering why the “they are definitely NOT love interests” plot point keeps popping up. Even at the end, when the Doctor lands on a planet that looks suspiciously like the one Ten and Rose traveled to in “New Earth”, the “couple-vibe” is strong. So are they or aren’t they? Why is there so much underlying tension around this topic? Does this have anything to do with Missy wanting to keep the Doctor and Clara together? I hope that there are no love confessions or wayward glances planned for series 8, because I don’t think I can stomach that at this point in the Doctor’s narrative, but it is interesting to speculate.

Although Clara lets the Doctor know she intends this to be her last trip with him, it turns out the Doctor might have known that something strange was happening on the Orient Express. Enter the Foretold, a supernatural being that can only be seen by those who are about to die at it’s hand. On the train are scientists, professors, doctors and specialists who subsequently find out from Gus the creepy computer that the train is really a controlled setting in which they are meant to analyze and explain the Foretold to an unknown entity, or die trying. It isn’t unusual for a random villain to come along in Doctor Who, but what is strange is that the Doctor does not even try to find out who has held the passengers hostage and allowed them to be killed by the Foretold. The Doctor isn’t one to just let the bad guy go, although he was in a hurry to save the day. So who was Gus? This makes me wonder about the Doctor’s half-truths and what secrets he may be keeping.

Rule #1

When Maise calls the Doctor a liar as he describes picnicking on along-long planet, it is uncomfortable and embarrassing. We know he’s a liar, but when she points out Rule #1, we are defensive and uncomfortable because outsiders are not supposed to see on the other side of the curtain. When the Doctor asks Clara to lie and we discover that he was the one really lying and, therefore, Clara was telling the truth, we see her opinion of the Doctor shift. Then, once again, he saves the day and she decides to travel with him. It begs the question, why all the wibbley-wobbley bullshit? There are a number of mysteries in this episode besides how to defeat the Foretold, which may be a Red Herring in the overarching narrative of series 8. I’m just going to list the “right questions” below and let you sort them out.

  • Did those who saw the Foretold end up in The Promised Land?
  • Was the entire experience a ruse to keep Clara with the Doctor?
  • Did the Doctor land the TARDIS on the “New Earth” and, if so, why?
  • Why is a romantic relationship between Clara and the Doctor being questioned/denied so intensely?
  • Will we come back to this story and find out who controls Gus?

Can you think of anything I’ve missed? Let me know in the comments below.


Your friendly neighborhood Wholigan