Doctor Who S07x03 – A Town Called Mercy

 

This week’s episode of Doctor Who, written by Toby Whithouse, isn’t neccessarily a misstep, it’s just the weakest episode of Series 7, sure there have been only 3, but this one just doesn’t fire on all thrusters.

The concept is fun enough, the Doctor (Matt Smith), Amy (Karen Gillan) and Rory (Arthur Darvill) get a chance to step into the old west. Filmed on location State-side, the episode looks epic, and the story is a good idea, it just doesn’t completely connect.

Our trio arrive on the outskirts of a town called Mercy, a small frontier town that has a line of lumber and rocks surrounding it. We learn that the town is under threat by someone known only as the Gunsllinger (Andrew Brooke) who is seeking out an alien doctor.

Despite the townsfolk attempting to toss the Doctor out of town to deliver him to the Gunslinger, who is a cyborg, we learn from the town Marshall, Isaac (Ben Browder of Farscape and Stargate SG-1) that there actually is an alien doctor in the town, hiding, Kahler Jex (Adrian Scarborough).

The Doctor learns that despite all the good Jex is done in the town, serving as their surgeon, he’s got a past, a war criminal and the Gunslinger is in fact his creation.

Jex is a war criminal, and the Doctor has to figure out what to do with him, how justice and morality is best served.

It’s an interesting dilemma, and that would have been more to my liking, if we had’ve focussed more on that, exploring it.

There’s a scene when the Doctor practically explodes in anger, and though it’s justified, I would have rather seen a slow burn before the explosion. I would have liked to see a build up to it. Still, he makes a bold decision, and almost hands Jex over, seeing it as putting the victims first for a change, instead of trying to find a way out for all involved. It also sees a big moment for the Doctor, because he draws a gun, and that’s something that rarely happens, because as a rule, he doesn’t believe in them. Which is why the righteous anger he has would have been so important to see building up, and much like Donna (Catherine Tate) did, Amy reins him back in.

But it is a fair point, the concept of justice, paying for ones crimes, but as he points out later, violence for violence only extends it, it doesn’t end it.

The story rockets towards it’s conclusion, allowing the Doctor to become the town’s Marshall, and have a showdown at high noon with the Gunslinger. And while there are some fun moments, overall, it just doesn’t seem to have the level of fun that Asylum and Dinosaurs had.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a good serious sci-fi story, and this could have been that. But instead of dwelling on the good that someone evil can do, and at what point they’ve paid for their crimes, it doesn’t get the time and attention it needs.

Next week, with only two episodes left before the long break until the Christmas holiday, one of which sees the departure of the Ponds, things slide to focus on Amy and Rory, and the choice that lays before them in… The Power of Three.

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