Late Night Review – Dr Who 7.3 A Town Called Mercy
After last week’s thoroughly disappointing filler episode, Dinosaurs on a Spaceship, this week saw a wonderful return to form for the Doctor (and Ponds) on par with season opener, Asylum of the Daleks.
Western episodes can be tricky things to handle, though Science-fiction series have a much better track record than most other TV formats when it comes to homaging the Leone style. [Firefly being the obvious choice, though Red Dwarf‘s sixth season episode, Gunmen of The Apocalypse did win an Emmy.] However, the key to this episode lay, not in the action sequences, nor in Andrew Brooke‘s touching performance as ‘The Gunslinger’; but rather, in the emotional turmoil created in the Doctor by the presence of another stranger in Mercy, who is running from a murky past intent on killing him.
For those fans worried that this was going to be another gimmicky filler – like Dinosaurs… or The Curse of the Black Spot – you have nothing to fear. This episode delivers on all levels. The western tropes are there, but not overdone. The Doctor runs the full gamut of emotions and veers dangerously towards very un-Doctorly behavior. Amy gets to put the Doctor back on course – ‘See, this is what happens when you travel alone for too long. Well listen to me…’. And Rory gets to run around as only Rory can.
Needless to say, everything is resolved in typical, unconventional style. But the episode contributes towards the series’ arc nicely with the, aforementioned, exchange between Amy and the Doctor further emphasising the importance of the Doctor’s companions. The fact that we, the audience, know that the Pond’s are leaving soon (and not necessarily in a happy way) lends certain moments a further weight that reaches beyond the confines of this episode.
This is an excellent episode that fully lives up to the promise shown for this season by, Asylum of the Daleks.