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A Town Called Mercy

ShowDoctor Who / Series VII / Episode 3
First Broadcast2012/09/22 - 19:30 (Link: ABC Details)
Related LinksDoctor Who Wiki Wikipedia
Previous EpisodeDinosaurs On A Spaceship
Next EpisodeThe Power Of Three

Doctor Who does Western (for the first time in a long time) and it's pretty good. Not quite hitting the heights, but a lot better than last week. In essence it's a morality tale, like many Westerns I suppose. Seeking to define the good guys and bad guys with some surprising twists.

This is a dense story that defies a quick summary. Read the Doctor Who Wiki article for the outline. There are so many themes: morality, justice, good vs evil, redemption all interwoven.

This clever tale is built around two Kahlers, Mas - the Gunslinger and Jes - the Doctor. The name of the latter is no accident. We are meant to compare both Doctors and see the similarities. As Isaac said, "you're both good men." Our Doctor struggles to know what to do with Kahler Jes - he has done both good and bad things. As has our Doctor (he's the last Time Lord for a reason). At first he wants to hand Jes over to the Gunslinger to pay for his crimes. But Amy brings him around with a powerful speech reminding him of what he'd taught her, that they have to better than the bad guys they come across. So he tries to save him, but Jes realises it would only be temporary and takes his own life to end the war for Mas. The latter left with no purpose decides to self-destruct, but the Doctor gives him back a purpose - keep the peace safe. And so Mercy is the town with no marshal, because they have their guardian angel.

The town's border of stone and wood, is a none too subtle metaphor for the Doctor crossing the line. It took Amy to bring him to his senses. She blames his behaviour on travelling alone for too long. It was Donna Noble that pointed out he needs someone to tell him when to stop. He almost went too far here.

A few interesting bits:

  • The Doctor is 1200 years old now. It appears that it's a long time between trips with the Ponds.
  • Amy begs off another trip with the odd/lame excuse of "our friends will notice we're ageing faster then them." Foreshadowing their departure, I presume.

A few quibbles:

  • We're straight into the story. When and where did the Doctor pick up the Ponds?
  • "Decimated half the planet." Seriously. Does no-one know the meaning of decimate.
  • Rory and Amy are still bit-parts. At least Amy had one key scene, but Rory just seems to be there to be the butt of a joke. What a waste.