After last weekend's "Dinosaurs on A Spaceship," where else could the newly-high-concept-centric Doctor Who go, but cyborg killing machines in the Old West? Unsurprisingly, we have five questions about "A Town Called Mercy."
Were We Meant to Contrast Two Different Eras of American Culture?
Am I the only person who thought that the Gunslinger was a representative of 1980s pop culture dropped back into Old West mythology? The point of view shots seemed so specifically referencing The Terminator that it's hard to see beyond that kind of collision of different eras of American heroic fiction, but I'm left unsure what the metacommentary behind them meeting actually was. That the anti-hero wasn't that far away from the hero of olden days? That no-one is beyond the ultimate promise of America, to start over? (After all, Arnold Schwarzenegger's Terminator got that opportunity in the second installment…) Something else…?
Is The Doctor's Prison His Morality?
Kahler-Jex's assertion that the Doctor's "prison" is his morality was an odd moment, especially in an episode that gleefully displayed that the Eleventh Doctor - even more than the Tenth, perhaps - is more morally complex (and more morally dark?) than you may expect. Amy may push the idea that he's gone this way because there haven't been companions around to pull him back from the brink, but I'm not convinced by that argument (Rory, after all, was pushing for Jex to face the music even more than the Doctor, surely). I suspect that the Doctor's true prison is his need for companionship, because without that, he's lost as sea; he needs input from others in order to define who he is, especially as he is (literally) constantly becoming a new person periodically. That's why Amy's words had such an effect.
Do We Now Know Why Amy and Rory Leave The Doctor?
I'm not referring to the teaser for next week - although it looks as if "The Power of Three" will bring the nature of Amy and Rory's relationship to the Doctor to a head - but the line about their friends wondering why they would grow old faster than everyone else was an interesting one. Unlike every other companion in the show's history, Amy and Rory really are trying to have it all - endless adventure and a real life to relax in between life-threatening escapades. Will they simply find themselves wanting more of the latter and less of the former as they grow old? It's a nice thought, in part because it suggests an unusual happy ending for the two as companions - and also leaves the door open for later reappearances as the actors, writers and whoever see fit, which would be nice. But also…
Will Amy Get To Be A Mother Again?
The exchange between Amy and Jex about her sadness over being a mother seemed like foreshadowing, especially when you add it to "Asylum of The Daleks"' explanation for Amy and Rory's split. I keep coming back to the title of the next episode: "The Power of Three." Somehow, Amy and Rory are going to have another child, aren't they? Of course, maybe this is wishful thinking, especially in light of the next subject...
Is It Important That The Doctor Keeps Losing?
Think about it: Oswin couldn't be rescued. Isaac and Jex both died this week. And even last week, the trader ended up dying; yes, he was a bad guy, but still: Every death lessens the Doctor, somehow, doesn't it? I find it an odd thing, but maybe not necessarily an intentional thing, that every episode so far this season has involved the death of an important character. I know we're supposed to be in the "all disconnected, standalone episodes" season, but still: I can't believe that all of this death isn't going to end up preying on the Doctor's mindset as the season goes on. He needs a "clean" win - or at least some happy news - soon, doesn't he? Even with the more complex, more grey morality, there needs to be some light, right…?
Oh! And, let's have an extra, bonus question for this week:
Was That The Worst American Accent We've Had on Doctor Who For Quite Some Time?
I couldn't resist, because the voice over was clearly not the work of an American. I wonder if it was added far after the shooting for the episode, as some kind of last minute redo of the episode's structure (Certainly, I think it felt somewhat tacked on and unnecessary, but I can imagine the powers that be may have thought that it clarified what happened at the end to the Gunslinger), but either way: That accent was very unconvincing, especially considering that all of the other Americans on the show had been… you know, actually American. Better luck next time, please.