April 21, 2024

Gabbing Geek

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Doctor Who “A Town Called Mercy”

The Doctor defends a small town in the Old West from an alien cyborg.

So, after watching this episode, and knowing Amy and Rory’s time as the Doctor’s companions is coming to a close very soon, I started to develop a theory about Amy that I will share when I get to her last appearance (small cameos aside).

But for now, it’s back to the Old West.

Yes, the TARDIS made a wrong turn again, ending up in a small town in the middle of the American desert, and the people there are trapped by an alien cyborg looking to kill “the alien doctor” that, it just so happens, is not the Doctor.  Sure, the townsfolk tried to push him out that way, but the town’s law enforcer, Marshall Isaac, put a stop to that nonsense right quick.

Wait, Isaac is Farscape lead Ben Browder?  Cool!  I always liked that guy.

Regardless, there’s another alien doctor hiding in town.  His people are inventors, he gave the town electricity a few years too early, and he cured a cholera epidemic not that long ago.  Naturally, the town wants to protect him.

He also was part of a group of scientists who developed weapons for when his people went to war, and that included the angry cyborg who doesn’t seem to remember his own name, suffered greatly, and can’t go home again.  Plus, he wasn’t the only “patient” to get that treatment.

Is this some kind of Old West Terminator?  Yes, it is.

However, the Gunslinger, as he is called, does have a code of his own and doesn’t want to kill anyone else.  He’s just trapped Doctor Jex in the town and is waiting for the people to hand him over.  Since Jex did the people favors and made their lives discernably better, like making sure they didn’t die of cholera, they’re reluctant to do so.

OK, so, what does the Doctor do when he learns all this?

He gets really angry and nearly tosses Jex out himself, particularly after Isaac is accidentally killed, and the only thing stopping the Doctor from disposing of a war criminal is Amy trying to get the Doctor to remember there’s always a better way.  She also says this is what happens when the Doctor travels alone for too long, a nice reminder that Amy and Rory are, as far as the Doctor is concerned, only occasionally companions and not living on the TARDIS all that much between episodes.

By the by, once Isaac dies, the Doctor becomes the town’s marshal and he names Amy his deputy.  Rory, when other people come for help, is addressed as a “you” like no one knows what to make of him, and his general somewhat annoyed reaction indicates he is very used that.

Now, there’s a lot to like in this episode, including the town undertaker routinely sizing the Doctor up for a coffin, and the Doctor mostly being himself, but as much as I have seen past Doctors grow angry…I am not sure I have ever seen this Doctor behave that angrily before.  Even when Amy was kidnapped and the Doctor put a team together to rescue her, he still never seemed to lose his temper.  To see the Doctor turn to a nearly murderous rage was more than a little unsettling.  It was a nice reminder that he can get mad, even if we’ve never seen it before.

But perhaps the anger thing that I liked the most was the episode never outright said why he was as angry as he was, and that would require knowing the character’s history.  Left unsaid, I think it is fair to say the Doctor is as mad as he is at Jex because, well, the Doctor himself did something like that once in the Time War, and it’s his biggest regret.  Sure, he says something about how he may rather face off against a Dalek, but I don’t recall a single moment where he sat down with Amy and/or Rory or even Jex and laid all that out.  Yes, war crimes should be one of his buttons especially since there’s the general feeling he’s committed a couple in his long life.

However, because Amy is around, the Doctor does revert back to his usual self and attempts to save everyone’s life.  The only thing stopping him is Jex blowing himself up because, well, he figures he deserves it.  The Gunslinger almost does the same, but the Doctor just suggests he can fight for peace as well as war, and after the time travelers leave in the TARDIS, well…there’s a super-advanced alien cyborg with a Marshall’s star on his poncho looking over that town.

But really, the Doctor grew angry.  Once again, he really needs people around him.