Television: Doctor Who, "The Crimson Horror"

York 1893: the sounds of the TARDIS, accompanied by a crimson light . . . And the deaths of men, their skin equally crimson. One dead man's eye captures the image of The Doctor. Can The Doctor be the last thing this man saw?

Meanwhile, Winifred Gillyflower (Dame Diana Rigg) unveils Sweetville, an idyllic community free of horrors such as the one her daughter lived through when blinded by a raging, drunken husband. Said daughter feeds a crimson monster locked in garret. (Is it a garret? What is a garret, exactly?)

Vastra, Jenny, and Strax are on the case. Jenny discovers The Doctor is the monster. And he's suffering the worst sunburn ever. Jenny sticks him in a room filled with steampipes. Steampipes + sonic screwdriver = sauna?

Series of flashbacks to fill in story: The Doctor and Clara had discovered and then fallen victim to Gillyflower's process, which involves dipping people in a red, venomous, organic compound. They are "preserved," ostensibly against the coming Judgement Day.

Restored, The Doctor must find Clara, despite Jenny's protests that Clara died (back in that Christmas special, remember?). They find Clara under a glass dome, part of Gillyflower's (and her silent partner Mr. Sweet's) strange waxworks.

Jenny gets her Matrix on by fighting off a few baddies, Strax sweeps in with a lazer gun, they thaw Clara and . . .

Vastra explains that the red venom is a prehistoric parasite. Turns out Gillyflower plans to poison the air with it, hence hurrying Judgement along. And that Mr. Sweet is a prehistoric red leech attached to Gillyflower's chest.

The idea seems to be to wash the world clean with a rain of the venom and then restore the chosen few who have been preserved so that they may start over in the new Eden.

But of course Doctor & Friends stop things.

And then Clara's wards find pictures of her (online?) from various eras and with The Doctor. Busted! But Clara is left to wonder at the photo of her in Victorian London when they were in Victorian Yorkshire. And we're left to wonder at who took these pictures (did the submarine crew really stop for a Polaroid?) and posted them.

Oh, and the fainting guy was a cute, if rote, touch. (Rule of Threes? Check. Subversive tweak of gender expectations? Check.)

Okay, so this was the most coherent and most interesting story this season. Which isn't saying much because that wouldn't be terribly difficult to do—beating out the other episodes, that is. But why do they keep borrowing actors from Game of Thrones? There can't possibly be so few actors in the UK. And so I do continue to have an issue with the inner politics of production there.

And yes, "The Crimson Horror" sounds like a Sherlock Holmes adventure. But whatever.

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