Last week, the Doctor and Clara explored the inner recesses of the good S.S TARDIS. This week – a Victorian-era world domination plot.
The episode begins in Yorkshire, 1893, with a young couple (Edward & Evie) standing in front of a mysterious, pulsing red door. Edward heads through the door, promising to return, but old Mrs Gillyflower suddenly confronts Evie as her partner can be heard screaming from beyond the red door – dead. As all good mysteries should start. In the mortuary afterward, the sheet is pulled back to reveal Edward, his face contorted in a silent scream and his entire body bright red like a lobster, or at the least a very bad sunburn.
Edward’s brother visits our favourite Victorian crime-fighting interspecies lesbian couple, Madame Vastra and Jenny, reporting that he managed to take an optigram of his brother’s eye – that is, the belief that the eye can hold an image of the last thing it sees after death. Vastra believes that it is a superstition, but once they discover that the Doctor’s face was the last thing Edward saw, the game is on. Vastra, Jenny and our old friend Commander Strax decide to try to infiltrate Mrs Gillyflower’s organization, and do this by Jenny creeping into Mrs Gillyflower’s sermon, who is preaching about the end of the world; she also reveals her daughter, Ada, who had been blinded. Jenny signs up for ‘Sweetville’, a new town where Mrs Gillyflower guarantees that they shall be shielded from the upcoming apocalypse. We all know at this point that there’s something freaky going on at Sweetville, and Jenny is determined to find out what.
Jenny sneaks in with a little help from her new friend Abigail, and finds a room that Ada had secretly been keeping the Doctor in – and he’s been infected with this Crimson Horror too! He’s still alive, though, and manages to sonic himself better again. They discover that Gillyflower has been using some ancient poison from Vastra’s time to preserve all of her chosen few people in Sweetville, the Doctor and everyone who had died red were the rejects. The Doctor reveals that Clara is alive and that it’s ‘complicated’, while Strax gets a little help from a boy named Thomas Thomas (more commonly known as TomTom), who gives him directions to Sweetville. The Doctor and Jenny find Clara preserved in a glass case, and smash her out to fix her like the Doctor previously did to himself. However, as Clara is being reverted back to her normal self, they are attacked by what appear to be supermodels, and Jenny, the little badass, whips off her dress to reveal her tight leather ensemble and beats quite a few of them up until Strax and Vastra come in to save the day.
Clara is back to normal and the three Victorians are quite confused, but nevertheless follow the Doctor’s plan. Gillyflower rejects her daughter Ada after finding out that she had been keeping the Doctor secretly locked up, and instead moves on with her world domination plan – to launch the poison high into the atmosphere and kill the rest of the world off, so her chosen few can emerge from their preserved state and into a ‘new world’. She also reveals that her ‘husband’, the mysterious and silent Mr Sweet, is actually some freaky alien dude that’s stuck to her chest, giving her the poison that she’s been using. Ada overhears it all and attacks her mother, who then pulls a gun on her and goes to boot up the secondary launch unit after Clara destroys the first with a chair. The rocket is launched, but it’s revealed that Jenny and Vastra had taken out the poison from the rocket, and Strax has them all covered with his gun. The rocket explodes in the air, and in a fit of rage, Mrs Gillyflower shoots at Strax, who shoots back, and she falls to her death.
Mr Sweet crawls off her chest, and while the Doctor ponders what to do with it, Ada violently bashes its head in with her cane – seems like everything’s all sorted! It cuts to the next morning as the Doctor and Clara leave; Ada decides to do something good with her life, and Jenny, Vastra and Strax are still confused as to how Clara is alive (who isn’t?). The Doctor sends Clara home for a while, and she discovers that the kids she babysits have discovered her photos throughout time and know that she’s a time traveller.
The Crimson Horror by the delightfully evil Mark Gatiss was extremely interesting, hilarious with good pacing, and didn’t get us any closer to discovering who the heck Clara is. It was a little creepy and a tad predictable, but overall a great episode that gave us an insight into the life and times of Jenny, Vastra and Strax. Tune in next week for Nightmare in Silver.