The Doctor: I see “keep out” signs as suggestions rather than orders. Like, “Dry Clean Only”.
By Will Barber – Taylor
The Doctor, Rory and Amy arrive in the mid-west of America in a town called Mercy. They soon discover that the town is under attack from a gunslinger and that the local sheriff is protecting an alien doctor from harm. The man seems perfectly harmless until The Doctor discovers the truth of the alien doctor, Kahler-Jex’s past.
“A Town Called Mercy” is aired in the shadow of The Doctor’s previous outing to the Wild West, “The Gun Fighters” (1966); unfortunately, it was not so good. So, as you can imagine, this reviewer was not exactly about to jump up and down with joy at another western. However, I was proved very wrong.
Unlike “The Gun Fighters”, “A Town Called Mercy” was excellent. The writer, Toby Whithouse wrote an episode which was far superior to the majority of Wild West stories. He offered us a Doctor Who story set on the American Frontier which did not have any clichés in it at all. Whithouse had taken a period of history that has been awfully stereotyped and made it more real, less cardboard cut-out. We really do believe in the characters of The Marshall, Issac (Ben Browder) and Abraham, (Garrick Hagon). This means that the plot flies along quickly and at a good pace so as to keep the audience intrigued. The theme of mercy was demonstrated almost as a dichotomy of how humans behave towards each other. We witnessed The Doctor when he does not give mercy in contrast to Issac showing us that every human being should show mercy. Indeed, the whole story is something we have not seen for a long time: a very moral story. Is this good or bad? Only time can tell. Should we follow The Doctor’s code or maybe just stick to our own idea of morality?
Matt Smith’s portrayal of The Doctor is central to this story. The anger he feels against Kahler-Jex is played very believably by Smith. In a way we almost feel compelled to agree with The Doctor, yet, as in the case with Solomon (Dinosaurs on A Spaceship, last week’s episode) this feels out of character for The Doctor. The scene where Amy has to remind The Doctor of his own moral code is played excellently both by Gillan and Smith and beautifully illuminates both their acting talents. The fact that, episode by episode, The Doctor is getting darker is intriguing and could be leading up to the ultimate end of the Ponds.
“A Town Called Mercy” has been the best episode of series seven so far; it mixes morality with gun fights in a fun way but not in a flippant manner. The advice which we must take from this episode is that we should respect people’s ideas and beliefs, including horses called Susan.
The Power of Three