Doctor Who Season 7: 5 Questions About “A Town Called Mercy”

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.

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Comments

  • slafaive

    Also note that this was the second episode in a row where a character has said the name “the doctor” and we’re meant to think it’s referring to the Doctor but they meant a medical doctor. In “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship,” Solomon hears Rory say “the Doctor” and he responds as if he’s been waiting from the Doctor. In “A Town Called Mercy,” the cyborg says that he has one more target to go: the doctor.
    I’m not sure if this is a coincidence or if it’s going to lead to some identity issue with the Doctor, which wouldn’t be far fetched given that the Big Question supposedly plays a role this season.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Richard-Casey/623640256 Richard Casey

    A bad American accent? Gee, being British with Irish relatives, I have no idea what it’s like when a TV show uses fucking atrocious accents that don’t even sound a little bit like they should.

  • Guest

    no musical motiff this time around, but the Doctor did mention the Master – which is odd for “disconnected”,/”stand-alone” episodes. I think they just wanted to make each episode more accessible to new viewers so that they needn’t be as familiar with the series just to drop in and enjoy it.

  • Willow616

    Considering the horrible accents that are used in US shows to signify someone from Britain (either Artful Dodger or the Queen) I think this did a pretty good job. 

  • durkadurka

    Just because people died, even main characters of the episode, doesn’t mean the Doctor lost.  That’s been going on since the beginning.  It always affects the Doctor, and he’s seen many people die under his watch.  But it’s only a loss if their deaths are in vain, which they rarely are, because he makes sure their deaths always count for something. 

  • dayfan

     Nobody has mentioned that the Doctor said he’s 1200 years old? I thought that was significant. Also, the gay horse was funny.

  • Guest

    The horse was transgender, not gay. But hey.

  • ultraaman

    I picked up on that immediately, but after thinking about it I figured the extra 300 years came about from all the time he’d spent between the pockets of not traveling with Amy and Rory.  For them it was like a year here a few months there but for him it was 3 centuries – which would make sense since I srsly doubt he’d have such a change of heart after only 1 year.  Pure conjecture.

    How about a shout out for Ben Browder?!  

    I thought the voice over was unnecessary.  It either is foreshadowing from a yet to be seen character, or it was simply creative license to give the episode a different texture.  Either way, I was bored out of my mind with this episode. Amy and Rory were little more than plot devices, the struggle with the cyborg seemed to never end (I also was left feeling nothing for him or Jex), the ‘moral dilemma’ of the episode had no real texture or counter-argument – such as what is the drawback of having companions as opposed to just telling us the benefit – and I would have expected more frolicking from the Doctor in an Old West town.

    I also think no one should get caught up of the implication of the stand-alone episode trait this season.  I never took it to mean that there would be an absence of an overall narrative but rather that there would be no multi-part episodes. 

  • http://twitter.com/jonnyricers Jonny Rice

    We knew he aged from around 900 to 1103 between “The Impossible Astronaut” and “The Wedding of River Song”, so what’s another century between series?

    And a question to the more ardent Whovians: I don’t follow the comic book/novel spin-offs, but do these stories explore at all what 11 does in between his trips with the Ponds?

  • Fury

    the answer to question 1 is: you’re reading too much into it.

  • Juan

    Also with the fact that the doctor seems to have been erased from history in some way i think. or that’s been hinted at at least.

  • Juan

    Hints of Amy’s mother hood. Weeping angels. New York. the poster looks like it’s set in the 60s. I wonder who’s there in the 60s in New York. hmm….. :)

  • Oh Danny Boy

    I think thus far, there’s only been one Eleventh Doctor novel (Dark Horizons, I believe it’s called) that has a solo Eleven, minus the Ponds; they’re in every novel I have read, and they feature in both the American IDW comic book and the comic strip in Doctor Who Magazine.  It does seem a natural thing for the books/comics to do, though, doesn’t it?

  • Oh Danny Boy

    Yeah, but the footage shown of Times Square is unmistakably current-day New York.  Nice thought, though…!

  • thesnappysneezer

    I am starting to think that these episodes take place after the Ponds last apparent episode in a few weeks. The Doctor has lost them and he has gone back to spend some time with them. He is darker and ready to kill because of what happens to them in their future, his past.

  • Demoncat4

    myabe all the lost the doctor keeps going through is part of the set up for the big story for the golden aninversayr next year plus also part of the reason the doctor needs and makes sure to not be too long with out a companion. to try and let him learn to deal with all the loss he causes without meaning too and avoid getting so dark he becomes more evil then the master.

  • Lastnamecumbie

    Why did they have to kill Ben Browder ? lol Also Amy obviously has a baby which is River Song.

  • http://www.keepandshare.com/doc/4142005/the-aresian-saga-doctor-who Desariella

     I liked it. Did you notice the reoccurring themes again?

    1. Eggs — The ship looked like an egg.
    2. Christmas — The Doctor mentions his Christmas list
    3. Flickering lights – The “light” in the town flickers as the Doctor and team walk past.

    These three items have been in every epiosde so far.

  • jmac

    I wonder if these episodes aren’t happening out of order chronologically.  And what we’re going to find in the final one is that, sometime before this episode, Amy or Rory was harmed/killed by one of the Doctor’s old villains.  Someone he forgave or let get away. That would explain his desire for revenge/justice here, I’d say.  

  • http://www.keepandshare.com/doc/4142005/the-aresian-saga-doctor-who Desariella

    They could be. Remember “Every story has a beginning, a middle and an end. But not always in that order”

  • http://profiles.google.com/richjohnston Rich Johnston

    It’s not referencing Terminator. See Bleeding Cool’s swipe file on Monday…

  • NoirSon

    Actually while you can argue  the importance of its role, but the Triceratops that he befriended in Dinosaurs and Spaceships was also killed if you want to talk about the Doctor losing people he befriended in the last few episodes.
     

  • Scruffythomas1

    that was Ben browder from Farscape & Stargate that played Isaac & he’s american. that wasn’t fake at all. just thought i bring that up.

  • Juan

     What you’ve forgotten is the Weeping Angels’ other power from Blink…..

  • Todd

    I’ve watched a lot of classic Doctor Who and nearly every “American” sounds terrible (It’s not just Peri).  People who don’t hear an accent natively are just not going to be as aware of its legitimacy.  So really, being British or Irish doesn’t give you special “victim” status.  

  • http://lalomartins.info/ Lalo Martins

    We’re talking about the voice-over. And that’s the point — the actual actors were Americans, so the voice-over sounded even more off.

  • RK

    even the programme titles are getting darker with each episode so far. I’m not sure we are in for more light, but rather more darkness. It seems part II of season 7 is going to be the build up to the 50th anniversary celebrations but I feel we might be seeing the build-up to the heralded ‘Fall of the 11th on the fields of Trenzalore’.

  • Frank Shelleby

    As an American, I found the accent passable for the period and location. Keep in mind that the common American accent is only about 50 years old, coming to
    popularity with broadcasters such as Dan Rather. Our speech is a combination of many assimilated cultures, with proper British English still holding a big influence.

  • legionquest

    This was THE worst episode of the show since it returned. Not just this series, but since it came back. Just wow. The Doctor was unlikeable, Amy was, as ever, the character who just wont shut up, the villain was awful, the guest star died too fast, the message of the story was weak and pointless and the whole idea of the guy who wanted to not die, let his friend die, put the town in danger, caused all the stress and then blew himself up to make a heavy handed anti-war responsibility point was just weak. It was awful. It’s only redeeming feature was the preview for next week!

  • Rogue Fan

    Don’t forget that we also had another reference to the Doctor’s Christmas list. I’m also wondering if it was deliberate that the Doctor mentioned that he is now 1200 years old.  I forget how old he said he was in the episode from last season where he supposedly gets killed, but I think along with the mentions of Rory’s age from last week and other subtle hints that we’re seeing the adventures in this season out of sequence. Last week, we got several hints that something really bad is about to happen to Rory/Amy, specifically Amy, but this time it was more business as usual. Does that mean that “A Town Called Mercy” happens before “Dinosaurs in Space” and maybe even “Asylum of the Daleks”?

  • SteveMcSheffrey

     Forget those questions.  Mine is ‘is this the worst episode of New Who yet?’  The only way it coudl have dragged more is if you tied it to someone’s bumper…