DOCTOR WHO 6.11 ‘The God Complex’

 The Doctor faces some disturbing truths when he and his companions are trapped in an alien prison.

Blair Marnellby Blair Marnell

Episode Title: "The God Complex"

Writer: Toby Whithouse

Director: Nick Hurran


In a 1980s style hotel, a young police woman named Lucy Howard (Sarah Quintrell) makes a final entree into her journal as she relates the fate of her fellow prisoners held in the hotel after being faced with a room containing their greatest fears. Lucy has the uncontrollable urge to say "praise him" and smile as an alien creature approaches her. Later, the Doctor (Matt Smith) inadvertently brings his companions, Amy Pond (Karen Gillan) and Rory Williams (Arthur Darvill) to the hotel via his TARDIS while trying to find an alien world where the inhabitants are 600 feet tall. Instead, the Doctor is immediately impressed by the hotel's authentic interior despite its alien origins.

The Doctor and his companions are soon confronted by Rita (Amara Karan), Howie (Dimitri Leonidas) and an alien named Gibbis (David Walliams) who initially assume that the Doctor and his friends are part of the hotel's tricks. Rita quickly realizes the truth and her grasp on the situation and relative calm moves the Doctor to mockingly fire Amy in favor of Rita. The hotel survivors bring the Doctor to meet one other human: a man named Joe (Daniel Pirrie) who is tied up in a dinning hall and surrounded by eerie, laughing dummies. The Doctor tries to reach Joe's mania,  but he seems to revere the creature being sent to destroy him. Unwilling to abandon Joe, the Doctor has him wheeled along on a cart as they attempt to retreat to the TARDIS.

However, the rooms of the hotel have shifted and the TARDIS is no longer where it used to be. While exploring the hotel rooms, Howie finds a room full of beautiful girls who mock him mercilessly. In another room, Rita is confronted by her disapproving father and Amy walks into a room filled with Weeping Angels. Even the Doctor is afraid of the Angels, but he realizes that they aren't real. The Doctor catches a glimpse of the alien beast (which resembles a Minotaur) as it goes by, but he is unable to save Joe from being killed by the beast… even though his body is unmarked by injury. 

The Doctor bonds with Rita as they share their theories over what is happening. Amy finds Lucy's journal and her last entree causes the Doctor to believe that the alien Minotaur is feeding on its victims' greatest fears. They also find that Howie has now been overcome by the same "praise him!" fanaticism that overtook Joe. Intending to save Howie and trap the Minotaur, the Doctor lures the beast into a different room while Howie sings its praises further away. Although the Minotaur can only speak in a series of grunts, the Doctor understands his words and learns that the beast can't stop himself from feeding. 

Hoping to save himself, Gibbis frees Howie and allows him to offer himself to the Minotaur, dying just as Joe had. Rita is the next to fall under the Minotaur's sway and she runs away from the Doctor rather than lose her faith and her life in front of him. While contemplating their next move, the Doctor realizes that the Minotaur is converting the faith of its victims into something that it can consume. And its next intended victim is Amy. Attempting to get away, Amy runs into a room with her greatest fear: her younger self, Amelia Pond (Caitlin Blackwood) waiting for the Doctor to return on the first night that they met.

To save Amy's life, the Doctor breaks her faith in him by confessing that he brought her with him to be adored and that he robbed her of her childhood. The Minotaur enters the room to claim her, but the Doctor's words reach Amy and the beast staggers out and collapses. The hotel walls and floors fade away to reveal the inside of an automated alien prison. As the Minotaur lies dying, the Doctor translates his last words about death being a release for a creature wandering in space soaked in the blood of the innocent. And then the creature makes sure that the Doctor knows that he wasn't talking about himself.

Disheartened, the Doctor drops off Gibbis and returns Amy and Rory to Earth, where he has left them large home of their own and a very expensive car. He promises Amy that he will return at some point, but states that he's leaving to save both of their lives before they get killed just by following him around. Amy asks him to tell River to visit them before he takes off, leaving his companions behind to start their new lives.


There is no way that this is the last we'll see of Amy and Rory, but it's such an effective goodbye that it's hard to picture their eventual final departures matching the tone of the last scene of the episode. If this was really the end of Amy and Rory's time on this series, it would have been a good way to out. And it would have even fit in with the glimpse of their future selves last season (which will probably come up again soon).

The last two episodes of "Doctor Who" have impressively made relatively low budget installments into compelling stories. The relationship of Amy and Rory was tested in last week's "The Girl Who Waited," but the sense of finality from the Doctor and Amy in this episode gave it a greater dramatic weight. It's surprising that this wasn't handled in an episode written by Steven Moffat himself.

It also feels like a chance was missed to pass on the companion torch to Amara Karan's Rita; who seemed like a very good fit for the Doctor and the series. Maybe we need to coin the term "companion-bait" for characters who seem destined for a longer shelf life than they actually get. Howie wasn't quite as effective, but his fears were very relatable. I'm not sure what the point was of including Gibbis in the episode, as his alien race seems to have been given the extremely exaggerated stereotype instincts of the French: surrender and accept oppression quickly. Gibbis doesn't even pay any price for releasing Howie so the monster can kill him. Additionally, Gibbis has no role in the resolution of the story, making his inclusion in the script questionable.  

Aside from the Doctor and Amy (and the Doctor and Rita), the other interesting dynamic was between the Doctor and Rory, who had clearly already decided to leave the TARDIS with Amy before the start of this adventure. It would have been nice if "The God Complex" had directly referenced the events of last week's episode as a precursor for this, but it still worked as an unspoken reason. There's always been a certain friendly antagonism between the Doctor and Rory, even at the end when the Doctor does an imitation of Rory's voice while giving him his favorite car. Even though Amy married Rory, there still seemed to be a competition between the two men for her affections and attention. If anything, this episode proved once again that Rory won her heart and the Doctor captured her imagination.

Caitlin Blackwood's silent return as the young Amelia Pond was a nice surprise and a great way to illustrate how the Doctor saw Amy as a child. The intercuts between Karen Gillan and Blackwood during the Doctor's speech were well done and it felt like an epic moment within the "Doctor Who" mythology.

As a design, I enjoyed the alien Minotaur, but it was his last words for the Doctor that gave him his most powerful scene… which was based entirely on Matt Smith's delivery of those words. "The God Complex" was one of the strongest episodes of the season and it bodes well for the last two episodes of the year.

Crave Online Rating: 9 out of 10.