The Blue Box Blog

Emma Lou's adventures in Doctor Who fandom

Doctor Who: “The God Complex” Review

Posted by emmahyam on September 17, 2011

WARNING: THIS POST CONTAINS SPOILERS

Well, where on Earth do I start with this one?

After the triumph that was “The Girl Who Waited” last week I wondered what could possibly be store for us this week, on the face of it “The God Complex” is a straight forward and classic a story as Doctor Who gets. Trapped in a weird place with his faithful companions and a bunch of hapless/brave canon fodder characters The Doctor must find a way out and save the day, Doctor Who fans even have a name for this type of story “The Base Under Siege” and we’ve been watching them for 45 years now (on and off), so really this should have held no surprises.

Then once again the production team on this series subverted our expectations, theres so much to unpack from this story I think that The God Complex will pass into fan legend for its pick-apart-ability. The discussion of the concept of faith in this episode was something that will keep people far more intelligent and more qualified than myself going for a while I think. For me it wasn’t a criticism of religious faith, it was an criticism of the blindness of faith; “whatever goes wrong *insert belief here* will make it alright”, problem is, sometimes it just won’t. Nearly everything you would put money on happening in this episode is turned on its head as your focus is drawn away from the usual monster/companion shenanigans and forces you to really think about The Doctor’s nature. In a way it reminded me of “The Waters of Mars” as The Doctor is shown a reflection of himself, but where in The Waters of Mars The Doctor succumbs to arrogance here The Doctor opts for humility. He admits to all his failings, his destruction of Amy’s childhood, his interference with her marriage and his habit of letting her down. Did you notice how the door number of Amy’s door was the number 7? That was the age she was when she first encountered The Doctor and he didn’t come back like promised. I liked the way the parallels were drawn between the Minotaur stuck in a huge, sprawling maze feeding off the people trapped within and The Doctor trapped in his impossibly big TARDIS taking along people because they flatter his ego. It also brought back memories of “The Curse Of Fenric” where The Doctor destroys Ace’s trust in him, albeit in a far more unpleasant way (all of those people complaining that Doctor Who has gone ‘too dark’ go check that out, and that was 22 years ago). The post 2005 series view of The Doctor is that of “The Lonely God” and thats very much who were left with at the end of The God Complex as The Doctor forges on, alone again.

The performances in this episode were up to the high standard of this whole series, David Walliams who could have well overshadowed the whole affair was excellent and his character was also a neat subversion of expectations, I also loved Rita as played by Amara Karan, I’m sad that (seemingly) we wont see any more of her. Matt Smith was the star of the show in this episode, his speech to Amelia being particularly effective. I also loved the design and direction of the episode, at time recalling “The Shining” with its long gazes down corridors. The humour on display despite the heavy themes on show were both welcome and genuinely funny which contrasted with some brilliantly creepy moments.

To sum up I thought that The God Complex was a great little story and one that Doctor Who fans will be discussing for years to come, I mean after all, just what was behind door number 11…..?

 

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One Response to “Doctor Who: “The God Complex” Review”

  1. Great review!

    I don’t think I was as positive about the episode as you though. I think the biggest problem in the episode was that it was too easy for the Doctor to take Amy’s faith away from her.

    But so many of the problems in the narrative of this episode stem directly from the writers having no idea of Amy as a character, as I discuss in more detail here:

    http://theoncominghope.blogspot.com/2011/09/doctor-who-god-complex-aka-characters.html

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