Doctor Who goes all Wild West this week in this Toby Whithouse written and Saul Metzstein directed episode. The promo looked intriguing and promised a glimpse of the unforgiving side of the Doctor. The trio visit the town of Mercy where they find the town being harassed by an alien gunslinger who only wants one man, the town’s doctor Kahler Jex. It then is revealed that this man created the gunlinger, who had spent its life slaughtering people – after it had realised what it was doing it set out to find the individuals responsible for creating him, leaving him with one last man – Jex.
The episode looks visually stunning, as sunny Spain, doubles up for the American West and the director’s wide panned shots make the choice definitely worthwhile. The guest actors this week also put in strong performances: Ben Browder is charming and a sci-fi fan favourite (although I’ve never watched Farscape or Stargate) and Adrian Scarborough as Jex puts in a solid performance as what we find to be the true bad guy of the week. The character format has been seen before, although this character seems to have the ability to bring out the Doctor’s emotions much more – Matt Smith puts in a fantastic performance this week and shows the characters angry and unforgiving side beautifully. He’s intimidating and scary during the reveal of Jex’s past and his subsequent chasing him towards the gunslinger. The Doctor is perhaps the most unforgiving we have seen in the Matt Smith era, and it seems like his past has caught up with him as his talk with Amy reveals his hidden guilt’s over so many people’s deaths (and this will come up again in a different way in the next episode).
The end of episode brings about Jex’s death as he faces up to his past and self destructs his ship. It’s a nice ending to the character’s arc. It was also great to see the gunslinger redeemed at the end, as the town’s protector rather than something the town was frightened of.
Next episode, it focuses on the Pond’s ‘real life’ on Earth, and sees the return of Brian!
Isaac: You’re both good men, you just forget it sometimes. (A Town Called Mercy)