So far, the new series of Doctor Who has been 0-1 tied 1. I can’t say I had much hope for this third episode, A Town Called Mercy. It takes place in the American Old West, and while the BBC is well known for doing period drama well, this is one period they don’t have a handle on.
The Doctor is trying to take Rory and Amy to Mexico to see the Day of Dead festival, and instead they arrive just outside a small town in the American west called Mercy. Surrounding the town is a strange circle of stones and rock, like a barrier or boundary. Things get stranger when they go into town and find they are using electric lights. While the Doctor is thrilled, the inhabitants aren’t and try to throw the Doctor out just as the Gunslinger, a cyborg arrives. He is after Kahler-Jax, and alien doctor, and while the town’s situation is getting dire, the town’s Marshall is reluctant to hand Jex over. The Doctor, Amy, and Rory become involved in helping the town.
I didn’t really care for this episode, mainly for a plot device that Russell T. Davies introduced back in the second Christmas special The Runaway Bride. If the Doctor doesn’t have a human companion, he has no moral compass or control. I have a real problem with this. It implies that the Doctor would become a raving megalomaniac like the Master without his human companions to rein him in. This comes up in this episode when the Doctor throws Jex out for the Gunslinger and Amy talks him down, saying “This is why you shouldn’t travel alone.” The Doctor may be alien, but that doesn’t mean he’s devoid of compassion or emotion. The reason he’s so angry is that Jex hits a nerve with him. At least that’s how I saw his reaction and why it was so extreme.
There weren’t a lot of memorable scenes in this episode. The best was when he borrowed the preacher’s horse. He was told the horse’s name was Joshua, and the Doctor replied the horse prefers Sally and to respect his life choice. I actually laughed out loud at that line. The Doctor’s talking to animals and actually appearing to understand them is new with the series reboot, but I don’t mind this change. Matt Smith is very convincing when he talks to them.
With this third episode, the countdown to Amy and Rory’s departure continues as next week is the penultimate episode. While it’s been nice to have a married couple in the TARDIS, I think it’s definitely time they move on. The Doctor needs a new full-time companion, not the part-timers the Ponds have become.