Written by Toby Whithouse
Directed by Nick Hurran
The Doctor, Amy, and Rory become trapped in a 1980s-style hotel with rooms full of fears and a minotaur stalking all inhabitants.
A few months ago I was loving The Rebel Flesh / The Almost People, until that story was marred by a cliffhanger that was dictated by the story arc. Matthew Graham was told to write a story about avatars, and I believe he delivered some excellent material. Unfortunately, the ideas and concepts raised by that story were undone by the need to reveal that Amy was a Flesh. So I repeat, an excellent story, ruined by the arc. In The God Complex, I can see a similar mandate, a need to further the character arc of Amy, Rory, and The Doctor (and by extension, the overall plot-arc). In The Girl Who Waited, The Doctor effectively destroyed any faith Rory would have had in him, and now The Doctor destroys Amy’s faith in him. I felt that the end of The Girl Who Waited signposted the end of the Amy and Rory as companions. Then The God Complex does the same, and even takes things a step farther by having The Doctor drop Amy and Rory back on Earth. The was another story with a mandate to support the arc, a mandate to provide a reason for Amy and Rory to leave the TARDIS. Honestly, The God Complex, and otherwise mediocre story, sold the ending. It effectively set-up the final scenes between The Doctor and Amy. It seems a shame to me that the more interesting Rebel Flesh/Almost People was ruined by the ending, while so-so God Complex so thoroughly enhanced the ending. Is it possible that Matthew Graham did too good a job?
But the problem is that I don’t buy it. As moving as I found Amy and Rory’s departure, I don’t buy for a moment that we won’t see them again. The script even supports it with The Doctor saying he is a “bad penny.” So this either means Amy and/or Rory will appear in one-off adventures as necessary (but not as companions) or we are being emotionally manipulated for some series finale (or series seven) revelation. There is a difference from not knowing what to expect from episode to episode (because the show can go anywhere in time and space) and not trusting the show to be telling us the truth. Steven Moffat seems to glory in showing the audience something, then revealing that we didn’t see what we thought we saw, which is fine in and of itself, but at the moment I don’t trust the show very much at all. I feel like I need to keep any excitement or emotion in check for fear that what I just saw will be undone one or two weeks later. The episode provided a good exit for Amy and Rory, if not rather abrupt. But I don’t trust that it was an exit. It wouldn’t be the first time Cymru-Who did this.
I want to come up with some positives about the episode. Honestly, the standout moment for me was when The Doctor was talking to the minotaur, who just wanted the routine of hunting and killing to end. The actor in the suit, combined with the effects of the monster, really conveyed a feeling of weariness and pain. I was truly impressed and felt sad for this monster. But apart from this moment, I found The God Complex to be quite mediocre, an episode formed from incomplete concepts and botched attempts to convey humor. An episode meant to do nothing more than sell the ending. Matt Smith’s dialogue when The Doctor, Amy, and Rory meet the other prisoners in the hotel seemed forced, as if there was a need for random Doctor-speak. Often it seems Smith can find humor in normal dialogue, but when the dialogue is deliberately attempting to be humorous or random, it comes across as forced. It is irritating because all the leads are good actors and they are capable of rising to good material, but it rarely seems they are given that material. I like Matt Smith, and I think his Doctor has a lot of potential, but The Eleventh Doctor has only really worked for me in a couple of episodes (and a handful of scenes besides) and both of these episodes had excellent scripts with challenging material. Sadly, apart from its closing moments, I can’t say the same for The God Complex.