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27 April 2013

DWO’s spoiler-free preview of episode 7.11 The Crimson Horror:

“When the end of days is come, and judgement rains down upon us all...”

When Madame Vastra, Jenny, and Strax are alerted to a spate of strange deaths in the north of England, it’s the last sight of a dead man that grabs their attentions. Sweetville has been established as a place for people to come and repent, opting for a chance to be saved from the coming apocalypse. But there’s something sinister at the heart of this ‘perfect’ community, and the Paternoster Row team aren’t the only ones intrigued by the mystery of Mrs Gillyflower and her ‘silent partner’, Mr Sweet... 

Having made such a hit as a team in The Snowmen last Christmas, the return of Vastra, Jenny, and Strax has been one of the most anticipated points of the 2013 series. Thankfully, Mark Gatiss’ The Crimson Horror does not disappoint. 

The story in places almost serves as a ‘Doctor-lite’ episode, with much of the early focus of the episode being squarely on the guest cast. We almost open mid-story for the Doctor and Clara, and discover the secrets of Sweetville through the eyes of our returning heroes, as they make their way deeper into the sinister new mill, uncovering secrets as they go. Vastra’s advice of how to find the Doctor - to ignore any ‘keep out’ sign, and actively look for danger - is fitting, and it’s wonderful to see these characters given room to breathe. 

The stand out has to be Dan Starkey, returning as Strax for a third time. As during the christmas episode, the character is played purely for comic relief, but all his humour hits just the right spot. The more we see of the trio together, the more we’re desperate for them to front their own spin-off series. This episode seems to perfectly showcase that they could carry it off, with mysteries being brought to their attention, ready to be investigated. 

The other major guest stars for The Crimson Horror come in the form of Diana Rigg and her daughter Rachel Stirling. They play mother and daughter in the episode, too, with Rigg taking on the part of Mrs Gillyflower, owner of the new Sweetville Mill, and her blind daughter, Ada. The pair are fantastic casting and really set the screen alight when they share it.

The direction of the episode, by Saul Metzstein (who also directed our unusual Victorian investigators last Christmas), is as fantastic as we’ve come to expect from him, and there’s an interesting use of flashbacks to catch us up with the story when needed. 

The only question now... when will Vastra, Jenny, and Strax be getting their own spin-off?

Five things to look out for...

1) “Did you think I’d forgotten you, dear monster?”

2) “Just when you think your favourite lock-picking Victorian chamber maid will never turn up!”

3) “Brave heart, Clara...”

4) “Horse! You have failed in your mission!”

5) “I’m the Doctor, you’re nuts, and I’m going to stop you.

[Sources: DWOWill Brooks]

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