Post Game TV Recap: DOCTOR WHO S6E11 'The God Complex'

Post Game TV Recap: DOCTOR WHO S6E11


Something is stalking the halls of a mysterious hotel with no doors and windows, and The Doctor has to find a way out before people's fears reduce them to gibbering wrecks who look forward to death. Follow me, and don't open any strange doors.


by Toby Whithouse

Directed by Nick Hurran

The TARDIS lands in a mysterious hotel, empty save for some people (including one alien) who can't recall how they got here, only that there's rooms full of nightmares and a monster stalking the halls. The rooms show you your worst fear, and the shock makes you wish for death, and rather than fearing the monster, the victims begin worshipping it. Too late, The Doctor realizes it's not fear the beast needs, but the faith. The people selected are chosen for having strong belief in something, whether it be luck, religion...or The Doctor. When Amy finds her room and begins praising the monster, it's a race to get her to do something she never thought she could...stop believing in The Doctor.

A great episode packed with emotion, and yet another strong female character you wouldn't mind seeing hang around. Drawing liberally from both The Shining, Greek mythology and a delightful sci-fi horror film called The Cube, Toby Whithouse once again pulls off an emotional episode that both provides a great hour's entertainment but also opens more doors in The Doctor's personality.



David Walliams (Gibbis)
is all but unrecognizable in his makeup, but he wears quite a bit on his regular job as well. With comedy partner Matt Lucas he created Little Britain, a sketch show that featured Tom Baker as its narrator. Some years back, Walliams and Who-scribe-to-be Mark Gatiss produced three comedy sketches for the BBC's Doctor Who Night: The Web of Caves, The Pitch of Fear and The Kidnappers. Before the new series, both he and Lucas performed in separate Big Finish audio plays, as have many actors who went on to appear on the new series, including Gatiss. Walliams has moments of brilliance in his performance - check the wistful look he gets when asked to envision a box of kittens, or the idea of being subjugated is mentioned.

Amara Karan (Rita) co-starred in the three-part BBC mini series Kidnap and Ransom, Wes Anderson's The Darjeeling Limited, and is yet another actor to have appeared in both Doctor Who and St.Trinian's.

Spencer Wilding (Minotaur) has been getting steady work as large impressive people thanks to his 6' 7" frame. He played the White Walker in Game of Thrones and is playing yet another minotaur in the upcoming Clash of the Titans 2.

Nick Hurran (Director) gets back-to-back episodes for his first work on Doctor Who, and really makes his mark. In addition to getting to use a lovely set work with (those shots up and down the staircase are lovely) he also makes great use of the camera, especially a trick known as a dolly zoom, and in some circles as the "Scorcese stretch" after the director who uses it so well. The camera starts out far away from the actors, but zoomed tightly in., The camera them dollies forward, adjusting focus and zooming out at the same time, so while the framing of the shot does not change, the seeming depth does. The result is the world seems to shift around the actor; rooms seem to flatten, and hallways shorten.


The Minotaur is rather a tragic creature, if savage. It was the god of a culture that simply advanced past the need for one. Rather than let it die, they built it a ship and shot it into space, randomly picking "worthy" sacrifices off of passing planets to feed it. He's been reduced to a creature of instinct, unable to stop himself when one of the sacrifices lose control and offer themselves to it.

This isn't the first Minotaur we've seen The Doctor fight. They made the connection to The Nimon, the parasite race with a penchant for posing as deities as seen in The Horns of Nimon and the Big Finish adventure Seasons of Fear. The second Doctor met a fictional minotaur in The Mind Robber, and in his next incarnation, a real one, guarding the Kronos Crystal in The Time Monster. In The Creature from the Pit, The Doctor claims to have supplied Theseus with the ball of string he used to navigate the Minotaur's maze in ancient Greece.

Gibbis isn't exactly a monster, but he's more on his own side than out to help his brothers in strife. His planet, Tivoli, is the most-invaded planet ever, but is also the home to one of the oldest cultures. That can't be done by simply lying down when the aliens come. Their cowardice is a crafty one, based on the idea that if they fight back, many will die, but if they make it nice for the invaders, they'll eventually get bored and leave. Cowardice as a survival trait is not new in science fiction — Larry Niven's race the Puppeteers raise self-preservation to an art form. 

It's interesting that in Night Terrors, George is taught to put his fears in the cupboard, but in this episode, Gibbis puts himself in the cupboard to escape his fears. Also back from Night Terrors, the Rubik's Cube, and once again, Rory wields a tatty mop as a weapon.

BACKGROUND BITS AND BOBS (trivia and production details):


- If you don't blink, you'll see past guests of the hotel include:

  • A Sontaran named Halke (a tip of the hat to long-time Who writer Malcolm Hulke?) whose fear was "Defeat"
  • A Hoix (seen in Gods and Monsters, another episode that had a lot of running down halls)
  • A Catkind member of the Sisters of Plenitude
  • A Silurian
  • A Judoon
  • A Tritovore from Planet of the Dead
  • Royston Luke Gold (who's afraid of Plymouth) who is played by DW Producer Marcus Wilson. Odds are most  if not all of the rest of the photos are also members of the production team.
Also note that while the Silurian and Tritovore are wearing the same shirt and tie as the rest of the guests, the Sontaran and Judoon are not. Likely they couldn't get a shirt with that neck size.

"Of course...who else?" - If we don't find out in the next two weeks, "What did he see?" may overtake "What was in Marcellus' briefcase?" as one of the most discussed filmic questions. There's any number of possibilities, of course...any number of his enemies, The Master, or just the faces of all the monsters he's defeated. We've yet to see where that shot of River Song in the eyepatch happenes — it could be that. But then again, just last season, in Amy's Choice, we found out that the person he despises more than anyone else is himself. So it might well have been himself sitting there. Heck...I'm STILL not sure it wasn't Matt Smith in that clown makeup. He's not credited...

The sound, of course, is the Cloister Bell, the TARDIS emergency alert system. And the last time we heard it, River Song was trapped in the ship before it was about to explode. And room 11 is a reference to this being The Doctor's eleventh incarnation, a recurring theme as far back as Matt Smith's first episode, The Eleventh Hour.

"Faith is an energy" - Terry Pratchett writes often on the power of faith, and how faith can summon gods into being, and they live off that energy. In Good Omens, his collaboration with Neil Gaiman, he declares that the unit of measurement for faith is the Alp, based on the idea that faith can "move mountains."

"Amy Williams - it's time to stop waiting" - Names are a big theme in the new series — the mystery behind The Doctor's name is the biggest "Question", but there's many a time that it's only when learning the name (or at least the species) of the monsters could The Doctor start to fight them. By using Amy's married name, he's declaring her a new person, one strong and self-sufficient, and one who doesn't need him to save her. And by so doing...saves her again.


This episode is just slopping over with meaning. The title itself is not only a reference to the prison the unnamed alien race placed their redundant deity in, but the mindset that many of the Doctor's enemies surely think he's suffering from. And the minotaur's final speech about death might be welcome for someone so old and drenched in blood is clearly one The Doctor has taken to heart. Well aware of the time of his death, he's tidying up, making sure his friends are safe before going off and braving his fate alone, as he did at the end of his previous regeneration.


- The Doctor's scene with Amys the Elder and Younger is quite moving. The parallel between this episode and the last is interesting — in The Girl Who Waited, Amy did by herself what The Doctor had to do on purpose here - she realized The Doctor was not always going to be there to save her, and she had to grow up. The shifting between young and old Amy is a visual cue that in a very real way, Amy's still that little girl who had her heart stolen by a madman in a box a decade and change ago. He's saying good-bye to Amy twice in this episode, and this is the first one.

WE'VE COME A LONG LONG WAY TOGETHER THROUGH THE HARD TIMES AND THE GOOD - One of the over-arcing concepts in this season is that The Doctor "ruins" his companions. Much of that seems to be his own guilt, because on the whole, it's not so. True, he certainly leaves them very changed people, but with only a couple of exceptions, it's for the better. We've met dear sweet Sarah Jane Smith years after her time with the Doctor, and on her show we meet Jo Grant again, who's become an environmental advocate. Sarah Jane did some research, and learned about a number of other Companions in the adventure The Death of the Doctor. Tegan is an advocate for Aborigine rights in Australia, Ace has started a philanthropic organization, and two London teachers, Ian and Barbara Chesterson, haven't aged since the 60's.

Even in the new series, his friends end up with wholly different lives, but The Doctor tries to make them as nice lives as possible. Rose ended up in a parallel universe with her dad alive again, and an all-human Doctor to spend her life with. Mickey and Martha Jones found each other and live as soldiers of fortune, and Even Donna Noble, who doesn't even get to remember her adventures, lives quite a comfortable life thanks to a lottery ticket bought with a pound borrowed from her father.

So while The Doctor has indeed "saved" Amy and Rory from a sad end, he's scarcely saved them from being changed. 

And you did notice the bright blue six-panel door on their new home, right?  I thought you had. And here's a question — he's clearly taken them to a new home, but WHEN has he taken them to it? They were living in their old home right up until the date of The Doctor's (presumed) death. Our Doctor met up with them after that point - presumably he's taken them to a point further after that, if only by a few minutes or so. He's making sure they're safe, as well as out of the way.


Craig and Sophie are back. You know, the bloke who had a Silence spaceship living upstairs from him?  Gee, think that might have a connection to the Big Bad?  Oh, and Cybermen. Closing Time is a week off, but better start deciding what you want for dessert now.

Vinnie Bartilucci has still got legs. His blog The Forty Year-Old Fanboy is his twenty-first century response to Howard Beale's plea for self-expression.

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