Okay guys, sorry, I lost track of what day it was and haven’t done a write-up of a Town Called Mercy. That’s on me. I’ll either get to that today-ish or have to make up for it with a double blog next week. Also look forward to a couple of other posts from me about Gravity Falls and some other things.
Edit: Here’s something from someone else…
HERE COMES A NEW CHALLENGER!
Well, it ain’t Landon.
Since ThreeDark lacks the CONVICTION to write about Who, I’mma gonna do it.
“A Town Called Mercy”, like “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship”, this ep’s more about the adventure than the whole BIG PLOT TWEEST! OH HAI RIVER that’s been the Eleventh’s MO in past episodes. But “A Town Called Mercy” does throw in a bit of character exploration.
The gist of this ep is the Doctor goes to the Wild West. He and the Ponds find themselves in a town called Mercy, which is at the mercy of a mysteeeeerious Gunslinger who prevents anyone from coming in or out of the town. With no supplies coming in, the town’s on the verge of imminent starvation.
The Gunslinger’s demands are thus, bring him the “Alien Doctor”.
Blahblahblahspoilerblah, the Alien Doctor is not the Eleventh, but simply another alien who happened to be an actual doctor with PHDs and such.
Right off the bat, you realize the alien doctor is a bad guy because of how absolutely good and pure he is. No one that nice could possibly be a good guy, and yeah, turns out that this guy is a war hero who performed countless hideous and heinous atrocities during the war to create the Gunslinger and his ilk. Now that the war’s over, the Gunslinger’s broken free of his programming and is after the alien doctor for revenge.
Now let’s get to the point. The core of this episode is a bit of character exploration on the Doctor. Doctor Who villains tend to be pure evil, like Solomon from “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship” or the Daleks or whoever. But here the Doctor is presented with something of a conundrum. The alien doctor was once a scientist/surgeon who performed horrific and inhumane experiments to create biotechnological weapons for the war. And the guy’s pretty unrepentant about it, since in his mind, he sacrificed thousands to save millions.
On the other hand, post war, this alien doctor has been making amends. He’s haunted by the screams of his “patients” and he’s done what he can to help the town called Mercy. He even saved the entire town from cholera.
It would be easy if he was repentant about his past, but he isn’t. He did what he had to do and he’s standing by it. He represents a clear case of someone who is both extreme good and extreme evil. In fact, depending on what “mode” he’s in, kindly doctor or war criminal, he behaves differently as well. Just to make it clear to us viewers that he’s good… and that he’s bad.
In theory, this is all great. In execution, it falls a little flat. And that’s entirely TV’s fault. You see, in the modern viewer’s mind, death is seldom a just punishment anymore. Not unless you’re a complete monster.
Shows and series like Rurouni Kenshin and so forth, have hammered into the modern viewer’s mind that sincere attempts to make amends, or even simply the desire to live a peaceful life, is sufficient consequence for a lifetime of atrocities. It doesn’t matter how horrible you were, just so long as you’re not actively hurting anybody right now.
As a result, we don’t really get behind the Doctor when he goes on a spiel about how you don’t get to choose how to make amends for past misdeeds, especially since the Doctor is all about trying to wipe the sins off some off-screen sinning he did.
Ultimately, this was a watchable, even decent episode of Doctor Who, but it’s far from being one of the good ones. It’s pretty lackluster in fact.
Aaaaand that’s it, ThreeDark should do a post anyways.
Oh, and the cast member who stole the show? Susan.