It was supposed to be Clara Oswald’s last ride in the TARDIS. Thanks to a mummy on an intergalactic version of the Orient Express, it turned out to be the last journey for several people. The Doctor, again, acted a little too heartless in the situation, but there’s some understanding on why he acts that way.
The story seems like a horror story about train passengers in the 1920’s being attacked by a mummy, except for a few things. First, the train is traveling in space, and a singer named Foxes is doing a jazzy version of “Don’t Stop Me Now” by Queen. The start is traditional, though: an old woman called Mrs. Pitt (Janet Henfrey) thinks she sees a mummy about t0 attack her, but no one else does. She dies exactly 66 seconds after seeing it.
The Doctor arrives with Clara dressed as a flapper. It doesn’t mean they’ve made up after last week’s argument. She’s calling this trip their last hurrah. Besides, she says, quoting a singer, that hatred is too strong an emotion to waste it on someone she doesn’t like. It doesn’t take long, however, before they’re both caught up in the mystery when they hear about Mrs. Pitt dying. The Doctor finds a life extender that Mrs. Pitt had used, and meets Perkins (Frank Skinner), a chief engineer who’s a bit suspicious of the Doctor. Clara also meets Maisie Pitt (Daisy Beaumont), Mrs. Pitt’s granddaughter. She’s upset over her grandma’s death, mainly because Maisie didn’t like her. She tries to break into one of the cars with a shoe, after a computer named Gus (voice of John Sessions) refuses to let her in. She winds up getting trapped with Clara and, what seems to be, a sarcophagus.
Later on, the mummy kills a chef and one of the porters. Both die after 66 seconds, and only they are able to see the mummy. The Doctor talks to Moorhouse (Christopher Villiers), a professor of alien myths, about the mummy known as the Foretold. He keeps asking the professor what’s the most interesting thing about the Foretold, and offers him a jelly baby in a really fancy way. They also discuss how the legend has been around for 5000 years, and that people bargain with the mummy, or confess sins, because it is believed that, if you say the right words it will let you live. He also talks to Quell (David Bamber), the captain who seems to be looking the other way while people are getting killed. Quell admits it’s because he’s still feeling survivor’s guilt for being the only survivor of a bombing. He was hoping that running the Intergalactic Orient Express would be an easy job.
Meanwhile, Clara and Maisie talk about the difficult people in their lives. As Maisie puts it, “life would be so much simpler if we liked the right people, people you’re supposed to like, but then I guess there’d be no fairy tales”.
The Doctor then realizes the train is filled with professors and engineers, people who would be able to analyze the mummy. That’s because someone arranged this to happen, and that person stops the train in the middle of nowhere. Now, the survivors have to figure out who the mummy is…or die trying. Gus the computer makes its point by killing off the kitchen crew when the Doctor ignores his instructions. It’s also revealed he did the same thing to other missing spaceships. The Doctor soon figures out the Foretold is killing off the weak, including Moorhouse and Quell. Before they die, they do describe the mummy, and reveal it can teleport to keep the victim from running away. That’s enough to have the Doctor deduce the mummy is really a soldier from a forgotten war and it uses ancient tech to suck energy out of its victims to survive.
The Doctor thinks the mummy will go after Maisie next, and he pressures Clara to get her to the lab, even lie. That upsets Clara, but she gets even madder when she learns the Doctor is quite aware of what Gus can do, including blocking his access to the TARDIS. The mummy does arrive, but the Doctor takes Maisie’s guilt and emotions and injects them into himself. He’s able to stop the mummy by “surrendering”, but Gus decides that the solution of the problem doesn’t require survivors. It blows up the train…..
but the Doctor is able to fix the transporter and save everyone. He delivers them all to the closest civilized planet in the TARDIS, while Clara is sleeping off the effets of the transporter. The Doctor explained that he planned to try and save Maisie, but didn’t want Gus to know his plan. Clara wonders if he was pretending to be heartless. He asks if it would make a difference if that were true. “Sometimes the only choices you have are bad ones,” he says, “but you still have to choose.” She would agree to that, since that’s why she had to lie to Maisie. She also asks if he likes traveling like he does, making impossible choices, She wonder if he’s hooked on it, but he sasys the only way to know that is if he tried to stop and he never has. It becomes clear that Clara’s getting addicted to the excitement of traveling with the Doctor. She tells Danny that she’s ready to give it up, and that she loves him. However, she tells the Doctor Danny’s OK with her traveling as long as she gets back home safe and on time. So, the last hurrah will have to wait.
For the first time, Clara understands that the Doctor does have a heart, even though he seems cold and heartless sometimes. He had to prove himself to her to get her to stay a bit longer, rather than the companion having to prove herself. The story still left some questions, like who and what Gus is, and who programmed it. Hopefully it will become a new nemesis in the future.
Next week: a monster traps victims in walls, and the Doctor may be next.
Finally, here’s Foxes’ version of “Don’t Stop Me Now” with clips of the season so far, and what’s to come including the return of another familiar foe