“I’ll go play with my grenades.”
Our favorite crime solving trio is back, this time solving the mystery of a missing Clara, a plasticized Doctor, and a crazy old woman running a sweets factory in 19th Century Yorkshire. “The Crimson Horror” is really all about filler (in more ways than one), but Sherlock writer Mark Gatiss pens enough humor, mystery, and suspense to make the episode a load of fun.
We find Jenny, Madame Vastra, and Strax investigating the Willy Wonka-esque “Sweetville,” run by a suspicious Mrs. Gillyflower and her visually impaired daughter, Ada. After finding a victim with an image of the Doctor burned into his retinas, they decide to investigate the situation, and upon infiltration of the factory, Jenny finds the Doctor chained up in a cell and in the same red-skinned condition as the victim. The dynamics of this trio are fantastic yet again, and whether it would be a good move or not, I’m sure I don’t speak solely for myself when I say that I would watch a spinoff series featuring these three.
The Doctor, being a Time Lord, survived the experimentation process (which involved dipping victims into a vat of red poison), and Ada has kept him locked up as a pet. She’s taken a strange liking to him, and regardless of the twisted circumstances, seems to have no ill intent toward the Doctor and is distraught when she finds him missing. After being rescued by Jenny and doing something with his sonic screwdriver (ahem), the Doctor is back to normal and is determined to find his missing companion.
After finding Clara in a vault and getting a taste of Jenny’s martial arts skills, Mrs. Gillyflower reveals her plan to make justice literally “rain down” upon the world by means of a rocket ship filled with the red poison. “The Crimson Horror” lives up to its name when Mrs. Gillyflower suddenly and rather disturbingly reveals the alien parasite attached to her chest. We find that she has been experimenting on her daughter, which was the true cause of her blindness, and upon discovering this information, Ada goes on a rampage, attacking her mother and killing the parasite.
This week’s episode was as thrilling as “Hide,” but as it likely will not hold much weight in the grander scheme of things, it was a breath of fresh air after the last few episodes. The sci-fi element is perfectly balanced with the Victorian atmosphere, resulting in neither being cheesy, and the relationship between the Doctor and Ada is particularly touching and adds a dimension to the story that has largely been missing this series. It does not do much for the mystery of our lovely soufflé girl, but the end of the episode hints that she may be starting to figure out that something is amiss.
The Cybermen return and Warwick Davis makes a guest appearance next week in “Nightmare in Silver.”