The Crimson Horror
Original Air Date: May 04, 2013
Maria – Associate Staff Writer
In Victorian London, Madam Vastra, Sontaran Strax and Human Jenny are still fighting crime, and a new client comes to them with the tale of the Crimson Horror up North. In Yorkshire, bodies have been turning up in the river, waxy and bright red. The trio head to Yorkshire, and soon track down Mrs. Gillyflower (Diana Rigg) and her blind daughter Ada (Rachael Stirling) to Sweetville Mill.
There’s something very strange happening in the Mill, least of all is a “monster” that Blind Ada keeps locked up and looks after in secret. Jenny stumbles across where the monster is kept, and opens the locked door to reveal… The Doctor, barely able to move, his skin horrifyingly crimson.
Once Jenny is able to direct him to his sonic screwdriver, The Doctor is able to fix himself, but he’s more concerned about finding Clara than answering questions. He and Clara posed as a married couple from Yorkshire (including a comically bad accent from the Doctor) to get into Sweetville, where “only the best are chosen”. He soon realized why.
Mrs. Gillyflower was petrifying and protecting the best couples, storing them in her perfect little village, but protecting them from what? That is the mystery, and once Clara has been recovered, much to the confusion of Vastra and Jenny since they saw her die in The Snowmen, she points out that the Mill doesn’t have a smoking chimney.
Strax is left behind because he’s an overzealous Sontaran and also because he can’t remember the directions to the Mill. Thankfully, there’s an urchin boy called Thomas Thomas who is very good at giving directions. Why do I get the feeling Strax will be the one to arrive in time to save the day?
The day definitely needs saving, because Mrs. Gillyflower is insane. Vastra recognizes the poison used to infect people as being millions of years old, the venom of a creature older than the Silurians. Finally, Mrs. Gillyflower reveals her “silent partner” Mr. Sweet, and she shows the Doctor the parasite, sucking on her chest.
Mrs. Gillyflower plans to use Mr. Sweet’s secretions to poison the planet and kill off all humans, leaving only her protected Adam and Eves to repopulate the planet. She did have to do some experimenting to make sure she got the immunization right, and the Doctor makes sure that Ada is within earshot when he gets her Mrs. G to confess that she experimented on her own daughter, causing Ada’s blindness. Ada’s allegiances are no longer to her mother.
To disseminate the poison, Mrs. Gillyflower built a rocket that would rise above the Earth and then explode, letting the Crimson Horror fall down. Clara used a chair to destroy the device to launch the rocket, but every evil insane villain has a back up or several. The rocket launches, but Jenny and Vastra have been able to take away the poison.
Strax finally arrives, and Mrs. Gillyflower shoots at him first and loses her grip, falling to her death. Dying, she asks Ada for forgiveness but the blind woman replies “Never.” Mrs. Gillyflower’s chilling response is “that’s my girl”. With Mrs. Gillyflower dead, Mr Sweet moves on to try and find a new host but Ada smashes the creature with her cane. Ouch.
Despite holding the Doctor captive as a monster, and killing what could have been a potentially innocent parasite, Ada is now free, for the first time. Hopefully, she will be able to adjust to life in the light. She may not have been good enough for her crazy mother, but hopefully the world will accept her. And if not the world, at least she’ll be accepted by Vastra, Strax and Jenny.
The Doctor drops Clara off back home, where the children she minds, Artie and Angie, have figured out her little secret. They know her “boyfriend” is a time traveling alien, because of all the pictures of Clara that have shown up in the past. They’ve also found an image of Clara in Victorian London, but Clara insists she was in Victorian Yorkshire. Those genre savvy kids have uncovered both Clara and the Doctor’s secrets and will tell unless they’re brought along.
So, next time, in an episode penned by Neil Gaiman, Artie and Angie explore the playground of the universe, but it looks like the Doctor has brought them to a playground which has cybermen in it. I can’t wait!
Did you suspect Mr. Sweet’s identity? Do you think Ada should have been punished or do you think she deserves to be free? Did you know that the repulsive story of the red leach was briefly mentioned in ACD’s Sherlock Holmes? Are you any closer to figuring out who Clara is? Do you think Vastra, Jenny and Strax deserve their own show? Please leave a comment with your TwoCents on the show or tweet me over on @MariaTV101