This week’s installment of Doctor Who winds down a bit from the previous two episodes and sinks into something a little more like the pace of previous seasons. After the serious episode 1 and the super-campy, energetic episode 2, it seems the writers decided there needed to be some breathing room. This time, the Doctor and his crew visit Earth during the western times and stumble upon a small town that has some serious problems with an interstellar cyborg cowboy.
The cyborg is there looking to off an alien doctor (though not the Doctor you might think). The Doctor (the proper one) must figure out how to defeat the cyborg. In the process, he must make some decisions about whether the best way to do that is to sacrifice the alien that the hunter is looking for.
This episode takes a look at where The Doctor happens to be at this point, as far as his psychological development goes. Amy and Rory are in the middle of The Doctor’s conundrum, taking sides for or against his new, seemingly callous nature.
A Town Called Mercy presents a fun tale with a fun setting that doesn’t avoid a somewhat serious underlying story. It’s a tale of redemption, or the possibility of, and it relates well to everything that The Doctor has had to experience up until now. In addition, you can feel the writers setting up for something bigger to come.
Once again, the actors do a great job and even though the main villain is a cowboy-esque cyborg hunter from space, campiness isn’t the main focus of this episode. Everything looks nice and shiny with the new budget, creating a wonderful atmosphere with excellent sets and effects.
It may not be the best story of the new season, but if this is the baseline then we have little to fear from future episodes. No doubt every upcoming story will be excellent, if not completely mind-blowingly brilliant. I’m looking forward to this Saturday’s episode, in which The Doctor moves in with Rory and Amy for a spell and must solve a mystery involving tiny black cubes landing all over Earth. Just two more to go before the great pause (curse you, split season!) and the final farewell to The Doctor’s longtime companions. I will be making sure to enjoy every minute.