Tonight's episode was real "hide behind the couch" material. But are the scares and the predictable "Face Your Fear" plot worthwhile?
What if it really wasn't the predictable "Face Your Fear" plot?
Read on, spoilers ahead!
A policewoman named Lucy Hayward wanders down the hall of a hotel... one that looks like it came right out of The Shining. She opens a door, finds a gorilla and realizes that it's "her room". She pauses to sit and write in a journal. The last words are 'Praise Him' as she awaits what may very well be her doom.
Something has dragged the Tardis off course and into said freaky hotel. The Doctor and company find a wall with photos of people (and aliens) and what killed them (I think). They soon encounter other 'guests' who bring them up to speed. The rooms move, the corridors stretch and OOPS! the Tardis is gone. They go to a ballroom where another guest has been tied to a chair in a room full of ventriloquist dummies. He babbles on about someone coming and that 'He Will Feast'.
Everyone has a room where their greatest bad dream resides. Amy encounters Weeping Angels, one them finds angry parents... yet another a room full of pretty girls.
The Doctor finds Joe (the guy with the dummies) dead. Completely stripped of all his hopes and dreams, his body just stopped.
They find Lucy's journal, which triggers Howie's (one of the guests) 'worship'. This makes him the Monster's next potential victim. The Doctor (and others) rig an elaborate trap to try and capture the monster (who looks very much like a minotaur). The Doctor gets the fact that they're in a prison and being prepared for something out of the Minotaur, before the bait slips out of the trap and commits suicide by worship...
Rita (another one of the guests, and one the Doctor fancies as a potential companion), finds her room, and begins the 'praise'. She has manuevered things so that the Doctor cannot intervene.
The Doctor works out that this creature doesn't feed on fear, it feeds on faith-- and Amy's faith in the Doctor makes her the next victim. In a touching scene, the Doctor helps Amy lose her faith in him. This causes the Minotaur to suddenly starve.
As the creature passes away, the hotel disassembles itself into a holodeck-ish control room. The 'hotel' was a space based prison for the creature: it had set itself up as a God, and when the population became secularized enough, it captured the Minotaur and imprisoned it. The prison picks up people of faith and feeds them to the creature. The last words of the creature seem to resonate with the Doctor. They pile into the Tardis...
... and land on Earth, present day. The Doctor gives Rory keys to the bright red Jaguar convertible outside the door to their row house. Turns out, it's a farewell gift. The Doctor is saving them, by leaving them. He doesn't want to stand over her grave or Rory's body (again). So, it's goodbye.
The central concept here is fairly original- the creature/prison (I'm not quite clear on which) uses fear to expose the core of faith inside of beings. I don't think that we've ever seen a 'Faith Eater' before. This concept (Fear reveals faith) elevates this episode over the standard "Face your fears" story. The fear was an actual means to an end- and the solution was pretty radical. Without demonizing faith thematically, the Doctor solves the dilemma by deflating Amy's faith in him.
And in doing so, he also has to destroy his faith in himself. We never see who or what is in the Doctor's room, but I think it may be the Doctor himself. This blow to his ego, his self confidence... absolutely necessary in the situation... leads to his decision to ditch Amy and Rory.
I was rather impressed with the way the show addressed faith without being derogatory. However, it may be telling that it is precisely the victim's strong faith that makes them targets, and eventually food.
Quote of the night
"Everytime the Doctor gets pally with someone, I have the overwhelming urge to notify their next of kin"- Rory
Will Conservatives Like This Episode
Probably. Nothing overtly political, and religious conservatives will appreciate that faith is treated with respect (even if it does attract minotaurs...)