“After everything we've been through, Doctor. Everything. You can't just drop me off at my house and say goodbye like we shared a cab.”
“And what's the alternative? Me standing over your grave? Over your broken body? Over Rory's?”
Oh, Toby Whithouse, you sneaky so-and-so, you. 'The God Complex' was both quintessentially Who and perfectly Whithouse. I knew you had it in you – the signs were all there back in 'School Reunion' – but still. Bravo, sir, bravo.
Now, before we get to that final twist, let's look the rest of 'The God Complex' worked. At first glance, it's very much “Doctor Who meets 1984” (probably crossed with some very influential films I haven't seen because I'm too busy thinking about Doctor Who and Spooks and Merlin and the like), but there really is a lot more to it than that. The concept is nicely subverted by having the alien feed on faith rather than fear, tying the whole episode masterfully into the Doctor's final decision.
One Whithouse speciality is the creepiness created by mixing the unknown with the familiar. Even if many flock wallpapers of the hotel setting did somewhat distract me (I love a flock wallpaper), the unfriendly setting coupled with the plot worked wonders; this short run of Doctor Who has certainly been ramping up the creepiness and it's worked a treat.
Anyone who's watched Being Human will know how well Whithouse can balance humour and tension, using moments of lightness to ramp up the suspense. The beginning of the episode was a masterclass in using jokes to get the plot across, and Matt Smith was on absolutely blistering form; I especially enjoyed his “call me” moment. Whithouse also managed to pull off that key Doctor Who skill – creating memorable supporting characters, ably helped by some excellent acting. Kudos must go to David Walliams for being excellent in what is essentially a jobbing actor's role. And poor Rita, doomed the moment the Doctor promised to show her the stars, who was given real life thanks to Amara Karan.
That the Doctor's advice made everyone do exactly the one thing they shouldn't was especially cruel, but it helped to spur him on to making a hard choice. Unlike the almighty twist at the end of 'The Almost People', seeds of the Ponds' departure were sown throughout 'The God Complex': the Doctor telling Rita that people don't really have a choice if you offer them the whole of time and space; Rory joking that he wanted to warn the families of anyone who got close to the Doctor; and, most awfully of all, the fact that it was Amy's faith in the Doctor that nearly killed her.
Everything about their final moments on screen was wonderful: Rory telling the Doctor that he'd be willing to risk feeling in debt to him if it meant getting to keep that car (call me, Arthur Darvill, call me) to Karen Gillan doing some of her best work as Amy realises just what a sacrifice the Doctor is willing to make for her and Matt Smith's divine face managing to look youthful, old, worried, happy and sad all at the same time.
Now, I have no doubt that we'll be seeing Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill again; I'd be surprised if that was the last we've seen of them this series, to be honest. I'm torn between wanting the Legs and the Nose to return quickly, because I adore them, and wanting to preserve that unexpected and beautiful ending. My heart almost broke at the sight of him alone in the TARDIS at the end, but in absolutely the best way. Bravo indeed.
Next week sees a sequel to last year's surprisingly touching 'The Lodger', as the Doctor teams up with Craig once again.