05/06/2013 02:43 pm ET Updated Jul 06, 2013

'Doctor Who' Recap: 'The Crimson Horror' Grips The Doctor And Clara


Note: Do not read on if you have not yet seen Season 7, Episode 11 of BBC America's "Doctor Who," titled "The Crimson Horror."
Upon reading the episode's title this week, I had the intention of making a very detailed list of every instance the color red has appeared this season -- from Oswin Oswald's space uniform to Clara's messenger bag to the background colors in "Cold War" -- with the hopes of coming up with a new theory to the Clara mystery. But this episode wasn't what I thought it would be; instead, it was a fun, madcap adventure which brought about the return of Madame Vastra, Jenny and Strax. So other than saying there's been a lot of red this season, I have nothing else to offer on this theory. Therefore, I apologize for the pointless introduction and here's your recap:

Bodies were piling up in Victorian Yorkshire, all of them affected by what was termed the "Crimson Horror," an inexplicable condition that left the victims' bodies glowing lobster red (truly worse than any sunburn you've ever had). After his journalist brother is found dead of the mysterious epidemic, Mr. Thursday brought the case to Vastra in London. There he showed her and Jenny his brother's optogram, the image the eye retains of the last thing it sees before a person dies, which in this case was the Doctor. With this vital piece of information, Vastra, Jenny and Strax headed to Yorkshire to solve the mystery.

Vastra explained that they'll investigate Mrs. Gillyflower and Sweetville, a community named after Gillyflower's silent partner Mr. Sweet. They held recruitment drives for "the fittest and the most beautiful" people to save them from "Present Moral Decay" and the "Coming of the Apocalypse" -- you know, typical crazy cult stuff. At the meetings, Gillyflower presented her daughter Ada as a victim of such moral decay and claimed the girl was blinded by her husband in a drunken rage. Since neither Strax nor Vastra could be described as conventionally beautiful under the town's harsh Victorian standards, they sent Jenny to infiltrate the community. As Jenny investigated, she found the pet "Monster" that Ada kept locked in a cell.

That monster turned out to be the Doctor, whose skin is bright red like all of the victims, but he has managed to maintain creaky, limited mobility. With Jenny's help, the Doctor used the sonic screwdriver to get back to normal, and then explained that he must find Clara (much to Jenny's confusion). The Doctor said that he and Clara traveled to Yorkshire by accident and got caught up investigating Sweetville. The red liquid in the vats was an organic poison the town's residents are dipped in for preservation, and the rejects who didn't survive the process are thrown away. Jenny and the Doctor found Clara, and the Doctor broke her out of the bell jar she was in. Elsewhere, Gillyflower found Ada crying over her missing monster. Although Ada begged her mother's forgiveness for not throwing out the monster, Gillyflower announced that there was no room for Ada in her utopia since it does not contain sick or disabled people.

Vastra and Strax joined the Doctor, Clara and Jenny for a confrontation with the town's "supermodels," and Vastra explained that her people used to fight a creature with similar modus operandi, the "Repulsive Red Leech," a tiny parasite that infected their drinking water. They then deduced that Gillyflower planned on poisoning the air with the red liquid from the vats, killing the majority of humanity. When they confronted Gillyflower, they found that Mr. Sweet was actually the leech that Vastra spoke of, living on Gillyflower's chest (bringing a whole new meaning to the term "bosom buddies"). Yuck.

During the confrontation, Gillyflower admitted that she had experimented on Ada and blinded her, causing Ada to go nuts and attack her mother, which disabled the rocket that was going to spread the poison. Gillyflower then took Ada hostage with a gun and went to her factory to set off the rocket's secondary firing mechanism. The rocket was deployed, but Vastra and Jenny had already removed the poison. Gillyflower threatened all of them with her gun and Strax shot Gillyflower and she tumbled down the stairs. As she was dying, Mr. Sweet abandoned Gillyflower and the woman begged for her daughter's forgiveness. Ada refused to grant it. Ada then went and beat Mr. Sweet to death with her cane. Go Ada!

When Clara returned to the present day, she arrived home to pictures of herself from the '70s, '80s and Victorian London on the laptop of the kids she babysits. Like all good children, they blackmailed her into taking them along on her next time-traveling adventure with the Doctor.

Random Notes:

The episode's award for the cheesiest, corniest but so bad it's good joke goes to "Thomas Thomas," the human GPS.

Strax and his inability to understand a measured response always kills me: "If this weak and fleshy boy is to represent us, I strongly advise the issuing of scissor grenades, limbo vapor and tripleblast brain spitters." All this since they're going to "the North."

"You perfidious hag" is a term that will enter my lexicon this week.

Since I can't let the Clara mystery drop, Vastra mentions in the episode that Clara and the Doctor had unfinished business. This isn't exactly a groundbreaking detail.

Are there any clues I might have overlooked? Let us know in the comments below. 

"Doctor Who" airs Saturdays, 8 p.m. ET on BBC America.

"Doctor Who" Season 7