"The God Complex" is one of my favourite Eleventh Doctor Doctor Who episodes, mainly because I love stories where characters are trapped in houses or hotels. Watching it again last night, I found I still liked the mise en scene as well as the guest stars and the alien minotaur. I'm a little unsure what writer Toby Whithouse was trying to say, though, and the climax is a bit insubstantial.
There is something intriguing about the concept; a monster who uses hallucinations to inspire fear in order to provoke people to turn to their various sources of faith. He is then able to convert that faith into an adulation for himself that he can then feed on. There is something intriguing about this connexion between fear and faith, whether it be the political blogger (Dimitri Leonidas) and his faith in conspiracy theories or the Muslim nurse (Amara Karan) and her faith in God.
The implicit idea, though, that faith in itself is somehow inherently destructive doesn't quite make sense, particularly when Amy (Karen Gillen) is perfectly right in thinking her faith in the Doctor (Matt Smith) is justified. Though, is it really faith when he really does save her time and time again?
Wikipedia points out that the concept is very similar to one of the ideas in the Seventh Doctor story Curse of Fenric in which the Doctor much more convincingly breaks Ace's faith in him. However, I like how the concept works in "The God Complex" before its exact nature is revealed. When it's a group of isolated survivors and suddenly one of them starts spouting, "Praise him!" for no apparent reason; I like that sense of horror that anyone of any belief system can be radicalised to some arbitrary nonsense at any moment.
I also really like the scene where the Doctor first confronts the minotaur by setting up a room full of mirrors. It's a really cool effect; you're never sure where he is in relation to the monster but there's tension that the creature's sense of smell or something else will lead him to the Doctor at any moment. With the minotaur and the human imagination turned against itself, the story also strongly resembles the Second Doctor story The Mind Robber and more distantly I'm reminded of Mark Z. Danielewski's House of Leaves. Of course, a minotaur in a labyrinth goes back to the original minotaur myth, a story I always liked when I was a kid. Maybe that's one of the reasons I grew up to like haunted house stories.
This episode featured one of Amy Pond's better outfits, a denim miniskirt with a bomber jacket.
Twitter Sonnet #1218
The poles beside the glass have blurred to grey.
A motion carried burned the static toast.
Removed from heated grills the bread's a clay.
A neutral word became a risky boast.
The sound of closing mouths adorn the ear.
The open teeth reveal a plane of plaque.
The ice became a frosty can of beer.
The yonder bag became a very sack.
Without direction cars became a wheel.
The flattened die was little like a coin.
The numbers squeezed along the ridge to deal.
The longest legs extend beyond the groin.
A quiet cloud of cotton worlds absorbs.
Within the plastic moon we stowed the orbs.