a real world point of view
|A Town Called Mercy|
|Main enemy:||The Gunslinger, Kahler-Jex|
|Main setting:||Mercy, Nevada, 1870|
|Premiere broadcast:||15 September 2012|
|Premiere network:||BBC One|
|Format:||1x45 minute episode|
|Doctor Who television stories|
|Dinosaurs on a Spaceship||The Power of Three|
|Dinosaurs on a Spaceship||Asylum of the Daleks|
|Behind the scenes video|
Missing Mexico by 200 miles, the Doctor ends up in Mercy, Nevada. Something's not quite right; the locals are hostile to strangers and a border of stone and wood surrounds the town. As the Doctor soon finds out, a Gunslinger is behind this, and not just an ordinary one.
Against the backdrop of a starry night desert, an unseen woman narrates a story her great grandmother told her when she was a girl... a story about a man who fell from the stars and was weighed down by the things he had seen, giving the impression it might be yet another legend about the Doctor.
A cyborg known as the Gunslinger shoots down a probe in the middle of the desert while chasing Kahler-Mas. The cyborg tells his victim to make peace with his Gods, being told by Mas that they are his as well. The Gunslinger says they are not his Gods anymore. Mas tries to pick a piece of debris to defend himself, however, the cyborg knocks it away and prevents his target from moving. Pinned to the ground by the Gunslinger, Mas asks his executioner if he's the last one. Before opening fire, the Gunslinger replies that there is just one more: the Doctor.
In the desert during the daytime, the Doctor, Amy and Rory examine the population number on the sign of a town called Mercy, seeing it has 81 inhabitants. There are several odd things about the town including a sign saying 'KEEP OUT' and a strange stone and wood boundary line surrounding the town; according to a scan with the sonic, it's just what it looks like, nothing else. The trio enter the town, unaware the Gunslinger is watching them, and take note of the townsfolk's hostile stares; even more odd is the fact that the town is using electricity, which will not be discovered until about ten years later. Because of all the odd events happening at once, the Doctor wonders if someone has been peeking at his Christmas list.They enter the Saloon, where the Doctor orders a drink (,"Tea, but the strong stuff; leave the bag in.") They're asked by the patrons who they are, prompting the Doctor to introduce himself and his in-laws, but is cut off after introducing himself. The now-hostile patrons demand to know if the Doctor is an alien. The Doctor says that in his terms, they're the aliens, but in their terms, he IS. The patrons get up from their seats and grab the strangers, dragging them to the edge of town. They toss the Doctor outside the boundary and hold him at gunpoint to prevent him from coming back in; they hold Amy and Rory still to prevent them from helping the Doctor.
A man spots the Gunslinger approaching and they prepare for the worst as the Preacher says a prayer. At the last second, however, a shot is fired from the crowd. The town marshal, Isaac, appears and tells the people to let the Doctor and his friends back in, pointing out the Doctor is not the one the Gunslinger wants. This is met with defiance as the Doctor fits the description of who the Gunslinger demanded - an alien doctor. However, Issac tells them that they know who the Gunslinger really wants, saying it's no reason to send the Doctor to his death. Isaac orders the Doctor to quickly get back inside the boundry; he does and the Gunslinger departs, appearing angry.
Back in his office, Isaac explains the Gunslinger appeared three weeks ago, placing the boundary around the town and demanding they hand over the "Doctor". Though he hasn't killed anyone, he's stopped supplies and reinforcements entering, and the town is slowly starving to death. When someone tried exiting the boundary, the Gunslinger shot at him, putting a hole through his Stetson. The Doctor believes the Gunslinger has poor aim, but Isaac point out that the hat was the target. This annoys the Doctor, who loves hats. Amy reminds the Doctor they were supposed to go to Mexico's Day of the Dead festival. The Doctor ignores her complaint as usual, demanding the Gunslinger's real target; the Marshal's office is the safest place to be if the townsfolk want to hand him over. Though Isaac protests, a voice tells him to stop putting on the act; it comes from the cell. A man pulls the blankey hiding him off and introduces hismelf as Kahler-Jex.
The Doctor is delighted to meet Jex explaining the Kahler are a race renowned for their technological expertise. Jex explains his ship crashed out in the desert some years ago and he was rescued by the townsfolk who took him in. Since then he became the town doctor and cured an outbreak of Cholera and used the remains of his ship to give the town electricity. The Doctor is curious why the Gunslinger is after him; Isaac explains Mercy is a town of second chances, defending Jex. He is also angry that the townsfolk are thinking of turning their friend over to the stranger. The Doctor decides to use the TARDIS to help Jex escape and evacuate the town but first they must engage in a little slight of hand to get past the Gunslinger.
Grabbing the Stetson Isaac showed him, the Doctor borrows the Preacher's horse, (whom the Preacher named Joshua, but the horse prefers the name Susan according to the Doctor), and uses it to ride out and collect the TARDIS. In the meantime, Isaac, dressed in Jex's hat and coat, along with Rory run off in another direction to buy time. The Gunslinger takes the bait and chases after the two men but curiously holds back on firing when his systems warn of the high risk of hitting Rory. In town, Amy conforts Jex, who tells her that he knows she's a mother. Curious, Amy asks how he knows. Jex says it's because it's in her eyes, kindness, sorrow, and love. He goes on to say that he's something of a father himself.
In the desert the Doctor finds the power cables from Jex's ship and follows them despite the original plan; Jex notices this because of power fluctuations from the Doctor messing with the cords, becoming worried that the Doctor isn't following their plan. Amy simply tells the worried Kahler "welcome to my life", implying he should just accept the Doctor never sticks to plans, even his own (like always). The Gunslinger catches up to Rory and Isaac and pins them down behind a cliff face, having switched to heat-seeking vision to find them easier.
The Doctor finds the Kahler ship hidden but undamaged as Jex claimed. After some effort he manages to open it but trips the ship's alarm: alerting Jex and the Gunslinger who breaks off his pursuit of the two men. In town Jex is panicking because the Doctor has gone against the plan. The Doctor enters the ship and manages to override the defence system and asks the computer what it knows about the Gunslinger. Unfortunately the ship does not understand the term so the Doctor tries a different approach and ask it about its crew. His request brings up logs detailing horrific experiments. The Doctor watches in silent shock, listening to Jex calmly detail the events as his victims scream in the background.
Back in Mercy, Amy finds herself staring down the barrel of a gun held by Jex who has figured by now the Doctor has learned some things about him that the townsfolk won't understand or forgive. He is going to flee and take Amy with him as a hostage since the Gunslinger's programming forbids him from harming civilians unless the situation is extreme. Jex's escape is thwarted by the return of Rory and Isaac who demand answers.
In the desert the Doctor leaves the ship and comes face to face with the Gunslinger poised to attack. He manages to get the alien to stand down by revealing he knows what Jex did and he knows who the Gunslinger is. The cyborg lowers his weapon slightly. The Doctor has worked out the Gunslinger is one of Jex's "test subjects" and pleads with him to spare the town and let Jex be brought to trial. The enraged cyborg refuses but reveals he hasn't gone after Jex in the town because he doesn't want to harm the civilians who would likely get in the way. He leaves but warns the Doctor the next person who tries to leave the town will be killed unless the Kahler is handed over.
At the marshal's office Jex tries to wave off his actions as a moment of panic but the Doctor returns and accuses Jex of being a liar and murderer. He explains to Isaac, Amy, and Rory that the Gunslinger is a cyborg created by Jex and a team of scientists. He goes on to explain that they took unsuspecting volunteers on the pretext of military training and experimented on them and those that did not die were turned into weapons. Rather than deny his actions Jex admits and even defends them, explaining Kahler suffered a devastating nine-year long war which had decimated half the planet. Kahler authority ordered their scientists to create weapons able to end the war; they did. In a week the cyborg army defeated the enemy before deactivating; unfortunately the Gunslinger didn't. Jex guesses he was damaged in battle, restoring his original personality and allowing him to disregarded pre-programmed orders. Since then he has hunted down and killed the people responsible for turning him into a monster, wishing to finish it with Jex.
The group is unsure of what to do; Rory believes that they should hand Jex over to the Gunslinger... he is a war criminal who deserves to pay for what he's done, and there is no reason why everyone in town should die for him. However Amy and Isaac disagree with this, with Isaac pointing out that Jex saved the town from cholera and Amy doesn't believe it's their place to march a man to his execution. The Doctor struggles with the decision when Jex says he could never make a hard choice like the scientist did. This provokes the Doctor's fury and he drags Jex to his feet and marches him outside. Rory attempts to stop Amy from interfering, pointing out it's Jax or them, but Amy isn't willing to let the Doctor do what he's about to. The townspeople gather as the Doctor pushes Jax over the boundary to face his surviving victim; he even points a gun at him, not knowing if he'd use it. Amy stops the Doctor with a gun and pointing out this isn't his way. The Doctor responds that every time he faces evil he tries to understand, and has even shown mercy to his enemies, such as the Master and the Daleks however each time they've come back and killed again. For once he is going to think of the victims but Amy reminds him that this isn't the right way to deal with things and talks him down.
Before the Doctor can get Jex back over the boundary the Gunslinger appears behind him ready to kill. The scientist addresses the cyborg by its original name Kahler-Tek; having remembered the names of all the test subjects. He pleads with Tek that he has changed, but the cyborg doesn't relent and opens fire. Isacc, however, steps in the path of the blast to save his friend, but is gravely wounded. With his last breath he makes the Doctor the new Marshal and tells him to protect the town. A distraught Doctor sends Jex back to his cell (ordering the townsfolk to keep him safe) and confronts Tek, saying this must end. The Cyborg agrees and offers a final ultimatum; hand over Jex by noon tomorrow or everyone will be killed. As the Gunslinger departs, a shocked Amy exclaims that the Doctor is now the Marshal of the town; he retorts "and you're the Deputy."
Night comes, and the Doctor wonders what he should do as the Undertaker gives him a cup of coffee; if Issac thought the Doctor was good enough to be Marshal, he has complete faith in him. However, he begins taking measurements again before the Doctor sends him away. The preacher comes into the Marshal's office and greets the Doctor, along with Amy and Rory. He tells them to come outside as there is a Lynch mob arriving. On the preacher's suggestion, the Doctor grabs the gun and holster , putting them on. They go outside to greet the mob. They tell the Doctor that he should go for a walk; when he returns Jex will be gone and he won't need to feel guilty. However, the Doctor tells them that it would betray the town's principals and Issac's sacrifice. They again explain that they are only concerned for their families; a boy aims a gun at the Doctor. The Doctor asks him if he really has the courage to pull the trigger, eventually talking him and the mob down.
Once the mob leaves, the Doctor tells Amy and Rory "give me a Dalek any day," implying he finds dealing with scared people harder. He returns to the cells to talk with Jex who also tries to goad him into handing him over to Tek. The Doctor tells him that he won't. Sensing how conflicted the Doctor is, Jex says it would be so much easier if he was just one thing, instead of two; the mad scientist or the benevolent doctor. Finding Jex's attempt to goad him amusing, the Doctor says it's a pretty clever idea on how to make up for all the lives that he took, being the town's doctor, but it's not up to Jex to decide when his debt to society is up. Jex then explains he fears dying because Kahler religion says once they die, they have to climb a mountain, carrying the souls of all they wronged in life; Jex cries that Isaac, his only friend in Mercy, will be added to his load. The Doctor slightly sympathises.
The Doctor decides to call the Gunslinger to a duel instead of handing Jex over the next day, facing the cyborg with his sonic screwdriver; he uses it to produce a high-pitched frequency that shatters glass and disorientates the Gunslinger. The Doctor takes advantage of his confusion and runs off as the Gunslinger fires random shots that cause property damage. The townspeople, who had used make-up to copy Jex's facial marks that the Gunslinger uses to ID Jex, run about to cause confusion. As part of the Doctor's plan, Jex uses the confusion to escape town and head for his ship.
Back in town, the Gunslinger searches for Jex, breaking into the church and frightening the patrons. Catching sight of a little girl, the Gunslinger lowers his weapon and leaves. Tired of his automatic targeting falling for the Doctor's trick, the Gunslinger switches to manual, finding the Doctor hiding near by. The Doctor explains Jex has gone, enraging the Gunslinger. Jex calls from his ship explaining that if he fled to another planet, the Gunslinger would follow him and put others in danger once more; Jex activates his ship's self-destruct and commits suicide, somethng the Gunslinger sees as honourable. Because the Gunslinger sees himself as nothing more than a weapon of war, he prepares to self-destruct a safe distance in the desert. However, the Doctor tells him that while he may have built as a weapon of war, he can now protect the peace instead.
Having brought the TARDIS to Mercy to collect the electrics Jex left behind to ensure history is not damaged, the Doctor asks Amy and Rory if they'd like to find out what happened to the monkeys and dogs that were sent into space during the 50's and 60's. However, they tell him it's time they went back home as their friends are starting to notice they age faster (due to the time they spend with the Doctor). He complies and they board the TARDIS. The Doctor tests to see if he can draw faster than someone before entering himself.
The woman narrates again, saying that Mercy was already used to the strange and unexplainable. The little girl from the church walks off a short distance from the town; the woman says her great grandmother must have been a little girl at the time, implying this child is her. She goes on to explain that Mercy has never had any kind of official law enforcer since then, but the residents never seem to worry, as if they have a secret protector. The little girl looks off at a hill, where the Gunslinger is standing. Looking off into the distance, a close up of the Gunslinger shows that the Doctor made him the new Marshal.
- The Doctor - Matt Smith
- Amy Pond - Karen Gillan
- Rory Williams - Arthur Darvill
- The Gunslinger - Andrew Brooke
- Kahler-Jex - Adrian Scarborough
- Kahler-Mas - Dominic Kemp
- Sadie - Joanne McQuinn
- The Preacher - Byrd Wilkins
- Abraham - Garrick Hagon
- Isaac - Ben Browder
- Dockery - Sean Benedict
- Walter - Rob Cavazos
|Executive Producers Steven Moffat and Caroline Skinner|
|Not every person who worked on this adventure was credited. The absence of a credit for a position doesn't necessarily mean the job wasn't required. The information above is based solely on observations of the actual end credits of the episodes as broadcast, and does not relay information from IMDB or other sources.|
- The Doctor mentions the Master and the Daleks when telling Amy why he is willing to let the Gunslinger take revenge on Kahler-Jex.
- The Doctor mentions Henry VIII when he describes an incident where Rory left his mobile phone charger in Henry's suites on a previous adventure.
- The Doctor rides a horse named Susan.
- The Doctor attempts to take Amy and Rory to Mexico to see the Day of the Dead festival.
- Kahler-Jex can tell that Amy is a mother.
- The Sheriff of Mercy was not in town during this time.
- Kahler-Jex' ship used an Abraxas Security Systems program.
Story notes Edit
- Working titles for this story included The Gunslinger and Mercy.
- Adrian Scarborough (Kahler Jex) previously played Rupert Van Thal in AUDIO: The Boy That Time Forgot.
- Garrick Hagon (Abraham) previously played Ky in TV: The Mutants and the Jester in AUDIO: The Axis of Insanity.
- This was the first televised Western episode since The Gunfighters in 1966. Across all media, however, it was merely one of many Westerns, and wasn't even Matt Smith's first foray into the genre, since he had read 2010's original audio, The Runaway Train. That story even featured Amy, though not Karen Gillan, so it was at least Amy's second trip to this era.
- For this episode, the Doctor Who logo's texture had a wooden look with gunshots, representing the story's Western setting.
- This was the first episode of the BBC Wales revival whose visual effects were not credited to The Mill. Although various episodes had, in the past, required help from other companies, The Mill had always managed to retain the main "Visual Effects" credit. The most notable recent example of this was The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe, where some of the effects were done by Space Digital. There, Space received an "Additional Visual Effects" credit. Here, however, they become the first company other than The Mill to get the main VFX credit since Rose.
- This is the first episode not to feature the TARDIS interior since A Good Man Goes to War.
- As is routine for post-2005 Doctor Who, a "NEXT TIME" trailer for the next episode is shown at the end of the episode.
- Overnight ratings showed that a total of 6.6 million people watched the episode in the UK.
- Final Ratings for A Town Called Mercy showed that a total of 8.42 million people watched the episode in the UK.
- 556,000 watched the episode in Australia.
Filming locations Edit
- Mini Hollywood, Spain
- Texas Hollywood, Spain
Production errors Edit
- When the Doctor first puts on the Marshal badge, he puts it on his lapel. Later on it changes between the lapel and his breast pocket
- This episode is set in 1870 and a Colt Single Action Army can be seen aimed at the Doctor at the beginning of the episode, yet this revolver was not invented until 1872.
- When the Doctor and the Ponds first arrive in Mercy, the Doctor notices a street lamp and the camera cuts to a overhead shot. In this shot, Amy can be seen turning around slowly, but when the camera cuts to a close up shot of the gang, Amy is facing the front again and turns around again like in the overhead shot.
- The Doctor claims to be 1200 years old. If true, 97 years have passed for him since the events of The Impossible Astronaut/The Wedding of River Song.
- The Doctor, in his first incarnation, has previously visited the American Old West. (TV: The Gunfighters)
- The Doctor again makes reference to having a Christmas list, asking if anyone has been peeking at it. (TV: Dinosaurs on a Spaceship)
- The Doctor again dons a Stetson. (TV:The Impossible Astronaut, Closing Time, The Wedding of River Song)
- While trying to confuse the Gunslinger and buy Kahler Jex time to get to his ship, the Doctor briefly changes into his green jacket, first seen in TV: Let's Kill Hitler.
- The Doctor says that he "speaks horse", similar to his being able to communicate with cats and babies. (TV: The Lodger, A Good Man Goes to War, Closing Time)
- It is once again noted that travelling without companions affects the Doctor and his actions. (TV: The Runaway Bride, Last of the Time Lords, The Waters of Mars, The End of Time, Meanwhile in the TARDIS 2)
- This episode may take place for Amy and Rory during the seven weeks they spend travelling with the Doctor in the following episode The Power Of Three. In The Power Of Three we see the scene where Rory loses his phone charger in Henry VIII's bedroom, which was referred to in this episode as having already happened.
Home video releases Edit
to be added