Diana Rigg and Rachel Stirling are the main guest stars who are given plenty to do in Mark Gatiss’ wonderful blend of The League of Gentlemen and historical Doctor Who stories – and that’s before you throw in the Great Detective and her cohorts, whose investigations form enough of the first part of the episode for you to start to wonder if this is a Doctor-lite tale that has slipped under the radar.
There’s almost too much going on for a 45-minute episode – a fact acknowledged by the fun way in which director Saul Metzstein presents the flashback sequence – and inevitably that means there’s not as much time given to elements of the season that have taken centre stage occasionally. Yes, the guest stars from The Snowmen ask about Clara’s apparent resurrection, but there’s an even bigger – and better – twist connected to that to come before the end of the episode.
As with Hide a couple of weeks ago, there are some quite strong horror images in the episode, particularly in the realisation of the Crimson Horror itself, but they are presented within a very enhanced reality. Rigg and Stirling obviously enjoy themselves in the Steampunk milieu, and for the first time in this entire season, you may well wish this was a two-parter.
Verdict: Although it occasionally feels a bit rushed, this is an enjoyable romp. 8/10