Doctor Who "A Town Called Mercy" Spoiler-Free Preview

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• This Western episode isn’t what you might be expecting from the footage in the trailers. It’s a surprisingly mature, dark story which engages in much ethical debate, and shows us a side of the Doctor we don’t usually see.

• There are no clear-cut bad guys, only shades of grey.

• It’s not a great episode for female actors. We reckon that only one female guest star gets to speak a line (on-screen, at least – there’s also some framing narration). That’s a measly five words!

• Crossing the line is a key plot point – both literally and metaphorically.

• The Doctor spends more time packing heat than he ever has before, and does some things you may not agree with.

• Although it is addressed, you may still find yourself wondering why the Doctor doesn’t simply use the TARDIS to fix the whole problem.

• This episode features two Doctors!

• The fact that 80 has become 81 has significance.

• The Doctor reveals a liking for a certain soap opera, and a taste for the strong stuff.

• Apparently you can do surprisingly impressive things with Tupperware and moss.

• The Doctor befriends a male who prefers to be treated as female.

• Someone gets the measure of the Doctor – twice.

• At one point, it all goes a bit Spartacus-with-Henna.

• A fallen angel becomes a protector.

• Egg terminate!

Ian Berriman twitter.com/ianberriman

Read our Ben Browder interview .
Watch the "A Town Called Mercy" trailer .
Read all our Doctor Who series 7 reviews .

Deputy Editor, SFX

Ian Berriman has been working for SFX – the world's leading sci-fi, fantasy and horror magazine – since March 2002. He also writes for Total Film, Electronic Sound and Retro Pop; other publications he's contributed to include Horrorville, When Saturday Comes and What DVD. A life-long Doctor Who fan, he's also a supporter of Hull City, and live-tweets along to BBC Four's Top Of The Pops repeats from his @TOTPFacts account.