Presented mostly from the perspective of Madame Vastra (Neve McIntosh) and Jenny Flint (Catrin Stewart), “The Crimson Horror” follows the Silurian detective and her companion, along with their (always amusing) Sontaran butler Strax (Dan Starkey), on their investigation of a number of glowing red-skinned corpses in Sweetville, the private community of self-professed savior Winifred Gillyflower (Diana Rigg). Given an image captured in the latest victim’s eyes at the time of his death, Vastra believes The Doctor (Matt Smith) may be connected somehow to the troubling events and sends Jenny in undercover to find him.
The discovery of a caged and weakened Doctor and a fake match factory yields more questions than answers. Helping The Doctor escape, Jenny learns the tale of The Doctor and Clara‘s (Jenna-Louise Coleman) investigation into the odd murders, an organic poison, and a “preservation process’ that leaves the community with a large number of red-skinned bodies.
Vastra recognizes the signs of death from an ancient enemy of her people, a red leech which threatened her people millions of years ago which has managed to evolve and survive. When The Doctor and Clara stop Gillyflower’s plans to poison the surrounding area with a rocket of her poison with the help of Strax and Gillyflower’s daughter Ada (Rachael Stirling) who saved the Time Lord from being killed by hiding his deformed body until it was discovered by Jenny.
“The Crimson Horror” is a good episode with some great moments involving the inclusion of Vastra (the great detective), Jenny (who gets to kick some ass), and Strax (who nearly kills a horse for getting him lost). Given the return of these characters and a strong set-up, the episode’s final act is a bit of a letdown. It’s not bad by any means, but I was hoping for more. (And, to be honest, the sepia-toned flashback felt rushed, and mostly unnecessary.) The Doctor leaves without explaining Clara’s existence to an inquisitive Jenny, or letting Clara know exactly why he decided to bring her back to that particular time and place.
The amusing epilogue returns Clara to the present where she’s confronted with Angie (Eve De Leon Allen) and Artie‘s (Kassius Carey Johnson), the two kids she babysits when she isn’t off with The Doctor, investigation into Clara’s time traveling (including finding the other version of Clara in Victorian England). This means The Doctor will have a pair of extra companions, and a question from Clara he may not want or be able to answer, on next week’s episode which also gives us the return of the Cybermen.