DOCTOR WHO - Mummy On The Orient Express - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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DOCTOR WHO - Mummy On The Orient Express

Christopher Morley digs around in the Doctor's past Egyptian adventures to uncover what the upcoming series 8 story, rumoured to be titled Mummy On The Orient Express, might have in store for our favourite Time Lord and his companions.

With the Twelfth Doctor possibly set to face a Mummy On The Orient Express (you may recall his previous self taking a rather important call from an as yet unidentified king or queen regarding an Egyptian goddess on the loose aboard a spacefaring equivalent to the famous train/route in the final moments of The Big Bang - plus Steven Moffat's recent revelation that series 8 guest star, Foxes, will be "joining us on board ... well, you'll see. Let's just say, the Doctor is finally catching up on his phone calls."), it looks like he might have to call upon any previous experience he has in dealing with the rich & varied culture of Ancient Egypt.

It shouldn't take him too long though. Once he gets the distracting but nonetheless attractive mental pictures of River Song undercover as Cleopatra (The Pandorica Opens) & Queen Nefertiti (Dinosaurs On A Spaceship) out of his mind he can recall throwing a rather large spanner into the plans of Sutekh- the last of the Osirian race. Back then (Pyramids Of Mars) he was in his Fourth incarnation...

One of the undoubted highlights of the man in the overly long scarf's 'Gothic Horror' period, he & Sarah-Jane Smith are drawn into Sutekh's plan to give the world a not entirely welcome gift of death after escaping a certain Planet Of Evil.

Materialising in 1911 at the family seat of the Scarmans, they quickly find out something isn't quite right when it comes to Marcus. A Professor of Archaeology at Oxford, he hasn't been quite the same since his return from the excavation of a pyramid in the Land of the Pharaohs.

He'll live to regret not legging it like his native crew did after seeing an odd glow emanating from a hieroglyphic Eye Of Horus- see Episode 1 for an explanation of just why if you haven't already (indeed all four parts are available on Youtube so there's no excuse not to catch up!).

The large stockpile of artefacts they find in a storeroom once they enter the house which will one day become UNIT headquarters should serve as some sort of clue as to what's going to happen here. It would appear that Marcus has brought some new domestic help back with him too, in the form of the fez-donning Ibrahim Namin. All very well you might think. Except for the not insignificant fact that Namin is a servant of Sutekh! He plays a mean organ solo too...

See those robot mummies standing around in the background? It could be that the one Twelve is called in to deal with, no doubt after apologising for the lateness of his response to the original call for help, is of a similar design.

We can't exactly rule out a full scale return for the Osirians, & indeed it could be rather exciting to see some further development for them. After all they're said to have had quite some influence on the culture of Egypt itself!

Fittingly, we'll explore just that now. The most obvious clue is the appearance of the species - they resemble the traditionally jackal-headed form of Anubis, Ancient Egyptian god of the dead & the afterlife said to be in control of the ' weighing of the heart' section of what the sons & daughters of the desert thought happened after they'd been mummified.

A look at the Egyptian Book Of The Dead should make things a little clearer ( a handy guide indeed, dating from around 1550 BC). Having looked at Sutekh's physical details, let's now delve into his name. Its one of many, also including Set, attributed to the god of chaos. And by poking around his family tree we soon find out he's got siblings- a brother ( Osiris) & two sisters ( Isis & Nephthys).

In line with the custom of the period he marries Nephthys- she'll play a bigger part in the Pyramids Of Mars prequel/sequel novel The Sands Of Time, by which point the Doctor will have regenerated & entered into his Fifth ' renewal'.

Sutekh/Set's brother, god of the afterlife, weds Isis- & they go on to have a child, Horus. He's the god of war & hunting, & plays a big part in the imprisonment Sutekh's trying so desperately to escape in Pyramids Of Mars. How's the nasty jackal going to do it?

Having sent a strong mental projection beyond the usually impenetrable walls of ' Sexy', though the Fourth prefers to call her ' old girl', he's got his eye on using the TARDIS to allow Marcus ( who's simply a reanimated corpse doing his bidding) to make his way to the pyramid in which he's currently trapped & deactivate the Eye Of Horus that caused Scarman to shuffle off this mortal coil in the first place.

The knowledge Four displays in destroying Sutekh, who has previously in turn destroyed the Osirian home world of Phaester Osiris, could well assist his later self aboard the Orient Express. Could it be that Isis herself wants revenge for the death of her husband/brother & has stooped to Set's lows in a bid to make him pay for the murder?

She certainly fits the ' Egyptian goddess' bill & would have a reasonable motive for a rampage. Plus if you recall the Tenth Doctor meeting Agatha Christie in The Unicorn & The Wasp, the possibility for a cameo from the writer of Murder On The Orient Express adds another layer. 

Its entirely plausible that she might be a passenger aboard the space-liner following her close encounter with the Vespiform & subsequent ten-day disappearance off the face of the Earth...

Perhaps she joins forces with him once more in his Twelfth body alongside Clara Oswald to investigate the mystery? Not least among the puzzles is just who could have placed the initial distress call to the TARDIS. Given the air of Egyptology about the whole thing its just possible that an unnamed Pharaoh and/ or his queen could be travelling aboard the Express too!

Maybe its Nefertiti's hubby Amenhotep ( later known as Akhenaten after instituting religious reforms which dictated that the Aten, a sun-disk often believed to be affiliated with Ra, was to be the focus of all worship). Consider his Hymn To The Aten, often believed to be among the first such hymns in existence- extracts from which read ( translated of course) as ' How manifold it is, what thou hast made!
They are hidden from the face (of man).
O sole god, like whom there is no other!
Thou didst create the world according to thy desire,
Whilst thou wert alone: All men, cattle, and wild beasts,
Whatever is on earth, going upon (its) feet,
And what is on high, flying with its wings.
The countries of Syria and Nubia, the land of Egypt,
Thou settest every man in his place,
Thou suppliest their necessities:
Everyone has his food, and his time of life is reckoned.
Their tongues are separate in speech,
And their natures as well;
Their skins are distinguished,
As thou distinguishest the foreign peoples.
Thou makest a Nile in the underworld,
Thou bringest forth as thou desirest
To maintain the people (of Egypt)
According as thou madest them for thyself,
The lord of all of them, wearying (himself) with them,
The lord of every land, rising for them,
The Aton of the day, great of majesty'

That's the middle bit. The end could be said to be even gushier, containing a love letter of sorts to his Great Royal Wife-

There is no other who knows you,
Only your son, Neferkheprure, Sole-one-of-Re,
Whom you have taught your ways and your might.
<Those on> earth come from your hand as you made them.
When you have dawned they live.
When you set they die;
You yourself are lifetime, one lives by you.
All eyes are on <your> beauty until you set.
All labor ceases when you rest in the west;
When you rise you stir [everyone] for the King,
Every leg is on the move since you founded the earth.
You rouse them for your son who came from your body.
The King who lives by Maat, the Lord of the Two Lands,
Neferkheprure, Sole-one-of-Re,
The Son of Re who lives by Maat. the Lord of crowns,
Akhenatrn, great in his lifetime;
(And) the great Queen whom he loves, the Lady of the Two Lands,
Nefer-nefru-Aten Nefertiti, living forever.

Speaking of whom, even 'Neffy' herself at a point before or after Dinosaurs On A Spaceship in her own personal time-line could have been the one to pick up the phone. How she'd interact with Twelve given her lusty designs on his previous incarnation is surely something all those who enjoyed her previous regal appearance would delight in. But of course she doesn't hold the monopoly on Egyptian queens high in the popular imagination....

Which brings us nicely to Cleopatra. Ten's met her & apparently even seen her bedchamber (The Girl In The Fireplace)- the tease! In his younger days he's said to have learned swordsmanship from a captain of her guard ( The Masque Of Mandragora) & the Sixth Doctor novel State Of Change finds he & Peri witnessing the wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey technological advances made by an alternate Roman Empire of which Cleo's very much a part alongside Mark Antony.

So a lot of history to be going on with as far as this particular riddle of the sands proceeds!

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