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Recap / Doctor Who S32 E11 "The God Complex"

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Time to get psychological...

"Bring me death! Bring me glory! My master, my lord, I'm here! Bring me death!"

Original air date: September 17, 2011

Production code: 2.11

The One With… the hotel from Hell.

Written by Toby Whithouse.

Interior: the Overlook Hotel. A policewoman, Lucy, cautiously walks along the hotel's red carpet hallways. Seeing a specific door, she turns and opens it. A gorilla steps out from the suite's bathroom and stares back at her. There are other nightmares: shadows, creatures, a clown sitting on a bed with a balloon. Flashes of something go through her head along with the words "praise him". A smile crosses her face, and she closes the door. Taking out a worn notepad, she starts to anxiously write down how she is the last one left, but it doesn't matter now because she will be released soon. Her writing turns automatic, as she becomes stuck on the words "praise him, praise him..."

The TARDIS lands in a hotel hallway. Amy and Rory immediately complain about landing in a hotel, but the Doctor recognizes that it is an alien structure designed meticulously to look like a Earth hotel of the 1980s. They walk down towards the lobby, finding that the windows and doors are bricked up. Suddenly, they are set on by three people ready to attack them: Rita, a medical worker, Howie, a lanky nerd and conspiracy blogger, and Gibbis (quite literally Promoted Fanboy David Walliams), an alien from a highly cowardly species. After calming the situation down, the Doctor learn they, plus a guy called Joe, are the last of their group.

Rita shows quick analytic thinking and a generally clever mind, and the Doctor instantly picks her as his new companion (and jokingly tells Amy she's fired now). The Doctor offers to take them away with his TARDIS, but she's suddenly gone from where they had left her. Howie explains that the hotel's layout can change in an instant, and escape is impossible.

The three take the TARDIS crew to Joe, a gambler. They have him tied up in the hotel's dining room, where every other chair is occupied by wooden ventriloquist dummies. Joe is stammering "praise him, praise him", which Rita notes is what happened to all the others. She also explains that there is a creature which roams the hallways, attacking and killing those who have been "taken" like Joe. The Doctor insists on exploring the hotel, and the group joins him, with Joe (his mouth duct-taped shut) wheeled along with the group.

They find numerous pictures of the dead, human and alien alike, mounted on the lobby walls, with captions describing each person's greatest fear. Amy finds the sheets from Lucy's notebook in a hallway, and the Doctor realizes that whatever is killing the guests does so by luring the person to open a specific door to witness their worst fear. At that moment, it is able to occupy the person's mind and turn them into a state like Joe's. He warns everyone to not open a single door unless instructed.

Of course, Howie is drawn to one, where he is shamed by a group of beautiful young women for being a stuttering conspiracy nerd. The Doctor quickly closes it, hoping that it is not too late. Joe starts to utter "praise him", luring the beast near. Rory briefly catches a glimpse of a door labelled as a fire exit, but it disappears when he turns back to look at it. Amy and Gibbis find one with Weeping Angels — possibly meant for Gibbis. The Doctor instructs everyone into specific doors not containing anyone's fears, but Rita, pushing Joe, winds up in her room anyway. It has her father in it, mocking her for average grades. Because Rita is distracted, Joe goes outside, and is killed by the beast.

The group returns Joe's body to the dining room. The Doctor talks with Rita and Gibbis, learning that each were pulled from their worlds and brought here. Rita is from Earth. Gibbis' species finds happiness in meek and nervous slavery, and he can't wait to go back home again and quietly await the next random alien invasion of his planet.

As they determine their next plan, the Doctor becomes aware that Howie has started to say "praise him". The group uses Howie's voice over the intercom to lure the beast into the hotel's beauty parlour and trap him there temporarily. The Doctor talks to the Minotaur-creature and discovers that it wishes to die, and he realizes that the hotel has become a prison for it. Instinct forces it to feed and the hotel provides sustenance for it. Howie manages to escape by appealing to Gibbis' desire to be used and seeks out the beast so it can kill him. It breaks out and does so.

Unfortunately, Amy opens up a door that calls to her. Rita notices, and tells her "You shouldn't've done that." The Doctor happens to open another door (to Room 11) that has called to him, and glumly recognizes what is waiting for him. We never get to see it (although the Cloister Bell is heard ringing), and he puts a "do not disturb" sign on the door.

They bring Howie's body back to the dining room, and place him next to Joe. The Doctor tells them that the monster must feed on fear. Since Rory has no fear left in his life, the monster obviously doesn't want him. The answer, the Doctor tells everyone, is to focus on faith instead of fear. The Doctor chats with Rita, reassuring her that everyone will be fine. She comments that she knows things will be fine — after all, this is obviously Jahannam; Muslim Hell. She's lived a good life, so she knows that Allah will judge her fairly and she can deal with whatever she encounters. The fact that she's now stuck in a shifting hotel with a couple of aliens is filed under "freak out about later".

After everyone's regrouped, the Doctor promises Rita he'll get her out and show her the stars. Rita asks the Doctor why he feels the need to be responsible for everyone, commenting that he has quite the God complex. The Doctor seems to take this to heart, but is distracted when he notices a CCTV camera nearby. He rushes off to find the room where all of the cameras lead, while Rita remains, staring into the camera wistfully. "Praise him," she says.

When the Doctor finds the security booth he begins scouring the screens for signs of the Minotaur, he sees only Rita walking further into the hotel. The Doctor calls a nearby room, begging her to let him find her and save her. She refuses, telling him that the hotel's shifting rooms would keep them miles apart. As the Minotaur approaches, the Doctor's pleas for Rita to save herself go unanswered. Rita hangs up and begs the Doctor to look away while she dies, in order to give her some final dignity. The Doctor sonics the screen off as Rita bravely, and happily, faces her death.

The Doctor goes into a violent rage for a few moments while the others look away.

Everyone returns to the hotel's bar. The Doctor comes to realise that the beast is not feeding on fear at all; it's the strong faith of each of its victims. Joe, the gambler, was savvy to luck; Howie was a conspiracy theorist that stuck to his convictions, Rita was a devoted Muslim, and Gibbis, who hasn't been affected yet, relies completely on his planet's many conquerors. Rory just has no real single point of great faith, and the building has been showing him exits because it has no use for him. The Doctor suffers a Heroic BSoD when he realises that he's been encouraging the gang to focus on their faith, and that he's caused their deaths. He's interrupted when he hears that Amy is now saying "praise him". Her faith in the Doctor is what brought them to the hotel in the first place, and what is feeding the beast right now.

The four race to the door that Amy opened previously, followed by the beast. Inside is young Amelia Pond, waiting in her coat with her suitcase to join her Raggedy Doctor on the night she met him. As Rory and Gibbis try to hold the beast back, the Doctor, speaking to both Amys, tells her he can't save her. He took her along because he was vain and lonely. He ruins lives and lies to everyone. He invites people along for a ride, knowing that his life is full of war, death and loss. Because he's not a God, and not a Devil — just "a mad man with a box". It's time for her, "Amy Williams", to just go home. Amy's faith is broken, and the beast lets out a savage roar, falling to the floor. The Doctor races outside, finding it dying.

As they watch, the hotel starts to dissolve around them, revealing it to be a digital simulation within a large ship. The Doctor talks to the beast, a relative of the Nimon, in its own language. The beast tells him that for such an ancient creature, who caused so much destruction and has the blood of the innocent on his conscience, death would be a mercy. The Doctor agrees and tells the beast it's ok to accept death. The beast curtly tells him that it wasn't talking about itself; it meant the Doctor.

After the beast passes away, the Doctor recognises the place as an automated prison ship, plucking people with strong faith out of time and space as food for the beast. It glitched, causing the fears of past occupants to still be shown. Nearby sits the TARDIS, and as they climb aboard, Gibbis asks for a lift back to his home planet.

Some time later, the TARDIS arrives in London, outside a townhouse. The Doctor presents the house, and a new car, to Amy and Rory as a gift, but Amy suspects that something is up. As Rory checks out the house, the Doctor tells Amy that they must stop travelling with him, as only death and destruction come to those that accompany them. The Doctor makes for a quick goodbye and disappears back into his TARDIS before Amy can protest.

Praise him.

  • Abusive Precursors: Whoever built the Minotaur's prison and programmed it to roam across the universe, picking up innocent people and offering them as sacrifices, for all eternity. The fact that the programming has picked up several bad glitches implies that it's been around so long that its builders aren't either alive or bothering to keep an eye on it anymore, if they ever did to begin with.
  • Abstract Eater: The Minotaur appears to feed on people's fears at first, but it actually turns out to be their faiths.
  • Actual Pacifist: The Doctor at first praises Gibbis' people as this, for their long history of total pacifism in the face of invasion after invasion. Later, when he sees how Gibbis operates, he changes his mind and begins to wonder if they aren't something closer to Dirty Coward or Les Collaborateurs.
  • Admiring the Abomination: The Doctor, predictably enough. He has to sneak a glimpse of the Minotaur through a keyhole, and is transfixed by the sight.
    "I'm sorry, I just have to see what it is. I just — I have to see." [...] "Oh, look at you. You are beautiful."
  • Alas, Poor Villain: The Minotaur feeds because it must, and wishes it didn't. The Doctor pities it as it dies, and it pities the Doctor because he won't die.
  • All Myths Are True: The Doctor mentions that there are several Minotaur-esque aliens, such as the Nimons. The Third Doctor had also previously encountered a Minotaur in Atlantis.
  • Alpha Bitch: Howie's worst fear is a room full of them, who make fun of his stutter.
  • Anti-Villain: The Minotaur doesn't want to kill anyone, it just has to eat.
  • Arc Words: Praise him.
  • Author Appeal: The idea to have a Minotaur be the monster came from Toby Whithouse's love for Greek mythology.
  • Axe-Crazy: Inverted. The people under the Minotaur's influence are obviously insane, but incredibly peaceful and agreeable. The danger doesn't come directly from them, but from the fact that they call the Minotaur.
  • Apocalyptic Log: Amy finds a handwritten account from one of the Minotaur's former victims.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Gibbis often veers into this.
    Gibbis: All I want is to go home and be conquered and oppressed, is that too much to ask?!
  • Bad Vibrations: The floor starts shaking from the force of the Minotaur's footsteps when it approaches.
  • Belief Makes You Stupid:
    • More accurately, belief makes you vulnerable to a faith-devouring monster.
    • It's downplayed by Rita, who as the one character whose faith is in an actual religion, is the one who greets her death with the most courage and dignity, while the others, who have faith in such things as conspiracies and luck, turned into gibbering fools.
  • Beware the Silly Ones: Gibbis comes from a planet of perpetually conquered cowards. Turns out they've weaponized their cowardice. Gibbis is responsible for Howie's death.
  • The B Grade: Rita's nightmare. More specifically, her father's reaction if and when she ever got one.
  • Big Bad: The Minotaur is the main threat, with the people who imprisoned it and programmed the hotel to bring it victims functioning as a Greater-Scope Villain.
  • Big Labyrinthine Building: The hotel shifts its walls to befuddle the captives.
  • Bound and Gagged: Used on Joe to keep him quiet because he was being creepy.
  • Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: Is it a Minotaur? Or an alien? Or an alien Minotaur?
    Amy: That's not a question I thought I'd be asking this morning...
  • Break Her Heart to Save Her: The Doctor deliberately talks Amy into losing her faith in him, presenting himself not as an invincible hero incapable of wrong, but as a vain fool who did not consider the danger he was putting her in.
  • British Stuffiness: Rita jokes about it, saying that the British deal with trauma by drinking tea and tutting.
  • Brits Love Tea: Another sign of Rita's intelligence and potential as a companion is that she knows where to find the tea in a hotel.
  • Broken Pedestal: The Doctor invokes this trope by breaking the pedestal Amy put him on, by listing his many faults and painting their first meeting in the worst possible light.
  • Chronic Hero Syndrome: Basically what the Doctor's "god complex" is — he can and must save everyone, always. Rita pulls him up on it, asking him why he thinks it's his duty to save them all.
  • Conspiracy Theorist: Howie decides that they're in a facility in Norway built by the CIA for when the world is destroyed when it collides with another planet.
    Rory: Amazing.
    Howie: It's all there on the Internet.
    Rory: No, it's amazing you've come up with a theory even more insane than what's actually happening.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • A Minotaur given power from faith, a power that is stripped when belief is stripped? It's a call back to Two's tenure! Two and Zoe dealt with a Minotaur way back in "The Mind Robber".
    • The Doctor has to destroy his companion's faith in him in order to save the day.
    • One to "The Eleventh Hour": "Amy Pond, there's something you'd better understand about me, 'cause it's important, and one day your life may depend on it — I am definitely a madman with a box."
    • The Nimon, a race of bipedal horned aliens, get name-dropped in this episode as relatives of the Minotaur.
    • The wall of photos has numerous aliens the Doctor has encountered over the years, either as the victims themselves or fears of the victims, including a Sister of Plenitude, a Tritovore, a Sontaran, a Judoon, a Silurian and the Daleks.
    • A Rubik's Cube shows up again. Although this time, the Doctor solves it easily.
    • Oddly, the Doctor eats an apple. The Doctor hates apples. Combined with the above, and the impending death of the Doctor, this has led to Wild Mass Guessing.
    • "An ancient creature drenched in the blood of innocents..."
    • This isn't the first time Rory has wielded a mop. Or a broom. The Doctor, too.
    • "Don't blink."
    • There are a truly astounding number of things in common with "42". To wit:
      • The Doctor and companion(s) land on a malfunctioning spaceship with a malevolent force onboard possessing and killing people.
      • The people already onboard said spaceship have a female leader who is the last character to die.
      • The simple solution to the problem is evacuating those already present on the TARDIS, but the Doctor finds he's been cut off from it.
      • The true nature of the Monster of the Week is a twist of some kind. In "42", it's the fact that it's the sun they're falling into. In "The God Complex", it's that the Minotaur feeds on faith as opposed to fear.
      • One of the main characters gets Mind Raped by the MOTW and nearly dies, only being saved (along with the last of the people already present) at the last minute by the actions of another main character.
  • Cool Car: Rory's dream car, a red E-Type Jag.
  • Creator Cameo: Producer Marcus Wilson is on the wall as one of the past victims. He died due to fear of Plymouth. When asked why in an interview, Wilson replied; "I have no idea".
  • Death Seeker:
    • The Minotaur wants nothing more than to die, but instinct drives it to feed.
    • The Minotaur turns its targets into this, once he converts their faith. Then they eagerly want it to kill them.
  • Demonic Dummy: The ventriloquist dummies are Joe's fear.
  • Dirty Coward: Gibbis comes from a race of these. Whenever they meet someone, they surrender to avoid trouble. At first, it's Played for Laughs; then it directly gets Howie killed.
  • Door Roulette: A continued theme throughout the episode is opening doors to find something new, strange or scary inside.
  • The Door Slams You: Not surprisingly, to Rory.
  • Dope Slap: The Doctor playfully slaps Amy with the paper she found in the corridor, which she forgot in all the excitement.
  • Double-Meaning Title: "God Complex" describes not only the Doctor and Minotaur's need to be adored, but also the hotel itself: a prison to contain a deity.
  • Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male: Mild example, but when Rory wakes up after getting knocked to the floor, he jokes that Amy hit him. It's mentioned that she has at least once in the past, when he made a complaint about the Doctor.
  • Downer Ending: Everyone but Gibbis dies; Amy and Rory leave the Doctor; the Doctor leaves in a Heroic BSoD.
  • Easily Conquered World: Gibbis's species is apparently prepared to be conquered often. Their national anthem is actually titled "Glory to [Insert-Name-Here]".
  • Education Papa: Rita's father appears with a B grade paper. The disappointment of whom is her greatest fear.
  • Emotion Eater: The obvious idea that the Minotaur feeds on fear is disproven. It presents its victims' fear which causes them to use faith to strengthen themselves, at which point the Minotaur converts that to faith in itself, and drains it from the victim, causing their deaths.
  • "Everybody Dies" Ending: Everyone dies expect for the Doctor, Amy, Rory and Gibbis.
  • Fate Worse than Death: Evidently the purpose of the Minotaur's prison. All it wants is release from its torment, so the prison ensures that will never happen.
  • Fair Cop: Lucy Hayward from The Teaser.
  • Food Chain of Evil: Victims of the Minotaur include previous Doctor Who enemies, such as a Judoon, a Sontaran, a Silurian and a Hoix.
  • For Doom the Bell Tolls: While we don't see what is in the Doctor's room, we can hear the Cloister Bell ringing.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • "Amy, with regret, you're fired."
    • Rory immediately begins to fear for Rita's health when she makes friends with the Doctor.
    • "What's the alternative? Me standing over your grave?
  • Freak Out: After Rita's death, the Doctor destroys the bar in a rage.
  • Freudian Slip: In a subtle carry over from the last episode, Rory refers to his time in the TARDIS in the past tense. The Doctor notices.
  • The Gambling Addict: Implied for Joe via a horseshoe tie pin and die cufflinks.
  • Genre Blindness: The Doctor still hasn't learned that offering companionship in the middle of an episode is signing the person's death warrant.
  • Gilligan Cut: Howie asks if there isn't anything they can do about Joe's insane ranting. In the very next shot, Joe's mouth is covered with tape.
  • A God Am I:
    • The Minotaur needs to be believed as this to get his "meals". The Minotaur himself doesn't believe this.
    • Rita accuses the Doctor of having a "God Complex" for needing to save them.
  • Gods Need Prayer Badly: The Minotaur feeds on the belief of people who worship it. Any belief will do in a pinch.
  • Gym Class Hell: A coach from one of these briefly appears as one of the leftover fears.
  • Happiness in Slavery: Gibbis is wistful at thought of being saved by slavers.
  • Hate Sink: Gibbis. After the initial humor of his planet of origin, he let go of Howie to be eaten by the Minotaur. And they were so close to finding out who he was. Rita could have been spared if not for Gibbis.
  • Hell Hotel: It's actually a prison, but Rita does believe it to be Hell, at first.
  • Hello, [Insert Name Here]: Gibbis's species' national anthem is entitled "Glory to (Insert Name Here)".
  • Henpecked Husband: Rory's first response after getting unexpectedly knocked down: "Something hit me... was it Amy?" He mentions once being hit by a shoe when he spoke ill of the Doctor in front of her. A shoe she had to bend down and unlace first! It's averted at the end of the episode. Rory goes over a number of reasons why Amy won't want to accept the Doctor's gift of the Cool Car... then decides he can live with it. He really wants the car.
  • Hypocrite: The Doctor notes to Rita that his companions didn't really have a choice about accompanying him, what with the Doctor offering all the wonders of time and space. Moments later, he offers Rita the same thing.
  • I Cannot Self-Terminate: The Minotaur just wants to die, but it can't because the prison ship is programmed to supply it with food and its own instincts are too powerful for it to starve itself.
  • I Come in Peace: Amy gets up Rory for giving a mundane version of this trope. "Did you just say: It's OK, we're nice?"
  • I Die Free:
    • The Fair Cop in the cold open may be hoping for this. Her notes/narration state that they're being dictated in between periods of worship, that when she's not dictating "Praise him", and variants, she's lucid. Unfortunately, she absolutely can't die free. She dies ensnared.
    • Rita wants the Doctor to remember her as she was because she's about to have her faith stolen from her.
  • I'm Not a Hero, I'm...: Part of the Doctor's Broken Pedestal speech is about how he's not a hero. He's really just a madman with a box.
  • Internal Homage: The plot is similar to the Eighth Doctor's adventure on "Phobos".
  • Ironic Hell: This is Rita's theory on what the hotel is. She points out it's hardly more unlikely than Howie's conspiracy theory or the Doctor blaming aliens.
  • Ironic Nursery Rhyme: Here comes a candle to light you to bed. Here comes a chopper to chop off your head. Chop... chop... chop... chop! Double points for being a real nursery rhyme. Note to foreigners: British nursery rhymes are deeply disturbing.
  • It's Not You, It's My Enemies: The Doctor leaves Amy and Rory behind on Earth because he fears for their lives, as they are likely to die or to have a Fate Worse than Death like some of his other companions.
  • It Won't Turn Off: The background music comes from a tape player at reception. Whenever they turn it off, it eventually comes back on.
  • Karma Houdini:
    • Whoever imprisoned the Minotaur in the first place, not only forcing it to continue existing for all eternity when all it really wants to do is die, but also scooping up who-knows-how-many innocent victims to be fed to it simply because they have any kind of faith.
    • To a lesser extent, Gibbis. Not only does he release Howie in order to appease the Minotaur, but ends up being the only survivor of his original group. While the Doctor chews him out for it, he's dropped off and allowed to go on his way at the end of the episode.
  • Killer Gorilla: Lucy's fear is "that brutal gorilla".
  • Lampshade Hanging: "Every time I see the Doctor getting chummy with someone, I get the overwhelming urge to notify their next of kin."
  • Left the Background Music On: The annoying hotel music. Fortunately, the Doctor turns it off. Unfortunately, it comes back on.
  • Literal Metaphor:
    The Doctor: Are there any more of you?
    Rita: Joe. But he's tied up right now.
    The Doctor: Doing what?
    Rita: No, I mean he's tied up right now.
  • Madness Mantra: "Praise him!" Often accompanied by Madness Montage, with the quoted phrase in various fonts.
  • Malevolent Architecture: The hotel can shift its dimensions to hide the TARDIS, separate the people trapped in it and create rooms tailored to people's fears. Justified, as it is actually an alien holodeck.
  • Meaningful Name: The room numbers on the hotel doors. The Doctor's door is 11; Amy's is 7 (her age when she first met the Doctor). The room where they try to trap the creature is called the Pasiphaë Spa; Pasiphaë was the mother of the Minotaur.
  • Meaningful Rename: After calling him "Rory Pond", and calling the couple "The Ponds", the Doctor calls her "Amy Williams". He's finally letting go of the little girl he accidentally abandoned and truly wants her to move on with her life. It is significant that while talking to her during that scene he sees her as her 7-year-old self.
    The Doctor: It's time to stop waiting.
  • "Metaphor" Is My Middle Name: The Doctor drops off his companions on Earth.
    "You haven't seen the last of me. Bad Penny is my middle name. Seriously, the looks I get when I fill in a form..."
  • Mind Rape: The Minotaur digs into a person's mind to find their fear, uses it to expose their faith, and then converts that faith into faith in itself, and in the process, turns them into giddy and zealous death seekers.
  • Mirror Character: The Minotaur and the Doctor are both ancient creatures soaked in the blood of the innocent. The difference is that the former wants to die.
  • Mobile Maze: Because the hotel is a simulation, the hallways and rooms shift around.
  • Monster Clown: Averted. The clown represents someone's coulrophobia, but since that someone is long dead, all it does is sit on a bed and look sad.
    Rita: How's it going?
    Amy: Don't talk to the clown!
  • Mood Whiplash:
    • In-universe example. People who've been "changed" by the hotel go from abject fear to absolute worship of the Minotaur. Their mental state is shown by close-ups of them screaming and laughing in rapid succession.
    • After witnessing Rita's death on the CCTV, the Doctor, Amy and Rory turn to another screen to see Gibbis snacking on the goldfish from the spa.
  • Mythology Gag: The Doctor's fear is in Room 11.
  • Nerd Glasses: Howie Spragg, the (formerly) stuttering conspiracy nut. They're even old-fashioned.
  • Nerds Speak Klingon: Howie is taunted over this by the Alpha Bitches because it is a geeky language to learn.
  • Noodle Incident: This isn't the first time the Doctor has been threatened with a chair leg.
  • Nothing Is Scarier:
    • The opening sequence shows a woman, Lucy Hayward, opening door after door in the hotel, and finding various nightmares, including a creepy clown. She's then drawn to one particular door — her door — and opens it to reveal… an empty room. Then the gorilla comes out of the bathroom.
    • When the Doctor finds his room: we hear the Cloister Bell ringing, and can assume that a person is in there, but that's all. The Doctor remarks, "Of course, who else would it be?" Knowing the Doctor, whatever is on the other side may be too much for humans to comprehend. In the 2013 Christmas special, we find out that it's the cracks in time from the fifth series, representing the Doctor's fear of unfinished business.
  • Not That Kind of Doctor: Invoked by Rita, when wondering what kind of "Doctor" he is. The answer is both.
    Rita: You are a medical doctor, aren't you? You don't have a degree in... cheese making or something?
  • Oblivious to His Own Description: Played With. The Doctor is this at first when he translates the words of the Minotaur, who seems to be describing himself to the Doctor, but then at the very end, the Minotaur says (with the Doctor translating) "I wasn't talking about myself."
  • One-Steve Limit: In the script read-through (shown on Doctor Who Confidential) the policewoman in the opening sequence was named Lucy Miller. By the time of the episode, she had been renamed Lucy Hayward, presumably to avoid confusion with the Eighth Doctor's Lucie Miller.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: After Rita is killed, the Doctor throws what can only be called a temper tantrum, throwing and smashing items in frustration.
  • Our Minotaurs Are Different: There's a Minotaur-like monster running about.
  • Outgrown Such Silly Superstitions: What happens to planets over time is that they go secular, cutting off the Minotaur's source of "food": faith. It's also played with; it's shown that "faith" is a catch-all phrase for any strongly-held value, be it a faith in luck related to a compulsive gambling habit, a mountain of crazy conspiracy theories, or the belief that compels a seven-year-old girl to hold on to the memory of an imaginary friend for fourteen years.
  • Planet of Hats: Gibbis is from the planet of surrendering.
  • Psychological Torment Zone: First captives are baffled by their sudden appearance in the hotel. Then they are confronted by their greatest fears. Then whatever they believe in is used to brainwash them. Only then are they killed.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: The Doctor gives Gibbis (and his whole planet by association) a biting one, denouncing his former praise for the race as Actual Pacifist when he realizes that their "pacifism" is not out of virtue or principle:
    The Doctor: Your civilisation is one of the oldest in the galaxy. Now I see why. Your cowardice isn't quaint, it's sly, aggressive. It's how that gene of gutlessness has survived while so many others have perished.
  • Resistance Is Futile: Gibbis' old school motto was "Resistance is exhausting."
  • Rule of Symbolism: The shot of Rory sitting between the Doctor and Amy. Later when destroying Amy's faith in him, the Doctor calls her "Amy Williams".
  • Shadow Archetype: The Minotaur and the Doctor are played as being very similar: travelling the universe in a vessel with strange dimensions, and which is stuck in its current guise, drawing people to themselves at random and compelling those people to have faith in them. Both ultimately destroy those trapped with them, not because they want to but out of a sort of compulsion. Many of the things the Minotaur says (voiced by the Doctor) can apply to either of them.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Speaking Klingon is mentioned, and our heroes are trapped on a holodeck.
      • In one episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation aliens create a retro Earth-style hotel which manifests people's subconscious and from which the protagonists can't escape. In another the hero is imprisoned with a small group - including an alien whose people always surrender to invaders - all of whom manifest a certain trait in different ways (faith in Doctor Who, attitude to leadership in Star Trek).
    • The setup of the episode as a whole is clearly based on the Minotaur of Crete from Greek Mythology: A bull/man monster trapped in an inescapable labyrinth, with victims periodically chucked in for it to feed on.
    • A constantly-shifting structure with a Minotaur in it.
    • The room housing the Doctor's greatest fear is number 11, referencing the fact that this is the Eleventh Doctor.
    • Gibbis says he was planting trees on the sides of the streets so that alien invaders could march in the shade, similar to a joke about the French planting trees along the Champs-Elysées for the incoming Germans.
    • The hotel itself is very reminiscent of the Overlook in Stanley Kubrick's 1980 adaptation of Stephen King's The Shining; it's worth noting that everybody keeps comparing the décor to that of a "hotel from the 1980s."
    • The clown may be a reference to Pennywise from It, though admittedly, fear of clowns is not particularly uncommon. A monster that feeds on the fear of its victims could also be a reference but the Doctor eventually realizes that's NOT what's happening.
    • Rooms that generate the worst fear of the person who opens them are very similar to boggarts.
    • Why was Lucy's gorilla in the bathroom when she entered her room? Very likely a nod to Third Doctor Jon Pertwee, who once remarked that while alien planets might be scary, nothing would be scarier than coming home and finding a Yeti on your toilet in Tooting Bec. It could also be nod to the old Lady scene from The Shining.
    • "So what have we got? People being snatched from their lives and dropped into an endless shifting maze [...] with bad dreams in the bedrooms." Maybe the hotel's in Canada? Immediately after saying that line, the Doctor tosses a Rubik's Cube in the air and catches it. Later, he finds a pair of glasses with one lens shattered and a small piece missing.
    • The Ironic Nursery Rhyme is the same one used in Nineteen Eighty-Four. Also The Wicker Man (1973).
    • A tiny one. The Doctor is trying to catch Howie's attention while he's being mind-controlled. He taps on the table four times.
    • When the Beast possesses people, you see brief flashes of them laughing, similar to a scene in the Firefly episode "Objects in Space" where bounty hunter Jubal Early is being tormented by memories from his past.
    • The ventriloquists' dummies are a double reference: to Charlie McCarthy, and also to Slappy from Goosebumps.
  • Sorting Algorithm of Mortality: Averted with Dirty Coward Gibbis surviving.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: The cheesy muzak being piped into the hotel corridors does not usually fit psychological horror. Although it may create an uncanny feeling similar to The Backrooms.
  • Tantrum Throwing: The Doctor smashes up a bar in rage over Rita's death.
  • Title Drop: "That's quite a god complex you have there." Both the Doctor and the Minotaur have a god complex: the Minotaur requires worship to eat, and the Doctor has a need to save everyone and be idolized by his companions.
  • Too Spicy for Yog-Sothoth: While everyone else keeps seeing their fears made manifest, Rory just sees exits. The Doctor guesses that after all his travels with in the TARDIS (plus the 1,894 years or so he spent by himself as the Lone Centurion), Rory doesn't fear anything, so he has nothing for the Minotaur to feed on. This is later revealed to be not quite true as the creature feeds not on fear, but on faith with the fear merely being a catalyst for them to draw on their faith in whatever they believe will save them. Rory is unsuitable to its needs because he is neither religious nor superstitious and, unlike Amy, does not have an abiding faith that the Doctor will always save the day.
  • Tortured Monster: The Minotaur just wants to die, but its instinct to feed drives it forward.
  • Trailers Always Lie: The trailers for the episode made it seem like the Weeping Angels had a prominent role for the episode. Turns out they only get a cameo, and aren't even real Angels.
  • The Unreveal:
    • It is never revealed if the room with the Weeping Angels was actually Gibbis' room, though Word of God confirms it as such.
    • We don't see what's in the Doctor's room, but he isn't surprised by it. Likewise, when Amy asks what god Time Lords believe in, the Doctor doesn't answer. According to "The Curse of Fenric", his greatest point of faith is in his companions.
  • Vertigo Effect: Straight and played with.
    • Several dolly zooms shorten or lengthen hallways. Because scary.
    • An extreme variant, repeated multiple times, is the Vertigo stairwell. A shot down the middle of a stairwell iconically showed up in that film and is part of this episode's Mind Screw.
  • Voiceover Letter: Played with. When the Doctor starts reading Lucy's notes, her voice comes in, but his never fades away; both voices are audible, reading the same words with different inflections.
  • "Well Done, Daughter!" Gal: Rita's greatest fear is her father's rejection of her, manifesting as disappointment in a "B" in Maths.
  • Wham Episode: Bet you weren't expecting Rory and Amy to part ways with the Doctor two episodes before the series ends.
  • "What Do They Fear?" Episode: Lots of fears in this episode. A Sontaran fears defeat, Rita fears disappointing her father, Howie has social anxiety, Gibbis fears the Weeping Angels, etc.note 
  • What Happened to the Mouse? The "Do Not Disturb" sign the Doctor hung on his own room is never explained.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Done to the Doctor by himself for failing to save everyone and putting Amy and Rory in danger in the first place.
  • The Worf Effect: An off screen version: two of the hotel's previous victims seen in the photographs were a Sontaran and a Judoon.
  • Zero-Approval Gambit: The Doctor does this in order to save Amy from the monster — he tells her he's not worth believing in, and that he's done more harm than good to her. He was a bit nicer about it than he was to Ace.

Praise him.