Doctor Who Logo 'A Town Called Mercy'
(Story Code 7.03)

by Toby Whithouse
The Doctor, Rory and Amy

“Why would I be curious? It’s a mysterious space cowboy assassin. Of course I’m not curious...” – The Doctor

Earth, the American Wild West: a cyborg Gunslinger tracks down the survivor of a crashed alien escape pod. The injured alien calls for mercy, but the Gunslinger merely levels the huge gun that comprises the lower-half of his right arm, and, just before he terminates his quarry’s life, remarks that he still has one more person to execute: “the doctor”…

Later: the Doctor, Amy and Rory make an unscheduled arrival at the Wild West town of Mercy, after an incident with the TARDIS console and some toast crumbs put paid to their trip to the Mexican Day of the Dead festival. Deciding to ignore the ‘keep out’ sign and the low, wood-and-stone barrier encircling the town, the Doctor steps across the boundary; as Amy and Rory reluctantly follow behind him, their progress is watched by the alien Gunslinger… As the trio make their way through the town they notice how everyone is hiding from them, seemingly in terror. The Doctor is also intrigued by the street lights, which are electric – ten years before they should be. Entering the saloon, the Doctor orders some tea. The menfolk in the bar are suspicious, and when the Doctor mentions his name, they ask if he is an alien; curious, the Doctor replies that he is – and immediately finds himself hoisted up by a gang of men, carried to the edge of town, and then thrown over the boundary. Faced with a band of terrified and armed men, the Doctor turns to see the Gunslinger approaching, his progress accelerated by an odd, warping effect. Seeing the alien closing in on them, the town’s Marshal, Isaac, orders the Doctor back across the line; as the Doctor hastily re-enters the town, the Gunslinger vanishes… Isaac takes the Doctor, Amy and Rory to the town jail, where he explains how the Gunslinger has kept the people of Mercy trapped inside the boundary for the last three weeks; the fearsome, gun-toting cyborg only wants one thing: “the alien doctor”. Reasoning that his unexpected arrival must mean that there is another alien doctor in the town, someone who has provided electric lights and heating for its inhabitants, the Doctor is unsurprised to find said extraterrestrial hiding in the safety of one of the jail cells: a man with a strange facial tattoo, who introduces himself as Kahler-Jex. Having heard of the reputation of the Kahler, the Doctor is very happy to meet the alien, and listens with interest as the Marshal tells of how Jex has saved the lives of the townsfolk since becoming their doctor two years ago. Kahler-Jex explains that when his spacecraft crashed near Mercy, the townsfolk rescued him from the wreckage and took him in; in repayment for their help Jex became their doctor, and has been looking after them ever since – until the Gunslinger arrived. To Amy’s surprise the Doctor comes up with a simple plan for once: he will fetch his TARDIS and take everyone to safety, leaving the Gunslinger behind...

While Rory and Issac - now wearing Jex’s clothes - distract the Gunslinger and lead him away from the town, the Doctor dons a Stetson hat and rides off on the Preacher’s horse, Joshua (although he prefers Susan). Back in the jail, Amy hears how Jex wants to stay on Earth so that he can start a new life helping people. Riding through the desert on Susan, the Doctor stops the horse and locates an electrical cable connected to the town’s street lights; following it back to its source, the Doctor and Susan find an egg-shaped spaceship hidden under a tarpaulin. Isaac and Rory lead the Gunslinger on a wild goose chase – but soon find themselves cornered by the alien cyborg, who prepares to terminate them. After a lot of effort the Doctor manages to get Jex’s ship to open, triggering its security system in the process. Hearing the resulting alarm, the Gunslinger leaves Isaac and Rory and sets off to find its source. Clambering inside the ship, the Doctor overrides the self-destruct system and then interrogates the databanks; reading Kahler-Jex’s personal files, the Time Lord makes a terrible discovery… Back at the jail, Jex hears the alarm and panics; pulling a gun he takes Amy hostage, but his escape is stopped by the timely arrival of Marshall Isaac. The Doctor climbs out of Jex’s ship and comes face-to-face with the Gunslinger; aware of who Jex really is now, the Doctor attempts to reason with the cyborg, offering to help bring his quarry to justice while ensuring that no innocent lives are put at risk; the Gunslinger agrees, but warns the Doctor that if he fails to hand over Jex, innocent people will suffer. Returning to the jail, the Doctor confronts Jex about his lies about his true identity: a scientist who took innocent people and turned them into experimental cyborgs as weapons of war. But Jex insists that he is a hero, having saved millions of lives by finding a way to end the war that was destroying his race and home planet; the Gunslinger was one of his experiments, but he was damaged in battle and is now on a mission to hunt down and kill the people who created him; Jex and his colleague, Kahler-Mas, managed to escape, but their ship crashed – and now only Jex is left alive. The Doctor is caught in a moral dilemma: he believes Jex should atone for his war crimes, but can also see how Isaac believes he should live after all he has done as the town doctor. When Jex tries to take the moral high ground the Doctor becomes enraged; he grabs Jex, forces him to the edge of the town and then pushes him over the boundary; Jex tries to turn back, but the Doctor grabs Isaac’s gun and points it at the alien doctor. Everyone freezes – except Amy, who also grabs a gun too, and, after nearly shooting everyone else in the process, turns it on the Doctor. The Doctor tells his friend that he intends to honour Jex’s victims by showing no mercy; but Amy objects, insisting that the Doctor has to be better than the man he is judging. Coming to his senses the Doctor instructs Jex to cross the line – just as the Gunslinger materialises next to the doctor and levels his weapon ready to terminate him. In desperation Jex attempts to appeal to the man inside the cyborg’s body, Kahler-Tek, but the Gunslinger is resolute, and he opens fire on Jex – as Isaac pushes the doctor out of harm’s way, taking the lethal gunshot himself. As Isaac’s life ebbs away he entrusts the Doctor with the responsibility of protecting Jex, Mercy and its people. The Doctor pins Isaac’s badge to his lapel – he is the Marshall now. Ordering Jex to be escorted back to his cell, the Doctor tells the Gunslinger to end his mission; but the Gunslinger has had enough, and tells the Doctor that he has until noon the next day to hand over Jex or else innocent people will die…

That night, the Doctor is confronted by a lynch mob; the men want their new Marshall to go for a walk so that they can hand over Jex to the Gunslinger. But the Doctor is resolute, and manages to persuade the men to return to their homes. Back in the jail, Jex confides to the Doctor that he is afraid to die, believing that he will have to face all his victims in the afterlife.

The next day, just before High Noon: as the townsfolk seek refuge in their church, the Doctor strides out to meet the Gunslinger in Mercy’s main street. As the clock strikes twelve, the cyborg crosses the boundary and confronts the Doctor; the two men prepare to duel – but when the cyborg makes to fire his huge gun, the Doctor chooses not to draw his weapon: instead he pulls out his sonic screwdriver and uses it to burst every window in the street. With the Gunslinger caught off-guard in the blast, the Doctor runs for his life; the Gunslinger attempts to locate Jex, but his systems are confused by detecting several people wearing the Kahler’s tattoo – Rory and the townsfolk are acting as decoys, while Amy frees Jex and sends him back to his ship. In his search for his victim, the Gunslinger bursts into the church and menaces the terrified congregation; however, on seeing a frightened child, he returns outside. Urging Jex to run to his ship, the Doctor draws the Gunslinger towards him by donning a Kahler tattoo as well; but the cyborg realises that he is being tricked, and after switching to manual targeting he tracks down the Doctor and demands to know where Jex is. At that moment Jex’s voice rings out: he has reached his ship and is broadcasting to his creation. Painfully aware that they have both become monsters, and knowing that Tek will chase him from planet to planet, killing more innocent races in the crossfire, Jek makes a decision that will end their private war: he activates his ship’s self-destruct system. As the Gunslinger and the Doctor watch, the Kahler ship explodes in the distance. Declaring that his enemy behaved with honour, the Gunslinger turns down the Doctor’s offer to take him home; Tek sees himself as a creature of war, and sets off to self-destruct in the desert. But the Doctor has another offer: what if the Gunslinger acted as a protector…?

Sometime later, the Doctor ushers Amy and Rory inside the TARDIS and then bids goodbye to the townsfolk. The TARDIS dematerialises, leaving Mercy forever safe in the care of its new Marshall: Kahler-Tek…

Matt Smith (The Doctor), Karen Gillan (Amy Pond), Arthur Darvill (Rory Williams), Andrew Brooke (The Gunslinger), Adrian Scarborough (Kahler-Jex), Dominic Kemp (Kahler-Mas), Joanne McQuinn (Sadie), Byrd Wilkins (The Preacher), Garrick Hagon (Abraham), Ben Browder (Isaac), Sean Benedict (Dockery), Rob Cavazos (Walter)

Directed by Saul Metzstein
Produced by Marcus Wilson
Executive Producers Steven Moffat and Caroline Skinner
A BBC Wales production

TX (BBC 1 & BBC 1 HD):
15th September 2012 @ 7.35 pm

*Featuring the Eleventh Doctor, Amy and Rory

*Working titles: 'The Gunslinger' and 'Mercy'

*Like the previous episodes, the logo for this story is updated to reflect the story, this time with a wooden-board texture, laced with bullet holes

*A two-minute prequel, 'The Making of the Gunslinger', was released on the BBC website; written by Toby Whithouse, it showed Kahler-Jex in his laboratory activating the cyborg known as 'Subject 6', formerly Kahler-Tek, who later becomes the Gunslinger...