This season has been all about regime change. Direction change. A change in Doctors and the attitude that was permeating the show in the previous three seasons. I think Flatline is kind of what this season is all about. It was dark and creepy and somewhat different in a way where I couldn’t have pictured it taking place with any other Doctor or in any other season.
It takes something we know well (the TARDIS) and know the limitations to and puts it in an unexpected kind of peril. It also used some real science there for a minute. It’s entirely possible that there’s things in the second dimension that can’t interact with us properly and that when you touch their dimensional plane all they see is the flat part of your molecules interacting with their world. To them everything is two-dee and they can only view the world in two-dee. So what happens when they start to try and learn about our universe?
The episode never really seemed to answer that. Kind of like the episode “Listen” we never really get the concrete reason behind what the things are doing and we don’t need to. It’s not important to the episode. In the case of Listen it didn’t matter because the episode didn’t need it. In this case it was just scary to not know and have the assumption be made that since they were hurting people they must be meaning to do it.
There’s a part near the middle of the episode where the humans are speculating about what the aliens are doing by calling out the numbers of people they’ve taken and it has that sort of “Midnight” fear mentality to it. The Doctor is on the phone trying to calm them down, telling them not to make assumptions, but they’re gripped by fear and rightfully so.
The two dimensional beings are sucking people into their dimension and killing them in the process and the Doctor is trapped within his TARDIS leaving Clara to run things. It seems that one of the staples of this season is Clara being left to her own devices or to follow the Doctor’s orders and handle a problem in his absence. We’ve seen a lot of the two of them separated and her with other humans and just interacting. She’s placed in danger often and it seems to be different for her than other companions because she’s not got the safety net. I get the feeling the Doctor is trying to distance himself more and more from her.
A bit of the drama that started in Kill the Moon seems to be going strong and I’m glad they didn’t just abandon the plot thread and act like it never happened.
And I just have to comment on the effects for the creatures in this episode. If there’s one thing that keeps getting better on the show it’s the look of the aliens and monsters. Where as in season five we had moments of horrible CGI with Prisoner Zero, we’ve got really solid effects here with these strange looking shifter creatures. I’ve heard some people claim that rubber suits add charm to the show and the bad effects were a staple. That’s bullshit and you’re simply wrong. Realistic just looks better, sorry we don’t grade things by hipster standards.
In the Forest of the Night
Another big part of this season seems to be the Doctor having to do “nothing” to fix the issue of the episode. It seems like there is a lot more moments of helplessness and a lot less ass pulling. I kind of saw the twist ending coming, but I enjoyed this for the children and their sparse use of the different kids for little beats.
I really enjoyed the Doctor interacting with the kids.
Probably my biggest issue with this season has been that we’re getting much more of the Earth episodes than in the past three seasons. I think that one of the strengths of the show is the ability to go anywhere and do anything and I think we’re better off avoiding Earth as often as possible.
That having been said this was a pretty interesting episode and it didn’t just end up being another romp of “let’s watch Cardiff pretend to be London”. The forest was generally scary, the fairytales thing was well placed with the references to Little Red Ridding Hood and Hansel and Gretel and I think that we’re seeing a good kind of deconstruction of myths associated with things or at least a special way Doctor Who has of dealing with the things that we accept as truth or that we have ingrained in our culture. We saw that earlier this season with the nightmares about someone grabbing our foot and the myth of Robin Hood. We have seen these themes a lot in Moffat episodes with enemies like the Silence, the Vashta Nerada, the Angels and moving statues and other things like that.
I really don’t mind these cultural parallels. It allows the show to use the familiar to be scary without there needing to be blood and gore.
Sorry about the long wait, I will be back sooner with a review of the next episode.