Doctor Who: Flatline Series 8 Episode 9 Review
I thought Mathieson did a good job writing last week’s Mummy On the Orient Express, so I wasn’t too worried, then I saw this tweet from the BBC this morning:
— Doctor Who Official (@bbcdoctorwho) October 18, 2014
From last week, we see that Clara is lying to the Doctor about Danny being okay with her still travelling in the TARDIS, and that this week we’ll be fighting aliens that exist in only two dimensions. They’re breaking through to our universe and are killing people as they try to decipher three dimensions. Are they an invasion? Are they just exploring? It’s up to the Doctor and Clara to find out, and stop them if necessary. A scene from the episode was put online, and I’ve watched it and now, oh dear, I have such misgivings about this episode. First I’ve already seen a shrinking TARDIS, in Logopolis. If Block Transfer Computations are used tonight, oooh boy. Though Moffat didn’t write it, so I’m not as worried about stolen scripts and recycled plot points. Also, it’s nice to see that they’re just going to use a Flight Control TARDIS for the shrunken TARDIS prop…
Well, Jamie Mathieson, I liked it. There were a few things I was iffy on, but for the most part, I enjoyed tonight’s episode. Well, except for the shoehorning of Moffat’s Missy plot line into the end of the program. Tonight’s show was suspenseful, had a good “fear factor”, just enough comedy, used the characters well, and had an excellent science fiction aspect. I was very hesitant when I found out that the Doctor would be trapped in the TARDIS for pretty much the entire episode, leaving Clara to do the investigating, but it was handled fairly well for a change. Clara got to “be the Doctor” and felt some of the responsibility that goes along with it. I think this is important, because Mathieson seems to understand the gravity of the situation too, unlike other writers who will send the Doctor to the background while they have the companion take the spotlight.
Other than the obviously a toy “shrunken” TARDIS, the effects were pretty good for this episode. I would say a lot better than last week’s train…. and there was a train this week too. The effect to make three dimensional objects (or people) into two dimensional ones was pretty cool, and at times very Harryhausen-esque. I really enjoyed the reveal when the Doctor discovered what the murals on the walls where people went missing really were. It was because of this reveal that I thought I had figured out what Rigsy’s painting would be. Turns out I was wrong, but that’s okay. To paraphrase the Doctor you have to enjoy the moments when you find something new. I expected Rigsy to paint a circuit or something electrical that would be used to charge up the TARDIS when the creatures pulled it into three dimensions, but the doorway idea worked a lot better. Perhaps it’s because of the recent episodes of Agents of SHIELD that made me think of a circuit. (If you’re watching Agents, doesn’t the “alien writing” look like it could be part of a circuit? Kind of like in Fires of Pompeii?) Of course the Doctor returns and saves the day and I believe he really is thankful that Clara did such an exceptional job of “being him”, but only the Doctor can give the speech he gave at the end. That was one of those “Doctor” moments I’ve been waiting for, and largely missing, all season long. It felt almost like Capaldi (finally) putting his foot down on the role.
We’ve seen clips of Cybermen for Series 8, and they’ve yet to show themselves. So it will either be next week in In the Forest of the Night, or will they be the centerpiece of the two part finale?