Flatline, the latest episode in Doctor Who season 8, aired on Saturday to rave reviews. Get ready for another one.
The episode starts right away with the action in the first few seconds as the Doctor and Clara find that the door to the TARDIS is significantly smaller looking than usual. When they try to go through it, they discover that the dimensions of the TARDIS have been altered and it is significantly smaller than usual (on the outside, of course). It’s actually a rather comical scene to see the otherwise solemn and brooding Peter Capaldi trying to fit in and out of this tiny TARDIS.
The Doctor sends Clara out to investigate while he remains inside the TARDIS to work from there. That’s when Clara meets a teenage boy doing community service for graffiti. The crew he is working with doesn’t like him – they might as well have red shirts on, because you know they’re not going to all make it through the episode – but Clara immediately takes a shine to him and steals him away to help her investigate several missing people.
Those missing people have had their portraits painted on the walls of a tunnel. Or have they?
When Clara returns to tell the Doctor about the missing people and the possible link, she finds the TARDIS is now small enough to be picked up, and some light comedy ensues again as the Doctor talks to Clara through the door, with only his face showing, then sticking his hand through the door to give her the sonic screwdriver.
(If you’re a true Whovian, the TARDIS at this point is about the same size as the TARDIS cookie jar sold by BBC, which I may or may not have been eating out of while watching the episode.)
With the Doctor trapped inside the TARDIS and trying to figure out what the problem is, since Time Lords “basically invented dimensions,” Clara has to act as “the Doctor” for the rest of the episode, solving the mystery and trying to save everybody.
Oh, did I forget to mention that the monsters in this episode happen to be two-dimensional malignant creatures from a different universe who are stealing people to examine them and replicate three dimensions? Well that’s exactly what they are, and it’s freaking awesome.
In the end, Capaldi has an amazing “I am the Doctor” speech, which is one of his best scenes yet. Of course the Doctor initially wants to figure out what the creatures are – his natural curiosity for anything new – and then he wants to understand them. When he sees that they just want to harm, his speech begins with “I tried… Remember that.” Awesomeness ensues.
Kudos to episode writer Jamie Mathieson for a second spectacular episode in a row. The new writer for the new Doctor is turning out to be a winning combination. The stories are great, the monsters are creepy and the dialogue is perfect.
By the way, Clara is lying to the Doctor about her boyfriend, Danny Pink, being okay with them going on adventures together. Pinky doesn’t have any idea that she is still traveling with the Doctor. The Doctor is also not pleased with how Clara acted, saying, “You were an exceptional Doctor, Clara. Goodness had nothing to do with it.” It’s another glimpse at Clara’s inevitable departure at the end of the season, and another showcase of how Capaldi’s Doctor is so much different than Matt Smith’s.
Some great questions remain unanswered in the episode, which are intriguing to say the least. The intro scene to the episode shows a man on the phone talking to someone – unidentified – saying he discovered what the two-dimensional creatures were (just before being killed by them). Who was he talking to, and what does it have to do with the overall plot arc of the season? Of course the mysterious Missy makes an appearance as well, saying she “picked” Clara.
When it comes to Missy and the Promised Land, the suspense is killing me. I hope it’ll last.
On Saturday, the Doctor, Clara and Danny Pink’s class of students find themselves in central London (presumably in the future) overgrown with forest and full of wild animals. Looks like great fun.
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