JReviews: Doctor Who Series 8 Episode 9- Flatline

So, time for our pseudo-traditional "problem without the Doctor" episode. How does it fare?

Now, episodes where the Doctor isn't the one to solve the problem (because he either isn't there or is relegated to a minor role due to circumstances) fall into one of two categories, either excellent (Blink) or atrocious (Love and Monsters). And I'd put this into the former category. It obviously wasn't perfect, nor was it as good as last weeks episode, but it is one of the strongest episodes of this season.

The set up and the setting made the episode feel much like a sort of urban horror movie without the scares. The whole idea of an enemy that can kill you from the walls or floor is pretty terrifying, especially as you can't fight back. I wasn't so keen on them coming out of 2D and into 3D, they were much scarier flat, but I guess the story needed an actual physical monster for the story to really work or make sense (otherwise why would they be trying to invade our reality, they wouldn't function in 2D in a 3D world), but I would have preferred the threat to remain psychological.

I could have done with a bit more explanation on how and why the TARDIS got shrunk. Yes it was a necessity to keep the Doctor out of the action, so Clara could get to solve the problem, but there seemed to be no in-story reason for it. Yes the Doctor says the monsters are leeching the TARDIS' exterior dimensions, but he doesn't say why. We assume it's to help the monsters actualise into our world, but this is never explicitly stated, nor is it really shown, because they become 3D long after the TARDIS is shrunk to its smallest size, and after they start leeching the interior. And on that point, surely if they leeched the exterior dimensions and the TARDIS exterior shrank, then when they started leeching the interior dimensions, shouldn't the interior have shrank also? Although this whole shrinking thing did lead to some wonderful scenes, such as the Alice Through The Looking Glass style post titles scene and the stupid but brilliant Adams Family escape from the train tracks.

Now, onto Clara, my favourite character to talk about. She did well in this episode. She took the lead and did a good job compensating for the Doctor not being there in person to take control. However, would I say this is character development or her improving as a character. No. All she was doing was being the Doctor, in such a convincing manner that she might as well have not been in it at all and you just replace her with the actual Doctor and the episode would have been pretty much the same, bar the ending. Obviously we can tell something is going to happen with her in the series finale, because of the Missy scene right at the end of the episode, so hopefully something will get working then but, she did ok this time out, but she's still not a character I care about. Theme of the series right there.

And whilst I've mentioned that ending, deus ex machina much? Anyone actually catch what the Doctor did in order to send the monsters back to their own reality, because I didn't and I can't recall him saying. He just sends out this big green light when the TARDIS un-shrinks and zaps them with the sonic. Could have been done better.

But, I did say this was a good episode and despite all of the niggles I've listed above, I stand by that assessment because the concept was so good and it was executed well. The idea of a 2D dimension is interesting and the notion of people being sucked into floors and walls by creatures that can only exist in 2D is quite cool. Still only third best episode, maybe fourth, behind last weeks, Time Heist and possibly the series opener.

JR19759

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