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.

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2 Responses to JReviews: Doctor Who Series 8 Episode 9- Flatline

  1. Vampyrist says:

    I enjoyed this episode. It had a menacing and cool threat in the killer graffiti. The episode also had some fantastic jokes. The 2Dis being a favorite.

    Per your flaws, I agree with the Clara stuff, though it wasn’t too noticeable as she is still enjoyable to watch that her lack of characterization/development only occurs post episode. As per the leeching, I figured as the 2 dimensional beings were leeching the strongest source of dimensional energy to sustain 3d ness or something and the largest open source is the TARDIS. Also the Tardis acts on two dimensions, the inner one and the outer one, hence the bigger on the inside. The Doctor also mentioned how the TARDIS and the Gallifreyans specialized in dimensional energy, so it makes sense that he could harness the TARDIS’s energy to send them back through some means.

    Though, like you, the flaws were minor to me in a very enjoyable episode.

  2. Malfar says:

    For me so far it is the best episode of the season 8. It is very Doctor Who-ish. I mean, there are some episodes which you can watch and ask if it is Doctor Who you’re watching or some other show. But this – I see it and it screams Doctor Who all over. I think it’s good.

    The episode also reminds me of SCP universe and other urban myths, and I like them. I often think of a crossover between Doctor Who and SCP and I think that without actually describing the “Containment Zones” and “Euclides-Keters” this is as far as you go with putting SCP in Doctor Who without screwing both universes.

    The only thing that got on my nerves is very tiny and unimportant. Well, actually it is big, but still unimportant. The train. You can’t stop the train in an instant. It always takes some time and some sparks and screeching, even in case of emergency stop. But I can forgive and forget that.

    Personally my favorite moment with the shrunken Tardis wasn’t the Addams Family hand travel. I loughed out loud at the classic moment where a person takes a sledgehammer from out of seemingly nowhere – of course there was no way a hammer that big could fit in a moderate-sized bag. So it’s a classic “hammer space” joke.