Monday, October 20, 2014

My Review of Doctor Who's 8x09: "Flatline"

Written by Jamie Mathieson
Directed by Douglas Mackinnon

Clara (to Rigsy): “I’m the Doctor.”
The Doctor: “Don’t you dare!”
Clara: “Doctor Oswald but you can call me Clara.”

I bet for a lot of fans complaining that this series has been too focused on Clara; this probably wasn’t an episode they were looking forward to. That’s a shame because if they put their feelings for Clara to one side, then they would’ve realised that this was an absolute gem of an episode. Two gems in a row for Jamie Mathieson in fact.

But as for Clara – yes, her screen time has been prominent but not once have I felt that it’s come at the expense of Peter Capaldi, who despite being stuck in one set for the majority of this episode was far from underused either. While this episode was definitely Clara heavy, it was also by no means Doctor light either.

While I’m not big on the idea of a female Doctor (and no, that doesn’t make me sexist, lacking in imagination etc, I just prefer the character male), I thought Clara somewhat taking on the role because Twelve himself was trapped inside a shrinking TARDIS worked fantastically here. She even got herself a companion in likeable graffiti artist/community service worker Rigsy, who made for a pretty good companion as well.

I’ve seen a lot of people over the last two days cite this episode as a justified reason for the series to eventually have a female Doctor but I think what the episode was trying to do more was give Clara a perspective into why the Doctor does and says the very things he does whenever they’re caught in dangerous situations like the one in this episode.

Even without the Doctor whispering in her ear, Clara almost instinctively seemed to be mirroring his usual actions. She told Rigsy, the unfortunate policewoman Forrest and several community service workers what she felt they needed to know at various times and provided them with hope, even when she had no idea how to fix things. Oh and there was also the issue of lying to Danny during a particular life or death situation as well.

The point is, this episode certainly gave Clara a better understanding of how the Doctor operates but I also would like to think it gave him something of an insight as well. I didn’t like that he seemed reluctant to praise her for dealing with the situation as best as she did but the last scene where Missy revealed that she chose in relation to Clara was interesting.

For one thing, it finally confirmed that Missy indeed was the woman in the shop and for some reason; she’s been watching Clara’s adventures with the Doctor. Of course we still don’t know why but seeing as we’re closing in on the finale, it won’t be too long until everything about this whole promised land/Nethersphere comes to a head.

As for the monsters of the week themselves – I quite liked the Boneless. The whole idea of messing with dimensions is such a typical Moffat era type of idea that I’m almost surprised it took until now for it to be realised. Unlike the Foretold from last week, this lot did seem to be genuinely nasty and certainly wasted no time in bumping off most of the guest characters before eventually getting banished by the Doctor. Will we see them again? I’m not sure if we should but I definitely think they can be classed as this series most standout creature for the time being, right?

Also in “Flatline”

The Addams Family way in which the Doctor managed to get his shrunken TARDIS off the train tracks was hysterical.

Clara: “Are you tiny in there?”
The Doctor: “No, I’m exactly the same size.”

I’m glad the Doctor confronted Clara about lying to Danny. Hopefully the next episode resolves this whole issue altogether. Also Fenton was one of the nastiest guest characters we’ve had in a long while.

Clara: “Rigsy, this is where we run. Stick with me.”

Danny: “Where are you and are you in trouble?”
Clara: “Uh, I don’t know. I’m fine.”

Sorry folks but Danny actually said ‘got our bench’ rather than ‘what’s up, bitch?’. How did people not hear that right?

Clara (to Fenton): “I’ll tell you who I am. I’m the one chance you’ve got of staying alive, that’s who I am.”

Clara: “You’ll die.”
Rigsy: “Of course I’ll die, now go.”

It seems that where the promised land/Nethersphere/Heaven is, the use of tablets is still a thing.

Clara: “Why can’t you say it? I was the Doctor and I was good.”
The Doctor: “You were an exceptional Doctor. Goodness had nothing to do with it.”

Missy: “Clara, my Clara. I have chosen well.”

Chronology: Present day Bristol. Actually the remaining episodes (Nethersphere aside) look like they’ll be modern day set.

With two exceptional episodes in a row, I’m not sure yet if I want to join the Jamie Mathieson for showrunner bandwagon some fans have jumped on but I definitely want another episode from him next series. I loved last week’s episode but I think having watching it three times that “Flatline” just about edged it a little.

Rating: 9 out of 10

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