Directed by Sheree Folkson
The Doctor (to the children): “Class project – save the Earth.”
What a difference an episode can make. For the last two weeks, even the most ardent of critics towards the Moffat era were praising the ground that Jamie Mathieson walked on for his two contributions towards the show. However, it seems that acclaimed author; Frank Cottrell-Boyce wasn’t on the same receiving end with this offer here.
In some ways I can sort of see why this episode wasn’t so lauded. First of all, the fairytale aspect, whilst beautiful and thematically appropriate has already been something that was given so much focus on when Amy Pond was a companion during the majority of the Matt Smith era that perhaps certain fans didn’t want reminding of it. Of course, there’s also the other criticism as well.
Much as I love Moffat’s era, even I cannot deny that it’s often been too child centred for its own good and after having Courtney taking on a guest companion role a few weeks ago, I wasn’t exactly enthused about the idea of a class trip with Clara and Danny’s students going wrong. Perhaps this was finally one child centred episode too much for Moffat’s particular run but no doubt we’ll get another one in Series 9, which may be better or worse than this one as well.
There’s also the fact that while this episode looked stunning and lush, it also didn’t make a great deal of sense. Overnight London becomes one massive forest that cannot be burned down, except for a solar flare and it’s also somewhat brought about by a young girl named Maebh, who also can’t send the forest back.
Speaking of Maebh, out of all the children she was by far the most likeable and memorable with Abigail Eames working brilliantly with Peter Capaldi during most of the episode’s poignant scenes. Also like the previous two episodes, I’ve noticed that Capaldi’s Doctor has begun to soften a little without totally becoming unrecognisable towards his current incarnation as well.
I did get a bit of a laugh with his exasperation with Coal Hill Year 8 invading his TARDIS but I also liked that he admitted he was wrong not to listen to Maebh and that he also went out of his way to rectify the situation before realising that all he had to do was let the solar flares do their business and London would no longer be a forest. In a lot of ways I think that actually took away the danger the episode was attempting to portray in the first place.
As for the rest episode – last week the Doctor realised that Clara was lying about Danny and this week, Danny realised Clara was lying about the Doctor. It would be nice if somewhere in the finale, Clara sat both of them down and was honest about what she really wanted. Mainly because the whole hopping back and forth is clearly not working as well in her favour as she thought it would do.
As for the other bits of the episode – the Missy plot/Operation Cobra both felt horrible tacked on and the more I think about the way Maebh’s missing sister plot was resolved, the more terrible it actually was. Perhaps that was a subplot that should’ve been nixed at the early stages of this episode as it ended this one on a note too saccharine for its own good.
Also in “In The Forest Of The Night”
Despite the title, this episode was set during the day, even if there was an overnight stay at a zoological museum.
The Doctor (to Maebh): “You need an appointment to see the Doctor.”
The little girl who played the overly chatty Ruby actually voices Peppa Pig.
Danny: “Trees don’t just disappear, Ruby.”
Ruby: “They just came, why don’t they just go?”
The Doctor (re Maebh): “If a child is speaking, listen to it.”
This episode really could’ve been used as a chance for the Doctor and Danny to have actually resolved their issues instead of sniping at each other.
Clara: “I’m actually frightened. I never get frightened. Why am I frightened?”
The Doctor: “Just lost a little girl.”
The Doctor: “Those wolves are terrified.”
Clara: “What are wolves frightened of?”
The flashbacks with Ruby and Bradley somewhat prove that Courtney wasn’t the only ‘disruptive influence’ that Clara and Danny have had to deal with in their classes.
Clara: “This is the human race saving you. Make it worthwhile.”
The Doctor: “This is my world too. I walk your Earth, I breathe your air.”
Missy: “Now that was surprising. I love surprises.”
Chronology: Present day London.
“In The Forest Of The Night” isn’t quite as awful as some fans seem keen to stress out, but given the previous episodes that have come before, it was somewhat lagging in parts and to be honest, I think the trailer for the next episode probably left more of an impression than this episode did overall. Still though, I am going to rate this one fairly.
Rating: 7 out of 10