Doctor Who – Series 8, Episode 9: “Flatline”

(Warning: spoilers)

* From that opening with the guy’s screaming face stretched across the wall, I thought we could be in for something as scary as Night Terrors (an episode I have never re-watched).  In the end, however, the creatures weren’t so much scary as freakish. The use of a stop motion-like effect worked very well – from the disappearing furniture to the movements of the creatures in their 3D forms; I’ve always found movements like that to be creepy.

* Clara was right – the teeny TARDIS was adorable. Even at half normal size, it looked cute. I can’t decide what would have been funnier: the normal-sized Doctor poking his face out that we actually got, or a tiny Doctor that Clara initially assumed was the case. I guess the former was less cliche.

* Clara assuming the role of the Doctor starts out being pretty funny, especially with the Doctor’s reactions. But then it changes as the tone of the episode shifts. I still don’t like the lying, but then, neither does she. As she says, that’s part of being the Doctor, or at least this Doctor. I did like how Clara saves Rigsy from his heroic sacrifice on the train – it really did feel like she was channeling the Doctor, saving his life but not being too friendly about it.

* Similarly, seeing the Doctor trapped inside his TARDIS and dependent on Clara to do things feels pretty comical at first, until the situation starts getting more serious.

* I didn’t like Clara’s awkward phone call with Danny in the middle of a dangerous situation – it really didn’t fit the tone of the scene.

* A universe of 2D creatures – a great idea, as is the Doctor’s theory that they’re not actually aware of what they’re doing to the humans, even if it is ultimately proved false.

* I like how the episode moves from the initial mystery into a survival situation, running from zone to zone just trying not to get killed – I enjoy those types of stories.

* I really didn’t like the grouchy community service guy – he was completely 2D himself, just there to make unpleasant comments and make things more difficult. The fact that he survives certainly brings to mind the end of Voyage of the Damned, though it is dwelt upon less than in that episode.

* Really loved how Clara tricks the creatures with the paper door, and the usage of Rigsy’s art skills  – making use of the local resources, as the Doctor might say.

* Excellent acting from Peter Capaldi as he defeats the creatures (which I don’t think ever got an actual name). The Doctor may have changed quite a lot, not completely for the better, but this is one of those moments where he is truly, unquestionably, the same character.

* “Goodness has nothing to do with it.” There’s that exploration of the word ‘good’ again – bit of a theme for this series.

Overall, an imaginative episode with more hits than misses, keeping things relatively simple with a bit less character exploration than the last few episodes. Rating: 3.5/5.

About R.J. Southworth

Hi there. I've been blogging since January 2014, and I like to talk about all sorts of things: book reviews, film reviews, writing, science, history, or sometimes just sharing miscellaneous thoughts. Thanks for visiting my blog, and I hope you find something that interests you!
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2 Responses to Doctor Who – Series 8, Episode 9: “Flatline”

  1. Screensage says:

    Great review! I enjoyed this episode and thought it was interesting to see how The Doctor understood the negative effect he has had on Clara recently, and how Clara got to see what it’s like to be The Doctor. I think from this point on The Doctor will start to re-evaluate how he deals with life/death situations on his many adventures, and his overall effect on Clara and future companions. The really interesting part of this episode was when The Doctor realized Clara was lying to Danny and him and how he noticed his own qualities in Clara, that of being a manipulator and a liar, and it gave The Doctor pause and kind of scared him a little.


    • Thank you!

      You raise a good point. It reminds me of Rory calling the Doctor out in The Vampires of Venice about how dangerous he makes people to themselves, except that this is about the companion not just becoming more used to danger but actually becoming more similar to the Doctor himself, which is certainly interesting. The Doctor may try to change his approach, but I’m not sure how successful he’ll be.

      Liked by 1 person

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