Doctor Who 08×09 – Flatliners


*WARNING – contains spoilers*

As we draw closer to the end of this series of Doctor Who, things pull to a darker edge and the characters continue to evolve and grow even more distant from one another. This week was an interesting instalment based in Bristol and was ‘Doctor-lite’, I suppose, with the Doctor trapped in the TARDIS for most of the episode.

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Returning Clara home, the Doctor accidentally lands back at the wrong time (‘ish’) and in Bristol (not London, where she was meant to be). Something is draining energy from the TARDIS and also shrinking the exterior of the time-travelling ship. Clara goes to investigate with the Doctor inside her handbag, trapped in a miniature TARDIS.

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This was an interesting episode in which Clara took the lead throughout. She met with a young graffiti artist, Rigsy, and his fellow community service workers who were clearing their estate of graffiti. It transpires people have been disappearing whilst mysterious artwork appears on the walls. As the Doctor and Clara communicate through a headset and investigate, we find out that there are inter-dimensional, two dimensional beings investigating the Earth. These monsters are taking people and turning them into art.

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The monsters eventually chase the gang through old rail tunnels and learn how to become three dimensional. During all these scuffles, the miniaturised TARDIS gets dropped down a dark shaft and onto the rail lines. To save the TARDIS, the Doctor puts the vessel into siege mode, but with no power left it can’t return to its normal state. Clara finds the box and hatches a plan to re-power the TARDIS.

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They turn the enemies own energy against them by tricking them into powering through a fake door painted by Rigsy. With the TARDIS behind this wall, the energy of the monsters is pumped into the heart of the Timelord’s travelling Police box, allowing him to return and send the beings back to the dimensional plane from whence they came.

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This was powerful story with some great effects (the ragged monsters) and a great cast of actors. The clash of morality between the Doctor and Fenton (the head of the community service workers), was a noticeable change in the Doctor’s new personality. Fenton’s callous mention of the ‘lesser beings’ killed for the greater good rubs the Doctor the wrong way.

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There was a great speech in the TARDIS whilst the Doctor was trapped. He professed his admiration for Clara, which created an interesting discussion in the closing minutes. Clara tried to get the Doctor to say she made a ‘good’ Doctor. He said “You were an exceptional Doctor Clara; ‘goodness’ has nothing to do with it.” This is a brilliant reflection on the Doctor himself – he can be brilliant but not always good. Tough decisions have to be made – Clara has now learnt that harsh reality.

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He was also unimpressed by the fact she has been lying to ‘solider boy’ Danny Pink about the fact they have still been travelling together. No doubt, a choice will have to be made.

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At the end of the episode we had a wonderful return from Missy who was as mischievous as ever. Watching Clara from a tablet in some darkened room, she utters ‘Clara, my Clara, I have chosen well’. An ominous line for an ominous finale soon approaching – what on Earth is going to happen?

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Next week we are in an overgrown London that looks like a jungle, with children and wild animals running amok.

By David Roberts

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