*WARNING – contains spoilers*
This week’s episode was the tenth in this season of Doctor Who, the last before the season’s grand finale story arc begins. This final mid-season instalment is always strange, but this one was a real disappointment. In what is essentially a lead-in to the action packed finale, we reached the worst episode of Capaldi’s debut series.
The Doctor has landed in Central London only to discover that it has been overgrown with trees, seemingly overnight. He is greeted by a young girl, Maebh, who skips into the TARDIS to relay this information to him. The Doctor goes exploring the in this ‘very new’ forest and bumps into Clara and Danny. The two teachers had taken a group of Year 8 ‘Gifted and Talented’ kids for a sleepover at the British Museum and are now stuck in central (forested) London.
The special effects in this episode were incredible and the cinematography was again delivered to perfection. However, the plot was flimsy and had little direction. There was no ‘monster’ or ‘threat’ to speak of really, so we just spent the episode following around this young girl who ‘hears things’. Some interesting comments are made here about the human race medicating away our troubles instead of listening and paying attention to them.
After lots of running around with very bad child actors, the Doctor et. al. end up on the TARDIS following a confrontation with some awfully rotoscoped wolves and a tiger. Why does it turn out the forest is here? To protect us from an impending solar flare by creating an air cushion around the planet. Really?
Just before this pathetic conclusion, Clara had packed the Doctor off and insisted on staying with Danny and the kids on Earth. She pointed out that the kids would rather be with their mothers and (interestingly) said she didn’t want to be the last of her species left alive. This carried on the message that has been signposted throughout this series; Clara is coming to understand the darker edges and troubled mind of the Doctor.
After this emotional claptrap and the cheesiest ending in new Doctor Who so far, ‘In the Forest of the Night’ can be consigned to the rubbish bin with other terrible episodes such as ‘Fear Her’. The only salvation comes with the little hints of what is bound to be a brilliant and exciting finale next week.
In the trailer we see; Cybermen, Missy, explosions, Clara threatening the Doctor, Kate Stewart, UNIT and ‘Clara’ announcing that there never was a ‘Clara Oswald’. Ooh, exciting stuff!
By David Roberts