Once a week, we have an unapologetic Doctor Who geek-out here to discuss the latest episode. I’ve just finished watching the 10th episode of the 8th season of the rebooted Doctor Who called In the Forest of the Night (<—that’s a recap from BBC America’s Anglophenia.)
Fair warning now: this is not a summary, just an off-the-top-of-my-head response, and it does contain spoilers. Of course it does – we have to talk about this stuff! So let’s begin, Whovians…
Womp womp. I went from fascinated to “Are you kidding me?” in 45 minutes with this episode. But let’s hit the highlights, shall we?
The imagery of this episode was incredible. Dreamy, realistic, fantastical. The forest covering London was by far one of the coolest places we’ve visited. I think that’s why I felt disappointed with the way it was done – this set/idea deserved a better premise and resolution. All the charm in the world can’t make up for the “are you kidding me?”
The idea of the trees protecting the earth from a solar flare – AGAIN. This was just weird. I mean, I know that Kill the Moon was pretty much were scientific logic went to die but this one stretched the suspension of disbelief a bit much. There is so much to this episode that drove me bonkers. I can’t even begin to give a passing grade to the threat, the resolution, let alone the “fact” that humanity will just “forget” what happened here.
Really, almost all of the premise and the resolution were incredibly unsatisfying to me. We won’t even talk about the utter lack of people or panic or realistic responses here. It could have taken place in a far-off planet for all the lack of humanity here. I miss how Doctor Who used to connect a bit more to silliness of current culture – in Army of Ghosts, there was even a talk show lady talking about how she loved ghosts and then a “cleaning product” to make your ghost shine. Hilarious. But it showed the engagement of the public to what was happening. London is apparently empty and these kids’ parents never bothered to look for them on their own. Really, the whole thing was bizarre and unsatisfying. The threat, the resolution, the “tree spirits” (if that’s what they were???), blergh. The satisfying parts were there, for sure, – the setting, the direction, Clara and the Doctor, some portions of the dialogue – but they couldn’t make up for the lack of a decent story. Don’t get me started about how Annabelle suddenly appeared. I rolled my eyes so hard they fell out of my head.
What a waste of wolves and tigers.
I suppose we should look no further than the little girl in the red coat pursued by wolves plus the reference to Hansel and Gretel. This was pure fairy tale. I think it was meant to be charming or magical but it ended up being unsatisfying.
I’ve rather liked the addition of the kids over this series, which surprises me. Usually, I haven’t appreciated that aspect of the show, finding kids on the TARDIS more distracting or annoying than funny or endearing. But this batch of kids worked somehow, particularly Maeve.
Clara and the Doctor – Their conversation nearing the end of the episode when she tells him to get in his TARDIS and leave them to die was beautifully written and beautifully done. It was a lovely counterpoint or flip to their confrontation in Kill the Moon – he repeated the same words that Clara hurled at him in that episode when he said it was his planet, too. Her admission that she doesn’t want to be the last of her kind was poignant.
And yet their good bye was also unsatisfying; I expected more emotion from one or both of them at the thought of imminent incineration but apparently a “see you later” with a skip into and away from the TARDIS will have to suffice.
This perhaps is just another example of how Clara has become too much like the Doctor. This reminds of me of the lead-up to when Rose left the TARDIS. I happened to rewatch those episodes recently and I was struck by how Jackie worried about Rose’s separation from humanity, about how she would keep travelling forever and she would lose herself entirely. She even said that Rose “looked like him” which pleased Rose as much as it concerned Jackie. Just something to consider for our Clara….
Clara and Danny Pink – Clara got found out and Danny had his head on straight about it. I was left wondering why in the world Clara felt compelled to lie to Danny about still travelling wit the Doctor. He’s clearly not going to leave her over it, he made it clear it was lying that was his line in the sand. There is no good reason why she lied: she wasn’t saving him, or sparing him, or even truly hiding any nefarious behaviour. She just lied to a good guy for no reason. Weird.
Mr. Pink is gloriously human and makes his decisions based on human-values of family and love and honour. (May I just say that the Tenth Doctor would have LOVED Danny? LOVED him, yes, for those very qualities and values and priorities. The Tenth Doctor just loved humans and particularly ones like Danny.) His priority of the kids finding their families – who were apparently not fussed to call them and check in? – over his own curiosity and enchantment is telling. He keeps the main thing the main thing, he isn’t off-set by wonders when he has a duty.
His line there at the end was the winner: “I don’t want to see more things. I want to see the things in front of me more clearly.” That’s a good word, Danny Pink. He’s not dazzled by the TARDIS – he’s dazzled by Clara, and that’s enough for him. Score one for the Maths teacher.
I was surprised there wasn’t more of a connection or an opportunity to bit of preaching regarding climate change or global warming particularly when Clara claimed that ‘we love trees’ but whatever.
I feel like there hasn’t been a cohesion to this series at all. It’s been disjointed and unconnected all the way through. I’m QUITE interested to see how the finale brings it all together and if all the threads can be gathered but right about now, my hopes aren’t high.
Anyone else notice the red phone boxes making repeated appearances? I’m wondering if they were connected to Missy’s appearance there at the end again. She said she enjoyed surprises but by her tone, I’m guessing she was being sarcastic.
I’m wondering about her connection with Clara. Ever since Clara joined us, I’ve felt she had a connection to Rose somehow – after all, she worked at the Rose and Crown, she lives in the same estate, and a few other things. So not sure how this all comes together with Psycho Mary Poppins/The Rani/Lady Time Lord/Guardian of Heaven/Whoever She Is.
And next week is the start of the finale! I was absolutely FLOORED by the trailer so I can’t wait to see what happens.
Now what do you think? Did you like the episode? Any theories or ideas or highlights? Have at it – I love your comments and can’t wait to get the conversation going.
(And as a note, I did finish the Beginner’s Guide to Doctor Who – here’s hoping it’s useful to you as you try to convert your friends and family to your own Who-addiction.)