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…

via BBC

via BBC

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.)

Read More:

Episode 1: Deep Breath 

Episode 2: Into the Dalek

Episode 3: Robots of Sherwood

Episode 4: Listen

Episode 5: Time Heist

Episode 6: The Caretaker

Episode 7: Kill the Moon

 Episode 8: Mummy on the Orient Express

Episode 9: Flatline

Episode 10: In the Forest of the Night

 

 

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  • Brandy Watson

    I rather enjoyed this episode even with it’s fantastical elements. I loved loved LOVED Danny’s dialogue about seeing the things in front of him more clearly. And found myself disappointed in Clara for lying to him for no good reason. He doesn’t deserve that. I also thought the parting of the Doctor and Clara was underdone. Where was the emotion? I did enjoy the doctor’s last comments about how humans have the ability to forget the past and how if we were to remember, there would be no more wars and no more babies….. Next week OH MY. Can’t wait to see what they do with it!

  • Tracey

    Loved the setup of the episode but execution was lacking. Clara was just hung over from watching the kids at the museum on an overnight 😉 Doc stole her away in case he wasn’t right, but the whole humans forget line was crapola.

  • Shane Deal

    It was a bit confusing, but I thought it appropriate that it was, the primary character of this story seemed to me to be the wonderful Maeve. It was confusing and primarily locally focused, true, but that is exactly the viewpoint of Maeve, a girl who thinks a bit differently than everyone else, and we were given a viewpoint like that of Maeve. In consideration of that, I thought it came together quite nicely by focusing on a few and implying the rest.

    I really enjoyed that The Doctor, in his working with Maeve, found his compassionate side again, he told her the one thing she really needed to hear, that it wasn’t her fault. I felt it implied that Maeve is one to internalize a lot of self-blaming, and this was exactly what she needed to hear.

    I found it interesting that the theme of motives was explored, it is assumed that the trees moved in as an invasion as a vengeance, because if we were trees we would choose vengeance, and invasion. It wasn’t considered that it might be an act of kindness.

    I really liked how Danny was handled in this episode, he was fantastic all throughout it.

    For Clara, I think she is frightened of herself, so she lies.

    Annabelle, I get what you mean, yet to me it seemed there was a ‘psychic’ sort of connection between Maeve and the little firefly creatures, and Annabelle was surrounded by the little critters, it made enough sense that she would find her, her thoughts often take form, she requested that her sister return, and so it came to pass.

    As for forgetting it, I do think it was a believable point. We do have a knack for wanting to forget the things that don’t fit well with existing narratives, no matter how drastic an event it seemed at the time. I think it was brought up more than once however that it still finds remembrance in stories, even if the exact events and reasons are not remembered, the overall essence of the event is. I think what was meant by the line was that in a generation or two the event will be just a silly little thing that people said happened, but it’s not really believed that it was quite like that.

    But, I seriously loved the character of Maeve, she is quite a facinating character!

    • Karen Morti Charles

      Yes, I liked Maeve, and the Doctor with Maeve and the other children. Misfits that he could identify with a bit?

      I like your point about Clara being frightened of herself. She is changing. She admires that Danny will always put the children first, which could have been said about her at one time. In the past she was alert to comfort and help children as frightening things were going on around them, but now seems focused on the adventure, and the Doctor.

  • Lisa Kroeker

    It was kind of “meh” for me with the exception of my rapidly increasing love for Danny. He is so caring and inspiring wih the kids- getting them to work together and keep on task, not to mention the rescue from the tiger. I did also enjoy the Doctor/children interactions. I got a good chuckle of the students taking over the Tardis while he tried to maintain his sense of order in there. But his inclusion of them to protect the trees at the end showed more compassion and openness than we’ve seen from him, I think. Maehb was great. A little bit obvious with the Red Riding Hood/wolves reference.

    Clara actually irritated me and I have been liking her so much. I think she shows the Doctor’s influence (and not positively) when she’s more concerned about the adventure of figuring out the trees than the care of her students. And her constant lying to Danny…just, no. He deserves better than that.

    But, oh, next week. I swear, if Moffet makes this either extremely complicated or has it all wrapped up nicely with a two minute resolution that is way too quick and glossed over (looking at you “The Time of The Doctor”), I will fly to England or wherever he is and punch him in the face. I am too excited and nervous and intrigued from the preview to deal with some of his nonsense. Clara. Missy. Who are they, how are they linked, what will become of them all?! CANNOT WAIT!

  • Paul Wesley

    Yeah… while by no means did I hate this story, I think they probably missed the mark in a few key areas.

    I felt that stylistically, they should have either focused on the fairytale, or the contemporary threat. Trying to do both sort of left it in storytelling no mans land. A few thoughts though.

    The glowy firefly forest creatures seemed vaguely reminiscent of the forest in The Doctor, The Widow and the Wardrobe. Second cousins perhaps?
    The little girl who played Maebh was a sweetie, and did a really good job. Bonus points go the show for the fact that the rest of the Gifted and Talented Coal Hill kids were not nearly as annoying as they could have been. Angie and Artie, I hope you’re taking notes.

    Beyond that, not much to say about the main plot line. No villain, just a cosmic threat. Not much for the Doctor to do but unravel the fact that the moment had already been prepared for. As far as tension went, it felt a bit limp.

    I did think the story worked well as a backdrop for the continuing exploration of the “Am I a good man” theme. Once again we have Danny portrayed as a conventional hero, with the Doctor inhabiting more of an antihero’s role. Right smack dab in the middle of this we have Clara teetering precariously. Strongly drawn to the qualities of the hero, while emulating the qualities of the antihero in greater measures every week.

    Conflicted much?

    Admittedly, the Doctor isn’t a true antihero, but that’s certainly the idea the show’s been playing with in Season 8. As a piece of character development for a 51 year old character, it seems to have worked quite well, considering the strong reactions (both positive and negative) people have had to the 12th Doctor this year.

    Looking forward to the finale, although I am slightly nervous about the Cybermen being in it. They were always my favourite classic series monster. I’ve never really felt they’ve been done justice since the show restarted.

  • I was really, really disappointed in Clara for continuing to lie to Danny. And oddly disappointed in Danny that he wasn’t more bothered by it.

    I really liked Ruby. “I’m not though, am I? Because I haven’t got an imagination. You can ask Miss Oswald.”

    I groaned at the appearance of Cybermen in the trailer for the finale. Sigh. I’ve never liked them. They’re so…non-scary as bad guys.

    • I think Danny tolerates her lying because he knows she’s trying to figure things out. He knows she’ll come around in the end and isn’t bothered by her gallivanting with the Doctor. She’s kind of like a teenager who’s trying to figure out who she fits in with, but the parents know all along. I think he’s come to expect it somewhat and is just resigned to it, for a little bit longer at least. I also think he was distracted by his main goal, which was getting his kids home safely.

  • I LOVED this episode! I thought it showed the Doctor as becoming more gentle, especially towards children, and it showed him vulnerable, unable to save those he loves (however begrudgingly he puts it). He truly thought he wouldn’t be able to save his planet nor companions, and this distressed him. I liked that it had a happy, far-fetched ending. The whole thing was far-fetched- what security guard wouldn’t have known that there were children sleeping in the museum? Clara’s lying was highlighted too when she told the Doctor the children weren’t really gifted and talented, she just told them that. I think that was a human behavior she was learning, if in fact, she was some kind of thing put together by Missy to spy on, help, or manipulate the Doctor to her liking. I am SO pumped for the next two weeks! It looks simply amazing.

  • Karen Morti Charles

    A “waste of wolves and tigers”, indeed! Would have loved more fairy-tale to go with the beautiful forest. This could have been a two-parter episode to develop the story and the threat more fully. But as long as the characters and relationships are developing, I am still okay with the season.

    I loved that Maeve did the shout out to her sis, then was disappointed with the simplistic resolution. Just a phone call to show she was making contact again could have implied the happy ending, but being gone for a year and reappearing smiling and unharmed? “All’s well that ends well”? Lazy writing. And I don’t think that often with Doctor Who.

    I did wonder when Maeve explained the voice that drew her to the Tardis as “I thought it was Miss”. Clara acting as the Impossible Girl and didn’t know it? Or a hint about the mysterious Missy?

    My husband is my Doctor Who “watching companion”, but for some reason doesn’t feel the need to discuss it endlessly between episodes. Or at all. Thanks to Sarah and all you who comment for being my “talking about Doctor Who” companions between episodes!

    • My husband’s the same. “What’dya think, hunny?” I ask, to which he replies, “Eh, it was good. What’re you going to do now?” #sigh #luvhim

  • Terri Trewin

    I enjoyed it. Loved the kids, loved the dialogue. The ending was passé, especially Annabel’s appearance, I mean, what!? What? WHAT!? 😉 My eyes were rolling as I shook my head in disbelief at how stupid it was.

    I actually loved the idea of humanity forgetting. We do forget. We forget the horrors that have gone before us. We forget the devastation of war and it’s affects, and we send out kids off to fight (why else the repetition of “Lest we forget”). We forget natural disasters and we rebuild on fault lines and by volcanos. We forget. I’m not sure if this is a blessing or a curse. Granted forgetting an event like TREES SAVING THE PLANET, is a tad far fetched, but then, so is trees saving the planet with a membrane of oxygen. Ehn.

    My favourite line (apart from Danny’s I loved that one too): “There’s no such thing as an arboreal coincidence.”

  • JennaDeWitt

    Haven’t watched this episode yet, but just saw the trailer for the next one on the BBC FB page and had to come here to say… I’m so very over Cybermen. I love me a good Dalek story, but Cybermen just don’t have that same delicious love-to-hate them quality for me. I know we’ll never be rid of them because they are part of the show’s ancient history, but they will never be my favorite baddies.

  • Mark Wayne-Hart

    This is the longest and most boring blog post that I have ever read in my life. Two simple questions: 1.) Have you past the 3rd Grade? 2.) Are you on a good pharmaceutical insurance program? Both answers are vitally important in explaining this level of drivel. Yes. I’m serious.

    • Two simple questions: 1) Do you know how to spell “passed”? 2) If you hate her writing so much, why are you here? #simpleton

    • Terri Trewin

      You’re not a Whovian are you?

  • This was not my most favorite episode in terms of plot, but I loved loved loved Danny in this! And that Clara recognized how wonderful is his dedication to the children. I definitely cackled with glee when she noted how attractive that was 🙂

    Honestly, when Clara was telling the Doctor that she wouldn’t go with him, I thought she was going to say that she didn’t want to live without Danny, but instead it was she didn’t want to be the last human, and that could have been even more raw if there had been a tear or something, maybe? Anyone else feel like she was a little too calm during that?

    The finale…. oh boy oh boy!

  • This episode upset and irritated me, for all the same reasons you just wrote. Should it say something that I can’t even remember who the heck Annabelle is?? #ugh

    The trailer for this coming episode looks great, but didn’t surprise me. Clara is a weird character. WEIRD. As you said, so many connections, and she’s just…off, somehow. I’m looking forward to the end, frankly. I’m excited to finally get some answers, but I’m also just TIRED of this companion and current story line (or lack thereof).

  • Jessica Cockrum

    I liked this episode quite a lot. It was beautiful and I just loved all the interactions between the characters. It definitely had some down points, especially the missing people, but I still enjoyed it.

    But am I the only one who noticed that the UNIT scientist, Osgood, from the Day of the Doctor was in the trailer for the next episode. Instead of wearing a Tom Baker scarf, she is wearing a bow tie. I recognized her at once. I’m so curious about what she is doing back and why the change in her neck attire, thought it may not be explained in any way. Just geeked out a bit.

  • Laura

    Please please post about the finale! I’m dying to discuss it and hear your thoughts!! 🙂

    • Uber

      I KNOW!!!! I keep checking her blog. Booooo!!! I can’t watch this alone and have no one to talk about it with

    • Jess

      I sent an email and I got an auto-reply from her saying that she is taking a sabbatical to work on some other projects. I’m so disappointed. My husband and I really love reading her recaps.

  • I’m still so confused by the end of the episode when Maeve’s sister just sort of appears in the bushes. Like, was she there the whole time? Why? Why is she back now? What??? Otherwise I mostly enjoyed the episode though I totally get your various complaints, they didn’t bother me nearly as much as the lack of tying anything together at the end and explaining where the heck Maeve’s sister went and why because I really don’t believe she was just hiding in the bushes the whole time. Was she somehow turned into a tree or something?

  • Laura

    Please, please post about the finale! It was so heavy and full, and I need discussion and closure. There’s a lot of important stuff in it and a lot to be related to the Gospel.

  • Ken

    Sarah, can you tell me when you began blogging your review /spiritual take on Dr Who? I’ve finished all the episodes and would love to go back and read your blog in chronological order. Thanks.