This week’s review is of Flatline, episode 9 of the last series of Doctor Who.

I really like the idea behind this story and a lot of the ideas that are built up within it. There’s plenty of comedy, some gritty moral difficulties and much darker turns for Clara as a character.

The 12th Doctor struggles with a shrinking TARDIS

We begin with the Doctor and Clara arriving in ‘London’ but we very quickly see that something is not quite right. They’re in Bristol for a start. It quickly becomes clear that something is manipulating the TARDIS’ dimensions, making it shrink. For once, it’s not the Time or Space of the TARDIS that is the focus, but the Dimensions. This was a very clever twist and one that has rarely been used – Planet of Giants, Logopopis to name only a couple.

Quickly, the Doctor retreats into his shrinking TARDIS, leaving Clara with nothing but the Sonic Screwdriver and an earpiece to communicate with him. Soon, it is up to Clara to solve the crisis and she’ll have to do it pretty much on her own. As the monsters close in, we see that they are two-dimensional creatures, living in the walls and floors, squashing things into their realm and, in the process, killing people. Clara finds help in the form of Rigsy, a young man who becomes her companion of sorts.

And here is the crux of the story. We see now more than ever how Clara has changed and become more like the Doctor. After the events of Mummy on the Orient Express, she has developed more of an affinity with his way of doing things, with his ethics and with his point of view. But here we get to see the Doctor having his own behaviour reflected back at him, so that he can see it from the outside and really wrestle with it. He clearly feels discomfort with how Clara behaves and acts towards others and so begins to question himself.

Rigsy is a very enjoyable character – from a working class background much like Rose from the Ninth and Tenth Doctor eras, he brings all the high and ridiculous sci-fi antics down to earth. He has a very big heart and clearly cares for his friends and may reluctantly trust Clara, but he ultimately sees her as his hero, even going so far as to almost sacrifice himself to stop the enemy.

So we come to the issue of the monsters themselves. The ‘Boneless’ are difficult to

Clara Oswald wielding the Sonic Screwdriver

conceptualise villain. You can very much see their effects, but you see very little of them. This is perhaps in line with a lot of Moffat-era and Moffat-written monsters. From the Weeping Angels to the Silence, we do see a recurrence of the unseen or unperceived monster quite regularly. And with good reason – it plays on some very basic fears – the unknown, the unseen, and the uncertain. It can stay with you and haunt you when in your day-to-day life. So long as this sort of thing is done rather sparingly, it will always be effective. This is why I think the subsequent appearances of the Weeping Angels have made them less and less frightening (and more and more inconsistent) with every appearance.

This story brings the Doctor face to face not only with his own helplessness, but his own reflection. Indeed, that seems to be a bit of a theme that has been emerging in this series. The Doctor and his reflections. We see a lot of mirrors in many of these episodes. We see Clara mirroring the Doctor. We see monsters that are very similar to him. And, in the end, we meet someone who is probably more like the Doctor than he cares to admit. But more on that later.

The only drawback of this episode was probably the fact that it’s pacing was a little off. It took a while to get going and the action felt a little forced at times. Certainly not the worst example, but I remember checking my watch a couple of times during the running about bits.

Next up, In the Forest of the Night.


Deep Breath / Into the Dalek
Robot of Sherwood / Listen
Time Heist
The Caretaker
Kill the Moon
Mummy on the Orient Express