Well, it’s been some time since I’ve written about Doctor Who, and it’s not because of anything other than writing takes up more time than I have with everything else happening. I’ve been watching the new Series from Christopher Eccleston’s regeneration, and I’ve just moved onto David Tennant. Loving it. Working up to writing some more in depth reviews. If only I had a time machine eh? I’d hover in a gap of 5 minutes and write for hours of earth hours.
So I received the news that the Doctor was going to regenerate into a lady-shaped body in good humour. I felt finally, I could enjoy the show relating to the Doctor in new ways. I know it’s going to provoke outrage, men feel emasculated. It’s not true, they aren’t actually being emasculated, it just seems that way due to perceptions that may need to shift with the force of Thor’s thrustful hammer.
But I do wonder if we’re going to experience more resistance as the tender gender bias is challenged. I sincerely hope that the show doesn’t end up the same way Torchwood did. There are certain things that work, and individual stories are one of them. This is what makes Star Trek so good, and so prolific. I have similar fears over the new Star Trek and whether it is just planning to be an overlong, single note movie bedecked in lens flares.
So, back to the subject of my post, then I started working on several TARDIS canvases using distinctly different techniques, I plan on sharing these as they progress. This one was my favourite concept, I liked the look of monochrome with hints of blue and a cheeky streak or two of pink. What would she look like? I suppose this is important for the costume designer to get right. But in the absence of any source material at all, I started shaping her onto the canvas using a small brush and a few reference pictures of her facial features.
I included a bow tie as a nod to Matt Smith, and a waistcoat and red lined tailored coat to wink at Peter Capaldi – what a doctor. I really need to get reviewing the last season because it was just brilliant. I do not know what the sad people are on about, I do wonder if they watched the same show as me? Science Fiction is by it’s very nature, socially, and politically experimental. It enables writers and thinkers to project ideas into other contexts so that we can learn something new about how we experience the world. Seriously, read some Asimov, it’ll blow your mind!
So the original artwork is bigger than my usual miniature canvases — need to check but I reckon it’s 40″ x 50″…and she’s not for sale. But I am willing to share her, and to that end, she is available at my shop on RedBubble — Please stop by. She also looks good on other things, so please take a few moments to enjoy her in other ways. I’d appreciate that so much. Thank you.
I have been stopping to smell the flowers, usually while I’m on my weekly assigned leaflet route. I decided that I needed a walking prompt, and not being flush with cash at the moment, I figured it’d provide a little extra, which we use for fuel and give me a paid-cardio work out.
It’s really is a lot of work for very little return if you’re only looking at it in terms of monetary gain, but if you spread the work out over four or five days, you can deliver 200-250 leaflet packs in a couple of hours providing the houses are close together and you get paid to walk. No gym can offer you the same package. If you’re lucky you might even have some inclement weather to give you that extra challenge, but the insights are plentiful.
This is a perfect side job for a creative person.
On estates with large properties (rich people), you walk for miles up and down driveways, opening and closing gates, being turned away at the door with a tiny “no leaflets upon pain of death” labels, and you can expect to deliver only half the quantity, which means you only get paid half the amount, because you get paid a few pennies per house you deliver to.
It always helps to have things clearly signposted (as in the picture below) before you walk all the way up to a front door.
You have to take note of every house you could not deliver to, and why, and this saves you time by not forcing you to walk all the way up to the door.
My list of houses that decline Junk Mail of any description presumably is captured and stored on a secret marketers database somewhere.
Or maybe not.
I don’t know, I make things up while counting houses and colouring in my maps with fibre tip pens. This is why this is a perfect hobby for a writer.
In England most houses have mail flaps (I can’t speak for the rest of the United Kingdom). Some are friendlier than others. My personal favourites are the soft lift with gentle brushes ones, they probably have a fancier name but there is something nice about pushing a leaflet pack through the gap between soft brushes.
However, the one set into the door below will rip your nails from their beds if you don’t use your other hand to stabilise the push up. See, I’m even coining leafleter terms.
Side note: It always helps to carry plasters, you don’t want to be leaving random samples of your blood all over town.
As with the next one, with an added twist…
Some flaps require agility, and balance in order to avoid wetting knees. This is a double whammy, tough flap, sharp edged, awkward angle – thank goodness there were no vicious dogs snapping and snarling on the other side.
Some homes invite you to pull off a phew, don’t mind if I do… er, don’t, thank you. But at least I got paid my 4p to deliver here, to the dig where the shoes will fossilise to confuse future archeologists, disrupting all effective debate.
While other homes speak of valuable moments in their history where someone once decided to spring clean and strongly decided they’d not accept another piece of unsolicited mail ever again.
Some homeowners have made a clear decision to steer away from receiving mail through their door, and I wondered if a couple of them perhaps, had once delivered leaflets and wrangled with the same flap-diversity.
While other homes invite everyone implicitly with the following non-negotiable exceptions.
And every now and again a spark of light is lifted from the anonymity of society, and a smiling memory arises. Doctor Who’s suburban home perhaps?
I’m sure there will be more. I’ve a couple of weeks off from Leafleting, with other matters requiring more urgent attention but will be on foot in no time, exploring a new part of the city I love, the one in which I live.
The next time you see a leafleter, just remember that they’re probably not doing it because they absolutely OMG love leafleting, and contrary to what some opine, they actually are doing a great job promoting real, local businesses to real, local people. The stupid things people say to me while en route, I will leave to share another day.
Support local businesses and encourage your town to thrive by reading your leaflets when they come through the door. They weren’t put there automatically. Someone took the trouble to visit your front door and wished the best of life to you today, it may even have been me.
SPOILERS SWEETIE – Do not read if you haven’t watched
“Flatline” has several mind-blowingly brilliant concepts, all artfully woven together into this meaty action-packed thrilling adventure. There is much to enjoy about it from the point of view of the Doctor and Clara swapping places, the Doctor remote controlling one epic, hectic situation from his tiny TARDIS at the bottom of Clara’s handbag, discovering and defeating the 2-Dimensional monsters that the Doctor names, and a general comment about society.
All season has built to a huge hinted-at finale, and “Flatline” adds to that process taking a slow, strong build, and ramping it up several degrees. Over season eight, the relationship between the Doctor and Clara has fluctuated between companionship and conflict, but through it all, neither of them has let us down. This episode is amusingly told from the perspective of Clara, giving us a turn in the Doctor’s metaphorical hob-nail boots.
We meet the plot at the point where the last victim Roscoe (John Cummins) who’s figured out the mysterious threat and is trying to convey what he knows to emergency services, and is unfortunately turned into a strip of screaming wallpaper, and a skin graft deco-decal. The Doctor’s involvement – re the TARDIS dimensions being leeched – is a result from the same invisible 2-dimensional threat that Roscoe’s figured out too late.
Clara is lying about Danny to the Doctor – not just evading, or omitting – but plain old garden variety lying. We discover she’s lying about why she isn’t leaving her things behind on the TARDIS. If she and the Doctor aren’t involved in a physical relationship, this is a waste of energy. She’s acting as if she has something to hide. In theory, she could just tell Danny she’s traveling with the Doctor (knocking about) and have done with it. The truth would be far easier to manage, and wouldn’t damage her reputation.
The TARDIS lands in the right timeline, but a completely different space – Bristol. The Doctor and Clara notice something is amiss when the door is half the size it usually is. The music is perfect (as usual) for drawing out the atmosphere and tension. Although our friendly TARDIS is the same on the inside as it ever was, it has lost half it’s external surface area due to energy being leached from external dimensions.
The Doctor is both amazed and afraid because the TARDIS has never done this before.
Realising with frustration she’s got a potentially awkward explanation with Danny brewing, Clara heads off into town to investigate, to find someone who might know what’s been going on while the Doctor stays with his mobile home. If he’d left, he’d not have been able to remote control from within his TARDIS later, and all the remedies applied wouldn’t have been possible.
Cut to the people on community service. They’re being commandeered by not a very nice man, Fenton (Christopher Fairbanks) who gets Rigsy (Joivan Wade) the convicted graffiti-artist to paint over his signature. Al (Matt Bardock) expects some sort of trouble over it, but Fenton isn’t racist, or sadistic, he’s just not very nice and has a cynical disposition, and he clearly just doesn’t like anyone. He has a strong ethical code though, he ensures rules are followed – you wouldn’t want to cross him, but he doesn’t break the rules to enforce them.
Clara is mildly cat-called and Rigsy takes quick break, strolling over and apologise to her on behalf of his boorish buddies. They get chatting and Clara discovers that people have gone missing, someone has painted murals under the bridge, and Rigsy is a convicted graffiti artist. She smirks when he points out he hasn’t done anything murdery. I wonder what’s going through her mind, she’s not exactly an ordinary girl.
Having discovered the problem, Clara heads over to the TARDIS and the exterior dimensions of the TARDIS have changed – it’s the same size as a plastic toy TARDIS – doctor is the right size on the inside along with everything else. We’re all chortling along with Clara as the Doctor informs her of the situational severity. It’s sheer brilliance. Humour and horror juxtaposed properly, always created a darkly hilarious balance in the dynamics.
Clara keeps telling the Doctor to stop with his stories – every episode she all but tells him to Shush. He hands Clara the psychic paper, sonic screwdriver and nanotech for multi-sensory communication, through the tiny door, and Clara puts the lightweight TARDIS in her handbag, the nanotech in her ear and keeps hold of the sonic screwdriver for flair. She is now imbued with the ability to literally channel the Doctor.
In certain communities, people claim to channel higher dimensional entities – I’m not commenting on the veracity, just the activity. I found “Flatline” an interesting look at that phenomenon, first where Clara actually has the Doctor in her head (seeing through her eyes) and he can hear her phone calls… then it’s taken that extra bit further because it’s applied the other way, to the lower dimensions instead with the 2-dimensional monsters.
Clara bumps into Rigsy again and jokingly introduces herself as the Doctor. The Clara music plays – smooth Clara.
As they enter Roscoe’s flat, Rigsy explains that Roscoe went missing from inside, and the Doctor comments that he enjoys a locked room mystery, and in replying to him, Clara reveals that she’s not traveling alone. Rigsy starts talking about how the police never get around to investigating these things and the Doctor writes him off as a fluorescent pudding brain. I suppose his view on life is different – if something is wrong, investigate it.
While Clara is reflecting (smirking) into a mirror (her sigh accessed by the Doctor) – Mirrors and Eyes again, we see Rigsy’s reflection in the background. There have been mirrors used throughout this season, I’ve written about them in earlier analyses. Because the moon turned out to be an egg, I’m not entirely convinced they are in true reality… There was a great novel I read in my teens by Stephen Donaldson – the Mirror of her Dreams…
Clara does something odd, she blasts the mirror with the sonic screwdriver and it causes the console in the TARDIS to show static. I am not entirely sure how this is possible – Mirror should really just be glass. The Doctor seemed confused too.
Rigsy thinks out loud, based on those locked room things you get in books and something about that changes the Doctor’s mind. Is it that Rigsy demonstrated an unexpectedly independent thought – one that almost exactly echoed the Doctor’s a few seconds before – a thought that only Clara heard… Or is someone / something in Rigsy’s head? Later when they’re underground I had a good look at his graffiti – couldn’t help think that last season the Van Gogh painting turned out to be quite important.
Missing man, locked room, shrink ray? Clara is thinking aloud, the TARDIS has shrunk – obvious to suspect a shrink ray, Clara didn’t know the Doctor had already set the sonic to scan for that when they entered the room (or at least that is what he said before going off to investigate the possibility). As Clara gets down on the floor to look for a man under a sofa or inside anywhere, Rigsy gets nervous and says he’s got to head back to his community service.
“Clara, local knowledge is leaving, do something.”
They decide to show the Doctor to Rigsy, and this is another glorious moment of ingenuity and madness. We see the Doctor framed by the doors of the tiny TARDIS.
Clara proposes the man might still be in there and just be very tiny – TARDIS shrunk why not the man – it’s a good theory. Rigsy wants to leave at this point because it’s getting strange. Doctor is stuck in the TARDIS, and a huge energy drain hits the inside, and Clara grabs it and they run.
The Doctor has his blackboard out again, covered in calculations… this is another repeating theme that’s occurred throughout the season beginning at the home of Madame Vastra in “Deep Breath”. He explains more aloud for himself, than for Clara’s benefit, that it’s embarrassing as he’s from the race that built the TARDIS, dimensions are their thing… so why can’t he understand this? He suggests that they find out who else has disappeared for more clues.
Cut to the Policewoman PC Forrest (Jessica Hayes) who is muttering about the case, says off the record, top brass hoping if they ignore it’ll all go away – here we come back to the theme of people just what’s necessary and nothing more. The Doctor suggests that in locked room stories, the person could still be inside, or buried inside the walls and he hands her a sledgehammer through the TARDIS door, and it comes out through her handbag. Another gasp-worthy moment of imaginative genius!
The policewoman goes into a separate room, notices something is off while justifying her time on the case, hangs up her phone-call, and falls victim to the 2-dimensional monsters. The floor moves, PC Forrest calls as she’s swallowed up, Clara and Rigsy arrive too late to see what happened, and as Clara scans the room the Doctor notices the mural is a nervous system – scaled up and flattened.
The first threat emerges. The walls and floor begin moving. Luckily the first victim had a swinging chair in the room situated right in front of the picture window. Unfortunately, Danny picks that time to call and the Doctor gets to hear both sides of the conversation – comments approvingly on Clara’s truth-evasion. While Clara and Rigsy swing frantically over a swarming floor, landing on the lawn outside the house.
“This explains everything. They’re from a universe with only two dimensions.”
The Doctor is excited at the discovery of the 2-dimensional beings (that the TARDIS can’t detect) coming through to the 3rd dimension. His next thought is a scathing attack on Clara’s lying, asking what long story she’s going to tell Danny.
“You told me that Danny was OK with you being back on board the TARDIS… Congratulations. Lying is a vital survival skill…. And a terrible habit.”
I wonder what else the Doctor knows and has omitted to say – if it’s anything to do with all the scribbles on his blackboard.
The earpiece acts up at a convenient moment, the Doctor’s voice is breaking up (outside interference perhaps?) and while Rigsy is tries to stop the group from painting over them, Clara sonics the piece to get it working again.
The Doctor notices the murals for what they are and reaches out of the TARDIS in her handbag and points to the walls – and the missing people painted there.
Clara has a minor run in with Fenton, who hasn’t the imagination to see the psychic paper for anything other than what it is when she tried to convince him she was with Health and Safety. Stan moved forward to paint the wall as per Fenton’s instruction, but unfortunately he’s sucked in by the 2-dimensional mob. Perhaps sensing a threat, all the murals to turn around, and the Doctor points out that they’re “wearing the dead like camouflage”… more wonderful ideas emerge as the murals take the swarming shape we’ve come to recognise and love, and on the Doctor’s command to get them out of there, they run.
This plot is moving along nicely. They find themselves in an old warehouse with trains. The underground is creepy and dark, but conversely feels safer than out there where the swarming 2-d mob is. Doctor informs Clara that her first goal is take on the role of leader, which she does convincingly and with strength.
“I am the one chance you’ve got for staying alive, that’s who I am.”
Clara hopes she can keep them alive, the Doctor says “Welcome to my world” It’s an interesting dynamic flip, Clara puts it to the Doctor that she lies to them that’s what the Doctor would do.
“It is true that people with hope tend to run faster… whereas people who think they’re doomed…(C: dawdle)”
The Doctor doesn’t seem certain the monsters are just trying to understand and not getting it, or if they are planning an invasion. He wants to find out first. I suppose because if something is benevolent, it’s easier to resolve the issue. But it is clear after they lose Number 22 – George (Raj Bajaj), and after hearing the 2-d monsters say his number, that they’re dealing with a psychopathic mob.
D: “I know a race of sentient gas who throw fireballs as a friendly wave… I know another race with 64 stomachs that talk to each other by disembowelling” C: “He has a hunch”
Fenton may be unpleasant and without a single sparkle or glimmer of optimism and cynical to his bones and ordinarily such character-tropes would be relegated to the eradication pile of disposable characters, but this episode is full of surprises. After George turns into a 2-d swarm, they run off into the tunnels. They discover that the monsters were there and turned the handles flat. The Doctor puts together a little contraption he calls the 2-Dis – able to restore dimensions.
Clara uses the 2-Dis on the flattened handle, and it malfunctions.
Things get a whole worse when Number 36, Al (Matt Bardock) is taken by a big 3-D hand causing the 2-d creatures to morph into the bodies of their victims out of the very dust of the disused train tunnel. It’s apity because I think he was the only character that seemed to assure Clara’s safety from the nasty Fenton. The Doctor in the meantime makes an adjustment on the 2-Dis and they’re able to get through a door, discovering that the creatures have the same ability to restore dimensions.
The creatures have an immense amount of information and we learn all together in one terrific action, chase sequence that they can restore dimensions since they’re in the 3-D.
Thankfully, the Doctor has come up with a theoretical way to send them back to their own dimension, but there’s just not enough dimensional energy in the TARDIS to make that happen. The Doctor also tells Clara this one vital bit of information, before Fenton wrestles the TARDIS away from her – that the creatures can now pour the energy out as well as leech it, and theoretically could fill up the TARDIS. The tension about Clara being the only female with a dwindling band of “safe” men, who continue to include Fenton, is growing just that much stronger.
The TARDIS falls down onto a deeper train line and things that seem dire just get that bit worse. The structural integrity of the TARDIS is now failing, and as the Doctor peers out of the TARDIS doors, he realises that the light in the tunnel moving toward him, is a train.
Clara suggests he move the TARDIS like Addams Family’s Thing and he turns the TARDIS the right way up, and uses his fingers to scoot along off the trap. But, as it turns out, things are not ready to turn around just yet, it’s not perfect positioning and the TARDIS topples over, before being knocked by the train’s wheels, and the Doctor’s communications are cut off from Clara’s. The Cloister bell rings – second time this season. He’s really pushing the limits, and goes into siege mode – with insufficient power to come out of it.
Along the lower train lines, Fenton, Rigsy and Clara realises the monsters are still coming after them, Fenton points out another train is coming and they get it to stop. Bill’s (James Quinn) arrival re-balances the group because Fenton isn’t a nice guy at all, he would turn on them given half a chance – he’s already got one up on Rigsy and he’s responsible for the loss of the TARDIS.
While Clara is talking to Bill, Rigsy hops aboard the train to “hold the dead man’s handle” and Clara leaps up after him and gets her hair-band to do the job instead.
“You’re not getting off that lightly – there’s work that needs doing.”
The moment they jump, the train is transformed into a mural, sucked into the 2D world, providing the monsters with more energy to make them even more lethal than they were before.
“I quite liked that hairband.”
Clara discovers the TARDIS on the track, in siege mode, and recovers it – and they run away from the morphing 2D monsters, chirruping louder and more menacing than before.
They walk into an access shaft and Clara cannot contact the Doctor. She realises what the last thing the Doctor said, was the TARDIS needed energy, so that’s where they started. Clara doesn’t seem able to hear the Doctor from within his siege-enabled time machine, yet she confirms she could hear him once the dust has settled and they’re back in the light of day.
Fenton has no imagination, cannot understand what Clara is doing, says she’s insane, but Clara sets Rigsy up with the large poster and spray paints – what else would an artist do. A painting is 2-dimensional, Clara situated the TARDIS behind the poster of a door, and they wait for the threat to arrive.
All along we didn’t know if Clara could hear the Doctor talking, but somehow as the energy pours from the monsters on the poster, and being caught by the Pandorica shaped TARDIS behind, she can hear him say she was Good and that she made a mighty fine Doctor.
The energy blast restores the TARDIS to full operation. In a gut blasting arrival, the TARDIS drops back down – loud and proud – with a massive force field holding back the monsters. The Doctor’s speech is powerful.
Clara is triumphant – she’s got a lot to feel proud about, she asks the doctor if people still say Chipper. She seems to be walking along the edge of confidence and arrogance, one step either way and she could come up against a pitfall of her own making.
Fenton lives to tell the tale – anyone who knows him would have to believe the tale, but somehow I doubt he’ll tell of it – and after briefly meeting him, the Doctor comments that the wrong people may have survived.
The Doctor is evidently not pleased with Clara. I suppose all that time alone in the TARDIS gave him time to stew – more so than usual. Clara reveals that she’d heard what he’d said, but gave him an out saying that the power was going out and he could have been delirious. He agrees that she was an exceptional Doctor – but Good had nothing to do with it.
“Ah! The return of the fluorescent pudding brain!” They say goodbye to Rigsy, he heads off… his world, and perception altered, and as an artist, we hope that he’d apply it to new creations.
Doctor confronts a less elated Clara and agrees that Clara was an exceptional Doctor, but goodness had nothing to do with it.
Missy! I don’t even know what to make of Missy yet. I have read so much speculation and some of it sounds okay, some of it sounds too far off the wall, and somehow I think the reality is so different to what everyone is expecting – this season has been dense with clues and red-herrings, it’s impossible to tell the difference.
I will say this. I have noticed that eyes, mirrors, reflection and duality somehow come into it. These are common themes across the season’s arc.
I don’t really care to speculate on Missy any more at this point – we have loads of information, but still not enough. At some point between publishing this and “In the Forests of the Night”, I will need to review all my notes and analyses and see what I can piece together from past questions.
“Flatline” is the ninth episode of the eighth series of the British science fiction television programme Doctor Who, written by Jamie Mathieson, and directed by Douglas Mackinnon. The episode stars Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman, with Joivan Wade and Christopher Fairbank guest starring.
The show was on the other foot in “Flatline“, Clara was at the centre of the action, whereas the Doctor had to stay put (opposite situation in Mummy). The story just didn’t stop in all it’s breakneck pace. The threat was scary, unfathomable, and having to go through this with Clara at the helm as opposed to the Doctor, is one of the most interesting ways to structure an episode in recent history – especially with their personal conflict. The Doctor called her a liar even before he heard her conversation with Danny.
One of the minor issues I had, was identifying the characters other than Rigsy and PC Forrest. Perhaps it was a comment as both of the stories written by Jamie Mathieson had a train-theme.
Mummy on the one hand, looked at the opulent aspects, where social conventions and niceties are the expected norm – we met each character as an individual, at their level. “Flatline” on the other, has taken the perspective from the blue-collared of society, and clearly not in the same social construct, or class. Each prisoner has a number, the train driver blue-collar, as is Fenton the distinctly unlikable supervisor. The only reason I knew their names was because I checked Wikipedia and googled images of actors – which by the way if I got anyone wrong, please let me know.
The ideas in “Flatline” were so good, that any imitation will be pounced upon by fandom, and hewn to shreds. This leaves room for The Boneless to become a returning monster. What a way to make it into Doctor Who cannon! Well done Jamie Mathieson – you’re an awesome writer!
The various stages of the shrinking TARDIS were simply genius, half-size, pint size and siege mode size – brilliant imagination and some humorous gags (Thing from the Addams Family). The Doctor framed in the confines of a tiny door to his capacious home, makes him unusually vulnerable. Despite her lying ways, he trusts Clara enough to give over to her keeping his life, TARDIS, Sonic Screwdriver, psychic paper and 2-Dis, and she follows through, albeit with a little added arrogance padding her confidence, and is a great Doctor.
His advice on her journey seemed largely free from interference, apart from a couple of moments – where I wondered if their argument about Danny was cut short to spare the viewer the agony, or if there was more to it – involving a voyeuristic Missy perhaps.
I’ll leave you with one last unrelated thought. How is Riversong connected with Clara? I can’t help wonder why Riversong had a psychic connection with Clara at Trenzalore, in “The Name of the Doctor” and I can’t help but wonder if we might be returning there at some future point. I may be barking up a completely wrong tree.
Spoilers Sweetie – Don’t read if you haven’t watched.
“Kill the Moon” episode was preceded by news stories suggesting that the Doctor was going to do something shocking that he’d never done before and each time he did something unusual, I wondered whether that was “it”, but by the time the big “it” “Fuckity bye” moment happened, I was still as stunned as everyone else – I actually felt as slapped as Clara looked.
Shocking it was!
Teacher and student guide us into our journey at a crucial decision point – and the Doctor is absent but we don’t know why… yet.
“An innocent life vs. all of mankind.” Clara issues the summary, which frankly when put like that, the answer seems obvious.
Following the credits, we head back to the beginning of the story’s story… Courtney (Ellis George) is scarred by the Doctor’s scathing judgement of her, Clara (who has a new hairstyle – passage of time) appeals to his better nature, her frustration clear. It’s difficult to think highly of someone who vomits in your VW Beetle TARDIS, so the Doctor is entitled to his opinion, but by his words and behaviour, Clara points out, he’s driven Courtney to drink – Alcopops.
Fifteen-year old Courtney in the TARDIS challenges him to tell her that he doesn’t think she’s special, and perhaps something in her refusal to accept his opinion gets to him. Instead of just telling her that he didn’t mean it (which may or may not have been a fib), he asks her how she’d like to become the first woman to walk on the moon in 2049 (37-years into the future), something she is on-board with.
Incidentally, this episode takes place 10 years before “Waters of Mars”, and would be the event that needed to happen in order to assist all future off-Earth travels.
The Doctor parks the TARDIS in a crash-landing, bumping along the Lunar’s surface, second-hand space shuttle packed with 100 nuclear bombs, shortly to meet the three astronauts Lundvik (Hermione Norris), Duke (Tony Osoba), and Henry (Phil Nice). If this had been Star Trek, the men would have worn red shirts.
The Doctor takes the sting out of Lundvik’s killing threat and in doing so reveals much about his ethical lines of thinking – a bit more like his younger selves.
He suggests kill the little girl first – because she shouldn’t have to watch her companions die – it would be terrifying, then Clara and finally him – though they might have to spend a lot of time killing him because he could probably go on forever.
The Doctor answers his own questions, points out that the moon’s put on weight it could be Gravity bombs, axis alignment systems, planet shellers… aliens Lundvik surmises.
The Doctor paints a dramatic picture of how Earth ‘must be now’, while Lundvik shares Humanity’s solution – it’s Humanity’s unsurprising solution to everything we don’t like, understand, and causes us discomfort – blow it up, destroy it, and hope for the best.
It seems this is the gist of the unspoken message passing between the Doctor and Clara is something like, “Is that your species’s bloody solution to everything?”
The reluctant astronauts accept help and they open the damaged ship allowing Courtney to take the first step on the moon – being the first woman to walk on the moon – it only took 80 years!
Courtney’s first words were, “One small thing for a thing, one enormous thing for a thingy thing.” – and the Doctor thought Courtney wasn’t special!
Courtney thinks she knows everything, she knows some things, doesn’t quite grasp how important a moment this is (yet) and is just an irresponsible fifteen-year-young lady, but her character will be defined by the end of this grey point in time.
Lundvik explains – filling us in on more backstory – there was a mining survey done by the Mexicans who had a base – the tidal waves we learn, were the greatest natural disaster in history. As they head off to the Mexican’s camp, Lundvik sends Henry off to switch the bombs in the shuttle on. Answering the doctor’s question with, “Is that the best you could get?” with “Second-hand space shuttle, third hand astronauts” we watch Henry shuffle off assured that nothing will go bang until Lundvik’s “fiddled” with the box.
We realise that with the crash landing, and the on-board arsenal, and with everyone behaving just like Marvin the Paranoid Android on a bad day, that this is a one-way trip, a last hurrah from a desperate Humanity.
Lovely big monochromatic Lanzarote landscapes are reminiscent of Classic Who, but with more High Definition finesse, the dark sky is claustrophobic, and the SB-6 suits stand out in orange contrasting with the white Earth space suits. I believe the Doctor has a clothing replicator in the TARDIS too (something Courtney could have got on with and not jeopardised the group’s security.
According to the Masterful Mr Moffat in an interview in Doctor Who Magazine this month, we now understand that Orson Pink’s space suit was damaged in “Listen“, so the Doctor replicated one for him in the TARDIS, must have made a few more for this crew…
Lundvik carries on painting a dark picture of Earth events from 2014 to 2049 – not pretty, and related to the moon (not climate change, or carbon-dioxide, or plastic oceans, or oil spills) building up on what’s already been disclosed.
We learn, ten years earlier that they’d heard nothing more from the Mexican astronauts, had no more space shuttles, nobody was interested in space travel anymore, and the only ship they had left was in a museum with the back cut off for children to pretend to ride in. Yeah, sounds about right with all the funding cuts everywhere. And with all the money squatting off-shore, how can anything grow? Unless it’s all been secretly re-appropriated… but how would we know? That theory’s as easy to prove as the existence of the Hiding things from “Listen”.
The group enters a small, dark cabin with creepy cobwebs everywhere and Courtney stumbles upon a corpse in a space suit. Duke offers to get the power turned back on, while Clara tries comforting Courtney, while the Doctor tries to figure out what the motive behind the creatures and webs would be – figure out how people work, or how they taste (chicken apparently)…
Once the power is back on, the Doctor switches on the computer and within moments discovers that the Mexicans found no minerals on the moon and all the fissures and cracks are bigger and the moon is breaking apart. The Mare Fecunditatis (Sea of Fertility), Sea of Tranquillity, Nectar, Ingenuity, and Crises are all affected and the 100 million year old moon is falling to bits. Nobody mentions anything on the rest of the Moon – cue the Waterboys.
We cut over to Henry, not sure if he’s switched everything back on, but he encounters a den of spider-like creepy crawlies (at no point ever described as such despite the webs everywhere), and unfortunately he doesn’t make it back, but it seems his end was quick.
In the dark, a scuttling sound reveals the spider-like bacteria Henry’s just been unfortunate enough to discover. The Doctor talks them through their panic, reminding them to stay still while planning their escape route out the room. It’s all claustrophobic… something about the absence of light, oxygen and atmosphere, plus all the cobwebs and dust bunnies made breathing an effort watching this.
After switching the power on in the Mexican’s base room, Duke dies next – sad but it buys them enough time to leave the room, leaving Courtney behind the locked door where fortunately the lunar’s gravity field malfunctions briefly, saving her life.
Courtney sprays the spider-like thing with her germ-killer – brought along to help clean up any possibly nauseating spillages in the TARDIS, and it kills the thing the Doctor calls a prokaryotic unicellular life-form with non-chromosomal DNA (aka Germ). He also realises in that moment that the 1.8 billion ton mass inside the moon shifted, therefore is unstable and becomes excited. I’m getting more of a feel for who he is, compared with who he has been in the past, it’s like the pendulum’s swung all the way out in the complete opposite direction to where it was last season, and now it’s settling into a centre-point.
Lundvik’s demeanour when Duke dies doesn’t change much, but she fills in some back story implying deep emotions beneath. He’d just had a grandchild, he’d been her teacher, taught her how to fly, and they were both given the sack on the same day – her heavy feyness is compelling – her character seems to have an interesting depth – very clever, deceptively simple painting. Nice little details that fill in all the gaps quite nicely.
The Doctor doesn’t hang around for emotional remembrances, asks which way to the Mare Fecunditatis, while Courtney wants to go home. I don’t like saying nasty things about the characters, but throughout this episode, Courtney is a bit high-maintenance. Maybe the adventure gives her a little more sense at the end of it, but during them she contributes to the tension because you just don’t know what she’s likely to do.
The Doctor eventually agrees to let Courtney stay in the TARDIS. His thinking is, everything is dangerous, and letting that stop you is no way to live your life.
Clara pleads to be taken back to Earth, that it’s not their problem and she needs to get Courtney back because of her duty of care, but it’s to no avail. The Doctor reveals a precious kernel of detail about the nature of Time Lords and their knowledge, as we’re given a peek into the finer mechanics of Time Travel and uncertain moments.
Now, we understand part of the predicament, but the crux has yet to be revealed. I enjoyed the way this episode was paced; it went quickly from one scene to the next and avoided verbatim while building up engagement, with tension.
Lundvik points out that her crew is gone, that they were the last astronauts. She’s good in the role. The more I watch the more I figure out that her character is melancholy, she’s probably seen much loss and in the face of her dear friends dying, has not taken a single moment to shed a tear
Courtney is safe for now, holed up in the TARDIS. Now if you were given the run of a TARDIS with reportedly large rooms, swimming pools, libraries etc. Would you want to sit in the control room? I wouldn’t. But that’s what Courtney does – she’s bored, she uploads photos to Tumblr – it’s referenced twice – Lundvik’s grandmother liked Tumblr (if Lundvik is 54, that would have made her close to Courtney’s age in 2014 – so it’s a bit of a leap if it is to reference the point that everyone gets old (if they’re lucky)), that she shouldn’t, and perhaps this comes back at some later point (In “Love and Monsters”, a Doctor Who conspiracy group led by Alton Pope).
The Doctor finds out about Courtney’s activities and uses the sonic screwdriver to remove the images. He hardly uses the sonic screwdriver this season.
The Doctor goes out looking again with the rest, looking for what is killing the moon. They come across the dead bodies wrapped in webs, and Clara wonders aloud if it’s an infestation. There’s a panicky moment where the Doctor just manages to get away, thanks to sunlight – the best disinfectant there is, according to Clara’s nan.
The Doctor watches the germ-spiders around Mare Fecunditatis before finding amniotic fluid and leaps into the chasm. Clara supposes he’ll come back — she has a chat with Courtney to find out if she’s okay and then tells Courtney off for Tumblr pics. Then Courtney, the TARDIS, and the crashed shuttle fall into the Mare Fecunditatis.
When the Doctor returns, a shadow of his exuberant former selves is revealed as he excitedly yammers on about today being the day for humankind. He shares the discovery that the moon is an egg.
Now to me it looks like a dragon – Courtney asks if it’s a chicken – nobody ever says it’s a dragon or a chicken. Just as the germ like spider things are eventually labelled bacteria (tiny beings, in relation to one very large one) – you’d think that someone would have pointed out the arachnid-like resemblance of that…
This is one of the criticisms I have of this episode. It seemed a little too afraid to make “labels” of anything (while being so detailed and rich in subtleties) and yet relied on a huge premise of the moon being an egg, and considering Doctor Who canon, does this mean that the Moon is an egg forever, will this event occur in another 100,000 years time?
Or is this a sign that this isn’t the ‘real’ universe?
In truth, the moon could be an egg… there are theories out there that suggest its hollow, that it was once a space craft that situated where it was in order to make Earth a habitable place. We cannot doubt that the Moon is necessary to life, as we know it affects the tides, and human lunacy.
See, while Clara is experiencing all the mounting straws on her back, so is the Doctor. While he sees the beauty in every detail of humanity (as he explained to the half-faced man in “Don’t Breathe“), he must also get so frustrated at our collective penchant to always assume the worst, and resort to the most drastic measures to resolve the worst case scenario before ever determining whether the outlook is as dire as initially assumed.
We can understand Lundvik’s state of mind, we can even relate to it because we are encoded with the belief that one life is nothing when compared with the whole of humanity. However, the assumption that the nature of the situation should always err on the side of the pessimistic is not always helpful.
“It’ll never feel the sun on it’s back”
However, Lundvik is impossible to reason with, even leaving Clara with Madame Toothache is a bit of a long shot because stubborn just doesn’t cut it. Lundvik is resigned to die and she doesn’t care who goes with her, doesn’t care that there will be a corpse across the sky, has no faith, has lost all hope. That’s what happens when we lose hope. We lose touch with the essence of our humanity.
At this point, the crux is revealed and the Doctor annoyed. The only vision Lundvik has is one of death. When she looks to the stars all she sees is a rolling vista of death. There’s no suggestion that Earth’s problem were actually caused by humanity. She blames the Moon for all of Humanity’s trials and tribulations, and no longer cares if there’s a floating corpse out there after exploding it? Lundvik is likely to die, and the satellite – and all it’s inconvenient life on board it, it is all on the verge of extinction.
Have you ever tried arguing with someone who has already made up their mind before even entering into a discussion? It’s impossible.
Clara has seen a lot more than this professional astronaut ever has, has more vision than anyone else in the room due to her extensive experience. If anyone is qualified to be there, it’s this particular teacher, not the depressed astronaut resigned to die.
Courtney reminds her that there’s life and Lundvik points out that when Courtney grows up she’ll realise that not everything is nice, but since she didn’t want to be a part of it, it’s none of her business.
Clara asks the Doctor what he wants to do and he shrugs it off and says he doesn’t want to get involved. Then he issues them with the conditions before leaving them with the ultimatum.
We discover that the President of America is a woman (could it be Courtney?) and she’s got too many decisions to make, that she hasn’t even travelled in space and time, hasn’t got Clara’s unique perspective… but Clara doesn’t want to bear the responsibility for the entire planet.
“The future is no more malleable than the past.”
Put yourself in her shoes – would you want to take responsibility for one of the most momentous turning points in Earth’s future without knowing what the outcome is likely to be? Perhaps this is an insight into what it’s like to be the Doctor, making these decisions for thirteen regenerations – and all the way until the end of time. The Doctor keeps making disparaging remarks about living forever – and on Trenzalore (in the little town called Christmas) he got to while away the centuries growing old, seeing generations passing before his eyes and if you remember correctly, living in an environment where everyone could only ever speak the truth.
Clara on the other hand is more than just a teacher; she likes a little side adventure with her “normal” life. Between her, the annoying Courtney and depressed astronaut, she knows that she’s the strongest one there, but doesn’t want to embrace it.
The Doctor has been wound up by the Astronaut’s pig-headed refusal to see anything other than, “duh, duh, duh, blow up duh moon” and something snaps. His truthfulness becomes bluntness, and he gives Clara the words she needs to hear to make the decision that he cannot, and will not. It’s harsh and it hacks Clara off – but in my opinion, he’s right. He’s done subtle all episode, in fact he’s been the epitome of nuance and congeniality, apart from the exchange of knowing looks passing between him and Clara and it didn’t make the same impact and he’s had enough, and I don’t blame him.
From Clara’s perspective, it’s been weeks of apologising for his truthful rudeness, keeping the peace, worrying about everyone, and now he’s putting her life on the line and exposing a ward of her care to extreme danger too. I don’t blame her for getting mad at him either.
This is what I loved about this episode. The characterisation is so well done that there is no confusion about what needs doing. It’s still hard to watch. The Doctor issues his speech – getting it all off his chest, chucks Courtney out of the TARDIS and basically leaves with not so much as a fuckity-bye.
The bacteria scramble across the surface of the moon and Lundvik is back to arming the bombs. There’s a tense moment where they are almost sucked out into space – the baby’s moving again.
Lundvik is primed for the worst-case scenario. She’s convinced that the life inside the moon is going to wipe out all of humanity. She calls it an exo-parasite and then plays on Clara’s emotions about having babies, painting the worst-case scenario again.
Clara is uncertain, says it’s just a baby, that it might be fine. There is no way to reason with Lundvik, and it would be a waste of energy to try. The biggest clue the Doctor left us was by leaving. If the moon doesn’t blow up, he’ll be back… but until then, he’ll be gone.
Lundvik connects to bad haired McKean (Christopher Dane) and Clara broadcasts her message to the “planet” reconnecting us with the first scene, and ultimately the governments effectively decide to switch off all the lights – maybe that’s how everybody feels after suffering the turbulent affects of the Moon giving birth – who knows – a lot can happen in 35 years. We’re conditioned to believe the worst in everything, so nobody on Earth leaves a light on – like people in 2049 with such a bleak outlook would be capable of deciding anything else.
I’d argue that the shot with the lights going off is really just to heighten dramatic tension – in reality, the Earth wouldn’t have moved that fast in just 40 minutes. But it looks good, and this is science FICTION, so I’m okay with that. Nice effect.
The Earth votes as expected and there are only nine seconds left until Clara terminates the bomb at the last-minute causing the Doctor to return almost instantly. I’d argue that it was the only way Clara could have done it, since she doesn’t have the weight of science (and pessimism) on her side, she couldn’t have convinced Lundvik who wanted to die, she admits it – and she wanted to take the moon and everyone on it with her.
The Doctor transports them to the beach to watch the once in a lifetime “big event” that almost turned out very differently.
They get out of the TARDIS and watch the egg crack and disintegrate (along with 100 nuclear bombs?) and a Moon Baby with the finest wings flies away, while they stand watching on a gorgeous Lanzarote Beach. I think there should have been a little more here – maybe a longer scene, considering that this is the lightest event in the episode and it’s going to be followed by a huge argument in the TARDIS.
The Doctor peers into the future of the Earth and sees a long history of a space faring race that will endure until the end of time. And it does all that in the year 2049 when it had stopped thinking about going to the stars, that it looked up and suddenly the whole course of history was changed because of one last-munite decision, and not Democracy.
Courtney is amazed by the experience, throughout she’s been a pain but in this defining, final moment she comes into her own character — something that will set her up for life (as the future president of the United States somehow linked to a chap called Blinovitch – which might explain how she happened to be there on the moon in 2049 as her younger self)
The Doctor about Courtney: “Well she really is something quite special now, isn’t she? First woman on the moon, saved the Earth from itself, and rather bizarrely, she becomes President of the United States! She met this bloke called Blinovitch…”
The Blinovitch Limitation Effect is a fictional principle of time travel physics: firstly, that a time traveller cannot “redo” an act that he has previously committed, and secondly, that a dangerous energy discharge will result if two temporal versions of the same person come into contact. The first aspect is similar to a real-world physics conjecture, the Novikov self-consistency principle.
Lundvik thanks Clara (after being prompted) and the Doctor obviously doesn’t feel obliged to give her a ride home, but uncharacteristically he’s not rude about it. Clara can’t get rid of Courtney fast enough – sends her off to Geography, before she switches off the TARDIS, and demands to know what the Doctor knew.
The Doctor admits that he knew eggs don’t destroy their nest, he knew Clara (the Impossible Girl) would make the right decision (has done so before without the situation being as tense). But Clara feels betrayed, shaken by his abandonment, and everything that they’ve gone through that she never addressed at the time, comes bubbling up. She gives him absolute shtick, fuelled by girl-power, for everything – and who can blame her?
Sometimes relationships are made stronger through conflict while weaker relationships are broken by it – survival of the fittest. We’re left with a silent numb feeling as her words ring around and we know exactly what’s been behind her passive-aggressive, adaptable acceptance of everything for the sake of friendship, traveling, and expectations.
Clara tells him never to lump her in with the humans that he thinks are tiny, silly and predictable – she doesn’t fully understand him yet because she never heard what he’d said to the half-face man about how important all the details are. In addition, apart from a professional relationship, the only other area in their lives that they discuss outside of the time-travel companion role she fills, is her love for Danny Pink and his opinion of PE teachers and soldiers.
The Doctor doesn’t do things the way a human would – and that’s probably just as well. Humans would have killed the moon and preferred a corpse across the sky. A non-human life is not worth the whole of humanity in humanity’s eyes. A Time Lord would see things differently and actually, I think it elevates him above our species’s collective blindness.
I don’t think he’d have left Clara if he didn’t think she could handle it. In Deep Breath we were shocked when he shoved her back into the cell, but ultimately it bought him time, revealed the half-face man’s intentions and it was a good decision. I’d argue that he took the stabilizers off then, but he never overtly said it.
When he ranted at Clara he gave her some tangible points to fire back – which just goes to show, conflict begets conflict – even though it’s often necessary for progression – Growing pains and all that.
Clara is the impossible girl who has always used her ingenuity and poise to save him – throughout his timeline. She’s not a simple character like Rose, Martha, Donna or Amy… she’s so woven into his life, that she is almost part of his expression of it.
When you assume the worst, the Doctor is painted in the worst light. When you assume the best, he’s not. The fact is he has got so much respect for a single, unique life that he thinks is beautiful, that he couldn’t stand to be there to watch the risk of it being destroyed (not being his decision anyway) – which was so touch and go, that anything he might have said could have pushed Lundvik over the edge.
Clara’s not having any of it, The Doctor points out that the reason he left was a way of respecting her, there were a couple of swearwords, but since this is being shown after the watershed, it’s probably not a big deal – one prat, and a few bloodies.
It sounds good in principle, but it’s not strictly true. If he could have done anything else he would have, but this was a decision for humanity to make – perhaps Clara doesn’t realise he wasn’t just using grand words to express a grand excuse to leave (much like Lundvik was doing to convey how vitally important it was to destroy the moon).
Clara gives him her own version of fuckity-bye and off she furies to the warm arms of Danny Pink (Samuel Anderson), leaving the Doctor alone in his bloody lonely TARDIS.
Back into “Normal Life” Clara reflects on some pieces of paper she finds on the floor by her desk, Danny stops by, and they share an exchange. He recognises that she’s had a bad day and comforts her. This is what she needs, even though we know by contrast the Doctor is alone in his TARDIS.
“You never finish with anyone when while they can still make you angry”
Clara says she’s done, insist that she’s done and I believe she feels this way. Living two extremely different lives can tear you. Maybe this is what she’s reflecting on when she gazes out her window, looking at the moon. She’ll never see it the same way again.
We know that Danny’s hiding something, but somewhere in this episode, I realised that there is often very little benefit in assuming the worst. I’m not convinced that Danny cares as much about Clara as she does about him, but I think that he’s good for her because he counterbalances her unusual friendship and it’s related circumstances with the Doctor. He’s not like Rory where he gets to travel with them. This version is a lot different, it sees Clara living two separate lives, one extremely dangerous.
I am keen to understand what the twist is in Clara and Danny’s relationship, because it could be that Danny works for UNIT, it could be that he’s linked somehow with Missy, but for now I’ll just let speculation run rampant until the season’s run. I would like to see more of him traveling. I think it would be fun to see how his character would evolve beyond the unstated historical pitfall of his own experience.
“Kill the Moon” is the seventh episode of the eighth series of the British science fiction television programme Doctor Who, written by Peter Harness and directed by Paul Wilmshurst. The episode stars Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman, with Hermione Norris guest starring.
My first question after the moon hatched was what happened to the 100 Nuclear weapons? Did they just get sucked into the vacuum of space? Are they still hovering around up there?
Regarding the argument online about this being agenda driven and anti-pro-life….
If this were about the abortion agenda, this foetus had long passed it’s first trimester, and I don’t believe that the gungest of hoest pro-lifers would be publicly on-board with terminating a birthing baby. To associate this thinking with Doctor Who is unfair (and somewhat repulsive) as it’s not in keeping with the show’s ethos, which is far broader than a two-party political agenda manifesto item from another country.
Though having said that, if the shoe fits – maybe it needs looking at.
There may have been congruences with some controversial discussion points, there may have been references to women-kind making decisions about the planet (usually left up to man-kind) and there was an interesting balance of female energies – the maiden, the woman and the crone. The crone has spent her career in a male-dominated industry having to conform for acceptance in order to be taken seriously. Courtney has had very little life experience – but now she’s special because she had to stand up and argue a point that was important for the future of humanity, and Clara has such an unusual history that despite her reservations is most perfectly cut out to make decisions of this magnitude. Besides Courtney may very well have been the President of the US and not known it!
This season has been so strong so far, I’m in two minds as to whether this the weakest episode so far because I think it was well-written and incredibly generous with the Doctor’s motivations – which up until now have been sparse. Although information repeated, it wasn’t word-for-word (which was my one crit of “Robot of Sherwood“), it seemed balanced throughout and contributed generously to characterisation – which leads to strong empathy.
Perhaps the women being left to make this vast decision, being viewed by a predominantly male audience may have led to some misunderstandings. From a grumpy middle-aged female’s point of view, I loved the way it carried out – I am often as cynical and deadpan as Lundvik and I think she represents a generous sample of our collective cynical expression, Clara is all about responsibility carried out capably, and I think Courtney’s character came out the other end with a little more sense than she had to begin with.
The Doctor? Well I think he’s just getting out after spending hundreds of years getting old on Trenzalore in the truthful town of Christmas.
But it all just goes to show that just because something seems cut and dried, just because stakes are high, the worst-case scenario should not necessarily be the overriding consideration when determining any course of drastic action.
And we could argue till the cows come home but ultimately it proves that democracy doesn’t always arrive at the right decision for all. That democracy only works when everyone properly and fully informed of an entire situation.
Even Clara didn’t know what to do, but she knew what to do if she ever wanted to see the Doctor again – that was the greatest clue of all.
Spoilers Sweetie – watch the episode before reading on.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that when you’re travelling with a self-confessed magician Time Lord, you will never really know what to expect, but whatever it is, it will be adrenaline infused.
We get a hint at what Clara and the Doctor have been up to since the Doctor left Clara right before her second date with Danny Pink. Although it’s difficult to gauge how much time has passed, it’s enough to suggest that Clara should have been more forthcoming with the “weird-disliking” Danny Pink (Samuel Anderson). The Clara-Doctor dynamic is taking shape – it’s nuanced, layered, and deep.
It’s a complex thing that probably is best understood by not trying to bind it into a singular neat bundle called “father-daughter”, “friends that are exes”, or “employer-employee” and instead trying to fathom it from the perspective of all three, with a side order of deception.
We begin with the intercut technique used to depict Clara and Danny’s courtship, with the added knowledge from Time Heist, that the Doctor has a hidden agenda that involves competing with whoever she’s dating, so we can compare dates with the Doctor vs. the after-date with Danny. Something Danny is vaguely aware of and comments about in terms of the state she’s in when they go out – distracted, wet and tanned.
Clara’s glorious tan was explained along a storyline – chained to a pole in the desert alongside the mad hatter in the big blue-box, she’s left the vibro-cutters in her other coat (Don’t you hate it when that happens). I reckon she got that beautiful golden tan in Lanzarote where they filmed next week’s episode, Kill the Moon – a little human time traveling magic called television. “I hate soldiers – don’t you hate soldiers?” the Doctor screams as they’re running down a corridor.
Anyone would think he’s trying to condition her against Danny.
The mirror theme is repeated when Clara, returning from her run with Danny, which she had to do upon returning from her much more extreme run with the Doctor, claims, “I can’t keep doing this… Yes I can, I can do it, of course I can do it.”
Before reminding herself that she’s got this all under control.
She doesn’t have it as under control as she would like.
Throughout the episode, she’s trying to keep control of a turbulent situation – not the monster necessarily – because sometimes monsters are easier than feelings – it’s the threat of Danny finding out about the Doctor and, the Doctor finding out about Danny.
“Clara you look lovely today, have you had a wash?”
As always the Doctor is a bit Girls-yuck crossed over with fatherly. Clara talks about doing “things” often, it’s a vague term that the Doctor has taken to using as well, and apparently also the people around her – Danny, and the Bow-tied Adrian…
Where it’s deliberate, it’s funny. When Clara talks about “doing things” we understands why… she’s trying to hide what she’s doing – she’s living two separate lives, filing “chasing aliens and running for my life” under all things things – and until absolutely necessary, she’ll get away with half-arsed explanations by substituting all nouns with the word “thing”.
When the Doctor uses vague terms like “thing” when talking to Clara, it seems like he’s mirroring her – implying that he’s playing her along until the truth comes about, something he’s not entirely adverse to plotting, but when everyone else starts doing it, the writing risks coming over as too loose and lazy. Clara wants to go on another adventure, she’s got into a routine and since she needs to have control, how better to assert it than to set the time and place – rather than have him turn up two minutes before her next date?
The eye theme is repeated again this week as Clara exits the TARDIS, she opens the door again and points to her eye saying, “I’ve got my eye on you.” Maybe this is really just about the aesthetics of the season, to have repeats of themes in each week, but when I notice it, I’ll write it.
Pure speculation here: Could Clara have something to do with The Eye of Harmony, the black hole from which all Time Lord tech and abilities originate? When Gallifrey was transported to a fragment in time, what happened to this Black hole? Could this have something to do with the Nethersphere?Robert Holmes created many of the concepts that became synonymous with Doctor Who – the eye of Harmony was one of them. http://tardis.wikia.com/wiki/Talk:Eye_of_Harmony
The rumours about Clara and Danny are flying around the school, probably because Courtney the Disruptive Influence (Ellis George) does whatever she can to point it out every time she sees them. Danny has noticed that Clara isn’t always herself and when he mentions it, she makes the excuses and tries to cover up what she’s been doing with “things.
Clara’s two lives collide when the Doctor takes a position as a Caretaker at Coal Hill School, going by his general pseudonym John Smith. Danny notices the wink the Doctor casts toward Clara, but everyone else barely does. Maybe because she needs to control, Clara leaves Danny at the furthest end of the hall before rushing back to confront her “friend-employer-ex-misc” because she suspects that the danger she’s always chasing so far away from her own life, has arrived in her actual, real, everyday life – Aliens in her school.
Clara could be grasping at straws to get information out of him when she observes, “You cannot pass yourself off as a real person among actual people.”
A little reveal into the Doctor and River’s life is given when the doctor he admitted that he sulked with otters for a month. He leaves Clara framed by a door in one of several portrait shots. It’s a nice touch to convey her frustration at being cut out, and not being in control of the situation. Her personal worlds are threatening to collide.
On the subject of River Song, I know that there was a sense of completion of that story arc, but I would love to see Alex Kingston act alongside Peter Capaldi to get a sense of exactly how much he’s changed when the dynamic focuses on him and River.
So much speculation abounds about the Nethersphere now… and I read someone’s theory the other day about the Nethersphere being somehow linked to the Library where River’s electronic signature was saved. Could it be that Peter Capaldi was the older, angrier Doctor than the romantic David Tennant she met in the library? Captain Kirk doesn’t seem to think so…
Low angles of the camera shots of the policeman and the Coal Hill students on a free period give the impression of lurking danger. Followed by Dutch angles and sinister music, the portentous situation is heightened. The smoking hand at the end, highlighted by torchlight was a delightfully gruesome touch, followed by the creepy Skovox Blitzer backing itself in amongst the mannequins. The mannequins were reminiscent of Christopher Eccleston’s first encounter with the Autons – when he meets Rose and they are almost but not quite as creepy as clowns. “Problem – Solution – DESTROY” The Doctor peers into Clara’s classroom via a stepladder and interferes with her lesson (he’s in and behind a lot of windows this week), interjecting that Jane Austen finished Pride and Prejudice in 1796 – our classical literature reference for this week – (and not 1797 as Clara had written on the board). Obviously annoyed with him taking control of her domain (the classroom), Clara accuses him of having a typical Doctor Who story about Jane Austen involving Buddy Holly and Boggens (usually told by him) and he corrects her with the tidbit that he found it out by reading the bio at the back of the book.
I had to look it up… the “Pride and Prejudice” was initially called “First Impressions” and was completed between 1796 and 1813 when it was published. According to a letter Jane Austen wrote her sister Cassandra, she was worried that if she gave it to someone called Martha to read, she feared that Martha would get it published herself from memory.
Clara can’t concentrate with the Doctor around – demonstrated by her agreement to do everything. I think that on the verge of being caught out, and with no effort to explain things to Danny, Clara bobs around agreeing to everything, while working out if the Doctor knows what’s going on, and just how much. She observes Adrian (Edward Harrison) talking to the Time Lord, and knowing what he’s like when they’re out fighting in the universe when he bumps into actual life forms, she is naturally concerned.
We overhear a conversation play out between Adrian, Danny, and the Doctor. Adrian introduces Danny and informs him that he served in the army. From the Doctor’s reaction to Danny, we know that he instantly doesn’t like him (Clara doesn’t seem to want to notice), he refuses to believe he’s anything other than a PE teacher, which is just ever so slightly better than being a soldier, and whether he actually knows who he is, is left maddeningly ambiguous although there is evidence to suggest that he does and he’s lying about it. However remember that this week and last, the Doctor referred to himself as a magician, and a conjurer… plus Clara suggested that he could do deep cover at the Magic Circle, he could be deceiving us all.
Peter Capaldi’s Doctor is dark and it’s fascinating to watch the character development play out week–by–week. It’s difficult to determine whether to take all, some, or none of it seriously.
When the Doctor refuses to believe that Danny Pink is a maths teacher, it’s funny initially, but it seems to be deliberate. Either that or that he cannot assimilate the facts brought before him, which is even more troubling. Is there is a purposeful block in place in his head when it comes to Danny, and if so, why? When Clara broaches the name of Danny (referring to what happened in Listen – which was admittedly some time ago) and the Doctor’s response is opaque ignorance. He treats the name Pink and the observation that Danny and Orson look alike, it as if he knows nothing about any of it, doesn’t seem to see the connection in context, and it seems that he can’t identify faces again – but he’s okay with remembering incorrect job titles – “Who remembers a PE teacher?”
It just doesn’t seem to occur to him that Clara set their destination inadvertently when she linked telepathically to the TARDIS in Listen. Then the Doctor asks her about the man she’s dating – completely changing the subject despite not changing the subject (humour), again the idea that it might be Danny, is as easy to assimilate as the notion that Danny is a bonafide maths teacher.
When the Doctor slaps his eyes on Adrian, I don’t think it’s his face that he’s seeing, rather it’s the bow tie and somewhere in his head he’s hearing the Clara-Matt musical score. (If it is the face then there is definitely something fishy about him not recognising Danny’s face and seeing Clara’s as the same age as himself) It also doesn’t help that besotted Adrian speaks in Matt Smith Tones for example, “Fascinating enigma of its not finishedness”
This is the man the Doctor wants Clara to have, the one that his brain can comprehend, the one that reminds him of his younger, more dapper self? Maybe that happy look on his face is one of relief, thinking maybe he’d been wrong all along about the soldier after all, thankful that he’d given nothing away. (I can almost hear him saying it too)
Question: Has the Doctor’s been hypnotised to forget Danny? He threatens to hypnotise Danny, but never does. Is this why he can’t trust the PE teacher-soldier, despite not knowing why, yet?
Courtney the disruptive influence steps into the caretaker’s shed and begins interrogating the Doctor. Again it’s impossible not to notice the prop-filled setting of the shed with atmospheric backlighting, appreciating the whole scene for all the stories it tells. The Doctor looks at his board that was intended to say, “Go Away” and mutters, “Never lose your temper in the middle of a door sign.” I wondered when he lost his temper – so far, he seems to have had it all together – certainly seems pleasant enough with Clara, sarcastic with Danny, and besotted with Bow-Tie… (Perhaps this is a tell that he knows about Danny and is annoyed?) Some hilarious banter emerges between the banter-hating Doctor and Courtney, it’s refreshing to see the Doctor getting as good as he gives with a hilariously great performance with Ellis George – she’d make a great sidekick in the Clara Oswald Adventures spin-off (which is a show that I’ve completely made up, but wouldn’t it be cool?)
D: “Oh listen, there’s the bell, off you go. Haven’t you got shoplifting to do?” Co: “I’m going to tell the headmaster.” D: “Oh, yes, well, fine. Cut along, you’re running out of time.” Co: “For what?” D: “Everything, human beings have an incredibly short life spans. Frankly, you should all be in a permanent state of panic. Tick, tock, tick, tock” Co: “You’re weird” D: “Yes, I am what about you?” Co: “I’m a disruptive influence” D: “Good to meet you” Co: “And you(!)” D: “Now get lost”
Craving control because she can’t stand not having it any longer, Clara enters the shed – presumably, she has a free period, or left the children to their own devices, demanding to know from the Doctor what’s going on. She refers to his previous companions asking if they let him get away with this, perhaps not quite realising that this is truly the strangest that he’s ever been, and I don’t know how his other companions might have handled the transition. Initially he refuses to tell her anything about what’s going on, she assumes its because he is certain that she wouldn’t approve, I think it’s because he’s annoyed about Clara and her secret soldier man.
D: “Why do I keep you around?” Cl: “Because the alternative would be developing a conscience of your own.”
Clara has obviously thought it all through though, expert at getting information from him by pushing his buttons, he backs down on his initial resolve to tell her nothing and explains the situation while showing her a scan of the Skovox Blitzer he’s tracking.
D: “I used to have a teacher exactly like you.” Cl: “You still do. Pay attention.”
We discover the identity of the scary policeman-killing beast among the mannequins – the Skovox Blitzer… “One of the deadliest killing machines ever created.” It’s a heavily armed, robot-like shooter, which as far as I can tell the only thing that differentiates it from a Dalek is it operates as a stand-alone unit, it can move fast and easily hide, but it’s vulnerable to data-exploitation due to it’s hard-coded hierarchical parameters. “Probably homed in here because of Artron emissions. You’ve had enough of them in this area over the years.”
For the recreational Whovian, you might have missed the implication that this is as a direct result of the TARDIS repeatedly showing up in one place. Artron energy is life force energy directly from the Vortex (the Eye of Harmony) and is given off as a by-product of the TARDIS. Also noteworthy is the Eye of Harmony (a black hole) is in the TARDIS and as a result is probably the last connection that exists on the plane of reality the Doctor is occupying, to the pocket-universe containing Gallifrey. http://misc.thefullwiki.org/Artron_energy
“… Some military idiot will try to attack it. The world is full of PE teachers.” The Doctor then shows Clara his plan involving an invisibility watch, intended to lure the Blitzer with non-threatening alien-tech but keeping the Doctor safe by making him invisible. He’s set up several time mines around the school called Chronodyne generators, commenting on their instability, intending to suck the Skovox Blitzer into a big old time vortex somewhere in the future, very boring… Then he flips back to thinking she’s with Adrian, tells her to go and canoodle her boyfriend. Clara misunderstands, they speak at cross-purposes, and much ado will pursue in due course.
Cl: “Sorry I underestimated you” D: “Easily done, there’s a lot to estimate.”
Clara is tack-sharp most of the time, but there doesn’t seem to be any flags going up when the Doctor admits that he likes “him” (referring to Adrian), she obviously missed out on all his pointed references about soldiers, and PE teachers – maybe she thinks he’s finally coming around – proving that we only hear what we want to, and disregard the rest…
Bumping into Danny we discover that he has a thing that night, Clara has a thing too, and they all have things so cancel tonight’s date and make it after Parents’ evening thing the following day. Danny wants the opportunity to spy on the Caretaker that night. Being switched on to the fact that the Doctor doesn’t behave normally, his soldiering instincts swinging into action with the questions only someone worthy of traveling with the Doctor could ask, Danny wonders aloud to Clara what the Doctor was before he became the Caretaker.
Adrian by comparison in his interactions with the Doctor, seems like an inarticulate, half-asleep bumbler, blinded by his crush on a girl who is far too strong for him.
The Doctor heads off into the night, creating an energy trail with his sonic screwdriver to lure the Skovox Blitzer to his time trap. For some reason it’s dark and Clara has decided to see what the Doctor is up to, in the absence of her canoodling collaborate Mr Pink, she finds the empty shed, and some boppy polka muzak drives the action forward. She heads off looking for the Doctor just as Mr Canoodler arrives, while they all hilariously creep around, interferes with the carefully constructed time-field the Doctor has set up using the unstable Chronodyne generators – making them live up to their unstable reputations.
The lonesome Blitzer with glowing eyes, runs around the school tracking the Doctor down, heading toward the school hall. The Doctor arrives in the centre of where he’s set up the traps and dismayed discovers that they’ve all malfunctioned. He realises that the Blitzer can now see him.
Why wouldn’t the watch make him invisible?
Because the Blitzer can detect his shoe trails, so even if it couldn’t see him, it would see his footprints – and knowing where to shoot is all that a Blitzer needs when it contains an arsenal big enough to wipe out the planet. Danny Pink arrives and wants a word with the Caretaker, and is literally almost blown away by the Skovox Blitzer. It really does remind me of a Dalek – only slightly less reasonable.
A massive hole is blown into the stack of school chairs (really impressive effect), while Danny springs to one side avoiding the blast. Accidentally, one of the Chronodyne Generators Danny was holding, flies off to one side, turns green, and although he caused the Doctor’s trap to malfunction in the first place, he compensates by buying them a little extra time until the next attack.
Danny is shaken by this first confrontation with Clara’s other life, and the other man Time Lord in it. Is first question was whether she saw the thing, the Doctor cannot let go of Danny’s military background and the fact that his trap was interfered with. The Doctor was moaning about having three days to come up with something new.
Honestly, I don’t understand why someone with a Time Machine would have a problem with “no time” Effectively he could go back to last millennium, think about something for months and arrive back two minutes before moaning about how little time they have. “Now it’s scanned me and will kill me on sight, thanks to PE here.” Clara is thinking so fast her eyes almost roll onto the floor.
Danny finally catches up and measured asks why she’s talking to the Doctor like that. Clara sees Danny withdraw when he realises there are “space things” and his imagination fills in the blanks with speculation that the Doctor is her Space Dad, and once again thing is a word thrown around like confetti. When Clara insists that Danny is her boyfriend, the Doctor’s confusion is confusing again, just when we think that this entire event was staged, the Doctor’s shock seems to suggest that it completely wasn’t. I don’t know if he’s redirecting his anger toward the failed Chronodyne Generator set up. “
You’ve made a boyfriend error.”
Things take a turn for the worst when Clara admits that she loves Danny (a sentiment that Danny never voices in return), but the Doctor is stunned by the admission despite having seen the signs in Into the Dalek when he returned 3-months late with coffee and observed that she appeared to be in love.
Clara is now in a similar situation to someone that has to introduce the other man Time Lord to her current boyfriend. In this case, the other man isn’t just any old guy. It’s a huge moment because both of the lives she’s been living have been heading toward this moment of singularity. Despite all the things, this scene is carried off with fascinating tension, with the reveal of the TARDIS on stage completing the build to this melodramatic peak, accompanied by tweedley-dee music playing over tension strings. “Well, you’re explained me to him. You haven’t explained him to me.” (It wasn’t as if she hadn’t tried – albeit at the minute before being caught!)
Clara and Danny reflect on the relationship standing before a reflective window, the reflection theme again. Danny is concerned because – well no doubt he’s feeling duped. He feels threatened that she’s been living a whole life of danger and epic adventures with another man Time Lord, and asks if she loves the Doctor, and she admits after prompting that she does – just not in that way.
This is not unprecedented – we’ve seen this sort of thing happen between Amy and Rory when they both started traveling with the Doctor. We understood from Rory’s point of view, how intimidating it might be to have the Doctor as the other man in your girlfriend’s life. Danny handles it with strength and confidence, favouring Clara’s best interests. But I’m still left with the question of who is Danny Pink?
D: “Why do you fly off in the box with him? The truth, please just this once.” Cl: “Because… it’s amazing. Because I see wonders.”
This is the first time we find out why Clara travels with the curmudgeonly Doctor, the first time she admits how she feels about him, and the traveling, especially since it all changed with the regeneration. “It’s funny you only really know what someone thinks of you, when you know what lies they’ve told you.”
The dialogue between Clara and Danny is quite deep, emotive and reveals something I’ve been wondering since the season started. Why does she travel with the Doctor? If he parked his TARDIS on my lawn, I don’t think I’d go with him. “An invisibility watch, not even a ring” Clara arranges with Danny for a moment for him to witness unhindered, her relationship with the Doctor, but things go horribly awry. Instead of discovering that the Doctor is alright – as Clara constantly tells herself he is – Danny finds the Doctor is different to a soldier in that he is more like an Officer, a quality the Doctor grappled with in Into the Dalek.
Danny dishes out some cracking one-liners, he’s not amused or even impressed by the Doctor and his antics, he’s actually rather disdainful. The Doctor realises they’re not alone and threatens to take them traveling, revealing secrets that he’s aware Clara has been keeping back from ‘Dave’. This is not a healthy fixation – it’s almost obsessive, how long has he been stewing?
“The accent’s good, but you can always spot the aristocracy. It’s in the attitude” “One thing, Clara. I’m a soldier, guilty as charged. You see him? He’s an officer.” “I’m the one who carries you out of the fire. He’s the one who lights it.” “That’s him. Look at him, right now. That’s who he is.”
A little light relief from all the drama follows with Courtney showing up demanding to look inside the Police Box. The Doctor admits that it’s a time machine and they seem to get along, giving an insight into the kind of student the Doctor might have been at the academy and after showing a little of his frustration through misdirected anger at the Danny-Clara “humans”, he agrees to take her on a trip, another time.
The scene for the final showdown occurs during Parents’ evening, making the Doctor’s calculations were wrong – not the first time he’s been… he seems to be making a habit – something I find suspicious.
Missing heart? Mirrored realities (formless thoughts swirl in the ocean of possibilities)…
The Doctor realises something is amiss when the thing he’s building begins beeping. While we cut to Parents’ evening, which is going as well as any Parents’ evening can be expected to. It is confirmed that Danny was there for the previous Parents’ evening (establishing significant passage of time) and although Courtney is a disruptive influence, she’s no longer a very disruptive one, her parents optimistically point out that it’s an improvement.
The Doctor grabs their attention and they make their excuses about seeing the Caretaker and head off to really fight the Blitzer and keep it away from the school hall. Ever since the Doctor turned up, Clara’s not been doing her job all that well. The Doctor screams shut up and leave us alone when Danny offers to help. He’s no longer fixated on PE Teacher and the lesser, soldier, he’s just channelling pure hatred now.
Clara does exactly as the Doctor’s ordered her to do, she’s able to redirect the Skovox Blitzer away from Parents and children hanging out, waiting for the Maths and English teachers to return. Clara lures it back to the caretaker’s shed and the Doctor puts on a device that convinces the Blitzer that he’s the superior. An idea he got from Danny.
While the Blitzer is going through a self-destruct sequence, the Doctor needs a little time to change the orders to just switch the thing off, not blow up, which would take the school with it. Danny performs an impressive, slow-motion, flip over the Skovox – with a neat overhead shot looking down- and some dynamic camera angles being used all the way through the chase and confrontation.
Dutch angles, low, high, overhead. Danny on the wire, all looks good highlighted by the flashing lights of the Skovox Blitzer laser guns. Clara can barely contain her delight at the man she loves being such a clever and amazing hero. The funny thing about Artron energy is it can boost the human immune system and perhaps this accounts for Danny’s superhuman leap over the Dalek’s second cousin. Danny stakes his claim as the better man first, by pointing out that he was behind her all the way, and that he understands the Doctor is only concerned about one thing – Clara’s well being.
Da: “It’s alright, it doesn’t matter. I don’t need him to like me. It doesn’t matter if he likes me or hates me. I just need to do exactly one thing for you. Doctor am I right?” D: “Yes” Cl: “What? What one thing?” Da: “I need to be good enough for you. That’s why he’s angry. Just in case I am not.” Cl: “He did just save the whole world” D: “Yeah. Yeah. Good start.”
The Skovox Blitzer is sent off into space. The Doctor accompanied by Courtney the Disruptive Influence points out the vastness of which, to which Courtney gives her arguably overly critical opinion, and the more immediate matters of cleaning up a sinister puddle, are left to the Caretaker to perform.
Clara and Danny wrap up the episode neatly. Danny points out she should have been scared but she wasn’t. He understands that “men like that” can push people further and harder, but they can also go too far over the edge. Again Danny emphasises how much he values the Truth, and depending what happens in the coming episodes, this might not always be easy for Clara to deliver, especially with what she knows about Rupert and Orson Pink.
The secrets are already too deep to reveal.
How will this go down?
I can’t wait to find out! As Clara and Danny fade to white we join the Policeman that the Skovox Blitzer destroyed arrive before Seb (Chris Addison) who explains a Skovox Blitzer killed him – it was like in the movies. Seb points out that there had been a few arrivals because of that. The Policeman peers through the blinds outdoors, but we can’t see what he does. The music overlaying the Policeman’s recounting, reminds me a little of the Battlestar Gallactica (BSG) score. “What name would you like? There’s a range. The afterlife. The Promised Land. I’m partial to the Nethersphere.”
Michelle Gomez is uncredited, however she arrives casting them a backward glance before heading upward to the light at the end of the tunnel providing an intriguing build up to what promises to be an exciting story arc that we haven’t yet reached. “The Caretaker” is the sixth episode of the eighth series of the British science fiction television programme Doctor Who, written by Gareth Roberts and Steven Moffat, and directed by Paul Murphy. The episode stars Peter Capaldi, Jenna Coleman, and Samuel Anderson.
It’s a little bit soap opera – but with purpose fulfilled, and great monster action, and stunts, carried off seamlessly, with dramatic emotional touches interspersed among the comedic moments. I concur with the general consensus that this episode harks back to the Russell T Davis era, with also the feel of the Sarah Jane Adventures, both series for which Gareth Roberts has extensively written.
The Doctor is still not quite right, but his complex ways are more fathomable when mapped against situations we all think we understand, if not then strongly relate to. Being the Time Lord that gets relegated to the position of the other man, is obviously a difficult wound for his fragile ego to bear.
I think he knew about Danny all along, how could he not without it being suspicious? There was one moment where he may have thought he might have been wrong, when he was blinded by Adrian’s cool bow-tie and whimsical speech, but he was furious and hurt, when it all came to light anyway.
Clara is a control freak – a loveable one admittedly, she’s showing more quirks as her characterisation is asserted – she’s delighted at the possibility of an invisibility watch, and she runs like a manic lunatic with a sonic screwdriver while being chased by a Skovox Blitzer. I do wonder if her feelings for Danny are stronger than his for her – he hasn’t said that he loves her, just that she’s to tell him the truth and let him know if it gets too much.
Overall at the moment, Danny is good for her by lending a sense of perspective to what she’s been doing with the Doctor in secret. The relationship between the Doctor and Danny reminds me a little of how the Doctor treated Rose’s boyfriend Mickey, except the eyebrows now make the reaction a whole lot scarier.
The Skovox Blitzer was a lot like a standalone Dalek with a funkier shell and as far as monsters go, I wouldn’t want that thing lurking in a dark corner waiting for me, would you. It moved fast, had terrifyingly squeaky joints and the resolution to do away with it was inspired by Danny’s defiant reaction to the Doctor in the TARDIS. Trick it, hack it and send it off into a more appropriate space and time.
The word thing was thrown about a little too much… there are so many other words out there that cannot fail to enrich dialogue, much like little bit of salt is tasty, while too much spoils the meal.
The pressure pot of questions raised over the previous episodes, now have some answers and in true Doctor Who style, have added more into the mix, especially with a further glimpse into the Promised Land business and Miss Missy the Mysterious. The Doctor’s ambiguity is completely inspired, insane-genius and maddening, and I loved every minute of this episode and everything in it.