5 Brilliant Things About Doctor Who Series 8, Episode 9: “Flatline”

Every week Tor Books UK rounds up the thoughts of author and Whovian Paul Cornell on this week’s episode of Doctor Who. This week: 5 brilliant things about “Flatline.”

1.) This was another ready-to-be-filmed, considered, and sorted story in a season notable for its structure and order. As a long-term Who watcher, such consistent quality and attention to detail is a rare luxury. It’s visible in little moments of spot-on exposition, perhaps added in post-production by a production team who want us, this season, to be able to keep up, lines such as “They’re wearing the dead like camouflage.”

2.) That same logic applies to characters who always do the most direct, logical thing. Clara explains she’s talking to someone remotely, rather than do five minutes of awkward comedy concealing it. She proves her story by showing the interior of the TARDIS. Like one would.

3.) Which connects to yet another resonant character story in a season full of them. Clara gets to have a go at being the Doctor, and does it through honesty, directness, and not letting people sacrifice themselves. She’s more Davison than Capaldi. His comment at the end about goodness is crushing because it’s utterly unfair. He’s making far too much of some utterly understandable white lies. Not the first time this season, or this episode, when he’s “mirrored” her, assigning his own flaws to her and vice-versa: “I think that you were wrong about this lad.”

4.) Who would have thought there’d be so many new, simple, genius things to do with the TARDIS? There’s a lovely sense of offhand skill to the work of Jamie Mathieson, making every turn seem smooth, easy, and, only after the fact, almost obvious. The result is a lived-in, breathing, real fantasy world with real monsters. A new definition of monster is even offered, and of course it feels obvious after the fact: monsters are those that choose to be.

5.) The special effects were off the scale this week, from the sofa flattening into the wall to the flatlanders themselves. And if I’m allowed a sixth, it’s great to hear, because it’s rather rare on TV, some heroic, positive characters with West Country accents.

Read our in-depth review of “Flatline” here.

This article originally appeared on Tor UK.


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