‘Doctor Who’ Recap: “Flatline”

By October 19, 2014
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When Clara takes on his responsibilities, the Doctor finally gets to view himself through the looking glass.

Clara is still lying to both Danny and the Doctor; the Doctor thinks Danny is fine with their travel arrangement, and Danny doesn’t know that there is such a thing. So when they land 120 miles from home, Clara isn’t happy.

The Doctor, however, is ecstatic. Something’s shrunk the outside of the TARDIS! He sends Clara off to investigate, and she encounters Rigsy, a local graffiti artist doing community service. He tells her that there’s been a rash of missing people, whose pictures have been painted on the wall as a memorial.

Clara returns to find that the TARDIS is the same size as my cookie jar (yes, they sell them in TARDIS form). The Doctor hands her the sonic screwdriver and psychic paper through the miniature door, and she gleefully accepts. “I’m the Doctor,” she tells Rigsy, much to the Doctor’s chagrin.

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Clara tells a local cop that she’s from MI-5, and they explore one of the missing people’s homes. The floor swallows the cop whole, leaving a picture of her autonomic nervous system on the wall. The Doctor finally realizes what’s happening; two-dimensional creatures are encroaching on three-dimensional space, and they’re dissecting humans in the process.

The creatures start to close in on Clara and Rigsy, who jump into a swinging seat. As they frantically try to swing themselves out of the house, Danny calls to find out whether or not Clara’s going to make their date. She tells him she’s helping a boy find his aunt, and blows off Danny’s concerns when he hears them crash through the window.

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The Doctor, overhearing the entire conversation via earpiece, connects the dots. He calls Clara out on her lies, but doesn’t seem angry. He goes so far as to call it a vital survival skill and a terrible habit. Clara, however, seems uneasy with the description. Is it lying if it’s for someone’s own good?

Rigsy’s in trouble with the supervisor, Fenton, when he comes back late from lunch. Clara flashes the psychic paper at him, but Fenton tells her it’s blank! Apparently, psychic training isn’t the only way to see through psychic paper; being completely unimaginative works, too.

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At that moment, the paintings in the wall begin to shift and turn. They’re not really a memorial; they’re the last imprints of the people murdered by the 2-D creatures, and the creatures are using their bodies to move!

Clara ushers them to the relative safety of a warehouse, and she and the Doctor try to come up with a plan. The Doctor is hopeful that the creatures mean no harm, but when he eventually communicates with them, it yields poor results. The creatures kill another community serviceman, and close in on the group as they run through the tunnels.

Suddenly, the creatures become 3-D…which basically means they look like the glitchy undead popping out of the ground. They’ve been flattening door handles, but they’ve now harnessed the power to change them back.

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While they’re on the run, Fenton grabs the TARDIS from Clara, and in their scuffle, it falls down a hole, landing on the train tracks. The Doctor uses his fingers, Addams Family style, to move himself out of the way of the oncoming train. Meanwhile, Clara comes up with a plan to save them.

Rigsy paints a fake door, and they position the TARDIS (now a little cube) on the other side. The monsters put all of their energy into trying to transform the door handle back to its three dimensional state, but all of the energy goes into the TARDIS instead, restoring it. The Doctor comes to the rescue, names the monsters “The Boneless,” and sends them back to their own realm.

They drop the survivors off, and here’s where it gets interesting. The Doctor, for the first time this season, seems to have a human reaction to the loss of lives; he’s annoyed that Fenton waves off the dead as no-goodnicks. Clara, on the other hand, thinks she’s done well. They’ve saved the world, so “on balance,” things are okay, right? Because isn’t that how the Doctor thinks?

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“Largely so other people don’t have to,” he says sharply, and is that a crack in the Doctor’s armor? Is his tough, ‘I don’t give a damn’ attitude a facade? Are we seeing a bit of the old Doctor, who did his darndest to save everyone, and hurt when the innocent died?

“I was the Doctor, and I was good,” Clara boasts.

“You were an exceptional Doctor, Clara,” the Doctor admits, and then adds gravely, “Goodness had nothing to do with it.”

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Remember, from the start of this season, the Doctor’s been questioning whether or not he’s a good man. And perhaps that’s why he’s been such a jerk this regeneration. Does he see his work as a necessary evil? He’s the man who has to make the hard choices so others don’t have to. He’s the one who doesn’t have the luxury of caring. And yet the minute he gave up the mantle of ‘Doctor,’ if only for a few hours, a glimmer of humanity shone through.

The episode could have very easily ended on that potent note, but then we wouldn’t get a glimpse of the Promised Land. Missy reappears after a few episodes’ absence…and she’s looking at Clara on a view screen.

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“Clara. My Clara. I have chosen well,” she says ominously, and then lets out an evil laugh.

Was Missy the woman in the shop? Is she the one determined to keep Clara and the Doctor together? But why? What’s her angle?

We don’t have long left before we find out. The clock is ticking, and the two-part finale begins in two weeks!