Review: Doctor Who: Flatline

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Art and Physics combine to bring a new perspective for “Flatline”, the next episode in the Doctor Who series.

Doctor Who Series 8 (episode 9)

Image Courtesy of BBC America

[spoilers]

Image Courtesy of Not-Literally.com

Image Courtesy of Not-Literally.com

Doctor is about to drop off Clara to meet Danny when they land in the right time but wrong place. Even more confounding is that the outer dimensions of the TARDIS are wrong. The TARDIS is shrinking! Doctor becomes trapped inside as he has Clara investigates the matter. Armed with the borrowed sonic screw driver and psychic paper, she wanders upon a graffiti cleaning crew. There is also a nearby tunnel not covered in graffiti but a mural of people with their backs turned. According to Jingsy, a graffiti artists doing community service, the mural is a commemoration for the people that have disappeared. Clara is hot on the clues and  uses the psychic paper to gain entrance to the victim’s apartment. Things quickly escalate as they  discover the unseen force that is turning three dimensional objects and making them unreversibly two dimensional.  Meanwhile, the energy of the TARDIS is being leeched by these unknown creatures reducing the spaceship in size and power. It is all up to Clara to save the world and the Doctor.

This is what I would consider a modern monster story plot. This episode reminded me of a recent conversation with a friend where we discussed about the disappearance of monsters in our stories. Classic monsters such as Godzilla, Frankenstein, and Dracula are well admired but no longer feared. The function of fear being a monsters core identity has been replaced with relating to being an outsider. “Flatline” gives us what a modern audience would fear. A monster that is unrelenting, distorts perspective, has no form, and does not care what it destroys.

The cinematography for the episode was a visual adventure. As the unseen creatures stumble about like distorted zombies, it really reminded me of those trippy nineties music video.Love, love the hand coming out of the TARDIS. It’s as if Thing from the Addam’s family is cosplaying with a TARDIS!

Image Courtesy of BBC America

Image Courtesy of BBC America

As the perspectives were challenged, I kept being referencing similar art pieces and music videos. Especially when the camera panned to looking around victim 22 , the “Writing On the Wall” music video by Ok Go quickly came to mind.  As horrific as it was, the mural of the victim’s nervous system on the wall was beautiful. I know it’s morbid but I would actually love that as a wall decoration (way better than the crack in the wall decoration).

I can also definitely appreciate how essential the Newton Law of Conservation of energy was upheld: energy cannot be created or destroyed but can be transferred, the key point of the episode. This may help future students remember this law when they study physics in cool.

After the reconciliation of Clara and the Doctor from the “Mummy On The Orient Express”, the relationship is much more smoother now. There is more camaraderie and ease between the two. There is the annoying need for Clara to get approval for her efforts from the Doctor. Not sure if this is to reassure herself or the Doctor.  With “Mummy On the Orient Express” and “Flatline”, Mathieson has also presented the idea that there can be other and more qualified companions. The engineer from the Orient Express was witty, smart, and hilarious. Jingsy, the graffiti artist has a cool head and comes up with his own decisions. The engineer passed on joining since “that would change a person”.  Clara may possibly be feeling threatened that her quintessential role as the “Impossible Girl” or the Doctor’s companion may not be as important she believes. She can easily be replaced.

Although the end of “Flatline” does suggests that there is a still a trust issue going with the

Image Courtesy of BBC America

Image Courtesy of BBC America

appearance of Missy. The Doctor may suspect something when he mentions that Clara was exceptional but “goodness had nothing to do with it”. Very curious words to say. What did she do that would imply such a statement?

The biggest mystery that the episode left the audience with is what is the connection between Missy and Clara? Oh, please,please, please don’t let this become a “crack in the wall” plot twist.

Still…no…mention…of…Gallifrey.

 

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