WARNING: This post contains spoilers for Flatline.
Last night saw Clara and the Doctor battle the two-dimensional Boneless – but what did our team make of it? Read on to find out!
Ben (Video & Digital Media)
Flatline, to me, felt like a mix of scariness and silliness. On the one hand you’ve got the brilliant idea of 2D aliens and the amazing effects that bring them to life so well. Then you’ve got the Doctor stuck in a mini TARDIS with his hand poking out. Although it was a very good episode and Clara once again shone, there were too many little bits that niggled me, like the terribly choreographed ‘accidentally dropping the TARDIS down a hole’ routine and the dodgy effects when we see the Doctor’s face through the mini TARDIS doors. I would have liked to have seen the 2D alien idea explored more, as this is a great idea that moves away from my pet hate of humanoid shaped aliens. However, aside from these little foibles, Flatline was a well written, well directed episode with one hell of a teaser at the end. 7/10
Jamie Mathieson is the one to watch. With the uniqueness and solid writing of Mummy on the Orient Express under his belt, Flatline held particular expectations to maintain the momentum of the series. Safe to say it delivered, not just as a superb episode, but as one of the best of a continuing excellent debut series for Peter Capaldi. Flatline’s standout element, namely Clara taking on the role of The Doctor, is balanced beautifully with The Doctor’s very own issues inside the TARDIS. Neither one is overshadowed, even when Jenna Coleman gives one of her greatest performances, embodying the idea of a female Doctor to perfection yet remaining grounded and delightful to watch. Mathieson also does a fantastic job of building the episode around an urban, grounded setting, in vain of RTD days of old. Grittiness is a core ingredient of Flatline, and it is hard to think of a better example of the blending of this and the fantastical magic of Who. The monster of this week’s episode, The Boneless, whilst being one of the creepiest and most intriguing of the series so far, suffers equally with the same lack of depth as most of Series 8’s villains, but Mathieson does a great job of establishing them as a new force in The Doctor’s world. Missy’s mind blowing appearance at the apex tops what is an excellent episode as we head towards the finale. Here’s hoping Jamie Mathieson becomes a staple of series to come. 9/10
Another brilliant episode from Jamie Mathieson! Flatline is this year’s Doctor-lite episode but at no point does it feel like it. Clara and the Doctor both get their usual screen time and use it to full effect with the best Doctor and companion chemistry I’ve ever seen. The tale itself is scary and gruesome, fitting within the dark times brought on by Capaldi’s Doctor. Supporting characters do feel a little underdeveloped however and Rigsy’s decision to sacrifice himself seems a little out of place. Other than that Clara is clever and sassy without the Doctor about and the episode is full of great humour. 9/10
Flatline is a highly enjoyable blend of humour and horror courtesy of Jamie Mathieson, whose strong script sparkles with witty dialogue and inventive concepts. Dimensions are effectively played with in various ways as the shrinking of the TARDIS leads to some brilliant sight gags whilst seamless execution of visual effects and artwork succeed in making the Boneless equally chilling in 2D and 3D. The Doctor and Clara’s role reversal, meanwhile, is initially lighthearted, particularly once Clara gains her very own ‘companion’ in the engaging and likeable Rigsy. By the end of Flatline, however, it turns into something more unsettling, as just when the Doctor’s words and actions firmly cement him as being ‘the man that stops the monsters’, Clara’s overeagerness to ‘be’ the Doctor – despite emulating some of his more negative aspects in the process – is forebodingly coupled with the enigmatic Missy’s approval. 9/10
A second watching of Flatline helped me enjoy the episode more, in particular noticing the deepening and darkening chemistry between the Doctor and Clara. Clara showed she knew more about how he works than maybe he was comfortable with and by the end of the episode the Doctor almost seemed defeated as he stood embarrassed at the fact she heard him acknowledge her worth as someone able to show leadership and initiative despite his absence. Indeed Clara pretty much ran the show in this role reversal, the Doctor, being essentially trapped and helpless in a dying Tardis, needing her to take his place and return him to a position of control. The issue of the Doctor lying in order to inspire hope was highlighted, and yet the Doctor was unsettled by how Clara had lied to Danny, in an unusual balancing of loyalties, to help her continue a relationship with the Doctor. He left Clara looking confused by saying her effectiveness didn’t stem from goodness – perhaps emphasising a tension as maybe their minds do indeed lack harmony. 7.5/10
The average score from our team was 8.3/10, slightly down on last week. Our spoiler-free review of In the Forest of the Night will be up mid-week – and instead of a team review, Sunday will see our team’s theories on Missy as we head into the finale!