[alert-announce]Verdict: 3.5 out of 5 stars. The lull before the storm, Clara once again flip-flops on who she wants to be. But it’s her words in the teaser that have got our attention.[/alert-announce]
“I don’t want to be the last of my kind,” Clara (Jenna Coleman) tells the Doctor (Peter Capaldi) this week, once again making a reversal from her portrayal from the week before. Doctor Clara in Flatline has disappeared again, to be replaced by the Clara who values the here and now. And sadly, the Pink. Bah.
The episode begins with London finding itself swallowed by trees that have seemingly sprung up overnight, the same night when Danny (Samuel Anderson) and Clara have brought one of their classes for a sleepover at London’s Natural History Museum.
The phenomenon is not limited to London – the rest of the world is facing the same problem (I’m assuming the trees respect time zones), and the human population finds itself paralysed as trees invade their infrastructure.
One of Clara’s students, Maebh (Abigail Eames), somehow manages to find her way to the TARDIS, having been tasked to find the Doctor by her “Miss”, whom the Doctor believes to be Clara.
Clara doesn’t actually realise Maebh’s missing until she calls the Doctor, which inadvertently reveals to Mr Pink that she’s been moonlighting in the blue box, later confirmed when he finds her students’ homework within.
After a bit of a chase which involves wolves, a tiger, and some Red Riding Hood, the Doctor discovers that Maebh can “hear” the trees, and her drawings in her notebook indicate a massive solar flare is about to hit the planet, similar to the one that obliterated the Bank of Karabraxos in Time Heist.
Creatures from the trees speak through Maebh, telling the Doctor that they have created such forests before, and were here long before humans, and would be around long after. The Doctor believes that the Earth is doomed, even though once again Clara says she has seen the Earth of the future.
Without much choice, the Doctor offers to save the students and Danny and Clara, but Clara doesn’t want the children to be abandoned in the unknown universe. She also knows Danny won’t leave the kids, and she does not want to be the last of her kind like the Doctor is the last of the Time Lords. I guess Doctor Clara was a bit too much to hope for.
“This is my world too. I walk your Earth. I breath your air,” the Doctor says. Clara thanks him for his efforts, but tells him that he has to go to save the next world.
As the TARDIS leaves, the Doctor realises the forest is flame-proof.
“I am Doctor Idiot!” he declares as he comes back and chases after the group, getting them to prepare a message to the rest of the world, telling them to leave the trees alone.
The Doctor offers to take the group up to space to see this once in a thousand lifetimes event, but Danny wants to take the children home. Clara and the Doctor watch the solar flare hit the Earth without incident, while Missy, watching through a wide-screen monitor, declares the events “surprising”.
“I love surprises,” she says. Does that sound familiar?
The surprise continues into the trailer for the next episode Dark Water, with Clara claiming “Clara Oswald has never existed”. I’m sure it’s not as obvious as one would think, but I’m still excited.
Like the Christmas Special The Doctor, The Widow And The Wardrobe, this another environment-friendly episode which takes aim at humanity’s disregard of nature.
With a fairytale feel to it, In The Forest Of The Night seems to be the lull before the Cybermen storm. It’s light-hearted, funny, and also takes the opportunity to remind us of what the Doctor has lost and how he’s sought to gain that back by being a friend to humanity.
While I am a little annoyed that Clara’s heady days of wanting to be a “good” Doctor have pretty much gone up in atmospheric dust smoke in a single episode, I’m willing to wait two more episodes to see where everything is going. It’s been a criticism of her character all season – one week she’s all team leader material, one week she’s swooning over Robin Hood.
Peter Capaldi is slowly growing on me (I call him Grumpy Doc), but it’s going to take a while more before he replaces Matt Smith (who took over a season to displace David Tennant in my mind). It was another good performance from him and Jenna, and while I am annoyed at the way Clara’s development is going, I do hope she stays for next season. Danny Pink and the Doctor doesn’t really feel… like a right fit.
Well, thankfully we don’t have a mid-season break this time around, so it’s a two-part finale which will hopefully give us the answer Ms Coleman and the rest of the Doctor Who gang have been tight-lipped about .
One last thing, I’m not a fan of doing reviews for cliffhangers, so we might choose to wait until the season finale before doing the episode recap. Until then, folks.
What did you think of In The Forest Of The Night? Let us know in the comments below!