Saturday, October 18, 2014

Review: "Flatline"

Huh. That was a lot better than I expected!

My commentary follows with a summary. Spoilers, standard stuff. Highlight to see. Blah-blah.

Still there? You were warned...

The episode starts out with a panicked man calling about disappearances. There's something out there responsible and he knows what it is. As he's on the phone with the police he suddenly vanishes.

The TARDIS materializes in a Council Estate (public housing area). Clara is still on her lying to the Doctor about how her boyfriend Danny is cool with her continuing travels with the Doctor (he's not).

And there's a problem: the TARDIS appears in a diminutive size, half of what it is normally. The Doctor and Clara are able to exit the TARDIS and look around a bit. The Doctor re-enters the TARDIS, puzzled, and sends Clara off to investigate.

Clara stumbles across a monument to some missing people and some guys doing community service. Two of the guys who stand out are Rigsby, a kid who got busted for tagging and a racist old bastard who bullies the crap out of the others.

Clara notices a few weird things, such as the various missing people the tagger-kid tells her about and mysterious murals of all the missing folks.

She returns to the Doctor to find the TARDIS has shrunk again. It's the size of a kid's toy and the Doctor cannot exit. He loans Clara his sonic screwdriver and psychic paper and has her carry the TARDIS with her as she goes to investigate some more. Her investigations run her across a policewoman, who is quickly killed, while they are investigating an apartment of a missing man (the guy who died at the beginning of the episode). The Doctor quickly groks what's going on: aliens from a 2-dimensional universe are killing and dissecting people. Clara and Rigsby escape and wind up rejoining the other community service guys. And the aliens follow them.

The Doctor struggles between some kind of dimensional drain against the TARDIS by these aliens and advising Clara. Clara, for her part, leads the community service guys to escape the hostile aliens.

There's a brief attempt to communicate with the aliens, which really just seems to reveal they're hostile and evolving. Then cue the chase scenes.

The aliens can turn things 2-dimensional (thus obliterating doorknobs and such), which makes fleeing hard for our heroes. And the aliens learn how to become 3-dimensional constructs as they start taking out the crew, one-by-one, until there's only Clara, Rigsby, and the asshole guy left. Clara is separated from the Doctor as the miniaturized TARDIS is knocked from her hand. The TARDIS goes into "siege mode", locking down completely and separating the Doctor from Clara, save via their little erratic communications link.

Clara, with Rigsby's help, manages to trick the aliens into pouring power into the TARDIS, allowing the TARDIS to restore its size. The Doctor emerges and uses some kind of Time Lord magic to obliterate the aliens after a corny speech.

The episode ended with Rigsby, the asshole-guy, and another side-character picked up along the way surviving. The Doctor seems disturbed that Clara took over his role so well.

And we pull back to our obligatory reference to the ever-so-boring "Heaven" mystery bit as Missy the weird story-arc character gloats about how Clara was such a good choice for something... DUN-DUN-DUN!!!!!!!

Overall, I found "Flatline" an entertaining episode. Rigsby had awesome Companion-potential, as seems to be a pattern with a number of side-characters getting introduced. I kind of like that the asshole character survived. It made things weird.

Clara had more to do in the episode, which was nice. The character still bugs me, but I have to give Jenna Coleman credit for doing her best with what she's got.

I'm kind of getting tired of the endless dickishness of Capaldi's Doctor, but it's a minor quibble for me, at best.

I appreciate that we're finally getting proper "bad guy" monsters back in the show. It's certainly an improvement.

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