Television: Doctor Who, "Flatline"

Or, "When Graffiti Goes Bad."

Taking the whole "bigger on the inside" schtick to an extreme, this episode features a shrinking TARDIS (on the outside) with the Doctor stuck inside. Which leaves Clara to act as the Doctor in the, ahem, larger world.

In search of a why, Clara comes across some community service workers who are painting over graffiti. One of the workers is young Rigsy, a graffiti artist himself. Clara learns that people have been disappearing from locked rooms, and through a drawn-out process she and Rigsy discover that the lost people have actually been . . . flattened.

These 2D aliens basically suck people into walls and floors and leave behind "artwork" that is actually biology, like an extreme close-up of skin cells or the willowy branches of the nervous system. I know they say the human body is beautiful, but really?

The aliens seem to be learning about the 3D world by absorbing people. They begin forming zombie-like 3D versions of themselves, popping up out of the ground and such. Now Clara, Rigsy, and the other community service guys are in danger. Meanwhile, the TARDIS continues to shrink and lose power thanks to whatever the aliens have done to it.

Honestly, at this point I wasn't all that interested. There was a lot of running around in tunnels, and then Clara has Rigsy paint a false door that tricks the aliens and restores power to the TARDIS or something. The Doctor now on the scene, he makes short work of what he names "The Boneless."

Again, really? Because all anyone is going to think when they hear that is, "What, like buffalo wings? Chicken fingers?" It's just dumb.

Unless, you know, they're planning ahead for a restaurant tie-in?

Other key things about the episode:

  1. The opening scene is a classic example of, if the man on the phone would have just spit out the information instead of hemming and hawing, it would have saved everyone a certain amount of trouble.
  2. In this episode the Doctor becomes aware that Clara has lied about Danny being okay with her continuing to travel with him.
  3. The final scene shows Missy watching everything that has happened, and in particular focusing on Clara, who Missy claims to have "chosen."
It was an okay episode. A clever idea, but it got boring there in the middle. It was an interesting choice, however, to have the least likable character survive. A nice change, I think, showing that things don't always turn out "fair." They also continue to beat us over the head with the question of whether the Doctor is "good." I'd say he's sort of chaotic good anyway, meaning he's willing to do bad things—murder, avenge—if he thinks it's for the greater good or upholds his personal belief system. But whatever.

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