Clara outshines The Doctor in the excellent ‘Flatline’
I MUST admit I’ve been rather disappointed with this series. Despite the charms of Peter Capaldi I’ve found it mediocre at best. Not that it’s bad per se, but it doesn’t exactly leave much of an impression. So, upon learning that this week’s episode featured villains that only exist in two dimensions I braced myself for a laughably bad episode. Fortunately my expectations were wrong.
On a return trip to London, the TARDIS appears to be malfunctioning as it lands in Bristol, yet this isn’t the strangest thing, as the TARDIS keeps shrinking. While Clara investigates the nearby area, The Doctor becomes trapped in a miniature version of the iconic police box, leaving Clara to take the place of The Doctor. Since Clara’s finishing the explanation of her existence with Matt Smith I always found Clara to be a background presence, providing a pretty face for the viewers; however, this episode doesn’t just move the villains into the third dimension. Clara transforms into such a great character in this episode as she deals with the troubling ethical issues that the Doctor faces on each adventure and also find her own way out of danger.
The enemies were the issue I was expecting to drag down the quality, yet they turned out to be the best part. It’s so refreshing to have a species in which The Doctor truly knows nothing about, as well as a genuinely interesting approach. The creatures attempt to learn about humans and what makes us three dimensional. Their motivation is debated are they aware they are harming us, or is that their intent? While sometimes this can become a little silly – door handles continually switching from 2D to 3D for example – the whole topic is explored remarkably well.
This has been the best episode so far. It feels like everything is actually on the line and the characters are placed in real danger. It’s so great to see Clara become her own character and for the Doctor to do what he can while being pushed to the side-line. This is everything that I wish to see in a Doctor Who episode; for a while it’s felt like The Doctor has become an unstoppable force of nature, which doesn’t make for suspenseful drama. It makes for better storytelling to learn with The Doctor rather than just guessing what he’s already planned out from the start. I hope that Clara will continue to be a stronger character and not just the current companion. More episodes like this please!