How strange. It feels as if series 8 has just begun, and yet in a few days we’ll see the penultimate episode air, and hopefully it’ll shatter our puny unworthy minds. But for now we’re left with a quiet episode, the calm before the storm if you will. And while it is a magical, fun, and beautiful experience, it doesn’t give itself enough credit, and commits the cardinal sin of revolving it’s story entirely around a child’s whimsy.
Let’s start things by mentioning that I rather enjoyed this episode. For the most part I felt I could leave my brain by the door and enjoy the pretty colors and animals that flitted across the screen. As a fan of Doctor Who and also a reviewer I prefer to watch the episode once, just to enjoy, and then watch it again to write down notes so as to review later. On second watch I found that most of the magical properties inherent in my first viewing were almost nonexistent, as the rewatch value was particularly low… But I did notice a different type of magic that struck me dumb. The direction.
Sheree Folkson is Doctor Who’s eighth ever female director. 810 episodes, and only eight female directors? The seventh female director actually filmed the series 8 two parter that starts next week, but she filmed her episodes before Sheree, so technically that puts her at eight. Regardless, the direction was spectacular. This is one of the few times I can remember in Doctor Who where the majority of the episode was filmed with handheld cameras. The shot in the TARDIS where Peter walks almost the full length of the railing was excellent. What a fantastic set!
In regards to the episode as a whole, I’ve unfortunately not much to say. There’s not much to it. Neither the Doctor nor the companion did anything to effect the outcome of the story. Just kinda lived it. The flaws are apparent. It ends up coming back around to centering the story around the young child Maebh. How did the absence of her sister cause her to begin hearing/sensing these previously unknown alien entities? Why would the world believe a child that said it was going to be alright? Speaking of the world, the average animal to human ratio was startling – why were there only about 20 people in London? But then that atrocious ending scene where Maebh’s sister comes sparkling out of a bush… Why must we be subjected to that? And I always assumed Coal Hill was a secondary school, not a primary? Those kids were like 10.
What this episode did drive home for me is that Danny is still one of my favorite characters. He’s a gentleman, he’s good with kids, and he puts up with Clara’s lying… AND he can outsmart a tiger. I wonder when, or even if, he’ll ever join the TARDIS crew. And why is he so very lax about Clara traveling around and doing these extremely dangerous activities? Is he connected to Missy? Is Maebh connected to Missy? She does say “Miss” told her about the solar flare. So many questions. And I’m sure in the next episode we’ll get some answers.
What are your thoughts on In the Forest of the Night? Did you kinda wish Maebh would slap herself when she was running nonsensically through the forest? Should science fiction writers be required to pass basic earth science classes in school prior to writing Doctor Who scripts? Could you do a better job? Let me know.