Doctor Who: The Forest of the Night

I thought this Doctor Who episode was rather charming, in a fairytale sort of way. Which isn’t necessarily a universally held opinion, as I’ve seen at least one “Worst. Episode. Ever” post! A non-spoilery way to sum it up might be that if you hated the science in Kill the Moon (post) then you probably wouldn’t like this episode either.

SPOILERS AHEAD! Hover mouse over text to read, or read on entry page:

I liked the opener with Maebh running through the forest to look for the Doctor, and I loved the way her name and her costuming and her behaviour throughout the episode back up the fairy tale feel of the episode. Mind you, I suspect if you’ve actually had auditory hallucinations as part of a mental illness then you might find the “she’s tuned into another channel” stuff rather irritating – it’s a bit too dismissive of what is an actual problem for some people not just a fairytale plot device. However, even given my misgivings about that, I think it was apt for the mystical feel of the story.

The bit with the wolves, then tiger, was a funny set piece but felt fairly disconnected from the rest of the story – I guess left in to hammer home the Little Red Riding Hood motif, and to show Danny as good at the Doctor style stuff. Overall I thought this episode did a really good job of showing how Danny and Clara both have strengths when dealing with the mundane type stuff (the teachery looking after the kids stuff) and the adventure type stuff. But they have such very different priorities – and it was clear both were right, but right from different perspectives. Clara might say she finds Danny’s priorities attractive, but I don’t really buy that she believes that deep down. Or rather, I think she likes the idea that he’s a stable place to come home to, but has no intention of settling down.

Interesting juxtaposition between this episode and the previous one – in Flatline the Doctor hopes the monsters aren’t monsters, but they are. In this the Doctor assumes the forest grew for nefarious reasons, and it hadn’t. I was reminded by the overall plot of something I’ve been mildly amused by in a much more mundane setting recently. Our cat has a flea infestation so we’re grooming him regularly which he isn’t keen on, and I reckon he’s thinking to himself “if it isn’t bad enough having fleas biting me, now the humans keep combing me too, couldn’t they wait till I was over the fleas?!”. And the arc of this episode was “first a forest grows overnight, next a solar flare, couldn’t the trees have waited till some other time?!”. And yeah, much the same reasons – the forest/grooming is because of and intended to solve the solar flare/fleas. Of course, trees growing like that and vanishing afterwards with no ill effects is frankly ludicrous, and wouldn’t protect from a solar flare either. As with Kill the Moon the very fairytale unreality of it makes me wonder about the reality of the universe this season is set in.

And next is the start of the season finale! 🙂 Looking forward to seeing where the Missy stuff has been going (and if the fairytale stuff is significant or not). I’m not going to speculate out loud about any of that tho – J’s pretty spoilerphobic so doesn’t watch the trailers for next week each time. And I don’t think I could speculate without drawing on that. On that note please don’t discuss spoilers from the trailer in comments anywhere.