TV Review: “Doctor Who” – “Flatline”

Written by Caitlin Cooper October 25, 2014

doctor who

“Doctor Who” is a show where you can expect things to get a little crazy. The villains the Doctor (Peter Capaldi) and his companion, Clara (Jenna Coleman), face are always dangerous, and most often a little odd. But the Doctor is always around to save the day. So, what happens if the Doctor is trapped and can’t save everyone like he usually does? What if his companion is left to face the villain alone?


“Flatline” is certainly a unique “Doctor Who” episode, especially in comparison with other episodes in season 8. The villains this time are a two-dimensional species of alien who keep flattening people so they look like paintings on a wall. All they have to do is touch you. Unlike the a good portion of the other villains featured in season 8 so far, these aliens aren’t actually good underneath their bad actions; these aliens don’t care whether they kill humans and indeed seem intent on it. They sap power from the Tardis which traps the Doctor inside. Clara is stranded outside with the aliens and some workers who get swept along with her in running from the aliens and saving everyone from them. Clara is forced to take on the role of the Doctor, and she does so with an excitement since she admires the Doctor so much. But Clara still needs the Doctor to defeat them, so in an act of creativity and intellect, Clara attempts something daring in order to free the Doctor so he can save the day.

“I’m the Doctor. Doctor Oswald.”

In this “Doctor Who” episode, Clara is definitely front and center. She’s left outside with the evil aliens whilst the Doctor is trapped inside the Tardis. The Tardis is losing its power thanks to the aliens stealing it so they can kill more and more humans. Clara must take the case and search for clues about the missing people and the aliens who harmed them. Clara is the one, too, who figures out how to save the Doctor so he can use the Tardis to teleport the aliens far, far away. In a powerful moment, Clara says, “Doctor, what would you do now?” then pauses and says, “No, what will I do now?” I think this shows Clara’s increasing strength. She admires the Doctor at times, to be sure; however, she fully recognizes that she can save people too, but in her own way. She has valuable ideas, too. And she her creativity and genius allow for the Doctor to be freed. It’s another case of Clara using her wits to outsmart the villains.

doctor who

The character of Clara has been one of the best companions on “Doctor Who”. While the Doctor is typically the one who has to repeatedly save his companions – as in, generally every episode he has to save them – Clara tends to also save herself AND the Doctor multiple times. Giving Coleman the room this episode to explore her character even more is certainly a benefit to her character’s arc and to “Doctor Who”; Coleman is a very talented actor, especially in the role of Clara. In this way, I think this Doctor-companion partnership is just that: a partnership. It’s a really nice thing to see play out on screen, so I hope these two can work things out now that the Doctor knows Clara lied about and to Danny (Samuel Anderson).

“I am the one chance you’ve got of staying alive.”

As I’ve said previously, the new Doctor is a little hard to read. He’s more terse and sarcastic than anything, so it’s always nice to see moments when he’s more vulnerable. In this “Doctor Who” episode, he’s completely vulnerable. He has to rely on Clara. When he thinks he might not make it due to oxygen running out, he delivers a pretty emotional speech about Clara. One of my favourite lines in this scene is when he says, “You made a mighty fine Doctor,” to Clara though he doesn’t think she can hear him anymore. The climax of the episode is when the Doctor is freed from the Tardis and he finally makes his speech declaring that Earth is under his protection and he should be feared by those who attempt to harm it because he is the Doctor. Frankly, I think this speech was a long time coming.

doctor who

Capaldi’s take on the Doctor is so different than Matt Smith’s take. That being said, his interpretation of the Doctor is growing on me with each “Doctor Who” episode. He’s good at playing a grumpy Doctor. He’s also adept at delivering comedic lines with and ease and quickness that adds to the humour. I cannot stress enough how funny aspects of the show are, especially the scene in which the Doctor moves the Tardis by putting his hand through the doors – the only thing he can fit through the doors – and walking his hand. Sounds odd, but actually is quite funny. It reminded me of “The Addams Family”.

“The man that stops the monsters.”

Overall, “Flatline” is one of the better “Doctor Who” episodes of season 8. Clara is allowed to take control of the situation for once, and again we see her saving the Doctor. The Doctor finally makes his speech in which he declares that he will protect the earth and evil aliens should be aware of him. This episode certainly reminded me of why “Doctor Who” is such a compelling and entertaining show.

My Rating: 9/10

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About Caitlin Cooper

Caitlin Cooper

Caitlin is an avid watcher of movies and television shows so she decided to use her passion to write about them. She has a B.A. in English Language and Literature with a Minor in Creative Writing.

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