TV Review: “Doctor Who” – “In The Forest of the Night”

Written by Caitlin Cooper November 01, 2014

Doctor Who

“Doctor Who” takes us on adventures which explore the wonders of the world and beyond. This British sci-fi plays with possibilities of what can exist in our universe. Sometimes, the adventure on “Doctor Who” brings us to our own planet, where we learn something new. What if there have been beings on Earth which have protected us again and again from solar flares? What if because humans don’t know what they’re doing, we become suspicious of them? Imagine trying to solve a mystery about why there’s suddenly a dangerous forest in London. To make matters worse, the duo of “Doctor Who” is tense and their relationship is strained.

 

“In The Forest of the Night” has Clara (Jenna Coleman) and Danny (Samuel Anderson) with their students on a field trip at a museum in London. Only, when they try to leave, London has changed. It’s become wild: it’s full of trees and dangerous animals are on the loose. What’s the cause of the sudden change? The Doctor (Peter Capaldi) meets one the students who has left the group. She can hear things that no one else can, and she is drawing pictures which foretell a dangerous event in the near future. Like usual on “Doctor Who”, it’s a race against the clock to solve the mystery and save the world.

“It’s bigger on the inside than on the outside, in case you didn’t notice.”

One of the most prominent plot-lines of this “Doctor Who” episode is the tense dynamic between Clara and the Doctor. As I’ve said previously, I don’t understand why there is this tension. In earlier seasons of “Doctor Who”, past companions Amy (Karen Gillan) and Rory (Arthur Darvill) didn’t have this much trouble, and their tension with the Doctor was written so much better. It’s awkward that Danny shuns the Doctor when he’s trying to help them. It’s made even worse by the fact that Clara is still lying to Danny for some unknown reason. Seriously. I don’t get this plot-line at all. Why lie? The plot merely serves to anger me about the weak writing. One of the most telling scenes in the episode is when Clara decides to stay on earth when they think the solar flare will kill everyone. Rather than escape with the Doctor, she chooses to stay behind. Is this her way of choosing her earthly life over her life as the Doctor’s companion? Yes…and no.

Doctor Who

While the relationship between Clara and the Doctor hasn’t been easy this season of “Doctor Who”, there are some really poignant and emotional scenes between the two (and some witty banter to lighten things up). At one point, Clara insists that the Doctor should survive so he can continue helping people. I think it was brave of Clara to talk the Doctor into leaving her behind when that was the absolute last thing he wanted to do. When he finally figures out that the trees are there for a reason, the Doctor’s frantic and happy running after Clara is one of the best scenes in the episode. It’s also nice to see the two in the Tardis once again when they know the earth is protected by the trees.

“You are always showing me amazing things.”

The kids on the field trip added a nice touch to “Doctor Who”. In them, we see how Danny is perceived by students rather than just Clara and the Doctor. Often, the kids were involved in discovering what was going on with London and with the missing student. Speaking of, Mave’s story adds more depth to this “Doctor Who” episode. It’s really part her story, and part Clara and the Doctor’s story. Her classmates think she’s crazy, but she can hear the trees and indeed called them to earth for protection. The reunion scene at the end of the episode is a little cheesy and not really explained, but it’s moving to see a family reunited. Another thing the kids add to the episode is comedy. What better way to add a light touch to a tense episode than to have kids speaking their minds, as they tend to do in real life.

Doctor Who

What I really like about this “Doctor Who” episode is that the writers have taken something as simple as trees – which actually do protect us in some ways – and expanded upon their purpose in the world. They don’t just clean the air and act as homes for some animals, they also grow overnight when there’s an imminent solar flare that would otherwise scorch the planet. Here, they’re given even more strength as they have the ability to literally shield humans from the sun’s flare. A simple idea, perhaps, but a sweet one nevertheless.

“I’m a time lord, not a child-minder.”

Overall, “In The Forest of the Night” isn’t one of the best “Doctor Who” episodes, but it has its merits. Clara and the Doctor are clearly shown to have a strong emotional bond, thanks to the writing and the wonderful actors. The theme of trees as protectors is a lovely idea. The comedy is done fairly well. There’s just some weak writing with the Clara-Danny-Doctor dynamic, and a little cheesiness towards the end of the episode.

My Rating: 7.5/10

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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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