Villordsutch reviews Doctor Who series 8 episode 10 – ‘In the Forest of the Night’….
Doctor: It’s a human super power, forgetting. If you remembered how things felt, you’d have stopped having wars … and stopped having babies.
There is something utterly brilliant about Peter Capaldi’s portrayal of the Doctor as one moment you can be a sheer irritation to him, messing up his train of thought ,and then with one simple word his frown can vanish and the eyebrows fall and he’s standing in front of you as your protector; obviously the frown and eyebrows return for the baddie of the week. This week’s episode began fantastically with a small girl called Maebh (Abigail Eames) knocking on the TARDIS door and telling the Doctor she was lost. The Doctor, clearly irritated, pointed in random direction and told her, “It’s that way!”, then Maebh asks for help from the Doctor as something is chasing her. The Doctor lowers his head to her level –no longer looming – and he invites her into the TARDIS.
Unfortunately this introduction to the story, by Frank Cottrell Boyce, is as good as this episode gets and after the opening credits it floats around between messy and confused as we follow another Coal Hill-inspired episode. Danny Pink, Clara and a group of young children are having a sleepover in the Natural History Museum only to wake the following morning and discover that London has been covered in a thick forest; we also discover the rest of the world has as a rather dense growth all over it as well. After numerous scans from the Doctor and with governments across the world attempting to burn the trees down all hope seems to be lost and it’s here – whilst the Coal Hill children and Mr. Pink are idling in the TARDIS – Danny happens to notice that Clara has left unmarked homework in the TARDIS. As he’s flicking through the pages, over his shoulder, the Doctor glances at a rather crude solar flare drawing in Maebh’s book. In a flash he realises that Maebh may be linked to this and he and Clara set out to find her as she is no longer in the TARDIS.
After a trek through the forest following some well-placed breadcrumbs and dodging two carefully staged moments of terror they finally catch up with Maebh and the entities – who have latched on to Maebh since her sister ran away – admit they have caused global forest and also confirm that a solar flare is coming towards Earth. The Doctor admits to Clara he cannot stop this solar flare and the Earth will soon be destroyed. He offers to save both Danny, herself and the children in the TARDIS for which she declines, thanking him and sending him away to save more worlds. It’s only when the Doctor leaves he realises what the trees are attempting to do for the Planet Earth – not to destroy it, but to protect it from the incoming solar flare.
To start my feedback on a positive note before I turn to the negatives, occasionally through this episode you do find yourself laughing at the light comedy relief supplied by the Coal Hill school kids. Mind you this isn’t enough to drag this episode upto any level acceptable level. An extremely frustrating thing happened in this week’s episode relating to the character progression of Clara Oswald which seems to have taken a step backwards. We’ve seen Clara over this eighth series become a strong companion to the Doctor and in this episode Frank Cottrell Boyce seemed to be using the blueprint of her from the Matt Smith era. Along with this I also had an issue with the entities that caused the trees to grow, as the sound mixing of their voices was awful. I had to go back and play it with subtitles (Closed Captions) to work out what they were saying to the Doctor. However the biggest bugbear (I feel awful for saying this) was the reliance on Maebh (Abigail Eames) as a main player in the episode, which in my mind, they used her too much. The opening moments were excellent however; as the episode progressed her scenes should have been cut down to keep them short and with more punch.
As you can guess for this week I really didn’t enjoy this episode but so far out of this season I’d say that this is only the third one I haven’t enjoyed, which is not bad considered what was served to us in Series 7. One thing we may have guessed in this episode is who Missy is finally…
Next week we see the beinging of the Series 8 finale, “Dark Water”, and you can watch the trailer here.
Villordsutch likes his sci-fi and looks like a tubby Viking according to his children. Visit his website and follow him on Twitter.