Previously on Doctor Who: Two-dimensional creatures attack Bristol, and a byproduct of their attempt to break through into our dimension causes the TARDIS to shrink. To comedic levels.
In every season, there comes a filler episode…
Here We Go Again
The episode opens with a small girl running through forest, looking confused and lost. She spots the TARDIS, and bangs on the door for help. The Doctor opens the door, and turns her away, but when she tells him that Clara sent her to look for him, he lets her inside.
He’s looking a bit confused himself, due to the fact that the TARDIS seems to be malfunctioning. He thinks he’s supposed to be in London, but looking outside makes him think differently. The little girl shows him that he is, indeed, in London—just a London that has suddenly become covered in forest.
Elsewhere in the city, Clara and Danny are with a group of schoolkids on a sleepover at a museum. (A museum with really, really horrible taxidermy, reminiscent of these monstrosities. That second image makes me laugh every. single. time.) They try to exit the museum and realize, too, that the city’s been covered in foliage. The camera zooms out and shows us that it’s not just London, it’s the entire world.
Clara calls the Doctor to gloat about the forest, but her plans are foiled when he says he’s already seen it. He explains that he’s with Maebh, which makes Clara realize that no one noticed she wandered off. Clara returns to the museum and tells Danny about Maebh, which quickly turns into an argument about Clara being in contact with the Doctor.
Danny and Clara lead the kids out of the museum and into the forest. The group heads for Trafalgar Square, to meet up with the Doctor and collect Maebh. The kids are all wondering about the forest, and the Doctor appears and tries to make sense of it all. Clara and Danny bring the kids into the TARDIS, and Danny spots Maebh’s journal on a chair. He shows it to the Doctor, and he realizes that Maebh’s on to something, that all her “crazy” might be because she’s just tuned in to a different channel than the rest of humanity. They also realize that she, again, has wandered away.
Clara and the Doctor go looking for Maebh, and Danny and the rest of the kids aren’t far behind. Maebh, then Clara and the Doctor, stumble upon men in hazmat suits attempting to burn paths through the trees. The trees, however, don’t burn.
As they continue their search for Maebh, the Doctor shows Clara her journal, and the picture of the the solar flare drawn inside, with today’s date on it. He tells Clara about the giant, Earth-killing solar flare that’s currently headed toward Earth … that Maebh apparently predicted.
Maebh, who’s still on her own, gets chased by wolves. Clara and the Doctor find her, and think they’ve chased the wolves away, only to find that they’re being stalked by a tiger. Danny comes and saves the day, but Maebh runs off again (Seriously. Someone get a kid leash!) and finds herself in a thicket surrounded by light. She waves her hands around her head like she’s trying to brush bugs away from her face. The Doctor makes an assumption that there is something there, and increases gravity slightly so that small lightning bug things appear. They talk, and tell the group that they’re “here.” They’ve been here before, they will be here after.
The Doctor gets worried, because he doesn’t know how to fix this situation. He can’t stop the flare, and doesn’t see a way out for humanity. Clara comes up with the idea to use the TARDIS as a lifeboat, but she’s merely trying to get him to save himself. He leaves, somewhat reluctantly, but soon figures out that the trees—the fireproof trees—have grown to protect the Earth from the flare. (Really? It took him this long to figure that out?)
He heads back to tell Clara, Danny and the kids that they’ll be safe. The kids mention that the government’s going to try to kill the trees, so they make a worldwide call and warn everyone to be nice to the trees. The Doctor asks Clara, Danny and the kids to come with him to space to see the sight from above, but Danny just wants to take the kids home. Clara tries to explain that it’ll be amazing, but Danny declines, saying that he’s content with the amazing things he finds on the ground.
The Doctor and Clara go into space to watch, and the trees save the Earth. After they do, they disappear as suddenly as the appeared. Missy, who’s watching again on her tablet, is surprised.
Don’t Blink or We’ll Exterminate
Another episode with a bit of misdirection. Although the Doctor, et al, believe the forest to be their enemy at first, it’s actually the solar flare. Dun, dun, duuuuuun.
The New Face
Did he have a shirt with eyelets in it on (like so) during this episode? Now they’re just messing with us.
My favorite Doctorisms of the episode:
Doctor: “Even my incredibly long life is too short for Les Misérables.”
Doctor: “So, you think that’s how Spring begins? They send a group message on Tree Facebook?”
Doctor: “I am Doctor Idiot!”
Doctor: “If you remembered how things felt, you’d have stopped having wars and have stopped having babies.”
Companion Annoyance Level: Rose
Companion Annoyance Advisory System
Clara: Severe Risk of Annoying Entitlement
Martha: High Risk of Ridiculous Mooning
Donna: Significant Risk of Overbearing Bossiness
The Ponds: General Risk of Bothersome Smothering
Rose: Low Risk of Irritating Smugness
- There were too many other people in this episode for any of the focus to really fall on Clara, so I don’t have much to pick at. But I am glad that Danny figured out her lies. I’m also glad that he wasn’t too upset about it. His speech about her being more interesting than universes was super sweet, but I mean, really—getting to travel around time and space totally outweighs Clara’s intrigue.
- The kids, though. Can we do a whole series of the Doctor taking kids to fantastical places in the TARDIS? Wait … that sounds familiar …
I really wasn’t enthralled by this episode, even if it did have some cute moments. It just felt very young, and very much like filler. With only a baker’s dozen of episodes, you’d think the showrunners would make each one count, but I guess not? I mean, it wasn’t awful, it just was a little … meh.
But, what did you think of “In The Forest of the Night”? Did it feel much more like a children’s episode than usual to you, too? Let’s discuss in the comments.
P.S.—While looking for images for this post, I found an awesome retro poster, and, it turns out, it’s just one of a whole collection for this series. Check them all out—they’re fantastic!