Today I’m reviewing last week’s Doctor Who episode, “Flatline,” with Kate at The Magic Violinist!
Before we begin, I’d like to say that writing this review was AWESOME, for two reasons:
- Kate and I have been blogging friends for over two years now, and she’s a really fun, cool person, and this makes her a nice co-reviewer.
- I was unexpectedly impressed by this episode and I HAVE A LOT OF HAPPY THOUGHTS ABOUT IT.
Without further ado, here’s our review!
P.S. You can find previous collaborative reviews of Doctor Who‘s eighth series here.
Kate is a 14-year-old homeschooler, author, and fangirl. She’s recently discovered the productivity trap that is Pinterest and is loving it. She writes to survive and will often yell at her characters if they aren’t behaving. It doesn’t usually help. She tends to get a little more emotional about fictional events than is healthy, and is still not quite over “Doomsday.” She blogs at The Magic Violinist.
Warning: Spoilers ahead, sweetie!
Engie: Kate and I opted to write our review in the form of a conversation, so… here we go! Kate, what was your opinion of Clara in “Flatline?”
Kate: Other than the bits involving Danny, Clara was great and adorable. I loved how she introduced herself as the Doctor to Rigsy) and her overall personality wasn’t bland or annoying.
Engie: Yeah! I loved Clara in “Flatine.” I think this is probably her best episode yet, and honestly… in that story, she reminded me a lot of the RTD-era companions: Rose, Martha, and Donna. Which was cool, because they’re some of my favorites.
Kate: Same here!
Engie: Clara actually DID STUFF in this episode! And she wasn’t a plot device!
Kate: I KNOW! She wasn’t useless! I was so happy about that. The Doctor and Clara were a TEAM, finally!
Engie: Twelve treated her really well, too. He wasn’t perfect, but he didn’t belittle her as much as he’s done recently. I was getting tired of that…
Kate: YES. I feel like they finally clicked in this episode. Once the TARDIS started shrinking, he realized that he actually needed her.
Engie: Also, in that scene where he says, “You were an exceptional Doctor. Goodness had nothing to do with it”? He wasn’t criticizing her. He was talking about himself.
Kate: I loved that line.
Engie: I love that this incarnation of the Doctor is finally starting to realize that sometimes he’s a jerk. When Clara said that she’s the Doctor now, so she’s going to lie and get people’s hopes up for no reason, Twelve was like, “…ooops, do I really do that? Um.”
Kate: Ha ha, it’s time for him to face the facts! And Clara’s good for that, I think. Like when she slapped him in “Into the Dalek.” She was trying to wake him up from his delusions.
Engie: Exactly! She reminds me of Donna a bit in that respect, I think. But it didn’t work well when the Doctor just ignored her. Things were different in “Flatline,” though.
Engie: Speaking of the Doctor being a better person… I’ve been watching some Tenth Doctor episodes with my mom lately (I’m determined to make a Whovian out of her yet!) and we’re currently watching “Human Nature” / “Family of Blood.” It’s one of my FAVORITES, and I was so, so, so happy to notice the parallels between Twelve in “Flatline” and Ten in those earlier episodes. Compare:
“He never raised his voice. That was the worst thing… the fury of the Time Lord… and then we discovered why. Why this Doctor, who had fought with gods and demons, why he had run away from us and hidden. He was being kind…
He wrapped my father in unbreakable chains forged in the heart of a dwarf star. He tricked my mother into the event horizon of a collapsing galaxy. He trapped [my sister] inside a mirror. Every mirror. As for me, I was suspended in time… We wanted to live forever. So the Doctor made sure we did.”
– “Family of Blood”
“I tried to talk. I want you to remember that. I tried to reach out, I tried to understand you, but I think that you understand us perfectly. And I think that you just don’t care. And I don’t know whether you are here to invade, infiltrate, or just replace us. I don’t suppose it really matters now. You are monsters! That is the role you seem determined to play, so it seems that I must play mine – the man that stops the monsters.
I’m sending you back to your own dimension. Who knows? Some of you may even survive the trip, and if you do, remember this – you are not welcome here. This plane is protected. I am the Doctor and I name you The Boneless!”
Kate: YES! I hadn’t even thought of that!
Engie: I love awesome Doctor Who monologues, and angry ones? Wow. Earth may not be his home planet, but he cares about it a lot and he won’t let anyone destroy it… and when they try, boy does he become FURIOUS. And TERRIFYING. And protective…
Kate: I love when the Doctor gets protective. It’s a good kind of angry, and shows that he ACTUALLY cares what happens to these people. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that he does.
Engie: And now for something completely different! What did you think about Rigsy?
Kate: Rigsy reminded me of Mickey in this episode. Mickey cares about his gran; Rigsy cared about his aunt. In both cases, the companion had to team up with Rigsy/Mickey to beat the monsters. And the Doctor went from thinking he was a “fluorescent pudding brain” to something of a hero, et cetera. I liked him, but maybe not enough to bring him back for another episode. He was a good one-timer.
Engie: I doubt we’ll ever see Rigsy again, but… I liked him. He was NORMAL.
Kate: Yeah, this was a nice break. Good old fashioned alien hunting.
Engie: I’ve grown tired of all this “impossible girl” and “born to kill/save the Doctor” stuff. I much, much, much prefer it when the Doctor likes someone (and choose to travel in the TARDIS or at least have some Earth-based adventures with them) because they’re ordinary. I love when they’re special to him not because of what they were born to do, or because their entire life has been one ginormous paradox, but just because they’re their own unique selves.
Kate: You couldn’t have put it better!
Engie: Oh, and when Twelve told Rigsy, “Your last painting was so good it saved the world I can’t wait to see what you do next,” I think my heart just melted a little.
Kate: HE WAS ACTUALLY APPRECIATIVE OF SOMEONE. HE GAVE HIM A COMPLIMENT.
Engie: Yes! And one more thought about Rigsy – at the beginning of the episode everyone thought he was this hoodlum who made worthless art… or not even real art, honestly. Graffiti. But as it turns out, neither of those things are true at all. I guess I just really love when Doctor Who is about completely ordinary people because… no, Rigsy doesn’t know how to operate a sonic screwdriver and he doesn’t have a TARDIS, but you know what he is capable of? Defeating aliens with spray paint. He can totally do his part to save the day, even if it’s not the method most people would use. And now we should probably talk about something else, because this review is already really really long and we haven’t even discussed, like, the hand part…
Kate: YES, THE HAND SCENE. Best part of the entire episode, hands down. (Pun totally intended.) I laughed so hard, I’m surprised my dog didn’t wake up.
Engie: My brother hardly ever laughs at stuff, but even he was giggling so much! Now, what about the monsters of this episode?
Kate: I thought they were terrifying! They’re not obviously scary. If someone happened to glance up at them, they wouldn’t LOOK creepy. But we Whovians know what they’re capable of, and they leave us shaking in our boots. Monsters that can attack us through the walls or floor? How is anyone supposed to feel safe from that?
Engie: I thought the monsters were a brilliant idea! There’s actually a math-y book called Flatland and though I’ve never read it – math isn’t really my thing – I know a bit about it, including its setting. It takes place in two dimensions, and at some point during this series I thought, “Flatline? Flatland? Could they be similar? NAH. That would be too hard to film!” Well, I was wrong. The Boneless were SO COOL because they were SO WEIRD. Good job, whoever-wrote-this-episode. (A quick Google search reveals that Jamie Mathieson was the author. Never heard of him.)
Kate: I’m mostly just glad to have a break from the Daleks and Cybermen. If I hear one more robotic “EXTERMINATE” this season, I might just have to throw myself off the TARDIS.
Engie: Ha ha, I understand that feeling perfectly!
Engie here. Time for the conclusion, and for our thoughts on this episode overall!
I think “Flatline” was one of this season’s better episodes, though I could’ve done without the random Danny appearances. I am very bored with their relationship. I’m glad they came up with some new monsters for the episode, and I think they were very good ones. A world where even the floor isn’t safe? Terrifying. And Missy is intriguing, especially after seeing that she’s watching Clara for some reason. I’m curious how that’s going to turn out.
I was EXTREMELY impressed by “Flatline.” It’s by far my favorite episode of series eight thus far, and it just might be my favorite out of series six, seven, and eight combined! (I didn’t like series six and seven very much, so…)
I loved Clara’s character development and mini story arc. I enjoyed seeing a healthy relationship between Clara and Twelve, one that was (mostly) free of belittlement. The Boneless were very unique monsters, and I enjoyed Rigsy as a minor character! YAY FOR THIS EPISODE! It strongly reminded me of RTD-era Doctor Who (AKA decently-written Doctor Who!), which is always a plus in my book.
Oh, and one more thing before we wrap up this review: Kate, who do you think Missy is?
I honestly have no idea who Missy is. I looked up some theories online, but they just made me more confused. People have predicted everything from her being River Song, to Idris, to the parts of Clara that have died in her alternate lives. I don’t know what to think.
Ha ha, I feel that way too! At the beginning of this series I was really into the Missy-theories stuff, and now? I HAVE NO IDEA WHO SHE MIGHT BE. But I enjoy asking other Whovians who they think she might be, so…
Thanks for reviewing with me, Kate! It was a ton of fun!
What is YOUR opinion on “Flatline?” I’d love to know!