Doctor Who: Series 8 Episode 9 "Flatline" (REVIEW)
written by Mackensie Baker (@MackensieBaker)
That's it. They've done it. The BBC has officially made everything creepy. And extraterrestrial. They've turned every possible seemingly innocuous object into nightmare-fuel of the third kind. From angel statues to books, and now to everything 2-dimensional.
Goodbye, Mario Bros.
As you could probably have guessed from the wordplay in the title, the 2-D world is out to get us in this latest episode. Now, despite the fact that the Doctor has faced drawings from hell before ("Fear Her"), that was only one little girl. This time, the idea of spatial dimensions is being played around with until graffiti figures are transformed into weird corpse puppets and door handles become optical illusions. It was a very fun, fast-paced episode with some exciting new faces, and we saw both some growth with Clara's character and some shrinking on the Doctor's part. Or, more specifically, the Tardis's part. Let's just say the phrase "it's bigger on the inside" has "never been truer."
Another, more serious part to "Flatline" is the realistic portrayal of modern Britain, which is certainly not all crumpets and tea as we'd like to believe. There has been some interesting commentary on the state of England in recent years, including the unemployment rates, like in the cases of Rose and Donna, two "working girls" who live with their mums. This was done, in part, to show us that anyone and everyone can be special, wonderful people capable of amazing things. And "Flatline" brings up, quite subtly in fact, the way that working class people can be looked down upon or ignored. "I think the top brass are hoping if they ignore this, it'll all just go away," says Officer Forrest, after she admits they haven't done all they could when looking into the string of murders. Not to get too political here, but it's nice to see some representation of the recent troubles that are sometimes far too easy to just brush under the rug.
We also see some ethical question raised at the end—"how do we decide who gets to live and who gets to die?" and "what defines a monster?" This is not the first time these question have been put to us, but they remain head-scratchers nonetheless. Doctor Who is all about teaching lessons of morality, especially hard lessons, like the fact that the sympathetic "good guys" aren't always the ones who get to live. Sometimes, it's the crotchety, rude old men. And as for the monsters, well. Antagonists always have their own motives. It's the fact that they oppose the protagonists that make them the "bad guys." Like most of this episode, it's all a matter of perspective... I do hope we see Rigsy again though. Good old Local Knowledge (aka Fluorescent Pudding-Brain).
So, what's next on the list of things Doctor Who plans on making creepy? Shoes? Pillows? Spoons? Place your bets, people.