written by Mackensie Baker (@MackensieBaker)
"Tiger, tiger, burning bright/ In the forests of the night/ What immortal hand or eye/ Could frame thy fearful symmetry?" The line are from one of William Blake's best-known works, though the tiger he speaks of is far less literal than the one we see in this week's episode of Doctor Who.
The allusion to this famous poem is not the only literary reference that the writer, Frank Cottrell Boyce, makes. A significant portion of the episode focuses on a little girl named Maebh who wears a red-hooded jacket and is chased by wolves through the forest that has, quite inexplicably, grown overnight. While looking for her, she leaves a breadcrumb trail of various school-related items for Ms. Oswald and the Doctor. If you aren't getting it yet, I suggest you re-read your book of fairy tales.
Forests have been a prevalent theme in literature (especially English literature) for who knows how long. The primal fear of what hungry things might lay in wait is only a part of it. Losing one's way is another. "Stick to the path, Red Riding Hood," warns the Doctor. But as Clara points out, "there is no path." That is by far the best part of this episode, the way in which the characters are forced to take a long hard look at the way society treats the natural world, and how we deal with our fears.
The second-best part of the episode was the attention given to the kids. Doctor Who has always been a family-friendly show, and children make up a good portion of the show's viewers, but we don't actually see all that many youngsters. It's good to have some sweeter bedtime stories in between the tales of monsters. It's always nice to see kids having adventures too, showing that anyone can make a difference in the world, not just the grown-ups.
The Doctor tells Clara that "the forest is mankind's nightmare." As we learn towards the end of the adventure though, this is not because of the forest itself but what it suggests—the end of humanity. There was life before us, and there will be life after us, and that's what we're so frightened of.
As for now, I have nothing to say concerning the exciting teaser trailer for the two-part finale, except that I wish we had a longer season. Oh, and Clara? Well... I have a few ideas, but no. I'm not giving away anything just yet.