WARNING! MAJOR SPOILERS!
It seems that, more or less, every other week I’m saying this, but Flatline was the best episode of the eighth season of Doctor Who so far. Whilst it still had some problems and not everyone will like it (those who aren’t fans of Clara, for one), Flatline was an otherwise excellent episode that I really enjoyed. Fun, energetic, and entertaining, Flatline once again reinforces the fact that, in my view at least, this season is one of the best since the 2005 reboot. Each new episode is fresh and exciting, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
The Doctor tries to take Clara to meet Danny, but as always, things inevitably end up going wrong and they find themselves in Bristol. It doesn’t take them too long to work out that something is awry when the TARDIS starts shrinking, becoming even smaller on the outside than normal. And there’s just one problem, because when it became small enough to fit in your pocket, the Doctor just happened to be inside with Clara forced to play the role as the Doctor, as well as facing an enemy that not even walls could protect you from.
Whilst the enemy itself will likely be forgettable, Flatline itself was a pretty cool episode that involved people becoming parts of walls. Writer Jamie Mathieson handled the episode incredibly well, giving Clara plenty of time to shine as we saw how she would do things as the Doctor. This is the same writer behind Mummy on the Orient Express, and Mathieson is certainly a talent who I’d like to return to Doctor Who in Season 9, as he’s already established himself as one of my favourites from this season with a couple of awesome scripts.
Flatline also has the edge of being pretty creepy in some elements. It’s not as scary as Blink from Season 3, but then of course, there hasn’t quite been anything like that since (only The Doctor’s Wife and The Day of the Doctor have matched Blink in terms of quality and nothing since has given us similar levels of scary stuff) but it’s certainly not the lightest episode of the series that we’ve had. However, that wasn’t the only thing that this episode has going for it.
Flatline allowed Clara to be put in the role of the Doctor and it was an interesting experiment from Mathieson to say the least. No other companions in the new series have experienced quite what Clara has come to do here (however, there will probably be arguments to this) and the end result is pulled off remarkably well. There’s a lot of stuff that you’d normally see the Doctor do here – inspirational speeches, lying and more besides. Only, the Time Lord isn’t doing it. He’s taken a backseat, and it’s fun to watch him observe the drama from behind the scenes.
We also got to see the return of Missy this week as yet another element of mystery is added to her character, which will surely be revealed come the finale. However, right now her character unfortunately still hasn’t broken away from the inevitable comparisons of Madame Kovarian, from Season 6, but with more screen time presumably to come in the last two episodes of the season, that could just be what she needs. Another appearance from Chris Addison wouldn’t hurt either (although I don’t know whether his cameo was just that, or if he’s schedule to stick around for more).
The weakest element of this episode was probably the supporting cast, who felt lackluster and unmemorable, and there’s a good chance that you’ll have forgotten about them by the end of the season, if not next week’s episode. However, regardless, the overall quality of Flatline was pretty good, hence making this episode another excellent success that stands as probably the finest of the new season to date (although Kill the Moon comes a close second).