WARNING! MAJOR SPOILERS!
This episode was another one that is going to be pretty divisive amongst fans, and I didn’t find it all that great, if I’m being honest. It was a fairly average episode that relied mainly on character, and gets bonus points for a problem being fixed without a simple wave of a sonic screwdriver. Plus, like the majority of episodes this season, it has dealt with a great high concept that looked pretty interesting. What if the world was suddenly covered in trees, with no explanation as to why they appeared? Trees that also didn’t get burnt down when you tried to burn them down. So needless to say, it was an interesting prospect.
In the Forest of the Night started off with Danny and Clara leading the “Gifted and Talented” students of Coal Hill School on a sleepover at a local museum. However, upon their departure, they found London covered in a forest. And to make matters more interesting, when the Doctor arrives, there’s no clear explanation as to why the trees are there in the first place. They can’t talk, they can’t respond, they can’t even move. So now what? What happens next?
If you hate the child friendly elements of Doctor Who then you’re going to hate In The Forest of the Night – the kids play a large part in this episode and that will probably be off-putting to most people who aren’t actually children themselves. They frequently were annoying (although that said, some were less annoying than others), but then again, Doctor Who has always been a children’s show, so we can expect it to pull stuff like this from time to time. The message itself was also fairly clunky – protect the trees, because they protect us! However, despite this, it wasn’t anywhere near the worst episode of the series so far mainly due to some excellent character-driven moments. Think of this more than a character-based episode than a plot-centric one and you’ll be fine.
Clara, The Doctor and Danny all got plenty of roles to play in this week’s episode. There was some good character development between all three and it’s good to see that for once, Danny is a companion who does not what to run off with the Doctor (even Mickey and Rory did this, for certain periods). He’s quite happy at home. This offered a welcome change of pace from the previous male companions, and it’ll be interesting to see how long this stays around for.
There was little tying the story to the ongoing season this week, and it was forgettable to say the least. It certainly didn’t feel like a lead in for the two-part season finale, which is a shame. However, that didn’t make it unwatchable. It was still a relatively solid episode, and I can imagine that for most people, the best thing about In The Forest of the Night will be the preview shown at the end. It’s certainly got me eagerly anticipating this Saturday’s episode, and I for one, cannot wait. Things look set to be very epic indeed.