Doctor Who "In the Forest of the Night" Review: Over the River and Through the Woods

Doctor Who S08E10: "In the Forest of the Night"

Doctor Who often asks a lot of its viewers, whether it's believing in creatures that look like stone angels that have the ability to send people through time, or that the moon is actually an egg that suddenly has gained much more mass. Our enjoyment of the series requires us to suspend belief for a moment, suspend what we know to be true in our hearts and minds in exchange for an hour of storytelling. But it needs to be a fair trade. I'm willing to give up scientific fact and accuracy for a truly compelling story. I'm willing to believe most anything, actually, but "In the Forest of the Night" was not the show's best work. Its message and delivery were clunky at best—save the trees! They protect us from harm by providing us with oxygen! You'll all forget this ever happened because you're humans and that's what you do!—but somewhere buried beneath the magical forest that sprung up overnight to protect the planet from a solar flare were some good character moments.

For the majority of the season the Doctor has been on a journey of self-discovery. He knows he's not a good man and that he's done some awful things, but he genuinely wants to help, even if the real reason is because he's physically incapable of passing up a puzzle or a mystery. I don't imagine that you'll ever see an unfinished puzzle on a table somewhere in the TARDIS, because his innate curiosity will always get the better of him, and if that plus whatever guilt he may feel translates to heroic tendencies on a global or universal scale, then so be it. I guess I can't really argue if it means the Doctor saves the day (although he was mostly just a messenger this week for the real heroes aka the flame-resistant forest) and the world continues to exist to fight the next invasion or threat. 

In this particular instance, the world goes on spinning because Maebh and the Doctor told everyone to protect the trees and they in turn protected the world from the harsh solar winds. It's a silly and flimsy excuse that asks us to believe in fairytales and works because the storyline dictates that it should with little explanation other than "because I said so." But I'll give the silliness a pass here because even if I was bored by most of plot, it led to the Doctor acknowledging that he did hear Clara in "Kill the Moon" when she told him that Earth and its inhabitants were his people too, and that he should care about what happens to them. 

It was a nice moment to hear Clara's own words reflected back at her even as the Doctor offered to take everyone, including Danny and the children, away in the TARDIS. "This is my world, too. I walk your Earth. I breathe your air," he told Clara, but she pointed out saving the children would only create more problems, because he couldn't just dump them on an asteroid. They were children, and they'd never stop wanting their parents (something Clara knows to be true from personal experience) or to return home. And Clara, for her part, didn't want to go either. For a moment it looked as if she'd finally made a choice between her dual lives, but it's probably more accurate to say that her natural role as a character won out. She saved the Doctor yet again, thus fulfilling her role as the Impossible Girl one more time, and she stayed behind to care for the students. "If you can't save them all, save what you can," she'd said to the Doctor earlier in the episode, which sounded a bit cold coming from Clara, but is actually sound advice if you're all out of options. It also fit who Clara has become. Last week we saw her step into the Doctor's shoes to save the world from a threat from another dimension, and she's definitely become more Doctor-like since the beginning of the season, but she's also learning that she doesn't want to be like him or have the responsibilities that he has. And I like that.

Clara's desire to save the Doctor in this instance might have been dressed up in a way that made her appear selfless—she'd stayed behind when she thought she was going to die and told the Doctor that the human race was saving him for once—but underneath there's the argument that she was still just Clara, the girl who's defined by her relationship to the Doctor and what she can do for him. I think it played here a bit better than it has in the past, though, and it made me far less stabby towards the show's writers. Maybe it's because the Doctor figured out that they were never going to die as long as they could stop the world from cutting down the trees and that in turn made the danger feel less real and her decision less important, but I think that it's actually the fact that her two roles—Impossible Girl and caretaker to children—collided in that instant to became a single person. 

It probably also helped that Danny was by her side. He's actually understanding about Clara still traveling with the Doctor and only requested that she stop lying to him about it. He doesn't share her same desires to explore the universe and go on thrilling adventures in time and space—he just wants to see the things already in front of him more clearly—but he understands why she might still want that. And I respect that about Danny. I love that he's not enthralled by the Doctor and what he can do; he's just a regular guy who already risked his life as a soldier and now just wants to live an ordinary happy existence as a teacher. He appreciates what's right in front of him and doesn't need to seek more from life, which is a welcome change of pace for Doctor Who, which basically sustains itself by the same larger-than-life adventure formula week in and week out. 

Say what you will about Danny's journey this season, but the Doctor offered to take Danny away in the TARDIS this week after specifically declining to take another soldier on board earlier this season, and Danny accepted that Clara would probably continue to travel with the Doctor, and the world didn't explode. It's not much, but it's definitely progress on some level. The writers could probably flesh Danny out more as a character, but right now I appreciate what we're working with and think the way he flits in and out of storylines actually makes sense. They're not trying to force him in, but rather allowing him to come and go as he would in a normal relationship. I'm also just really grateful the writers didn't turn him into a jealous boyfriend who forces Clara to choose between her life with him and her life with the Doctor. I get enough teen drama on a weekly basis that I don't need that silliness bleeding over into this show, too.

Both Clara and the Doctor have learned from each other this season—Clara doesn't want to be the Doctor, nor does she want to be the last of her kind, because she's seen what that responsibility is like and what that life has done to the Doctor, meanwhile he's slowly beginning to understand who he is and what role he's supposed to play thanks to her nurturing hand—and that's what ultimately keeps the show afloat. The relationship between Doctor and companion is a two-way street and the show can only exist if both parties are playing their parts. Their relationship is ultimately what should drive story momentum, not the other way around, and it's why I can look at an episode like "In the Forest of the Night," which was not necessarily a great episode of Doctor Who, and still appreciate it. 

The storyline was forgettable, there was little tying the episode to the season's overarching story, and it was not the episode I'd have written as the lead-in to the season finale, but I'm also not going to be someone who can't see the forest for all the trees (zing!). The details of the story don't really matter here, because it's the characters' journeys that are the big picture and there were several compelling moments this week that continued to build upon the season-long arcs. Well done, Doctor Who.

That being said, here's hoping that both the storyline and the character arcs are equally interesting as the series begins its final descent into the season finale next week.


NOTES


– Humanity's superpower is forgetting. Who knew? 

– What the F was up with that ending with Maebh's sister? 

– Despite the ridiculousness of it all, I like that mother nature has her own natural forcefield for natural phenomena like solar flares. We so often face alien invasions and threats on Doctor Who that I can appreciate that there are other natural dangers out there.

– "I am Doctor Idiot!"

thekaitling:list:doctor-who-what-did-you-think-of-in-the-forest-of-the-night/


Comments (206)
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Nov 01, 2014
Maebh said that Clara told her to find the Doctor! When did she do that?
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Oct 29, 2014
This episode was OK but the previews for next week's episode starts the finale! That made the episode for me.
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Oct 28, 2014
This season's writing is really bad. I'm not saying there was ZERO to like, but really, not a well-written season. If they can't think of any good ideas, they should hire some new people!
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Oct 29, 2014
The other problem is Mr. Pink is not being developed past annoying P.E. teacher.
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Oct 29, 2014
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Oct 27, 2014
This episode made me raise an eyebrow or two (don't have more otherwise they would be raised as well).
Especially when the doctor explained that all the trees provided oxygen that would shield the planet from a solar flare.
I'm pretty sure oxygen is very flamable, so would the planet really be protected from a solar flare of a few milion degrees??
I would think not, so the only part of this episode that I did like, was every scene with Jenna Coleman in it!
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Oct 28, 2014
The only thing that protects the planet from the solar wind (and flares) is its magnetic field. If the planet were to somehow lose it, we would not burn, we would first suffocate as the solar wind would "sweep off" most of the atmosphere and then the radiation would slowly crisp everything (that is believed that happened to Mars when its core got solid and lost its magnetic field).

In any case... Its a show about a 2000 year old time traveller who regenerates and its crazy and its supposed to be fun! Don't try to rationalise everything in it because most of the times the science is pure fiction.

My problem is that I don't like these character, the stories and their stories are 8not compelling and I'm sorry to say ut but Cabaldi isn't what I expected of him. He is to cold and serious and seems like a bit lost!
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Oct 28, 2014
A solar flare isn't fire, it's a wave of radiation and energized particles.
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Oct 29, 2014
This is true but they were trying to not confuse people with Jargon. They were using solar flare like how some people say they want a coke when really they want a pepsi or sprite and use coke instead of saying soda.
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Oct 27, 2014
Perhaps Maebh's sister becomes Missy in later years, or maybe she's Clara (a lead in to Clara's finale statement about herself from the trailer), or she's the real next companion, or has a key role in the finale, or is simply a major red herring to make all of us speculate. Probably the last one.

Arguably, she attends (or attended) Coal Hill, and that as an older teen, so she is obviously tied to Clara and Danny at least in terms of being a student.


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Oct 27, 2014
There was some discussion in an interview that the script (at some point) called for the Doctor to run around the tardis controls, as previous doctors constantly do. But, Capaldi said, "no, I think I'll just stand here".

The producer was praising Capaldi for making the character his own. But, he sure had a lot of running around the tardis, in this episode, so maybe they decided standing there and being austere wasn't working.
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Oct 27, 2014
I liked the episode okay, but I think the Doctor's mention of Tunguska was disturbing. Perhaps the writer should have consulted Richard Feynman for some expertise on the history and science of Tunguska.
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Oct 27, 2014
* Still not liking Pink & Clara.

* Did NOT get the logic of not saving the children because "they'll always miss their parents". So, better they all just die??? No.

* The bit with the sister had at least a bit of tie-in because Maeve (sp?) asked her to come back in her message to the world.

* I agree that it seemed a bit silly that the world listened to the plea of a little girl to stop cutting down the trees because they were going to save them.

* My favorite scene was the Doctor and Clara observing the solar flare from the tardis in space. Sweet. And, cool.
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Oct 27, 2014
A little girl with the skills of phoning the whole world, something no government in the world can do. I think the scientis in the world listened, verified and informed their governments to listen to the girl.
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Oct 28, 2014
That's as good an explanation as any, I suppose. :)
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Oct 27, 2014
One thing that stood out again is the way Clara's talk at the Tardis again seemed to have a layer that changes the meaning of what she said. Based on the context of what has been built over the years and next weeks previews, it's looking more and more like Clara might just be the new Doctor at some point. Her mannerisms were eerily close to some of the Doctor's in the preveiws and that line "I don't want to be the last of my kind" held a weight to it that felt far more than "I don't want to be the last human".

Really interested to see how this is played out. Really have enjoyed the more subtle arc that has been over many seasons and not just this one. Probably why the supposed "main" arc has been less prominent. It's more tied to an older arc than previous season arcs.
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Oct 27, 2014
Overall this was a disappointing episode. I really enjoyed the last two and was hoping we'd turned a corner and had found a groove. But this episode was pretty boring and unmemorable. The trees did all the saving and all the Doctor did was figure out what they were doing. The stories have been mostly focused on Earth which I think is limiting the scope of the storytelling and I think the whole Dr/Clara/Danny thing has gotten boring. It's been a strange season. I like Capaldi and I think Clara's character has grown and been much more interesting than last season but the storytelling has been very sub par in most of the episodes. Hopefully the season closes with a bang.
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Oct 27, 2014
I feel sorry for the people in Africa.

One moment the deserts turn into forests, then they are gone again.

Shame London is the center of the earth.
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Oct 27, 2014
This reminds me of a famous Sam Kinison skit fromRodney Dangerfield's 1985 HBO special.
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Oct 27, 2014
I should not have laughed so hard at this, but I did. A+
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Oct 27, 2014
Is it just me, or is this Doctor's sonic screwdriver really...phallic? And he's waving it in a little girl's face? That was a bit weird.
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Oct 27, 2014
In fact, it's the same screwdriver Smith had, so I would say it's you.
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Oct 27, 2014
Yeah, just you. Might want to look into that. :)
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Oct 27, 2014
Thank you Kaitlin for your uncanny feminist super power to ruin all your Doctor Who reviews by failing to acknowledge that Clara is the Robin to Twelve's Batman. Her actions will always depend on the Doctor. I suggest that you leave this show to someone who might actually be capable of enjoying a kids show without having the dark spectre of political correctness clouding their judgment.
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Oct 28, 2014
I just read the review and have NO IDEA what you're talking about. . .
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Oct 27, 2014
Mmmmk.
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Oct 27, 2014
Danny made me want to smack him upside the head this episode and go 'grow UP' you moron. As for the whole 'I've been a soldier....blah, blah' for not going with Clara to watch how the forests dealt with the solar flare- arrgghh! Yeah, good for you Danny; however, Clara has not been a soldier, killed enemies and seen the world - so you acting like a spoilt and sulky brat because she does want to go on adventures with the doctor is just getting incredibly annoying now. I liked Danny to start with; now I just want to go all Daryl Dixon on him.

As for the episode over all - I'd give it a 5 out 10 and that's only because I thought the premise of the trees to fight the solar flare was very cool.

The sister apparently 'disappearing' by hiding in a bush for a year was a bit WTF; I was annoyed that again wolves are made out be slavering maneaters when they are more afraid of us than we are of them (unlike spiders); Clara choking again instead of telling Dismal Danny (my new name for him) that she was off adventuring with the Doctor made me grind my teeth - I mean, seriously, what's Dismal going to do? Sulk her to death? The nutjob woman in the.....wherever....is annoying.

The writing of this episode was back to being abysmal - you can see even Capaldi's starting to flag under the weight of either spitting out (less than) witty one liners or being reduced to listening to gems such as 'better the kids die than become orphans'. Really? Anyone thought to ask the kids what they want?

I feel so sorry for Capaldi because the guy's doing his best with scripts so bad even oufAmDrams would refuse them. I think if you could get the writer who did last week's then things would improvely immensely. That writer has good writing skills, decent plot and decently paced dialogue.
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Oct 27, 2014
No, the sister hadn't been hiding in the bush for a year. She'd come home and was waiting in the bush until her family got there. Then (for some silly reason) the bush decided it was ok to go away.
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Oct 27, 2014
The sad question is, where was she for a year. She looked old enough to not just get lost and clean / healthy enough to not be living on the streets for a year.

So... was she locked up in some sicko's dungeon for a year?

Or did the "trees" kidnap her to activate Maebh's gifts... and are now giving her back.
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Oct 27, 2014
You know, you're right. Clara is being selfish, but so is Danny.

Clara wants to see the world and do stuff. Danny's response is essentially "Been there, done that. Let's just chill at home and enjoy the now"

They both have 2 strongly opposing desires... how does that relationship work? I don't mean two opposing points of view which can work out fine... but wanting two important opposing things.

It's like:
  • Having children vs not having children
  • Travelling constantly vs staying at home
  • Wants pets, wants NO pets
  • Wants to have parents live with them, does NOT want in-laws living with them
So either Clara will have to cave in, or Danny. Since Clara will eventually leave the show, I guess she will either cave in or say "I've seen enough"
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Oct 30, 2014
I actually don't think Clara's being selfish; I think Danny is definitely - sorry if I gave the opposite impression to anyone. I think Clara is making the most of a fantastic opportunity that most won't ever get, and more power to her for doing so.

I don't get what she sees in Danny right now. I could understand it a few years down the line - bored with the time travelling (not sure I ever would be, but not everyone would agree with me), wanting to settle down and so Danny would seem perfect.

But in the right now; her being so adventurous I can't see why him going "I want my tea and slippers" or "let's just stay in, watch x-factor and have a pizza" has her getting all hot and bothered and going 'phwaaorrr!!'

To me it's, yet again, Moffatt and/or Gattiss' ham-fisted and clunky way of writing her out - even as she's going on telly and giving news interviews saying "me leaving? Don't be daft! I'm stopping.....possibly....."

But you're right the major difference this adventure across time and space vs tea, slippers and doing nothing is a major one that most couples wouldn't get over. But then this is DW and Coleman is leaving; so we shall wait and see.
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Oct 30, 2014
I wasn't suggesting that you suggested it. But others have and I can sort of agree with it.

She wants to have her cake and eat it to. She wants to be friends with two people and hang out with them. Neither friend likes the other and would like Clara to stop hanging out with the other.

And her solution is to lie to both: telling the Doctor that Danny is cool with it, and telling Danny that she's done with the Doctor.

I don't BLAME her for that... many of us have been in situations where 2 of our friends are from different circles and don't like each other, if not just in childhood.

But Danny is right in the sense that he deserves the truth. It's one thing to hang out with a friend, it's another when hanging out with said friend can EASILY result in death.
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Oct 30, 2014
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Oct 27, 2014
i agree - not a good ep - and you're right - Capaldi deserves much, much better. maybe he'll go without a companion for a part of next year - something The Doctor almost never does.. would be good to see more "Doctor" in Doctor Who though...
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Oct 27, 2014
What the F was up with that ending with Maebh's sister?

My best guess: cause / effect?
  • Trees figure out that a year from now there will be a solar flare.
  • They temporarily kidnap sister of potentially psychic child to trigger her powers
  • Empowered Psychic child calls forth the forest to protect the Earth
  • Now that the job is done, they return the sister.
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Oct 27, 2014
I think we're meant to think that the trees were repaying the girl who helped them (Maebh) by finding and returning her sister while they were magically disappearing and repairing all the paving and other damage they caused.
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Oct 27, 2014
I'd considered that as well.

But her sister looked old enough that "being completely lost for a year" wasn't really feasible -- outside of being a prisoner in some sicko's basement.

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Oct 27, 2014
I hate to say it, but abduction for some horrible purpose seems the most likely thing to have happened to a child "gone missing" for that length of time. (Do yourselves a favor and don't google for reasons why children disappear.)
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Oct 27, 2014
I know, but it's Doctor Who and a friendly happy child-focused episode. So I'd considered that (since a year is a really long time) and had a w t f moment

Yay, you helped us trees save the world so we're saving your sister from the pervert that kept her in chains for a year. Good luck paying for her therapy bills.

So the only kid-friendly explanation I could think of is the forest hid her for a year (in stasis hopefully) or sent her 1 year forward in time (since the Doctor said time-power must be involved to grow that fast).

So her loss would trigger Maebh's psychic power.

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Oct 27, 2014
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Oct 27, 2014
Danny wasnt a total idiot this episode, i have to give him credit. i still hated him in all the other eps, so i still dont see why Clara loves him so much, but whatever.

pretty fun ep.
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Oct 27, 2014
Let's face it, this episode was all about the kids, and they were great. In comparison the story was as silly as usual. The missy stuff has just become stupid, this isn't an arc, this is just timewasting. And during this episode I wondered how long its been since the Doctor visited a real alien civilisation. This season has been a little better for Clara but mostly its been all over the place.
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Oct 27, 2014
This was probably the first episode featuring children that I liked, besides The Empty Child.

Other episodes had the kids acting like spoiled annoying jerks, including the kids that Clara was watching over as a nanny.

This one had kids in the age-bracket of potentially annoying, as shown in the flashbacks, but they were decent here. And Maebh's interaction with the Doctor was great
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Oct 27, 2014
Maebh's interactions with the Doctor were the only good parts of the episode.
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Oct 27, 2014
The sister appearing at the end, hmm...so there's still a girl who can think things into being? And we'll just leave it at that?
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Oct 27, 2014
The girl THOUGHT she made things happen with her mind, but the Doctor explained that she wasn't CAUSING them. She just SAW them in advance -- because she looked for and saw/heard things others didn't.
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Oct 27, 2014
yeah, i thought that was strange too. but did her sister die or just runaway? i'm not sure what they said. but maybe she just ran away & heard her little sisters call...at the end of the phone call to the world she asked her sister to come home.
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Oct 27, 2014
It said "her sister went missing last year."
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Oct 27, 2014
I thought this was the best episode this season, thought the season still ranks as the worst of the 2000's. But to answer your dilemma, Maebh ended the message to everyone with a request for her sister to come home. Either she heard it or the trees helped fill the request for Maebh, or both.

My only question is when did museums start to let kids have a sleepover night??? Are there beds in the museum?
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Oct 27, 2014
Possibly in the 1990s? Sleepovers at London Museums
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Oct 27, 2014
I feel as old as the Doctor now. Also like him I try to learn something new each day. Thanks for that link!
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Oct 27, 2014
Holy hell, what the F was that?! What a train-wreck this show has become. I'm ready to burn it all to the ground. New showrunner, new writers, new companion, new Doctor, all of it. And oh boy, it's the Cybermen next week, AGAIN.... WTF indeed.
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Oct 28, 2014
I agree with everything except the "new Doctor" part. He hasn't been given a chance to really shine. Everyone else can go though. And yeah, ughh, Cybermen?? Really? "Dealbreaker. Shut it down. Shut it down."
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Oct 28, 2014
Haha! "Shut it down" made me laugh. :) I was thinking about Jess and her hand motions when I wrote all that! Re: new Doctor part - he's only had almost a full season of shows "to shine" at this point, so if it hasn't happened by now.... ehh.
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Oct 27, 2014
I did like that Clara would trick the Doctor to going to the TARDIS to save him, no to save herself or the kids. It was a great scene.
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Oct 27, 2014
I really like Doctor Who but this season hasn't wowed me yet which I'm sad about. This episode disappointed me. I must be turning into a grouch as it seems in the past few episodes, everyone got to go into the Tardisn. If that's the case, I want to go inside it too!
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Oct 27, 2014
I learn life lessons from the Doctor in each episode. The best moment for me was when Danny declined to go in the tardis because "he just wants to see the things already in front of him more clearly". Now, that is being grounded. We should all look at the things right in front of us more clearly and appreciate all that we have. Who needs an enchanted forest or a long life if you don't appreciate all that you have already.
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Oct 27, 2014
Somehow i seem unable to accept the continuity of regeneration to Capaldi. Not saying he is not believable as the time lord,there has been some good episodes so far..maybe has more to do with the new direction of the writing...away from the usual anthology of the doctor. Just not doing it for me.
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Oct 27, 2014
Great review! I think you managed to hit the nail on the head with regards to pattern of episodes this season. Not all are good like "Listen" but some of the weak ones like this, focus more the evolving relationship between the Doctor and Clara. It's interesting you should point out that's it a two-way street. I would even go as far as saying that given the roles Clara has played in the last 10 episodes, it's almost as if the show Doctor Who doesn't have the Doctor as the central character but the real Doctor is the Doctor and Clara. On another matter, isn't it odd that the Doctor tells Maebh that he's the last of his species when he fully knows that Gallifrey is only in a parallel pocket dimension. And it can't be a secret since almost all his enemies came after him in the Christmas episode just to prevent him from calling them back. Finally, this episode is a first of sorts. This is the first time the Doctor makes the statement "This is my world, too." Forget the next two statements because they're just rationalizations that hide his true feelings. In all the Doctor Who episodes, Classic and New Series, the Doctor has always stated his fondness for Earth but that has also always maintained that he didn't belong there. What changed? Does this mean that that he's actually half human as the Master said in the Doctor Who movie?
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Oct 26, 2014
Complete and utter garbage. Is Capaldi a good Doctor? I couldn't even tell you because every episode of this season has been so bogged down by nonsensical plotting and aggravating characterization that I still don't have any sense of what sort of Doctor he is. I'm not sure what sorts of ratings Doctor Who is getting these days, but in my opinion this is the sort of season that kills off a longstanding series like this. After all the hogwash Moffat has been shoving down our throats this season, how can we go back to enjoying the Doctor the way we used to? I can only imagine what older fans of the original series this of this junk.

Please, Stephen Moffat, retire and let this series recover from your attempts to murder it. I used to like you back in the days of Coupling and Jekyll, but this season of Who has done nothing but irritate. I think it's time you moved on.
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Oct 26, 2014
"Humanity's superpower is forgetting. Who knew?"

Yeah, I thought it was the Silent's superpower.

I guess the human writers forgot that.

But then again... umm, wait, what were we talking about?

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Oct 27, 2014
Yeah people still remembering O.J. Simpson's case but they will forget a forest growing all over the world.
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Oct 27, 2014
It reminds me of that TV version of War of the Worlds where almost everyone deliberately chose to forget the Martians invaded us in the 1950s.
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Oct 26, 2014
"Humanity's superpower is forgetting. Who knew?"

It sends a rather mixed message, though. So after this message to not harm the trees going out to humanity, and that it's bad to cut down the forest... people will keep doing it, because they'll forget that trees really help them?

Also, does that mean Clara and Danny and the kids will forget that the trees are nice, too? Two weeks later, will Danny be tossing logs on the fire and 20 years later, Samson will grow up to be a logging magnate?
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Oct 26, 2014
"They were children, and they'd never stop wanting their parents (something Clara knows to be true from personal experience) or to return home."

She does? I thought she had a set of parents and a grandmother in an estate somewhere. Presumably still waiting to have their Christmas dinner. Did I miss an episode where she became an orphan?
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Oct 27, 2014
Her mother died.
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Oct 26, 2014
"For the majority of the season the Doctor has been on a journey of self-discovery."

Which is odd, since at the end of "Deep Breath" he said he was on a journey to fix his mistakes. Still waiting for that one...
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Oct 26, 2014
Apart from some funny lines from the Doctor I think this episode was absolutely atrocious. At one point I wondered if the whole episode would just self implode and the cast go "Right, this is utter shite. Let's quit and go home watch telly."

Dreadful.
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Oct 26, 2014
I also thought that scene with Maebh's sister was stupid, tbh. Also, I may be a terrible person because I don't like episodes with too many kids in them?

I was wishing for an episode that explained Danny a bit more, but I guess we'll have to wait for season 9!!

http://corleonesandlannisters.com/2014/10/26/doctor-who-in-the-forest-of-the-night-review-episode-10/
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Oct 26, 2014
Character moments are not enough for a primetime TV show with a decent budget.

This was poor storytelling not worthy of a film school graduate, let alone Doctor Who.
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Oct 27, 2014
yeah this was the weakest DW ep since it returned in 2005.. did not belong on DW at all - maybe a shorter version on a Sarah Jane Adventures type show...
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Oct 26, 2014
"Despite the ridiculousness of it all, I like that mother nature has her own natural forcefield for natural phenomena like solar flares."

THE EARTH ALREADY HAS THAT IN REAL LIFE. That was something I actively tried to ignore during the episode and didn't want to say anything about in the comments, but then you went and brought it up, Kaitlin.

The Earth has both the magnetic field and the ionosphere to protect it from solar flare activity, these are mother nature's natural defense against harsh radiation and particles from the sun.

Neither come from trees.
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Oct 27, 2014
"THE EARTH ALREADY HAS THAT IN REAL LIFE."

Hey, I never said it didn't. Just that I appreciated that for once the show wasn't dealing with an alien invasion or robots or dinosaurs on a spaceship, etc.
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Oct 27, 2014
Ok, but either way it reminded me what an incredibly foolheaded episode this was. The episode acted like nature can't cope when clearly it already does.

The solar flare really wasn't any different than the moon egg or the beast below/space whale or a few other non-triggered events.
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Oct 26, 2014
Ah, but the trees generate those, too. ;) Because they're our friends. Or, um, something like that.

I couldn't tell from the episode: the Maebh-possessed dialogue was really difficult to make out. But was there any mention that trees are dependent on humanity, too? They generate oxygen by dint of humanity generating carbon dioxide. Trees have a vested interest in keeping humanity alive. I could make out, "We were here long before you and will be long after," or words to that effect. But if all animal life on Earth disappeared... they wouldn't, would they?
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Oct 27, 2014
No, the trees would survive without animals. Earth has carbon dioxide and the plants themselves breath.
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Oct 27, 2014
The trees are not dependent on humanity, the planet generates lots of carbon dioxide without humans present - lots of volcanoes mainly. Trees have thrived in Chernobyl where animal life is largely not present, albeit some trees are mutated. We humans generate excess greenhouse gases, but we're not the only source.
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Oct 26, 2014
The trees were here long before humanity. There is no vested interest in keeping humanity alive, just animal life is required for carbon dioxide and fertilizer.
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Oct 27, 2014
But the trees can't protect animal life without protecting humanity. The solar flare would have wiped out all animal life, not just humanity.

Unless the trees have some kind of discretionary "protect animals but not humans" ability, they do have a vested interest in protecting humanity, because they have no way to survive if they don't protect them along with everything else.
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Oct 26, 2014
I know Clara is a teacher, but I've personally found all the kids in the show to be mostly annoying this season. I know its supposed to be aimed at kids as well, but a few episodes this season have felt like it should be on kids TV alone. Signed, Mr grumpy!
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Oct 26, 2014
I loved the fairy tale moments in the ep. The message about the trees was also great. but otherwise I was positively and utterly bored with the ep. the most IMO yawn inducing ep of Nu Who ever. Let's just hope that the rest of the season is better, 'cause so far to me this season was quite a let down with the exception of a couple of eps
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Oct 26, 2014
The best part of this episode was seeing the clips from next weeks episode! This is by far the worst episode of this season!
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Oct 27, 2014
worst ep not just of this season - but in many seasons!
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Oct 26, 2014
LOL, Kaitlin. I was just the opposite. I loved the fairy tale and I hated Clara and Pink behavior.
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Oct 26, 2014
Nitpicks:
- yes, this was a big, complicated set piece and you spent all your money putting a few cars and stoplights into a big foresty set. And what did it look like? A FOREST SET! Every scene not in the museum or on the TARDIS looked identical, they had 2 sides to the set. How friggin' hard would it have been to just shoot some location material in a forest? You already shot in a forest this season!!! Next time, hire some extras, this is supposed to have been a bustling metropolis where a forest grew overnight, there should be more people lost in the woods than just Maebh's mom. There weren't even any birds!

- so Danny and Clara are in charge of 6 children and don't notice one of them goes missing? Maybe the "special" ones weren't the kids but the teachers.

- how many different-aged kids are in Clara's worklife? We had the teen on the moon and her classmates in the school earlier this season, now we have tweens and even younger for this episode.

- why did the trees grow vines around the TARDIS? That's not how trees work. Why did trees seem to grow in the ocean? Or were the oceans and everything else green because of the extra oxygen? Yeah, that doesn't make sense.

- I'm trying really hard not to use science-brain, but if the trees are intentionally protecting the Earth, wouldn't their plan of igniting the atmosphere with excess oxygen cause a chain-reaction that burns the planet to a crisp? The trees control oxygen on a local level, they snuff the flamethrowers, wouldn't THAT be a better solution to the incoming solar flare than to expend a ridiculously massive amount of energy to grow trees EVERYWHERE on a planet being mostly area that can't grow trees either because it's ocean and lots of places like deserts and paved cities and so forth?

- we already did a planet full of trees for christmas a few years ago.

- if the TARDIS confirms the location as accurate, why would the Doctor assume that the location is wrong but the time is right? Wouldn't it be more logical to assume the location is right but the time is wrong? The TARDIS pulls that crap all the time.
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Oct 26, 2014
Good premise but the execution was horrendous. And the season as whole is maybe the weakest of the new series.
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Oct 26, 2014
Randomly, I'm pretty sure is Maeve unless there is an English version of that name that I am unfamiliar with, but its Irisih in the root.

Honestly, I'm more interested in whatever the hell is going on next week than anything that went on in this episode. Now, if Clara has always basically been an invention of Missy's and the whole Impossible girl, the inconsistent standing up to him/slash hero worship, and this is the interesting way to get Danny more involved that the Doctor and him both have to run from whatever this whole thing is, that might be ret conning that I am interested in.
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Oct 26, 2014
How could Clara decline the doctor's offer to take her, Danny and the children on the Tardis and save them from what they believed was the end of life on earth? Yeah right there was some mention of "them being children, and they'd never stop wanting their parents or to return home" but how can that ever be enough reason or justification for Clara to decide that it's better they die?!
I had to create an account here just to ask that question.
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Oct 27, 2014
I guess I can see it. I'm not saying I agree with Clara's choice, but it's one I'm glad I wouldn't have to make.

It's bad enough in normal / real life when a kid loses all of his friends and family in a disaster or war. But at least in real life there are humans offering comfort... hopefully in a culture close enough to what they're familiar with. So the kids have a chance at living a normal life.

In this case... you'd have the last living humans on Earth. No family, only friends being themselves, being dropped off on some alien planet with alien language and customs and dangers since I imagine The Doctor would be forced to leave them in their same time but a different place. And aliens presently don't know enough about us, so good luck trying to comfort them.

They'd be alive, but emotionally devastated.

Sure, you have a time machine... but the Doctor going back into the recent past to also take the parents would likely cause a Paradox that the TARDIS probably wouldn't allow.
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Oct 27, 2014
I remember episodes taking place in the future where we have seen human beings so the children would not have had to be surrounded by only aliens and besides, would there really be a paradox if you drop the children off on Earth long enough ago?
At least, one would argue that the question of whether the children should live far away from their known homes or die would justify a longer discussion among the three adults present, with different options and suggestions weighed against each other! Of course they did not have a lot of time, but I do believe they at least had time for more than the one-sentence-decision made by Clara, or to at least look concerned/troubled about what should be a very tough decision. Clara made it sound as if she was choosing between apples or pears, not the life or death of children.
I also think Danny deserved a chance to speak his mind on his own imminent death, no matter how sure Clara felt that he would prefer to die on earth, and no matter how much the audience seems to dislike him, the guy has the right to surprise them with a "Oh you misjudged me Clara! I actually prefer to live!" Clara had no right to make that decision for him, no matter how well she thinks she knows him.
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Oct 27, 2014
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Oct 26, 2014
I agree. Also, those children could have been the last survivors and able to repopulate Earth. Clara was refusing to save humanity. Completely stupid.
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Oct 26, 2014
You couldn't "regrow" humanity with a gene pool that small.
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Oct 26, 2014
That would be disputable but in this case, you can cheat. You have a time machine. Also, I don't know how bad the damages of the sun flare would be. Perhaps they could save all the frozen material in hospitals and the like.
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Oct 27, 2014
I've never heard it disputed. If you have a source that says that you can repopulate a civilization with just 10 people, I'd be curious to hear what it is.

"You have a time machine" is a cheat in any case. If you're falling back on that, you don't need any survivors. Just go back a hundred years, grab about 200 people (the minimum that most sources say is a necessary gene pool size), and take them to another planet.

For that matter, why not go back a week, usher everyone on Earth into the TARDIS, and transport them to Earth just after the solar flare? Sure, you're playing with cause and effect, but they already are if they say Earth is wiped out by a natural disaster that they haven't seen in the future.

Anyhoo, the episode presents it as if the TARDIS isn't a solution, and that there is no frozen material that will survive, and that these 10 people are all that can be survived of humanity.
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Oct 26, 2014
I really really hope they write her as brainless idiot on purpose, and that in the end Pink turns out out to be part of alien conspiracy to weaken Doctor trough influencing his companion trough some alien technology :)
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Oct 26, 2014
I liked the fairy tale quality of this story, especially Red Riding Hood, and especially the emphasis on the trees. But I had trouble following some of the dialogue, and thought the story needed to be extended another episode to give it room for all of the plot points and characters. The one thing I really hated was how Danny kept acting like a jealous boyfriend in high school. He's too controlling, and almost scary in how he interacts with Clara. I'd almost swear he's stalker material.
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Oct 26, 2014
I didn't understand why they put that Little Red Riding Hood metaphor in there when it didn't go anywhere or connect to anything related to that.

Controlling? He didn't even balk when she admitted she had lied. He didn't shame her or anything, he was busy taking care of business while she was being nonsensical.
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Oct 26, 2014
I made the mistake of heading to a mate's place, who is a huge Doctor Who fan and watched some old David Tennant episodes. I shouldn't have done that. Now I am questioning whether this Doctor is good or not and leading toward not and whether the writing is good or not and realizing it is not.
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Oct 27, 2014
Good as in high quality?

Or Good as in moral compass?
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Oct 27, 2014
Both really. It had more of a sense of purpose.
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Oct 26, 2014
Welcome to my world. I can't even tell if Capaldi or Smith are good Doctors because there are so many roadblocks in the form of Steven Moffat: showrunner.
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Oct 27, 2014
There are aspects about Capaldi that I love. He's grumpy and has a dry sense of humor. His stories have been hit or miss and the focus on "who am I / Am I a good person" is sometimes a big drawn out. But I'm digging him as an actor.

Smith and even Tennant were a bit on the wacky side, though Tennant was darker and slightly less wacky. But I hated how SIMILAR they were in look / appearance / voice.

Eccleston had that huge grin with those big ears, leather jacket, CATCH PHRASE, and a thing for bananas. He could get very cross if pushed, but less "timey wimey" running around waving his arms, and more seriousness.
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Oct 26, 2014
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Oct 26, 2014
Another hopeless mess.

Plot holes! For example: clearly the doctor knows humanity exists in the future, so why would he ever think it was going to be destroyed?

Also someone really needs to send the writers of Doctor Who to a kindergarten science class. Trees "create" oxygen now? From what? Uhhhh carbon dioxide, perhaps? So one gas is removed and another is replaced? So ... they change very little? If anything because CO2 has a carbon atom in it, relative to oxygen's O2 .. they'd actually be removing mass from the atmosphere.

If trees are trying to protect us and can do this so quickly ... why global warming?

The other collisions the Doctor mentions were impacts by small (ok large by our standards) meteorites, nothing to do with the Sun flaring up so ... wtf was he talking about?

And, since when was the sonic magic wand able to create gravity?
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Oct 27, 2014
We hear this all of the time... time can be rewritten. Or else no adventure in the "past" or even "present" would have any suspense since we've seen Earth survive afterwards.

It was most clear with Martha Jones in The Shakespeare Code

She points out that clearly everything will be fine because Carrionites didn't destroy the Earth in 1599.

The Doctor says that time can be rewritten, and if they aren't careful all of the future could be lost if the Carrionites win.

Heck, even recently with the whole Moon Egg episode.
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Oct 26, 2014
"Plot holes! For example: clearly the doctor knows humanity exists in the future, so why would he ever think it was going to be destroyed?"

How many times do you have to hear "time can be re-written" before it sinks in?
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Oct 26, 2014
But time wasn't being rewritten here, that's the problem.

If there's no outside intervention, there's a natural course to Earth's history. The Doctor can arrive and change it, outside of the fixed points... but he didn't change anything here. Everything that happened, had to be what originally happened, because the Doctor didn't change anything and there was no other outside intervention.

That means a) the story is pretty pointless because we know humanity will survive (the world's governments couldn't have gotten out enough defoilant in the little time we see to make a difference anyway), and b) the Doctor should know that humanity survives.
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Oct 27, 2014
In fact the doctor does nothing and humanity survives! Proof.
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Oct 26, 2014
In the equally appalling "kill the moon" he says all but a few moments are set in place.... either your theory above or that episode is at fault.
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Oct 26, 2014
No. The few moments are the fixed points, all the rest you can change. And the Doctor said it, if humanity dies now all the other futures will be rewritten. It's possible,
And the sonic screwdriver modifies gravity, it happened other times.
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Oct 27, 2014
Yeah it's a SONIC screwdriver. Sound is vibrations in the air which cannot influence gravity. Oh wait no, it's a "can do anything" magic want that they whip out when they can't think of any other way out of a situation.
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Oct 26, 2014
You have that backwards, he says most of time isn't set in stone but a few are.
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Oct 27, 2014
Ah ok point taken. However there must be future "set in stone" events which include humanity.
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Oct 26, 2014
Doctor Who stopped caring about science years ago, very sad to say. It used to pick at least some tiny point of scientific knowledge from which to launch its crazy ideas, which was at least somewhat thought-provoking, but now it's all just magic straight from Harry Potter or something. (Or whatever macabre corner of depravity brought us girlfriend face slurped into a paving stone by the sonic screwdriver, complete with in-episode reference to oral sex, for example.)

Good mention of the completely magic-based sonic screwdriver/tricorder/wand/etc.
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Oct 26, 2014
The thing is, they don't do the usual scifi thing of inventing new technologies etc, which is fine providing they follow their own internal logic (unfortunately doctor who rarely seems to do even this) but when it comes to spouting guff half the audience can see is nonsense ... you have to ask such question as:

  • Who do they think their audience is?
  • Would it really have required that much intelligence on the part of the writers to fix it?
  • and "How much coke gets snorted at Dr Who writers conferences?
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Oct 26, 2014
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Oct 26, 2014
Stop being so butthurt, you do know it's a tv show, right? It's supposed to entertain people (and don't forget the fact that it is a kids show after all), if it bothers someone then they stop watching it.
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Oct 27, 2014
If someone being butthurt bothers you to the point that you respond to them in a harsh manner, why don't you stop reading them?

Whatever reason you have, apply it to the OP as well and you'll understand where they're coming from.
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Oct 27, 2014
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Oct 26, 2014
This is such an asinine comment. The OP gave several reasons why the episode didn't entertain, just because something is "entertainment" doesn't give it carte blanche to upend its own foundation simply to play around. When you throw a lot of nonsense at the audience, especially in places where it had previously not done so, the audience will either think about it consciously, think about it subconsciously, actively try not to think about it, or be so weak that they'll let it wash over them entirely.

And childrens' programming shouldn't be considered dog food, it shouldn't be lower grade entertainment just because it's aimed towards kids, kids are smart and deserve to be given material that treats them as such, not just junk-food tv that treats them as a mentally-deficient commodity merely for not having as much knowledge and experience as adults.
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Oct 26, 2014
No it isn't for kids, the UK air time is 20:20 to 21:00. Hardly for 5 year olds. which is the mental age they seem to aim at. Besides who's butthurt? The people who openly and freely pick fault with it or the desperate whovians who try to stomp all over the unbelievers?
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Oct 27, 2014
I think one of the problems is that they haven't made up their mind about who they are aiming it at. It has adultish bits and 4 year old bits and it doesn't work.
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Oct 27, 2014
I agree about them having troubles with the target, as they try to be for everyone but in its origin, the DW idea, is a kid show. Now also adult friendly. I have more than 40 and I love it and so does other people I know, between 30 and 50 years.
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Oct 26, 2014
It is a show for kids and 20:00 or 21:00 is a perfect time for kids shows, or at least that is here. The shows for watch while you are having dinner.
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Oct 27, 2014
If by kids you mean young adults or older children then fair enough but I am pretty sure that at say 12 years old I'd have been able to see the faulty logic at play here. Also, since when did misinforming impressionable children like this do them any favours?
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Oct 27, 2014
@WildPict: I wasn't referring to dinner time in the UK, but dinner time in the U.S. In the U.S., it isn't aired during dinner time, but it is marketed in some part to U.S. audiences. That's why I referred to the U.S. and said "which isn't dinner there."
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Oct 26, 2014
@Gislef, 20:00 & 21:00 is military time for 8:00 & 9:00 pm, exactly the same time you mentioned. Dinner in Europe runs later than in the US.
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Oct 26, 2014
But they air it and to a certain degree market it to worldwide audiences now. In the U.S. for instance, it airs on 9/8 central, which isn't dinner there.
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Oct 26, 2014
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Oct 26, 2014
Fantastical premise. Implausible situation. Nice main character interactions. No actual action or plot. Nonsensical resolution. Nice quip about forgetful humanity.

Funny how these episodes so polarize reactions. This one even divides mine: almost-classic children's tale, pretty stale Doctor Who. Even the Missy segment is getting tired, the same old "yeah, I'm still watching, but I won't say why." Well, so are us fans, though we don't know why.

The season has been a random bunch of episodes with no running thread except for a disapproving Danny Pink. Clara's characterization can best be described as an addict, which is a terrible thing. She doesn't even prioritize the welfare of the students under her and Danny's charge. My biggest fear about the finale is that Moffat will pull something fetid out of his own butt and try to call it shiny.

Dōmo arigatō, Misshī Robotto, [Thank you very much, Missy Roboto]
Mata au hima de. [Until the day we meet again.]
Dōmo arigatō, Misshī Robotto,
Himitsu wo shiri tai. [I want to know your secret.]
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Oct 26, 2014
I'm wondering ... Maebh thought Clara had sent her a message, and when she denied it, she said the message was from "miss" ... could it have been ... Missy ? I get she's got some connection to Clara, which explains why the kid was confused, but why would she have wanted Maebh to find the Doctor ???
Anyway, the episode had an original premise, a great music score and some interesting interaction between Clara, the Doctor and Danny ( special mention to his sweet final words ) , but, as with all the episodes this year, it lacked something to be great.
But I'm sooooo pumped for next week ! "There has never been a Clara Oswald" : What. A. Tagline.
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Oct 26, 2014
It couldn't have been Missy who sent her, the rules of fiction (and these are only rules because they are parts of the way humans convey information, not because they're arbitrary) have Maebh being a latent psychic and drawing on thoughts that not even Clara is yet aware of; that is followed up on with scenes where Maebh addresses Clara directly as "Miss" (as is appropriate for schoolchildren there) and gets clear recognition out of it. It would be non-linear, and violating the creator-audience agreement, for the producers to retroactively alter that continuity down the road to claim that Maebh wasn't referring to Clara after all. In other words, they'd be pulling it out of their asses.
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Oct 26, 2014
So, Clara's subconscious sent Maebh to the Doctor ? I admit it's a far less convoluted explanation than mine as for why Clara denied sending the message. It seems Maebh had the message before Clara even knew about the trees, but hey, it could still work.
Anyway, I still can't understand how Maebh's powers, or the trees' intervention, explain the reappearance of the missing sister ... any idea ???
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Oct 26, 2014
Maebh's abilities seemed to include psychic abilities and either she has a premonition ability or her seeing the solar flare was communication from the trees through her psychic link to their firefly-like essences. She either picked up on Clara's current thoughts about the Doctor, or she picked up on future comments that Clara would eventually give her about the Doctor.

The trees' intervention made some level of sense, they were protecting the world just as they have before - that seemed pretty clear. The "how" of springing up so fast though, that's just vague.

The sister, I can't give you anything there, that was just a train wreck of utter nonsense. You can try to fill in the blanks there with a few ideas, but ultimately there's just not enough foundation to get you anywhere substantial.
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Oct 27, 2014
Oh, I had understood what the trees were doing, it's just the sister thing that confused me. But if you're as clueless as I am, it means I'm not, you know, dumb, but that this happy ending makes no sense. Oh well, fairy-tale logic I guess.
When a kid pointed out the trees had both flowers and nuts , I thought it was a clue ... but then it went nowhere. Weird, huh ? I smell a rewrite here ...
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Oct 26, 2014
This episode was brilliant! Much better than the one last week!
I loved the concept and the whole thing! It looked amazing! I love the plot and the main storyline. It was interesting and very tense to find out what is going to happen next! More of that kind of episodes please!
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Oct 27, 2014
ugh this episode was cheesy and terrible.. just the worst..
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Oct 27, 2014
Why? it had some humor in it and this right balance, some mystery and the fright. better than the previous one
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Oct 26, 2014
Great idea (forest in the city), good message (keep the trees alive) and a really boring episode. Nothing happened in it. The only funny thing was "the Doctor and human kids" theme.
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Oct 26, 2014
this season hasn't been the most exciting season yet, maybe it's because of the lack of major main story throughout the season, but i'm really excited to see the final two episodes because if i know Doctor Who and i think i do the entire season is gonna come together and no one will expect it and it will be awesome.
also please get rid of Clara and bring back Donna, she would fit so well with the new doctor.
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