Flatline was anything but flat
Flatline was interesting, one of the marginalized or Doctorless episodes. Throughout most of the episode, The Doctor is trapped in the TARDIS, leaving Clara to do all the legwork. The plot imposed enough restrictions on what The Doctor could do that the outcome was genuinely in question at one point. The story itself is one of the more original I have seen, the primary monsters being two-dimensional beings The Doctor has never encountered before. Written by Jamie Mathieson, who also wrote last week’s Mummy on the Orient Express, and directed by Douglas Mackinnon who also directed Listen, and Time Heist, this combination of writing and directing served up an episode that is engaging, surprising, and visually exciting.
The TARDIS is stuck in Bristol due to an unidentified energy drain. The outside dimensions of the TARDIS shrunk, and Clara is sent to look around to find anything suspicious, while The Doctor runs some tests. When Clara returns, the TARDIS is toy sized with The Doctor inside, and power still being drained. The Doctor gives Clara an earpiece, the sonic, and his psychic paper, and she goes off to play doctor. This is Clara exerting more independence than we’ve seen for a long time now. It was a patronizing side of her character that we have not really seen. While The Doctor was stuck, he handled himself with a bit of tinkering and some of his logical reasoning that I personally love from Capaldil.
In the episode through the course of events, The Doctor realizes that Clara has lied to him about Danny knowing she is continuing to travel with him. We can be pretty sure the astute Danny has picked up on the same thing. The Doctor, this Doctor has now been forced to act in a manner he has not before, he has been close. In Deep Breath, he pushed physically or coerced the clockwork cyborg out of the escape balloon. In Into the Dalek, he tried to save a Dalek, and was devastated when it results in more death. In Robot of Sherwood The Doctor had no problem destroying a spaceship of robots when they refused to allow him to save them. In Listen there was no monster in the dark, In Time Heist he saved the last of a species. As The Caretaker, he only had to shut down an attack droid and Kill the Moon The Doctor stepped back and let humanity save the Moon. In Mummy on the Orient Express, he ended the “curse” of the mummy. Here, in Flatline, The Doctor came out after trying for peace and directly attacked the offending two-dimensional beings he named the Boneless. It was a fierce act of a god-like Doctor, and was chilling to see Capaldi step into those shoes.
Finally Missy is back, we still have no clue what role she has to play, but we do now know she can follow the actions of The Doctor and Clara, and she has some connection to Clara. With three episodes in this season left we are running short on time for revelations before events start unfolding, and I can’t wait.