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Flatline (Pic: BBC)
Flatline (Pic: BBC)
Flatline (Pic: BBC)

Danny thinks Clara has finished traveling in time, and the Doctor thinks Danny doesn’t mind Clara staying on. All will be well, providing the Doctor can return her to the exact space and moment she left from, every time. What could possibly go wrong?

A bearded man is making a nervous phone call. He knows who did it, but he’s worried about being overheard. And rightly so, as he suddenly vanishes, and then reappears as part of his own wallpaper. This time, the walls don’t just have ears, they have grabby hands too.

In another time and space, Clara is clearing her stuff out of the TARDIS, and the Doctor drops her back where he picked her up. Sort of. And then they notice the door has shrunk. The TARDIS is even smaller on the outside than it usually is, and they’re in Bristol.

The Doctor sends Clara to investigate the local area, while he investigates the inside of the TARDIS, and she comes across a team of graffiti artists painting over their best work as part of a community service order.

One of them, Rigsy, explains that the underpass mural Clara is examining is a kind of tribute, a shrine to several people from the local estate who have gone missing recently. As she goes back to the TARDIS to explain this to the Doctor, she realizes it is significantly smaller than is was when she left. This small, in fact:

So the Doctor is inside, in the bit that is bigger on the inside, and the bit that is smaller on the outside is even smaller, and there’s not enough power for him to take off. Clara tells Rigsy she’s the Doctor—she does have the sonic and the psychic paper, but not the coat—so Rigsy takes her to the flat of the last man to vanish, the nervous bearded man. Having explained that she’s got the Doctor in her ear, Clara sets about investigating and bickering at the same time, meanwhile Rigsy—fluorescent pudding brain, according to the Doctor—wonders if the man is still in the room somehow.

So he doesn’t get too weirded out, Clara introduces Rigsy to the tiny Doctor in his tiny TARDIS. It seems that being in the flat is draining energy from the TARDIS, so they leave, and attend the house of the first person to disappear. That’s when the Doctor suggests the creatures responsible are in the walls, and pokes a sledgehammer out of the TARDIS door. Meanwhile, the police officer investigating the disappearances finds herself sucked into the weave of the carpet, thereby becoming two-dimensional.

The Doctor notices that the mural on the wall is of a human nervous system, which matches the magnified human skin on the wall in the other flat. These are two-dimensional creatures experimenting on three-dimensional creatures. Then this happens:

In order to avoid a similar fate, Clara and Rigsy climb aboard a hanging chair, then swing it out of the window. Danny rings during the swinging and Clara fobs him off, but the Doctor realizes she’s lied to him about Danny being fine. Still, can’t deal with it right now.

As Clara and Rigsy go back to the underpass, the Doctor realizes that the mural is less a tribute and more a two-dimensional display of all of the missing people. A grumpy foreman called Fenton insists that one of the community service team start painting over the mural, and he too is converted. And the creatures are wearing their human converts like camouflage. They swarm towards the gang, who take refuge in a nearby train warehouse. Clara takes control, with the Doctor’s help, trying to communicate with the creatures in case they don’t know they’re hurting the people they attack.

Turns out they do, and they’re picking off the community service workers one by one, one number at a time. Including number 22, George. They run for the tunnels and discover all the exit doors have flat handles. The Doctor cooks up a device called a Two-dis, which should be able to restore flattened things to unflattened status. It’s flaky at best, and now the TARDIS is under attack again. Oh and so are the group, because the creatures are inhabiting three dimensional space now, in the bodies of the people they took, and they’ve got their enormous black hand on another community service worker.

Time to run, except in all the drama Fenton manages to make Clara drop the TARDIS down onto the train lines, and there’s a train coming. He doesn’t have enough power to move the TARDIS, and has to scooch it off the rails using his fingers through the tiny, tiny door, like a hermit crab. Which sort of works. Except the tiny TARDIS tips up, bashing the Doctor to one side, forcing him to put his trusty home into siege mode. He’s trapped in there, and there’s not enough power to turn it off.

Clara, Fenton and Rigsy climb down into the train tunnel, and flag the train down. Rigsy drives it towards the creatures in a selfless and suicidal gesture. Luckily Clara has a headband that can also drive the train, so she and he jump off, and the train becomes another mural. Running away, Clara spots a box on the tracks that must be the TARDIS, and tries to figure out what to do next.

She hatches a plan: Rigsy draws a door on the back of an old poster, and Clara places the TARDIS behind it. As the creatures advance—with sour comments from Fenton—the humans hide on the other side of the paper door. The creatures use their power to try and make the two-dimensional door three-dimensional, but that power passes through the poster and into the TARDIS. Suddenly the Doctor is full-sized again, and on full power.

He carefully points out that he tried to talk to them, to be reasonable, but they wanted to be monsters, so he will treat them as such. And with a dramatic gesture, he banishes them back to their flattened dimension.

For Clara, getting a compliment out of the Doctor proves to be nearly as hard as getting a smile out of Fenton, even if it means ignoring another call from Danny.

And then, there’s a strange moment from Missy (remember Missy?), who is watching Clara’s confusion with some satisfaction. What IS going on there…?

Next time: “In the Forest of the Night”

See more:
‘Doctor Who’ Recap: ‘Mummy on the Orient Express’
‘Doctor Who’ Recap: ‘Kill The Moon’
‘Doctor Who’ Recap: ‘The Caretaker’
‘Doctor Who’ Recap: ‘Time Heist’
‘Doctor Who’ Recap: ‘Listen’
‘Doctor Who’ Recap: ‘Robot of Sherwood’
‘Doctor Who’ Recap: ‘Into The Dalek’
‘Doctor Who’ Recap: ‘Deep Breath’

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By Fraser McAlpine