Is it just me or did this feel like a throwaway episode?
So much of what the show gave us this week felt like a weak retread of themes and ideas we’ve already explored this season. It seemed like Moffat and Co. were just in autopilot as they coasted their way to the finale.
The overall plot felt very similar to “Kill the Moon.” Both episodes had mankind acting rashly out of fear and desperation, only to ultimately realize that if they just sat back and did nothing, the universe would protect them. The threat was no threat at all and the right course is to just passively watch the disaster happen.
On top of that, we got more of the Clara, Danny and the Doctor triangle. Danny continued to be pure and wonderful as Clara needlessly hid from him the fact that she is still traveling with the Doctor and the Doctor continued to dislike Danny for no real reason.
The only person who looks good in the triangle is Danny, which I’m not sure is what the writers are hoping for. (Unless this is all some sort of brilliant long con where Danny is going to turn out to be a sleeper cell enemy who is only getting close to Clara in order to bring down her and the Doctor, but I doubt that is what they have in mind.)
We also got more precocious kids, including one who is in tune with the universe but dismissed because she’s a kid, which again is something this show has explored a number of times.
It probably didn’t help that our “enemies” this week were a bunch of trees and a solar flare, which aren’t terribly compelling foes. (It’s hard to make sentient trees interesting. Sure, the Lord of the Rings was able to do it, but you are much more likely to get something like The Happening.) There were some escaped zoo animals thrown in to help things a bit, but overall the Monster of the Week was basically a bust.
We also got another glimpse of the season’s overarcing villain, but once again it was a vignette that didn’t really enhance her storyline. She’s watching the Doctor, she somehow plans to use Clara and she has anyone who dies ending up in “Paradise.” That’s all we know at this point, though I imagine we will be finding out more very soon.
I sort of enjoyed the Doctor talking about why the forest is part of humanity’s collective fears and the center of so many stories. And it wasn’t lost on me that we had a little girl in a red hooded jacket being chased by wolves. But I would have liked more of that. The title of the episode itself is a reference to one of my favorite poems – “The Tyger” by William Blake. I would have enjoyed the show really delving into myths and legends about how scary the forest and nature can be, but it seemed to ultimately just be window dressing.
I don’t know what else to say about the episode that isn’t just me pummeling and nitpicking it. Obviously, it wasn’t my favorite episode this season and to me it felt like filler. Perhaps your mileage varied.
I do think that Peter Capaldi has really settled into the role and I’m fully on-board with his version of the Doctor. I am also intrigued to see where this season is headed. But after two really solid back-to-back adventures, this one just fell flat for me.
Written by Joel Murphy. If you enjoy his recaps, he also writes a weekly pop culture column called Murphy’s Law, which you can find here. Follow Joel on Twitter @FreeMisterClark or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.