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Doctor Who – S8E9 – Flatline

Previously on Doctor Who, ‘Mummy on the Orient Express’

A man makes a desperate phone call saying they’ve been there this whole time, we’ve been so blind. He screams and falls… and he’s flattened into a part of the wall.

Clara’s collecting all her stuff from the TARDIS to cover about Danny saying he’s “territorial” as the Doctor’s attempts to the same time and same place…ish. When they land in Bristol, the TARDIS door is tiny on the wall, and the TARDIS itself is now about 5 feet tall. Clara heads off to figure out what’s up in the area while the Doctor investigates the TARDIS situation.


Half Tardis Doctor Who 8x09


Clara walks by a group of men on community service painting graffiti and finds a memorial, then a “mural” of people in the wall, facing away. When she returns to the TARDIS, it’s now 6 inches tall, and the Doctor is stuck inside. Something is leaching external dimensions. It’s pretty hilarious with his face and hands sticking out, and after she takes custody of the psychic paper, sonic screwdriver, and microphone earbud, she stuffs the TARDIS in her big purse. “Does this mean I’m you now?” she quips “Don’t you dare,” he replies. Naturally she introduces herself to a tagger from the work crew, Rigsy, as the Doctor. She uses the tiny TARDIS and the Doctor inside to convince him to stay and help her.

“You really do throw your companions into the deep end don’t you,” the Doctor calls from the tiny door. When Rigsy says the infamous line, “It’s bigger… on the inside,” the Doctor replies, “I don’t think that statement’s ever been more true.”

At the site of the next disappearance, Clara flashes the paper to a local cop who sees she’s MI5, and the Doctor is starting to believe it’s a shrink ray. In locked door mysteries, they’re either still in the room and/or in the walls, so Clara pulls a sledgehammer and starts in on a wall. Meanwhile a slinking clear pool reaches the cop and pulls her down into the floor screaming. Clara and Rigsy return only to find a mural on the wall… of her nervous system. The Doctor postulates that the aliens are trying to understand 3 dimensions. As the furniture slowly begins flattening all over the room, the pair leap into one of those swinging chairs hanging from the ceiling.

 Clara Rigsy Doctor Who 8x09


“What up, bitch,” Danny calls adorably awkwardly from the park where she’s missing brunch. She lies but he can hear the crashing and breaking, yelling to ask if she’s okay. She lies and lies and lies as the chair explodes out of the now entirely flattened room and hangs up. Gurl.

Mural Doctor Who 8x09


The Doctor busts her on lying to him about Danny, and then the earphone breaks as they return to the “mural.” She directs everyone away from the tunnel, but the disagreeable foreman, Fenton, can’t see the psychic paper due to his total lack of imagination. Talk about pudding brain. Slowly the paintings dribble off the wall onto a puddle in the ground. As they run, the Doctor pushes her to take control of the group. She tells Fenton she’s the one hope he’s got of living, and that seems to work.

The Doctor believes the graffiti originally was the creatures trying to communicate, then they moved to dissection, and maybe they don’t get that they’re killers. So she sonics the railroad speakers and they transmit Pi. The aliens speak back 55, the number on the jacket from one of the work crew that had been sucked into the mural. The next is 22, another man from the group. As they debate its meaning—their next target or communicate?—22 dissolves. Welp, solves that riddle.

Work Crew Doctor Who 8x09


Hiding in the subway, they find that door after door has been flattened. The Doctor hands out a device called a “Toodis” to restore the dimension, which he thinks hilarious, but it shorts out. They’ve changed frequency and are leaching from the TARDIS again. The next stage? 3-D. A giant hand grabs one of the men and full on bodies begin forming out of the ground.

“We’re in the bad news. We’re living the bad news,” Clara calls to the Doctor. All the deceased are now fritzing signals lurching down the subway towards them. Fenton has about had it and goes after the tiny TARDIS, which tumbles down a hole onto an active subway line, and a train is coming. In a terribly comic moment the Doctor pops out his hand, crawling the TARDIS out of the way like Thing from The Addams Family. 

Now in the deepest tunnel, they hear the dimensional buzzing once again, and another train is coming. Clara signals the conductor to stop. They discuss ramming it with the train on auto when Rigsy drives off, determined to die heroically. Instead, she sets the dead man switch up with her hairband and they jump away. But it flattens into the wall, and once again, the creatures crawl out of the ground.

The TARDIS has converted to siege mode, a tiny Gallifreyan box, with no life support. Brainstorming, Clara rolls out a large subway poster and tosses Rigsy the paint. Moments later she props the box against the wall and the creatures gather to blast open a door with energy.

Inside the darkened TARDIS, the Doctor gasps, “I don’t know if you’re still alive out there but you were good and you made a mighty fine Doctor.”

Rule number one of being the Doctor? Use your enemies’ power against them. The door, it seems was only a painting, and the energy from the creatures flows into the TARDIS, charging it; it returns to normal size and creates a force field to hold them at bay. The Doctor says he thinks they understand just fine, that they’re monsters, and since they’re determined to play that role, he will play his: the man that stops the monsters. He coolly blows out of the door and Clara tosses him the screwdriver. “This plane is protected, and I name you The Boneless!” he shouts as he sends them back to whence they came.

Back at the station, the men pile out of the TARDIS and say their goodbyes, ending with Rigsy. The Doctor congratulates him, “Your last painting was so good it saved the world. I can’t wait to see what you do next.” “It won’t be easy,” he replies bashfully, “I’ve got a hairband to live up to.”

Score | 7/10Clara heard the Doctor’s breathless thoughts about her being a good Doctor but he won’t really acknowledge it due to delirium. Hanging up on Danny yet again, she presses him to admit it. The Doctor finally concedes, “You were an exceptional Doctor, Clara. Goodness had nothing to do with it.”

Missy music. Missy watches through an iPad apparently set up through Clara’s phone. “Clara, my Clara. I have chosen well.”


About Sarah de Poer (199 Articles)
Eminently sensible by day, by night, she can be found watching questionable scifi, pinning all the things, rewriting lists, pantry snacking, and not sleeping. She was once banned over an argument about Starbuck and Apollo, and she has to go right now because someone is wrong on the Internet.

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