Matthew Welcome, once again, to The Companion Piece . Thank you, first of all, to Paul B for handling things so well last week – and proving, once and for all, that I’m entirely unnecessary for our Doctor Who discussions! But now I’m stepping back into the role of host, just in time to see Clara stepping into the role of Doctor!

Spoilers from this point on, so turn back now unless you’ve seen this week’s multi-dimensional episode – Flatline .

I feel like there’s loads to unpack this week, so what did people want to talk about first?

Paul Mini-TARDIS!
Matt K Honey I Shrunk The TARDIS! (Saw a poster online.)
Cookie That was cool, really liked how they had the TARDIS being vulnerable.
Paul It’s quite nice when some of their “equipment” fails.

Matthew I thought that was a great conceit. It’s smaller on the outside – it’s always smaller on the outside – so why not play with that.

And it led to all those great gags with the Doctor’s hand.

Cookie Yeah, loved the Addams Family reference with Thing. Quite nice that Clara had to have the idea as well.

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They already blew it up.

Paul The only problem with that sequence is that I don’t think Bristol has an underground…
Matthew Was it the underground, or was that just a train tunnel? Because the warehouse was above ground, I think…

Cookie The warehouse was above ground. They called the tunnel where the graffiti was “the subway”.

It has two meanings though. In Norfolk they have subways which are just tunnels underneath roundabouts – allowing you to cross under for safety.

Paul Yeah, we have those subways, but not with trains unless it’s actually the other kind of subway.

Matthew Weird. Why set the episode in Bristol if you know the story needs a subway?

Well, whichever kind of subway it was, it was still full of monsters. What did we make of those?

Matt K It was good to see the Doctor dealing with something from a different dimension. I don’t think the Doctor has much experience in that department.
Paul Very true. The entire concept and the storytelling did feel fresh.
Matthew We’ve seen other universes before, which is what people usually mean when they say “another dimension”, but this is one of the few times I’ve seen a sci-fi actually use the idea properly.

Paul Star Trek: The Next Generation had a similar idea.

Also DS9 , although those were 4 dimensions.

Matt K In the end did The Doctor call them “The Boneless”?
Matthew Ooh, maybe! Was it Boneless? I couldn’t tell what he said…
Cookie I think it was indeed the Boneless. An apt name I feel!

Matthew That scene, with the naming of the monsters, felt very David Tennant to me, with the Doctor talking himself up and laying down the law.

Protector of Earth, the Oncoming Storm, etc…

Matt K

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Not normally a good look for CGI.

Booted them right out of there!

So did it all start off with them trying to communicate then suddenly evolve into an invasion?

Paul I don’t think their intentions were actually revealed. Their form of language was probably totally incompatible with ours.
Cookie I think the Doctor was just hopeful they were trying to communicate – quite liked it when he said it would make a nice change.
Matt K Yeah, when the Doctor talked about communications that was a good laugh.

Matthew I think we aren’t meant to know the Boneless’ motives – they’re too alien to understand. But in the end that doesn’t matter because, as the Doctor said, he gave them a chance and they still acted like monsters.

Although, for creatures that didn’t understand any known form of communication, they seemed to have no trouble reading numbers written on jackets!

Matt K What if they had written words on the wall would that have worked?
Cookie Well they seemed to be using footprints at one point. Perhaps words were just too different for them to comprehend – even if they did seem to be able to link the word of the number with the sound of the word.
Matthew I liked the effects of the two worlds interacting – like the footprints, the people smeared along the wallpaper, and the sofa imploding into the floor.
Paul It did seem like at first it was a 2D perspective – only able to see the effects people have on the floors or walls.
Matthew Fun fact – that kind of trickery only works on TV, not in real life, ‘cos your eyes see two different images. Doesn’t stop it being damn cool though!
Matt K Definitely some good effects, loved how the Boneless began to take 3D forms of the people they absorbed.

Matthew Such a great effect.

I work as a 3D modeller, and normally when the results look like that it means you screwed up badly… but here it was perfect for them. So clever.

Cookie The effects were great this week, and this week’s monsters really gave me the heebie jeebies – definitely one of the strongest monsters this season.
Paul Definitely liked these “monsters”. Though still not sure if they’re actually malicious.

Matthew So that’s the monsters dealt with. What did we think of the other human characters this week?

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Rigsy: The Companion’s Companion.

Paul Liked the one guy, hated the other. Kind of how it was meant to be.

Although it was interesting to see someone who was too grumpy to be fooled by psychic paper.

Matt K We’ve seen glasses that cannot read psychic paper, but someone just not having an imagination – that’s a riot.

Cookie Yeah that was weird, but good to see even the paper is fallible.

Rigsy was quite an interesting character, would make a good addition to the TARDIS crew.

Matthew I liked that Rigsy had all the usual traits of a Companion, since Clara had to step into the role of Doctor this week. He was Clara’s Clara!
Paul There’s actually been quite a few potential companions this season. I’m not sure if they’re thinking about the future more or if they simply seem to write better…
Cookie Also really liked how Clara had to take charge and control.
Matt K I think this might be one of my favourite Clara episodes.
Cookie Definitely agree there, it really allowed her to shine.
Paul I did like the complexities of Clara taking charge, mocking the Doctor and generally taking the Doctor’s role.
Matthew It feels like this is the episode the series has been leading to, with Clara slowly becoming more and more Doctor-like, until even the Doctor starts noticing.
Cookie Pleased they kept the banter in there between the two of them though
Matthew Did she make a good Doctor, do we think? Or even an “exceptional” one?
Cookie She made an excellent Doctor, but then she has learnt from the best!

Matt K Yeah, I think Clara could be a Timelord herself.

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Clara’s future?

She did jump into the Doctor’s timeline though – I guess she’s been like this before.

Paul I think she stayed the kind of Doctor Capaldi is. Though when two Doctors meet, you do find the weirdness is amplified.
Cookie That’s true very true indeed.

Matthew That’s why the Doctor needs a companion, I think. If the person he’s travelling with is too similar, they never second-guess or call him out on stuff. He needs a foil, not a mirror.

Which is probably why Clara will have to leave.

Cookie Just as she’s getting interesting…

Paul I don’t think a simple walking away from the role would suit her though. I expect some sort of cataclysmic event where she has to sacrifice herself.

Either that or something to do with time. Maybe having to unravel her entire timeline or something.

Cookie Involving Missy!

Matthew That would make her the first Companion death since the show rebooted, and that would be a pretty brave move considering how great she’s turned out to be.

Have we considered the idea that Missy might be a good-guy? She is kinda saving people, after all…

Matt K Though we still don’t know what the purpose of this Paradise is, if it has a secret agenda.
Paul She’s part of an organisation taking people away.
Matthew And she was using an iPad at the end, I suppose, which makes her evil by default.
Cookie Oi!
Paul Yep. It’ll be quite a twist if she is a good guy. Err, gal.

Cookie She seems like a twisted Mary Poppins. Question is, why is she saving these particular people?

She’s obviously the one who gave Clara the Doctor’s number, too. The woman in the school.

Matthew Her fate is definitely intertwined with Clara’s somehow, we know that much.
Paul I think there’s still some mystery behind who Clara is…
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Missy’s past?

Matthew I’m not sure who she is matters so much as who she’s becoming .

Ooh, maybe Missy is a regenerated Clara and now I’ve gone cross-eyed…

Paul That would mean that Clara is a Gallifreyan. Which could be good, if she was placed on earth for protection and this was her first regeneration…
Matt K She may have become part Timelord.
Paul Would certainly make for a fantastic finale.

Matthew What Clara’s story highlighted for me this week is the whole “darker Doctor” thing.

Capaldi seems a bit less phased by death, but otherwise he’s not markedly different from the other three Doctors of recent years. But when Clara starts acting the way he does, we start to see that it is a little bit worrying and maybe even dangerous.

Paul Exactly. We trust the Doctor because we trust his knowledge and authority. But with Clara, we don’t quite trust that she knows what she’s doing.

But I suppose that’s all part of the Doctor’s façade.

Cookie It was a nice twist to see Capaldi getting worried by that as well.

But I think he’s certainly softening, not as callous as he was at the beginning of the season.

Paul I think it’s a more subtle difference now though. They’ve etched a new unique Doctor and now they’re concentrating more on the stories – which is better.
Matthew I totally agree. The writing this series has been top notch in almost every episode – even the ones I didn’t like!
Matt K The Doctor is certainly encountering some interesting challenges. They’ve certainly been bringing some good excitement for me.
Cookie It’s been going from strength to strength. Although the first few episodes were definitely weak in the narrative.
Matthew I think the first few were just trying to find a tone for the new series. They’ve definitely found it now, and these last two episodes have been basically perfect for me.

Paul I wouldn’t say perfect, but definitely enjoyable. And they make a certain kind of sense.

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Be honest – you want one of these.

It’s just a shame that some of the badness from the episodes come from their core – the basic ideas and premises.

Matthew In general, though, we all seem pretty positive about this one. So, what are our overall thoughts on Flatline ?

Cookie Great premise, loved the change of roles for Clara and the Doctor. Awesome monsters and just great TV. Awesome episode where everything seemed to fit into place.

It all seemed to just gel together to make one of the strongest stories so far this season.

Paul This episode felt good. They had an interesting concept, created a new and unique monster and developed the characters further than previous episodes. The one thing that is probably fairly apparent in the series though, is the focus on episodes set in the UK today. The next episode should at least prove interesting though.

I feel like tampering much more with the formula may revert things back to previous statuses, so I kind of hope that they keep up with the character development, a story that makes sense and the stakes remaining high.

Matt K Good to see Clara taking the role as The Doctor, and a very interesting foe.

Beautiful effects as well.

Matthew I really feel like Series Eight has hit its stride over the last couple of weeks. They’re hitting an ideal balance between fun, fast-paced adventures, and an undercurrent of serious drama. Great monsters, strong characters, and a role-reversal plot that managed to be both funny and a little bit disturbing.

The natural progression of Clara’s arc keeps surprising and impressing me, and I’m both excited and frightened to see where it’s leading. More than anything, this episode really drove home the whole idea of this series for me: they’re not making the Doctor darker – they’re showing how dark he’s always been.

What about you folks – did the Boneless give you the heebie jeebies? How much do you want a tiny TARDIS? And was Clara a “good” Doctor? Let us know via the comments, on Twitter , Facebook , Google+ , or by… actually that’s it. We can’t possibly comprehend any other forms of communication from your plane of existence.

The TARDIS stays in modern England next week – but we’ve never seen it like this before. London’s in a forest, Danny Pink is in a fairy tale, and the Doctor is back in that horrible sparkly jumper. Join The Companion Piece as the urban jungle turns literal In the Forest of the Night .