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Doctor Who recap: 'Flatline'

A small complication turns Clara into the Doctor for a day.

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Doctor Who
Adrian Rogers/BBC

Doctor Who

TV Show
Sci-fi and Fantasy
run date:
Peter Capaldi, Pearl Mackie, Matt Lucas
BBC America
Current Status:
In Season

Jamie Mathieson should write more Doctor Who episodes. If any lesson is to be learned from last week’s “Mummy on the Orient Express” and this week’s “Flatline,” let it be that one. Following last week’s stellar episode, which has quickly become a fan favorite, the show delivers the second blow in its one-two combo of excellent episodes.

The cold open for the show is another X-Files-esque intro with a man frantically dialing for help before getting taken away by forces unseen. Unlike the mummy from last time, we do not get a clear glimpse of the monster of the week here. The Doctor is in the middle of dropping Clara back at home, and she is busy lying badly to the Doctor about Danny, when they both see that the TARDIS’ door is much smaller than usual.

The two exit with some difficulty and see that the TARDIS is half the size it usually is. This excites the Doctor so much that he turns into a kid who can’t find the right words because he finds himself at a complete loss as to how it happened. He recruits Clara into looking around while he pokes around the TARDIS for an answer.

We are introduced to the redshirts of the week: a community service crew tasked with cleaning up graffiti, led by someone who seems to be heavily inspired by Filch from the Harry Potter series. Clara examines a mural near the crew and attracts the attention of a young graffiti artist, Rigsy (Joivan Wade). Clara asks him about a mural under a bridge that depicts the backs of people and Rigsy explains that they’re portraits of people who went missing recently.

Clara goes back to the TARDIS only to find it big enough to fit inside her purse. Everything inside the TARDIS is still normal sized though, so the Doctor is trapped inside. What follows is one of the funniest visual gags in the show’s run as the Doctor poke his hand out from the tiny TARDIS and freaks out Clara with his gesturing. He hands her his sonic screwdriver, his psychic paper, and an earpiece that lets him hear and see everything she does.

Rigsy comes over and Clara, seizing the opportunity, introduces herself as “Doctor Oswald” much to the chagrin of the actual Doctor. Rigsy takes Clara to the apartment where she, and the Doctor by proxy, begin to poke around. Rigsy is thankful that somebody is finally helping out the missing people but is quickly freaked out by Clara’s seemingly insane ramblings, so she reveals the Doctor and the tiny TARDIS to Rigsy before all is lost. Something starts draining the TARDIS’ energy further therefore¬†the three hastily leave the apartment.

The three visit another apartment where someone has disappeared, with the aid of a police officer and the psychic paper billing Clara as MI5. While she and Rigsy poke around with a sledgehammer, the police officer is attacked and gets sucked into the floor. Rigsy and Clara come into the room following the officer’s screams but find no trace of her except for the flashlight. On the wall, the Doctor notices that what was ostensibly was a mural is in fact the circulation system of a person. Clara and Rigsy realize that the doorknob is flattened to the door, preventing their exit. And then they start seeing all the furniture around them flatten into the walls like paintings.

NEXT: A flat out escape out of a flat