With just an episode away from the two part finale we’re left with “In the Forest of the Night,” a filler episode with little in terms of substance.

SPOILERS AHEAD

It’s clear at this point in series 8 that Doctor Who is now more fantasy than sci-fi. It’s not a huge deal, but it should be acknowledged. I know the show was never grounded in any sort of hard scientific fact or theory, but there was always a lot of rambling about science type things, even if they were made up it still fit the theme. Now we get forests growing overnight to save the Earth from solar flares and other such natural disasters. If I didn’t know better I’d almost think I stumbled into Once Upon a Time. But if the writing is good this shouldn’t matter. Except the writing wasn’t good.

Basically, the story goes when the Earth is facing a natural disaster, trees grow in larger quantities to stop the Earth from being destroyed. This means pumping more oxygen into the atmosphere so things such as solar flares will burn up before being able to reach the Earth’s surface. This is all well and good really, except nothing else was.

For starters, Clara and Danny have one of the most forced relationships I ever saw. We’re meant to believe they are madly in love. Nothing can tear them apart. They’re soul mates. All that good stuff. But when Danny is on screen there’s barely any indication they’ve been on a date (other than showing us Clara going on a date a few episodes back).

Told you, she is Little Red Riding Hood. And he's a mad man with a box. And together this feels like it should fit in series 5.

Told you, she is Little Red Riding Hood. And he’s a mad man with a box. And together this feels like it should fit in series 5.

Literally every time Danny makes an appearance he either tells Clara to tell him the truth, not to lie to him, he’s not stupid, and to think about what he said and talk to him about it at a later date. He acts more like a watered down Jiminy Cricket than an actual human. We learned a while ago he was a soldier. This comes up again when he goes on about how being a soldier made him appreciate the little things back home and how one person can change your life (aka him hitting on Clara). Except that has grown stale. I wanted to care about his past when he was first introduced and made some remarks about what he did in the war that he regrets, but since then it’s just been inspirational quotes to Clara.

So maybe Clara developed some as a character? The answer again is no. I don’t know what she did in the episode, but it felt like a lot of whining. She basically tried to copy what Danny was doing, ensuring the safety of the kids (inbetween inspirational quotes that is) on their field trip as Clara wanted to figure out what was going on with the trees. Eventually she tries to get the Doctor to leave, because he says this is a time changing moment and the futures they traveled to will no longer happen. Instead of trying to figure out what to do, Clara uncharacteristically gives up and tries to get the Doctor to just leave and forget about everyone on Earth. It didn’t make much sense at all. She just went to tend to the kids with Danny, because Danny was doing it so she did whatever he was doing, because they’re in love, apparently.

But wait, this is Doctor Who, so what about the Doctor? Well, again, not much was going on with him. He had a TARDIS full of kids (why does series 8 have so many kids tagging along in the TARDIS, they’re always unbearably annoying) and had to save the Earth or so he thought but then thought he couldn’t and then was thrown off Earth by Clara. It was kind of cool how the first kid he met was Maebh (cool name) and she could act as a vessel for the Earth (I think the Earth or maybe the trees) to communicate through and attempt to explain the purpose of the trees coming out of nowhere. She’s also Little Red Riding Hood. No, really, she is. She’s chased by wolves and the whole episode for some reason talks about trees and their relation to fairy tales.

Back to the Doctor. He eventually realizes the purpose of the trees, comes back after Clara made him go, and takes Clara, Danny, and the kids back to the TARDIS to explain what’s going on. The Doctor is actually written a little oddly this time around. He starts off feeling kind of like Matt Smith’s Doctor. By this I mean he’s all hyped up and running all around the TARDIS, which feels odd for this Doctor. Other than that some of his dialogue felt too out there, in the sense they wrote it so he was incompetent talking to humans. Sure, he’s more alien this time around, but even his more alien versions knew how to hold a basic conversation. But other than some minor moments with these issues, the rest were good with him and no issues there.

They should make a blog of hers for us to follow

They should make a blog of hers for us to follow.

Also worth noting, Missy showed up again. This time using a computer screen (with the screen maker’s company name nowhere to be seen, so better than the iPad mess last week) to spy on the Doctor and Clara. I think she should ignore the Doctor and have an epic mash-up with Sherlock and Moriarty. But as is we will see more of her next week as the two part finale kicks off.

So, what do I have to say about “In the Forest of the Night?” It was filler of the most vanilla kind. Nothing exciting happened. There were barely any fun, witty, or sarcastic lines from the Doctor. There’s a forced relationship. There wasn’t really any sort of real threat. Even if the Doctor didn’t figure out what was going on the Earth would still have been saved (I know the governments of Earth wanted to lay chemicals to kill the trees, but the trees resisted fire [magic trees I suspect] so I doubt some poison would kill them). There were a bunch of annoying kids. Danny is a walking set of inspirational posters you see scattered on the walls of a classroom (I know what Clara’s getting him for Christmas). And Missy is catching up on the latest episode of Doctor Who.

Yes, it is filler. I just don’t get why a show like Doctor Who, with just 12 episodes, has boring filler. There are 22 episode seasons of other shows I have watched that contain no filler and other shows with Doctor Who length seasons that have no filler and can create believable relationships. But rant over, I have greatly enjoyed the majority of series 8 up to this point, so overall I have been really into the show this year and am glad it has gotten substantially better than series 7.

Next week kicks off the two part finale, with “Dark Water.” The trailer lets us know Clara isn’t really Clara, because being the impossible girl isn’t enough, who knew? But I will have a full trailer breakdown soon enough, for now here’s what the BBC has given us so far:

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