In case you’re wondering, nope, I still don’t like Clara. I’m still mad at her for her little stunt after the train last week. This week’s episode, “Flatline,” gives us a new critter to be terrified of, finally (yes, Whovians, now we can’t touch the walls or the floor in addition to not blinking, not breathing, and putting hash marks on our arms!), we’re treated to some of the most stunning imagery we’ve seen from Doctor Who in a while, and we get a lesson in Tardis mechanics and geometry. Also, we’re granted yet one more tiny tidbit of information in The Great Missy Mystery, as she finally reappears after two weeks of no-shows. Of course, it leaves us with even more questions about her identity and intentions, but we’ll get to that in a moment.
In the words of Eleven, “Geronimo!” as we jump into the part of the article that contains spoilers!
The episode opens with the Doctor trying to deliver Clara on time for a date with Danny Pink, but he seems to have missed the mark and landed them 120Km away in Bristol, and the Tardis door is looking a little wonky. It’s smaller on the outside… more so than normal. The Tardis is now half scale. Clara and the Doctor exit, theorize they’ve fallen victim to some sort of shrink ray, and Clara heads off to explore the area while the Doctor tries to figure out how to fix the exterior dimensions from inside the Tardis. However, the Tardis continues to shrink and the Doctor is now trapped inside. Clara puts the tiny Tardis in her purse (while those of us at home keep hoping such a thing is available for sale soon because who wouldn’t want to carry around a Tardis?).
Clara comes upon a teenage boy doing community service to cover up the graffiti he has painted, near a tunnel featuring a mural of locals who have recently disappeared. With the Sonic out and her cell phone connected to the Tardis, Clara introduces herself as the Doctor (which, of course, the Doctor himself does not find amusing) and asks about any odd happenings. The boy takes her to an apartment from which a man has completely disappeared with all exits locked from the inside. Clara introduces the boy to the Doctor in her purse, and the Doctor is none too impressed with the youth. When they are caught snooping, Clara uses the psychic paper to convince local law enforcement she’s from MI5. But the constable disappears too, screaming. They notice the floor rippling, and the couch flattens itself onto the wall. Clara and the boy manage to escape out of a window while Clara convinces Danny via phone that she’s just held up and is perfectly safe.
When they arrive back at the tunnel featuring the people paintings, Clara quickly realizes that the paintings are anything but and are actually the people themselves, flattened into the wall. She convinces the other workers of their imminent danger when the murals start to come after them. The Doctor is sure it is some sort of misunderstanding. This is a new race from another universe with which neither he nor the Tardis has ever had contact, and the new universe exists only in two dimensions. Perhaps they are just stealing people to try to understand them.
Clara and the crew are chased into a subway tunnel, where the new race of critters is learning about the third dimension in rapid form, leeching energy from the tiny Tardis in Clara’s purse to attempt to live in 3D and give chase. The Doctor is forced to send the Tardis into seige mode, which locks it down into a tiny cube, from which the Tardis does not have enough energy to change back. Life support is failing. Clara must not only save the crew and the teenage boy she is with, but must figure out a way to recharge the Tardis to save the Doctor. She has the teen draw a door for the flattened people to try to turn 3D, using their energy to recharge the Tardis to full size. The Doctor emerges and sends the flattened race back to their own universe. Clara has learned what it is like to be the Doctor, having to make life and death decisions for others, and the Doctor concedes that she has been an effective Doctor, but “goodness has nothing to do with it.” The Doctor has also realized that Clara has lied to him about Danny being totally fine with her traveling with him, another trait he claims makes him who he is.
Finally, when everyone is home safe and sound, we get another glimpse of Mysterious Missy, watching Clara on a tablet and claiming she has chosen well. “My Clara”, she calls her, leaving fans more puzzled than we’ve been all season. Does she have it out for Clara? Is she another form of Clara in the time stream? Who is this woman and what does she want?! When will we ever find out?!