In the Forest of the Night

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    Craig @craig


    Another great episode, written by Frank Cottrell Boyce of ‘Coronation Street’, ‘Welcome to Sarajevo’, ’24 Hour Party People’, ‘A Cock and Bull Story’ and ‘The London Olympics opening ceremony’ fame.

    In 2012 he told The Guardian “I’m definitely a children’s writer… that’s what I want to be.” And a magical children’s story is what we get when we meet Maebh, played by Abigail Eames.

    London is covered in trees. In fact, the whole planet is covered in greenery and foliage. Everywhere a forest has grown overnight and taken back the Earth.

    The trees have turned against us and it doesn’t take the Doctor long to discover that the final days of humanity have arrived.

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip

    Just to remind everyone that any comment on the ‘Coming Soon’ trailer at the end of the episode belongs in the Trailers Blog until Episode 11 is broadcast.

    Devilishrobby @devilishrobby

    Oh boy what an episode I have just finished watching the episode and the words jaw dropping come to mind especially the end but I think that could be classed as as a grand scale spoiler.

    BadWulf @badwulf

    Well – that was certainly a fun episode, if a little lightweight!

    The story was interesting, and the awful science wasn’t as egregious as in Kill the Moon, although it was still pretty terrible. I have no problem with magic forests, but magic forests that increase the O2 level to reduce the inflammability of something need to go back and study their chemistry lessons!

    The child actors were surprisingly good – Maeve in particular had some great reactions to the wolves!

    I much preferred Danny this week – he was written in a way that revealed much more gentleness and acceptance than I’d seen previously – he didn’t seem controlling, and I think that was due to the script being tighter, although it might be cleverer than that, and we as the audience are supposed to be more trusting of Danny because Clara is.

    In conclusion, I’m going to give it 3 out of 5.

    Looking forward to next week – as the preview was explosive! (please keep the discussion of the preview out of the discussion of this episode, though!)




    as as a grand scale spoiler

    I rather doubt that, but a discussion for another place.

    The Krynoid Man @thekrynoidman

    That was dreadful.


    I rather enjoyed it, despite a splendidly bass ackwards grasp of the role of oxygen (but the little shiny things of protection probably had that covered).

    Not a big fan of the “returning sister” grace note, but an entertaining spacer in advance to the main event.

    Also “I didn’t try all that hard to stay alive”.

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip


    Yes, it seems to be a bit of a ‘Marmite’ episode. I really enjoyed it myself; it fits nicely into the theme of our myths and fairytales being based on truths we prefer not to remember.

    Or prefer not to believe, because we want to be hard headed and cynical and not to remember that the world is full of magic.

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip


    Also “I didn’t try all that hard to stay alive”.

    … and he probably didn’t. 😈



    I wonder if that is actually the key mis-direct.

    Perhaps Clara is already dead (as with many a Claricle), but no-one’s told her.

    Juniperfish @juniperfish

    Not my favourite of the scripts so far, even though I am a great lover of trees and generally forgive all sentimentality about them.  Who doesn’t want to be protected by a great tree spirit?

    The title was promising, but the awe of Tyger, Tyger was somewhat missing. I would have preferred more shadowy wolves, tigers and panthers for a start, rather than the full-on furry beasties we got – shadows being more frightening than solid shapes.

    Of course Blake’s poem is about the majesty of the creator, and this was a eco-fable about the majesty of forests; one where the Doctor was a wizard who knew to listen to children rather than medicate them.

    Whilst a little heavy handed in the delivery of its moral lessons, there were some highlights. The exchange between the Doctor and Clara at the ivy-covered TARDIS door being my favourite. Capaldi’s blink when Clara said she didn’t want to be the last of her kind broke my heart with the flick of an eyelid. The man can act.

    Missy seems to have been thrown by the outcome, but in what way? Was it Clara’s heroic decision to save the Doctor and then die with Mr. Pink and the kids which surprised her? Is Clara performing “outside parameters”?

    The nod to Little Red Riding Hood was a pleasure.





    Devilishrobby @devilishrobby

    @badwulf Danny has grown on me though I am beginning to suspect he may have been SM’s way of trawling a big red herring to distract us from the true change in Clara through the series, by creating in essence that some fans have to what I call the smushy stuff or as some have called it the soap opera element

    As for the “bad” science in this episode and infact throughoutn the series that various members have commented on, this is Dr Who we are talking about and it is what I call science fantasy. If it were a book series it might even get classified as urban fantasy. For this reason in my personal opinion it can be forgiven for straying from factual science.

    The Krynoid Man @thekrynoidman

    To me it just came off as a bit of a parody rather than a proper episode. Obviously, there’s comedy in the show, but I think they just went a little bit overboard on this one. For example, the stuff with the kids felt like something out of a bad Cbbc sitcom.
    Also the science didn’t seem to make any sense whatsoever. Obviously it’s science fiction so it doesn’t have to be 100% realistic, but there wasn’t any sort of explanation as to how it all worked. Even if the explanation was rubbish, at least they would have explained it.
    I also felt that the ending was also an anti-climax since the problem seemed to just resolve itself and The Doctor didn’t seem to do all that much.
    One positive thing is that Clara and Danny’s relationship stuff took a backseat to the plot. I’ve never found them or their relationship to be particularly interesting, so I’m glad it wasn’t as prominent as it was in previous episodes.

    I give it a 3 out of 10. It’s a shame since I quite liked the last two episodes.

    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord

    I really want to watch that again. Initially there was a sense of disappointment, because – has there ever been an episode without that much obvious menace? I possibly felt like Philip Hinchliffe being delivered the first draft of Deadly Assassin (where the Master wasn’t a Monster) – “All this politics is all well and good, Bob, but where the hell are the scares? Where’s the Monster?!”

    The monster, that isn’t really a monster, is Nature of course, which we all have a difficult relationship with. We all love it, but apparently we can’t wait to get away from it to live amongst tube stations, cappuccinos and statues that may be weeping angels. 😉

    I think the really interesting things are the links to the ongoing story. People who aren’t particularly interested in that are really not going to like this episode, but the evolution in the characters in the key – the revelations about lies, deceit and adventures in the Tardis. Loved some of the exchanges in the TARDIS with the kids. Especially them all suddenly wanting their mum on being offered a ring-side seat at a once in a lifetime stellar event. Yes – my nieces and nephew could get a bit weepy after a long day out too.

    Just to add to my thoughts on Missy being an actual Death – in Terry Pratchetts Reaper Man, Death being distracted and not foing his job gives an unusual opening for life. Things really begin to get fecund in a big way. Also – just on the Tarot cards front, I think we now have card images for The Sun (19) and The Earth (which is often represented by a tree and its roots) (21).

    And it seems the lost (and perhaps dead), are starting to return. Just in time for an annual event.

    Time to carve out that pumkin head? You know it makes sense.

    BadWulf @badwulf

    @thekrynoidman I also felt that the ending was also an anti-climax since the problem seemed to just resolve itself and The Doctor didn’t seem to do all that much.

    I’m not so sure. The Doctor’s intervention was to prevent humanity using the defoliants that would have stripped the Earth of its magical tree protection.

    The Krynoid Man @thekrynoidman

    @phaseshift That’s an interesting theory about Missy, I don’t think that’s what the big reveal about her is going to be though.

    The Krynoid Man @thekrynoidman

    @badwulf True, but that was resolved pretty quickly.

    BadWulf @badwulf

    @devilishrobby Agreed re: Danny as red herring – that would be typical Moff sleight of, erm, character.

    Regarding the science – I understand the need for suspension of disbelief, but it can do real harm to a story if the science is done poorly when it is unnecessary to the story. Here, the magic trees made oxygen, which apparently protected the Earth from solar radiation. By reducing the combustibility of the atmosphere. Which is very very silly, but it is done by *magic trees*, so it gets a pass from me. The reason for this is I think that the writer wanted to get across the message of “Trees are good. Trees make oxygen. Magic trees use oxygen to save us. We should therefore be thankful to trees”. I’m OK with that, even though it didn’t make a blind bit of sense, because it struck me as if the writer had tried to think it through, but had unfortunately come to a silly conclusion!

    This differs from Kill the Moon, in which the science was offensively bad, and for no good reason other than the writer was too lazy to think about the science at all, and tried to distract us with technobabble.

    Imagine if we consider geography instead of science. If a writer tells us that a protagonist in a hurry travelled from Warsaw to Krakow via Posnan, we may not worry about it because we are ignorant of Polish geography. If the same writer tells us that the same hurrying character goes from Cardiff to London via Aberdeen, then we start beginning to think the writer has done a critical research failure. Even if the story is a fantasy, that would appear stupid to us. However, if the writer introduces, say, a magic door network that somehow means that going via Aberdeen is a shortcut, then the author has introduced a plausible reason for the route.

    BadWulf @badwulf

    @thekrynoidman True, but that was resolved pretty quickly.

    A quick resolution does not necessarily mean an automatic resolution – the Doctor still needed to intervene. I can see your point about the anticlimax, though!

    I was sufficiently bought into the smaller story of resolving Maeve’s problems to not care overmuch about the world threat. One thing that I wish AG Who would do is to dial back the Earth/Humanity/Universe/Reality destroying threats. A young woman alone and terrified by living statues is a far more compelling story than yet another fleet of Daleks getting into position to be zapped by a flick of the sonic screwdriver.

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip


    Here, the magic trees made oxygen, which apparently protected the Earth from solar radiation.

    In fairness to the writer, the magic trees had the ability to produce or withhold oxygen. The Doctor, in fact, said they were withholding oxygen, that was what made them fireproof – you can’t have fire without oxygen. I think Boyce had some vague idea that the magic trees basically reversed the gas exchange and exhaled a cloud of CO2 (presumably with enough oxygen for us on the ground to keep breathing).

    The atmosphere is basically what protects us from solar flares and Coronal Mass Ejections, so suddenly expanding it could plausibly act as an extra security blanket. Not in real science, of course, but plausibly enough for a story.

    BadWulf @badwulf

    Re: Danny Pink

    @bluesqueakpip … and he probably didn’t. :twisted:

    That would fit in to the bonkers arc we have been theorizing for him.

    Still, today I found Danny in a much more mellow, yet “with it” mode. He seemed less like a restless ghost with unresolved issues in his past, and more like a man who has made his peace, and is now just trying to do some good in the world.

    Almost as if there was a PTSD Danny, and a recovered Danny from later on in his timestream…

    BadWulf @badwulf

    @bluesqueakpip In fairness to the writer, the magic trees had the ability to produce or withhold oxygen. The Doctor, in fact, said they were withholding oxygen, that was what made them fireproof – you can’t have fire without oxygen. I think Boyce had some vague idea that the magic trees basically reversed the gas exchange and exhaled a cloud of CO2 (presumably with enough oxygen for us on the ground to keep breathing).

    The atmosphere is basically what protects us from solar flares and Coronal Mass Ejections, so suddenly expanding it could plausibly act as an extra security blanket. Not in real science, of course, but plausibly enough for a story.

    Agreed – and this is why I am much less inclined to care about the bad science here than in Kill the Moon – it looks like the writer tried to come up with something plausible, and either made a mistake or took it too far (hey, even ozone, which protects us from solar radiation, is a form of oxygen!). This writer didn’t rely on “Awww – wook, a wuvwy spwace bwaby” to distract us away from the stupid. This writer tried!

    Kill the Moon shall not be forgiven. Ever. Ever! (stamps foot)

    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord

    As far as the science goes – it’s exaggerated, but the points are very, very real. Deforestation directly reduces the biosphere’s capacity to absorb, reflect and convert heat. If you want to survive a devastating blast, the inside of a forest is where you want to be – plant tissue can act as a highly efficient absorbent – the Tunguska reference was well made. If that air burst event hadn’t happened where it did, and all those trees were not around to take the blast, the radius could have been far wider.

    Direct radiation itself is absorbed in a number of ways by the gaseous atmosphere. In particular, the reason that Oxygen (O2) is converted to the highly energised Ozone (O3) is through the direct interaction with specific wavelengths of energy from the sun in the upper atmosphere. The Ozone layer then protects us from other wavelengths in the UV range which are destructive to most forms of life, including plants on prolonged exposure (in particular it oxidises soil).

    I can’t particularly fault the message of this one. Trees are about the most useful thing on the planet.

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip


    One thing I just noticed on the rewatch

    Clara: Danny Pink will never leave those kids as long as he is breathing.

    Yet another reference to people dying…

    Spider @spider

    Overall, have to say although i did enjoy a lot of elements of that it was mostly very disappointing. Not with the Characters/Actors, who were great, or the story which was good… but there was something just very MEH about the whole package for me. Now, that is on first watch, will have to see it again. But i think it was in a lot of places one of the weakest episodes we’ve had this series IMO.

    I just think tone wise this should have maybe been ep 3, with Robot of Sherwood taking its place in the running order. I dunno? Maybe in that case i would be criticising the exact opposite XD

    What I think is the most telling thing for me is that I have watched the ‘next time’ trailer about a  billion times by now (and not saying anything about it here cos obviously spoilers), but i am completely hooked on that and really then have little interest in watching tonight’s episode again/and…and that’s very different to every other episode this series when my first reaction is i want to watch that episode again.


    Spider @spider

    Oh and another thing i forgot to say, the girl sister of child-i-have-forgotten-name-of who appears from the bushes in a haze of golden flashes and gives a lovely smile? My immediate thought was ‘future companion’ 😀

    BadWulf @badwulf

    @spider – has the disappointment affected your spider-signature?

    Oh and another thing i forgot to say, the girl sister of child-i-have-forgotten-name-of who appears from the bushes in a haze of golden flashes and gives a lovely smile? My immediate thought was ‘future companion’ :D

    I thought – “Hmm, this is someone who has returned from the dead…”

    Serahni @serahni

    I actually enjoyed this.  Given that we are almost at the end of the season, I will say that overall I think I’m going to wind up with mixed feelings about Capaldi’s first run but I certainly haven’t hated it.  I do feel a bit sorry for this episode now though because, despite finding it quite a fun watch, the spoiler for next week blew it completely out of the water and now I just want next weekend to be here already. *lol*

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip

    @spider and @badwulf – agreed. On a rewatch it was very definite that the glowy thingys had brought her back – possibly from where she’d run away to, but very possibly back from the dead.

    Incidentally, was that Michael Sheen (the voice of House) doing an uncredited voice over as the voice of the trees? Which would be another little shout out to ‘bubble universe’.

    BadWulf @badwulf

    @phaseshift I can’t particularly fault the message of this one. Trees are about the most useful thing on the planet.

    Agreed – it made the story much more palatable than “risk the entire human race on the off chance a spacebaby is harmless”.

    As far as the science goes – it’s exaggerated, but the points are very, very real. Deforestation directly reduces the biosphere’s capacity to absorb, reflect and convert heat. If you want to survive a devastating blast, the inside of a forest is where you want to be – plant tissue can act as a highly efficient absorbent – the Tunguska reference was well made. If that air burst event hadn’t happened where it did, and all those trees were not around to take the blast, the radius could have been far wider.

    I’ve seen photos of the Tunguska aftermath, it is sobering. They remind me of when I visited Mt. St. Helens with Ms BadWulf on our honeymoon. It was the eeriest place I’d ever been, surrounded by endless miles of tree trunks flat on the ground, still plain after more than 30 years.


    Anonymous @

    @phaseshift I have to agree with you. Bro Ilion is a geologist. Whilst he hasn’t seen most of Who due to commitments, I was with him today and we watched the episode early. His take on the science was that it wasn’t impossible at all (not the overnight forest) as the reason for, and consequence of, the trees assisting a ‘stressful day on earth’ (as he put it) was well put together for a quick tale.

    As for others! People! I’m amazed that you’d be ‘meh’ or totally disappointed or believe this ‘was dreadful’. I didn’t think it was ‘lite’ at all. The story was a terrific backdrop to relationships -as mentioned by others above. It was proper scary -not the wolves and that magnificent tiger but the way the Doctor ‘coped’ with children and recognised how the relationship between Clara and Danny is progressing across its fault lines.

    Ultimately, children know when someone’s handling them and the Doctor tried not to. He lets children speak. The issue of Danny’s relationship with Clara, the endless lying, the revleations about the consequences of any actions (both our fragile ecological relationship and our attitudes to each other, our addictions and needs) and how they spread like a virus together with the fairy tales of the little girl(s) lost and their happy ending IS the stuff of life.

    It doesn’t always have to be sublime; life is a phenomenon and in this we saw serious people making decisions about how to ‘deal’. It’s not always pretty: there are fights and cosmological disturbances, there are bullies and selfies, there’s medication and people bitchin’ about their neighbours.

    It made me stop and think. I liked that a lot.

    In a way, it was more thought provoking than an episode that is ‘monster only’ or ‘fantasyPlus’. It was drama at its best in 45 minutes with an amazing backdrop. I teach children from ages 14 to 25 -yes, people are still kids at 25 (no, don’t start raging at me) but it was my brother who used to say “sis, I tell ya, with my kids, it was difficult dealing with them until they were about 26. After that, we could have proper conversations-back and forths, which accommodated all of us.”

    I see this in the classroom and lecture halls. His idea is pessimistic, of course, but the adult in us often doesn’t appear until later and then we think before discounting something outright: “this was dreadful”. Here the Doctor and the writer remind us how children can be totally odd ball and intriguing.

    I saw the Doctor’s essential belief about children solidify. I liked him taking Clara’s place as teacher whilst the kids sat, quiet and well behaved, on the TARDIS’ stairs. How magical to have a TARDIS filled with madly running and excitable children who sit and listen but want their mums! I’m one of the few who doesn’t see this as nightmare but rather a whole heap of fun. As @bluesqueakpip stated “…the world is full of magic…”

    Missy probably said more words in this episode than she’s said in a while? So, by being “surprised”, this suggests she’s not a super controller and the Earth is not her plaything. I like the fact she’s ‘somewhere else’  -maybe in space? Or is that what she saw thru some ‘eye hack’ that people mentioned in flatline?

    Some great lines for me:

    “not a torch bright like a supernova” (I’m paraphrasing!)

    you people you never listen, you chop things down to build things up (totally paraphrasing. Riffin’ really!)

    “I should have been relieved by now. There’s a way to do this…” (the elderly night museum supervisor).

    OK, so my memory has left me but there were great lines written for the kids: “he’s dark phobic” and then the children saying it like it is: “he’s scared of the dark”. The Doctor would typically be whispering: “don’t listen to them, you’re right. There are things in the dark which are bad: shadows and that thing in the corner of your eye, footsteps you hear that never pass by”. etc.

    I’m interested in the museum idea. How 11 took Amy to see a museum from which things escalated fairly fast. Then in The Big Bang  stuffed animals and other displays start to disappear as time devours itself….

    Kindest, purofilion

    Anonymous @

    well I spent an hour posting a great reply and it never appeared!! Bummer! I really can’t go thru it all again so I’ll summarise my 300 word post

    PhaseShift. Brother geologist totally agrees

    thought people should love this episode. Why do people say it’s “dreadful”?

    Think that kids in the TARDIS was magical & that the Dr loves to listen to children. The entire drama was about relationships, lies, the fault lines between relationships, the ramping up of the Missy mystery  and of course the terrific writing for the children .

    So, an epic write all gone. But really what does it matter! Others have said similar things. But I will say I didn’t think this was ‘lite’. After all, we had a Doctor truly perplexed (like last week), the trees growing over Mr Nelson was superb and  the children madly running, excitable and ..well…mad around the TARDIS was magic, too.

    I’ve liked the riff of how legends become stories which become life. I think it happens all around us. Perhaps we just need to stop and think and be a little less cynical. Actually, I found the whole story thought provoking and intriguing.



    Melloyello @melloyello

    A man, in a dessert, crawls across the sand crying, “water,….water,….water…”
    Dr Who fans crawl in front of the TV crying, “decent script,…..decent script…”

    It seems the whole episode was created and shown just to set up Missy’s response of
    being surprised. I usually do not like a show’s finale to arrive, because I have to wait
    till next season to see new episodes. But this season of Dr Who, the finale can’t get here
    fast enough. For me, the ONLY saving grace for this season is for the character of Clara
    to be killed off, in a way that we are guaranteed that she can never return. Dr Who has
    been a fantastic run up till this season. This episode, In The Forest, the trailer was
    better than the show.

    As far as Danny Pink, as another poster said, Danny grew on me this episode. The kids did
    a good acting job IMO. But, I think everyone here could write a better show than what was just
    shown. The trailer for the finale looked good, but so did the trailer for this show. The finale
    will need to be a blockbuster, mind blowing, amazing finale, to make up for what we have had to

    Spinky @spinky

    The first time I watched it I really liked it, probably would’ve given it somewhere between an 8 and an 8.5. After a second viewing I’m not really sure what to think anymore. I refuse to believe it was as “dreadful” as some people seem to think it was, but it undoubtedly had its fair share of problems.

    Still, in my books, there hasn’t been one real dud this year yet.

    Juniperfish @juniperfish


    And it seems the lost (and perhaps dead), are starting to return. Just in time for an annual event.

    I definitely think you’re onto something. Perhaps what Missy was surprised by was that her usual harvesting of people who die in the wake of the Doctor’s adventures did not take place. There was no “reaping”, because no one in the Doctor’s party died. And, moreover the reverse happened, as you say, as Maebh’s sister was returned, perhaps to life, by the magical tree-beings.

    Missy I’ll warrant is planning a big j’acuse in which she tells the Doctor that he, even after living through the War Doctor’s terrible choice, is an agent of death – that death follows in his wake.

    It will be up to love to save the day! Won’t it @blenkinsopthebrave 🙂


    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip


    I think the one big problem with it was its lack of tension. I’m still trying to work that one out; was it an editing or directing problem rather than a writing problem? Because the tension is there, in the script. The kids lost in the forest, the animals on the loose, the solar flare…

    … but somehow, it doesn’t transfer to screen.

    One thing that would probably have upped the tension a lot was not having it take place in broad daylight (which does seem to be a script problem). The ‘torch in the eyes’ defence against the tiger would’ve made a lot more sense in the dark or the twilight.

    Juniperfish @juniperfish

    @bluesqueakpip  “I think the one big problem with it was its lack of tension”

    I think it was a writing problem to be honest, because each threat was scattered and none of them had enough build up.

    So, for instance, we knew the solar flare was coming and that the humans in their idiocy, were trying to burn the trees (their saviours in fact) but we didn’t get to interact with any of those authorities or have the Doctor and the children try to persuade a ground crew of adults of their mistake. Instead it was left to a broadcast from the TARDIS at the end.

    The animals were an incidental, visual scare, but there was no particular purpose to them except as a reference to fairy tales.

    Basically there was a lot of running around, when I wanted the Doctor and Maebh and the tree-beings to make their case to earth’s authorities.

    I think the script got a little lost in the woods itself and was trying to do too many things at once.

    Devilishrobby @devilishrobby

    Groan @juniperfish I wondered how lon until the wood puns would be 🙂

    Mudlark @mudlark

    Sadly, this episode left me overall with a slight feeling of disappointment, even though it included some very good elements.   The ‘scientific’ explanation could be ignored, because this was purely and explicitly fairy-tale, albeit with a strong ecological message, with many standard ingredients and specific references to The Sleeping Beauty, Red Riding Hood and Hansel and Gretel.

    The trouble was that for me it didn’t really work as a fairy tale, and I have always loved fairy tales and folk tales.  My favourite book as a young child was Grimm’s Fairy Tales, published by Routledge in 1948 and given to me when I was six.  This wasn’t the usual carefully selected and bowdlerised version usually offered to children, but the real deal – the whole collection translated from the German, with an introduction by Padraic Colum and a scholarly essay by Joseph Campbell at the end.  And I loved it all, cannibal witches, murderous bridegrooms, gruesome punishments for the wicked – the lot.

    The main problem, I think, was the forest, which to me did not convey any sense of magic or threat, despite the wolves.  The forests of fairy tales are dark, mysterious, unexplored and dangerous places: the Teutoburger Wald into which Varus’s legions disappeared, or the vast primary forests of medieval Central and Eastern Europe.  Surely a world-spanning magical forest which appeared overnight should resemble these, rather than the tamed remnant woodlands of the British Isles?  But the wood in which this episode was filmed was all too obviously managed and coppiced by man – because even the oldest surviving woods in Britain have been managed for a variety of purposes for over a thousand years – and in broad daylight it held no mystery for me. (Yes, this is nit-picking, I know, but with my Landscape Archaeologist’s hat on it was something that I could not help but notice). Nor could I sustain belief that this was the centre of London, despite the scattered  traffic lights, bollards, park railings and Underground Station signs and notwithstanding the rather impressive Nelson’s Column. And when the forests disappeared they apparently left no trace behind; not so much as a leaf, let along a cracked paving stone or disturbed road surface.

    That said, there were many things I loved about it.  Maebh, in particular,  was an enchanting creation; the kind of child who accepts without comment anything ‘grown-up’ which she does not understand, including the interior of the Tardis, because she assumes that is the way things, however strange, are supposed to be,  but nevertheless has a sense of wonder.  The other ‘problem’ children also were a delight.

    We also saw the characters of Clara, the Doctor and Danny and their interaction explored a little more.  Danny, in particular, emerged further into the light as the professional teacher whose first responsibility is to the children in his charge and who uses skills learned as a soldier to marshal and reassure them.  We saw, too, glimpses of the Doctor’s ‘Dad skills’ in the way he managed them within the Tardis, without in any way talking down to them.  Clara, on the other hand, was distracted from her primary duty and still lying to Danny.  Her first response to seeing the overnight forest was to phone the Doctor rather than try to contact the children’s parents, and when Danny takes her to task for this she lies, saying that the Doctor called her first.  But in the end, when it seemed as if humanity was doomed, her true loyalty emerged in her decision to stay, having first once again acted as the Girl Born to Save the Doctor.

    There were also some good lines including

    That’s another of the drawbacks to being the last of your species – no one to ask when your Tardis won’t start


    Even my incredibly long life is too short for Les Miserables



    @juniperfish @bluesqueakpip

    I don’t think Maebh’s sister was “missing” at all and certainly not dead.

    I think she was the first to be protected (or rather taken into protective custody) – by the hydrangeas that their mum thought the neighbours had planted – and the last to be released.

    Which might also explain why London was so empty.

    PhileasF @phileasf

    I really liked the premise of this episode, and thought it was very well realised on screen. But as for the explanation and resolution…

    The hardest thing to believe is that the Doctor accepts that any of this could happen. I thought Kill the Moon was a lapse in judgement on the part of the show’s makers, but now that it’s happened again I think the improbability must be part of the story. I think the Doctor knows that a lot of what’s going on this year is just not possible, and he’s pretending to believe it to deceive his hidden watcher/listener (who we know to be Missy).

    I resisted the idea that this season might be taking place in some kind of a ‘Land of Fiction’ where myths, legends and fairytales are real, or a computer simulation of the universe that some people can manipulate. Either of those would be a little too close to ‘it was all a dream’, which bothers a lot of people. (Me, I can live with it.) But the only way this episode can make sense to me is if the show is (sometimes) not set in our reality, or even its own usual reality, but in a different kind of reality with very different rules.

    I could just about believe in the forest appearing overnight — something similar happened in my back yard recently, but it took about two weeks 🙂 As was the case with the Moon-dragon’s shell evaporating in a puff of harmless fairy dust and the Moon being conveniently replaced with a new Moon, the hardest part of the episode to believe was at the very end, when the forest just vanished.

    Having decided that it wasn’t real, the utter impossibility of it all wasn’t too off-putting.

    Before I go all bullet-pointy and start bonkers theorising, I’ll just say that it’s pretty amazingly irresponsible to have the Doctor say, in effect, that people who hear voices should stop taking their prescribed medication. Wow. Not sure how that one got through.

    Anyway, here are some parallels with Kill the Moon:

    – A massive world-changing event unexpectedly takes place, and the best thing to do is just let nature take its course.

    – The massive world-changing event is impossible. In Kill the Moon, the Moon inexplicably gains a lot of mass; in this case, all the stuff those trees were made of seems to have come out of nowhere, and to have vanished into nowhere.

    – The impossible event involves the growth of living things on a planetary scale.

    – There were cobwebs in the clearing where all was revealed. They stood out enough, after cobwebs hadn’t really featured much in the episode, that they seemed an intentional callback to Kill the Moon.

    – The scene where Clara sends the Doctor away parallels both the Doctor’s departure, and Clara’s dismissal of him in Kill the Moon. But with interesting variations indicating how he and Clara have changed since then.

    – The Doctor quotes Clara’s ‘you walk our earth and you breathe our air’ speech.

    – There’s a broadcast to the whole world.

    I don’t think this is a coincidence. These episodes, and Robot of Sherwood, are the big clues to the story arc, cunningly hidden from our arc-interpreting attention by being written by people other than Steven Moffat.

    The sense of unreality in In the Forest of the Night is supported by:

    – the lack of people in central London — there should be lots of people walking around during every scene, but only people essential to the story are ever seen;

    – the kids’ lack of reaction to the TARDIS;

    – Danny’s lack of interest in the wonders of the universe; and

    – the way no-one is worried about meeting wolves or tigers after the scene with the wolves and the tiger.

    My new bonkers theory: somehow, Clara is able to make things happen by imagining them:

    – Clara read Maebh’s homework book and then the solar flare and the new forest Maebh drew became real.

    – When Clara thinks about Maebh as a girl lost in the forest in a story, the very same animals Clara would have seen at the museum appear and threaten Maebh.

    – The kids aren’t amazed by the TARDIS, because Clara is so familiar with it she can no longer imagine other people being amazed by it.

    – She wanted Maebh to think she wasn’t responsible for the (apparent) disaster, and a mysterious voice said she wasn’t.

    – She wanted Maebh’s sister to come back, after being moved by Maebh’s broadcast.

    – Danny doesn’t want to see wonders of the Universe, because Clara wants to keep him out of the TARDIS. She doesn’t want her ‘worlds to collide’.

    She wanted to meet Robin Hood, and Robin Hood turned out to be real. This was the only time the Doctor has mentioned how unlikely the goings on of the season are: since then, I think, he’s decided to play his cards closer to his chest.

    And, maybe, Clara doesn’t want anyone to die, so she’s imagined there’s a place where they all go and live happily ever after. So now there is, in whatever version of reality she and the Doctor are in.

    WhoGirl @whogirl

    I don’t like to complain about my favourite programme, but I felt like that was one of the most disappointing DW episodes I have seen. I liked the set up, London covered in trees, (kudos to the special effects team for that) and the threat of things living in them. I was confused as to why the episode was called ‘In the Forest of the Night’ when it was broad daylight. With regards to lack of tension, surely taking place at night would’ve created what was missing.
    Thought the kids did a fab job, and Danny Pink is really growing on me. But I felt like the story never really got going, and to be completely honest it just didn’t feel like an episode of DW. Why was it so late in the series, in a build up to the finale we should’ve had something a bit more exciting. I suppose if they wanted to have something ‘nice’, like the calm before the storm of the finale then that’s what they got. I just don’t think it worked.
    The most exciting part for me was next week’s trailer.

    I can’t shake off a small nagging feeling that has been growing: that PC has been a little let down this series, but I can’t put my finger on it or why. Don’t get me wrong, he has done a fantastic job and I have thoroughly enjoyed watching him and have enjoyed most of the episodes. But it’s like there’s something missing. In all honesty, it’s not been my favourite series. *runs away and ducks for cover*

    Anonymous @

    @well on second re-watch I still found it a treat. The fact that three children were watching with me helped a lot. They laughed and they also found the forests creepy enough. Yes, I agree (and I didn’t notice it the first time) that the forests were woodland rather than the unexplored and dangerous forests @mudlark outlined so beautifully.

    I think that our way of writing, our very language and our immersion in language causes us to create scenery close to the modern, classical heart, rather than the languages of Ancient times or those of Eastern Europe where forests are dense, black and thorny and snakes a slither. Light hardly penetrates and terror is imprinted on every footstep. Euripides would call that the “bellowing of bulls with springs of honey bubbling up from the ground” until humans, like deer, throw their heads back, throat to the stars like the Maenads.

    The Western language is the home of quirky cranks, beer, pumpkins and ragamuffins, with a beginning, middle and end where beauty is prettiness and stridency within intellect deplored as impolite and indelicate. Our language then creates a studied art, a subdued world, free of diabolical agencies and spontaneity. I think we saw this in the simple woods, the simplistic transformation of London after the solar flare, the safe return of sister, unharmed and perfect. It lacked sternness which then leads me to embrace or appreciate the idea I’ve had for awhile that a dream world is being created by Missy,  that Clara is herself another being (mentioned up thread) or that all this is occurring in Clara’s head (I thank @phileasf for that excellent theory). Perhaps though, as others have also speculated, Clara is dead or living within a computer. But these ideas have been done before…to some extent?

    I think the connection may lie somewhere around Into the Dalek where the ship SS Madame De’Pomp (was it that ship?)  existed. A big clue, surely? But of what? Of course, we have the miniaturisation elements which occurred again last week but didn’t seem to re-appear. Instead, things grew, and out of control! Much like Maebh’s thoughts – is Clara creating her own ‘perfect’ universe where she can run fast, have the perfect boyfriend who is strong, athletic, puts children first etc. whilst she herself can take a very deep breath, see enormous dinosaurs and carry the Doctor in her pocket and ‘be’ him, in essence.

    How all this works in tele land or script writing is a different ‘story’. Goodness, ideas… what wonderful comments and speculations you’ve all had. I shall sleep now and by the morning there’ll be… more!



    Anonymous @

    @thekrynoidman see that’s where I have to differ when you say that you’ve “never found the relationship between Danny and Clara to be particularly important”? I think these relationships, the fault lines, the faults and the moments of peace between them actually add real life tension to a fantasy space travel adventure with drama at its roots -tree roots, I spose 🙂

    There’s always been relationships between the initial companions -in some cases presented differently due to the cultural mores at the time -such as Ian and Barbara, but even Hartnell’s Doctor and his grand-daughter was the foundation on which Who was built.

    In the end it’s a matter of ‘what comes first?’ The fantasy or the drama? The Moon or the Moon dragon? 🙂

    For Clara: Just because it’s in your head, doesn’t mean it isn’t real. I’m sure I heard that somewhere? Oh yes! J.K. Rowling.

    Anonymous @

    one more thing… could Clara, damaged by the claricle split, hanging onto Tardis’ doors, be healing herself and creating or re-creating bearable moments in her life (somehow) in order to stay sane? Could the earth really have died under the weight of a moon dragon or..whatever else.. and she somehow ‘brings the Doctor’ back who then takes them on a ‘visit’ to the created part of Clara’s dream/safe space?

    Similarly, the trees protected the earth with pretty shiny things in forests where she might have ostensibly  run as a child rather than the creepy, dark and terrifying place London should have been? I must add that @phileasf has made me think more upon these ideas, so thank you for that! She is lying to Danny but he is seemingly patient (which she has orchestrated as further protection against scorn) and just wants “the truth but only after your marking” euphemism.

    In Robin Hood she is super clever with the Sherrif who desires her as his Queen and Into the Dalek her slick re-programming was noticeable. Then we have the mind reader on Karabraxos who, upon reading Clara’s mind, left Clara nauseated and alienated -or jet lagged, after a long re-creation of her true, actual  (and unpleasant) story? No more claricles but a personality disorder of her own making?

    PhileasF you may be right -what she wants, she creates.  If it’s implausible it fits  anyway. She knows literature but not science -so the Gretchen parallel as well as Gus (Augustus) is something her mind can riff on. Has she quoted John Donne yet: “when the bell tolls?”…for her clock tower awaits.

    @arbutus and @mudlark what do you think of all this -I didn’t have this theory -it was a mess but Phileas gets the gold or @chickenelly which I recall had a terrific bonza theory

    Again, good night 😉

    Anonymous @

    “Annabel. My Annabel.”

    Words spoken by a parent re-united with a lost child.

    “Clara.My Clara.”

    . . . ?

    blenkinsopthebrave @blenkinsopthebrave

    Well, I watched it, and this time read through the responses before posting, and am very surprised at the negative reaction by many. I actually quite liked it. For a children-centric story it was, in my humble opinion, miles better than, say, “Nightmare in Silver”.

    It wanted to capture a child-like sense of wonder, and it delivered in spades.

    I loved the way it played on the Green Man mythology, and in that sense it was very English in the way it tapped into a long tradition of fantasy and lore. It was, now that I think about it, re-capturing a tradition of innocence in fantasy and lore back from the (supposedly) adult iteration in something like “Game of Thrones”, where everything, including fantasy and lore, is expected to be “edgy” and “grounded” (those hateful, hateful words).

    Was the episode part of an arc that involves @phileasf‘s brilliant bonkers theory that Clara can make things happen by imagining them? Maybe, but I think the episode can be appreciated by accepting it at face value (ie, without reference to hidden meanings or as part of an arc). This was an episode where love triumphed, where families were re-united, where Danny radiated goodness and wisdom. Have we become so cynical that we can’t accept that?


    Juniperfish @juniperfish


    I think someone has already quoted Walt Whitman’s poem on another page, but it rather ties in with @phaseshift‘s theories about the dead and by association suggests Annabel came back from the dead. My creepy theory is not that some magical hydrangeas sequestered her @pedant but that she was dead in the woods and the magical tree beings granted her little sister’s wish and reanimated her.

    Perhaps Clara is dead or, if she’s the Doctor’s great grand-daughter or other descendant, she is returned from the dead, from the time-line in which Gallifrey burned.

    <i>O Captain! My Captain! our fearful trip is done;
    </i> <i>The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won;
    </i> <i>The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
    </i> <i>While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring:

    <dl><dd><i>But O heart! heart! heart!</i><dl><dd><i>O the bleeding drops of red,</i><dl><dd><i>Where on the deck my Captain lies,</i><dl><dd><i>Fallen cold and dead.</i></dd></dl></dd></dl></dd></dl></dd></dl>

    Whisht @whisht

    Hi all – have been lurking all week (just haven’t had any time to post anything!)

    Great theories from everyone and I love @phileasf ‘s theory. Clara’s lies have been a ‘thing’ all series – she’s been shown as being good at making things up. So a very believable theory!

    Also Maebh (sp?) says that she heard Miss Oswald’s voice in her head, telling her to find the Doctor. Although I’d always thought Clara merely empathic, perhaps this is a(nother) instance of telepathy from Clara to a girl who is perhaps attuned to telepathy.

    As far as this episode goes, only seen it the once this morning and…. hm. There were great elements – some of the kid’s acting was great (not something I often say!), some of the photography and effects were lovely, the continuation (unravelling?) of the story of Clara/ Danny/ Doctor was excellent (though Danny’s being exceptionally patient with her lying!).

    I’ll go with the thoughts upthread that maybe it lacked tension, although threw in all the elements that could have been tense (lost in the forest, chased by wolves, tiger, Earth-in-peril). I kinda missed what the point of the deep-voiced Ancient Beings was (they weren’t the souls of trees or some life-force – though that distracted me thinking “arrgghh midichlorians!”).
    But as I say, some nice bits to even out the bumps.

    No one’s mentioned it yet so I’ll say that this week’s colour was…. orange. Yes, Agent Orange.

    Deliberately didn’t see the trailer (I never do) so can I just say on behalf of lurkers who may be like me, thanks to everyone for not saying what was teased!

    zeitgeis @zeitgeis

    One of my favorite episodes — I don’t require good science out of shows that don’t assert that they are somehow predicated on sound science.

    Now we know why Clara has been lying to Danny so much. He seems to have insisted that she stop going around with the Doctor solving the problems of the universe. We learn that he believed that she had not been in the Tardis in many months when the reverse is true.  She has been lying to the Doctor about how much she cares about Danny and lying to Danny about her regularly flying about with the Doctor. This cannot end well.

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