Sleep No More

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    bendubz11 @bendubz11

    @purofilion @janetteb I think that I must agree that no episode I’ve seen has been purely bad, there’s always been good parts. What I fear is that episodes I liked as a child I may now dislike. For instance, I remember loving the Slitheen double header, but I fear that if I watched it now, especially now that I’ve seen the Zygons, I would just find it childish, unoriginal and boring.

    @jimmyp I might give it a rewatch tonight, maybe now that I know what to look for it will be easier to follow and consequentially a better episode

    geoffers @geoffers


    there are no helmet cams, and no cctv cameras in the base. that was clearly stated by nagata and the doctor. therefore, ALL the footage is from the p.o.v. of the dust cameras (or, in the case of people who’d used the pods, their actual optic nerves have been hacked)… however that works?

    also, to those who think clara, as a teacher, doesn’t know her shakespeare, nagata is the one who is confused by the doctor’s macbeth quotes, not clara…

    a few other things i’ve wondered about:

    1) when clara gets pulled into the pod by the “snake” cables, the doctor is clearly just standing there nearby! my first impulse was that he’d pushed her in,* or at least allowed it to happen? maybe it’s just a poorly edited scene? (either by the who team, or, in-story, by rasmussen? he did acknowledge that some bits were missing, in his assemblage of the footage.)

    2) a major thing i’ve wondered, is maybe the doctor is wrong about what caused the sandmen? his theory is sentient dust, or whatever, but it’s never proven, only assumed. perhaps the sandmen ARE the vanished crew? not digested, but transformed by sleeping in the pod? he mentions at one point that they assemble from motes of human dust, but that makes no sense when you think about the original crew. unless there’s just A LOT of human dust in the station? but if so, what caused it to assemble into the sandmen, which then attack the crew?

    3) it’s made plain by the doctor, that the machines aboard the station are upgrades by rasmussen (mk II’s, i believe he calls them), and that they’re the reason for the sandmen. so, clara is really the only one in danger of becoming a sandperson, as the rescue crew didn’t use those pods. (obviously rasmussen did, and that’s why he’s a sandman at the end?) but, what is the danger, then, of the broadcast at the end of the episode? is it a software upgrade, to be transmitted to the sleep pods on triton? or is it a “booster” signal, that can turn anyone who’s ever used the pods into a sandperson? (this seems the most likely option.) i’m still confused on this part of the problem…

    * i had a separate bonkers thought that maybe our doctor is, somehow, missy in disguise. that’s the only reason i can think that he’d just stand there and watch her get pulled into the pod. regardless, he certainly seems surprised that she’s in there, as if he were (at the least) not paying very good attention!


    Anonymous @


    I must have another watch this evening -the later I watch it, the more my POV changes. 🙂

    I thought the idea on which this story floated was that each tiny speck of dust became a camera -if it came from the eye, could it become the eye or an eye? From a perceptual story concept this is wonderfully advanced and far fetched =more mad and more unusual than what we’ve thus experienced.

    I would go so far as to suggest that we look at the ‘monsters’ as very real and not hokey -compared with, say, the orange, suckery, zygons or the stilted ‘Fisher- that would be- King.’ In contrast the Sandmen were very frightening, blobby creatures: dusty, dirty, with odd hands, imprecise feet and terrifying jaws like someone had ripped up a man’s face and created a socket for a mouth -to absorb and digest their prey. Quite disgusting and grotesque, and I liked that. It didn’t seem ‘B movie’ at all.

    Yes, you’re right, committing to a camera image from one perspective is difficult but, boy is it hard to maintain audience attention which is why I liked the sudden time jumps and move from colour to B&W from a partial close up to moderate close-ups etc.

    As I said before, the editing dept and photography groups did quite a remarkable job keeping to that driving momentum and then suddenly shutting it down and returning to our narrator who was typically jaundiced, almost Lord of the Flies -ish, stuttery, monotonously mad and hideously calm in his psychopathy.

    It lent the episode a certain stop/start feel and I notice that in Gatiss’ episodes (The Star Whale, for instance?) that he likes such a contrast. What I also should point out was the genuine detail in every shot -the chairs, the beautiful clocks, turbines, cords, pods, uniforms, shields and general detritus on board ship was really gorgeously done and cleanly procured.

    Anonymous @


    Ah, yes I agree -Clara did know the quote -it was Nagata who was confused but Clara likes to let the Doctor talk (he is so very good at that!).

    I also thought that the monsters were the transformed people -from sleeplessness and then ….to dust and yet this would mean that the people without sleep would have no dust in their eye but by having a sleep ‘burst’ of 5 mins it would create a dust monster -separate to the person themselves? Thus, not the person as it was, for instance, in Journey to the Centre of the Tardis –where those were the actual people .

    I think the upgrade (Mark 2) was the Doctor’s conclusion but Rassmussen was having him on -it still ‘moved’ by a chemical change thru the brain which when watched en masse, would spread -there was no infection and no spores -the damage was done thru the spread of that signal. So yes, your last part of (3) is what I also thought. Mind you, I could be wrong!

    (or, in the case of people who’d used the pods, their actual optic nerves have been hacked)… however that works?

    Yes, I agree -that would make the most sense. Whether they’d used the Morpheus machine or not,  hence the soldier dying anyway (who was politically against the use of it on Triton).

    JimmyP @jimmyp

    @geoffers You’re entirely right – it’s stated no helmet cams, CCTV etc. What I meant to type was that the soldiers ‘could have had’ helmet cams (i.e. change the story) and us watch just through their POV (slowly dwindling down to just 1 camera as they get picked off). Gatiss committing to a fully-formed, found-footage concept. So do away with the ‘watching dust’ thing entirely.

    I’m a fan of the found-footage trope generally; I love Blair Witch, enjoyed Cloverfield and Chronicle was another very good version, so that change would have improved the episode for me. I know it’s not everyone’s cup of custard though.



    Starla @starla

    There were lots of great things to like about this episode.  Lots of small clues, glances and certainly plenty of creepiness.  I was rubbing my eye before,  which now feels sore in the corner, and was quite disturbed… thanks a lot Gatiss!

    (I will say this though… I think Rasmussen might have been better off just embedding the eye dust inducing signal into a cute cat video or something… far less effort involved, and probably likely to attract heaps more views! 😆😉 )

    geoffers @geoffers


    ah, i see now. i agree with you, it would have been a smoother, easier to watch ep that way.

    the only thing i can think, is that there’s some future/past* significance to the “dust camera” solution. i posited earlier that maybe it’s how missy managed to monitor the doctor and clara all last season, with impunity (the doctor wondering if he was ever truly alone, in ‘listen,’ and missy watching the events of ‘in the forest of the night’ from… somewhere -the nethersphere, i guess?- as two examples)…

    missy explained in ‘the witch’s familiar’ how the doctor learned to convert killing energy into transporting energy, so now i’m hoping that dust cameras will be explained, somehow, as the means to how she’s been tracking him…

    *indeed, somewhere in all these comments, someone mentioned that gatiss had originally intended for this ep to be in last year’s run, so that would make it even more likely that my theory is on the right track…


    Incidentally, the POV device is reminiscent of a Bob Shaw novel called Other Days, Other Eyes. A company invents a type of glass that (unintentionally) delays the transit of light, so what you see is a few seconds after it happened. This causes car accidents etc. It is then found that the rate of  delay is adjustable, from moments to weeks.

    The the Black Hats realise they can pulverise the glass to powder and spread it in crop dusters  to create an all pervasive surveillance system.

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip

    @kharis, @purofilion, @catladymeow and @drben

    The thing we always have to remember with ‘experimental’ episodes is that Blink and Turn Left came out of Love and Monsters.

    That is, if the then producer Russell T Davies hadn’t tried a ‘Doctor-lite’ episode – and then gone ‘okay, that didn’t quite work’ – they would probably never have worked out how to make Blink and Turn Left the excellent episodes they were. The ‘experimental’ episode has to come first.

    Doctor Who has never tried a ‘found footage’ episode before. To me, that puts it in the category of ‘experimental’. And as a few people have pointed out, AG Who has also never really had a ‘The Doctor lost’ episode. So, really experimental.

    Having experimented, the writers now have a found footage episode to watch: they can figure out what worked in the context of AG Doctor Who, what didn’t.

    BUT, and this is a big but, experimental episodes have to be allowed to fail. They have to be allowed to be ‘the worst episode EVER’ (I don’t think this was, by the way). They have to be allowed to be Love and Monsters. Otherwise AG Who will never be able to try anything new, try an episode knowing that they have no idea whether this thing is going to work. They won’t dare.

    And we’ll never again get an episode like Blink – which took the baton from the experimental semi-failure and became an overwhelming success.

    soundworld @soundworld

    @blenkinsopthebrave  I strongly feel that Gatiss has consciously written a meta fiction here. I don’t believe it is supposed to fit into a narrative where A must mean B and therefore C in terms of canonical Who. I think the fact that the Doctor realises it is all a “story” is key here. That’s just what it is. A story. And Gatiss is reminding us of that. It is a story.

    Well said Sir.  I don’t quite have the analysis-words but I agree.

    @purofilion can we add ‘stories’ to the list?  I loved your critique above and love of the photography.  I did think it was very well constructed, especially with Rasmussen creating/editing the ‘found story’ – I thought the cuts back to him worked very well, and also remind us that its him creating this story.    I’m going to have my second viewing tonight, and having read the discussion so far, its great because there is so much to be aware to look out for.

    I stay up later and later in these far Northern winter days – sleep?  WHO needs it!?

    Miapatrick @miapatrick

    @geoffers, @jimmyp and others: someone on the Guardian thread said they got quite excited at one point, thinking that we might be seeing the origin of the Angels- whatever holds the image of an Angel becomes an Angel etc- Amy had something in her eye…

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip


    the only thing i can think, is that there’s some future/past* significance to the “dust camera” solution.

    Or it might be metaphorical. How do we see the Doctor’s adventures when there’s no cameras around?

    There was quite a bit of playing with the fourth wall in this episode – the one I particularly noticed was the Doctor’s reply to Clara’s ‘When do you sleep?’ – ‘When you’re not looking’.

    Yeah. The answer to an oft-asked fan question. The Doctor does sleep. But only when the audience isn’t looking. 🙂

    Frobisher @frobisher


    There was quite a bit of playing with the fourth wall in this episode – the one I particularly noticed was the Doctor’s reply to Clara’s ‘When do you sleep?’ – ‘When you’re not looking’.

    I loved the slightly awkward pause after he said that. It was like the camera was reluctant to look away from him, trying to catch him nodding off for a quick snooze. 🙂

    geoffers @geoffers


    How do we see the Doctor’s adventures when there’s no cameras around?

    i know what you mean, but:

    a) we don’t? by definition, lol…

    b) through the eyes of others in the episodes we do see… like the girl from the gamma forests…

    :- )

    blenkinsopthebrave @blenkinsopthebrave


    indeed this could survive in isolation as almost a ‘concept’ story, rather than an episode in a series.

    Yes, that is precisely what I was trying to say, but you captured it far more elegantly.

    @soundworld Thanks for that. And you are not the only one struggling for the right analysis-words. I face that struggle every day!

    nerys @nerys

    I enjoyed this one. But then again, I tend to enjoy the more unsettling ones that don’t have a predictable narrative flow. I felt after this episode much like I did after watching “Blink.” I don’t mean to say that the episodes are identical, or even all that similar in content or style. But I had that same “What did I just watch?” feeling after both episodes.

    Mirime @mirime

    On Robots of Sherwood, I must admit I don’t like it, but it’s mainly the end I don’t like and that has sort of coloured my view of the whole thing. I loved the fight with the spoon and the Doctor and Robin bickering was very funny.

    Not sure about Sleep no More, need to watch it again. My initial impression was ‘meh’, but I wasn’t watching under the best circumstances (my toddler refused to go to sleep until nearly midnight and I then watched it on my tablet) so I may well revise my opinion after a second watch.


    Mudlark @mudlark

    @phaseshift   I meant to say before now that yesterday, for once, I ventured BTL  on the Guardian blog and so saw, read (and applauded) your splendid post there. It well deserved that OOOOOOH! from @danmartinuk .  Let us hope it has the desired effect and lures a few more interested and interesting contributors to join us.

    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord


    Many thanks, and hopefully it may. @danmartinuk is very kind to us in that regard and has often referenced us in blog. It continues to be appreciated.

    django @django

    I loved this story. I’ve seen a lot of people across the internet getting caught up trying to make this story “work” when the point is, it doesn’t. What we have is a complete example of an unreliable narrator with (Sorry if I spoil anything) many similarities with the film “The Usual Suspects”. I loved the audacity that what we had all just watched was not only a fiction in our world but was a fiction within the Doctor Who world. Who knows how much of what we were presented with actually happened and wasn’t constructed by Rasmussen. Did the fact that we “saw” The Doctor and Clara mean they were actually there, or was it all just faked? This has been not only one of my favourites this year, but also one of my favourite Mark Gatiss stories (Along with the Crimson Horror)


    DrBen @drben

    @pedant – The the Black Hats realise they can pulverise the glass to powder and spread it in crop dusters  to create an all pervasive surveillance system.

    Part of my disappointment was that I was predicting something along the lines of what you mentioned.  The Morpheus pods reminded me of the sleeping drugs Soma in Brave New World and Somec in The Worthing Saga (although obviously with the reverse effect), and the whole productivity speech immediately made me think of a Big Brother-like police state.  When we learned that the sleep dust (eye boogers, whatever) were being hacked into, my immediate reaction was that it was a fascist total surveillance plot.  That, to me, would have been more interesting than what we ultimately got.  I guess bonkers theorizing can sometimes have its down sides. 😉

    To clarify, there was certainly a lot to like about this episode.  I want to begin all conversations with “May the Gods look favorably upon you.”  And my disappointment wasn’t with the experimental nature of the episode or the found-footage conceit – it was that the underlying story (eye-booger monsters) was too weak and underdeveloped to sustain the episode, and the ending made literally no sense.

    I’m not angry – every Doctor Who season has had at least one dud (and, of course, opinions differ about which episodes are duds and which are not), and it would be unrealistic to expect otherwise, from Doctor Who or any other show.  I love Star Trek: TNG, for example, but there are a TON of bad episodes.

    In any event, I have faith in the powers that be that there are elements in Sleep No More that will prove to be important later on, and that certain events in the last three episodes will provide context for this episode in retrospect.  We’ll see.

    nerys @nerys

    I also think the Doctor’s observation that this was playing out “like a story” is important. Ashildr?

    Juniperfish @juniperfish


    I second @mudlark ‘s sentiment – recommended your post in t’other place – I’m convinced the tarot journey (all credit to @kharis for spotting the theme initially here) is heading for Gallifrey and I’m looking forward to it. Hoping to see Lord Borusa again!

    This seems to have been a bit of a marmite episode BTL at @danmartinuk ‘s place. I continue to prefer the two-parters but enjoy watching Gatiss expanding his oeuvre, especially as he’s definitely in the running as a potential new showrunner, if Moff ever decides to step down.

    nerys @nerys

    @drben Gotta love your description of them as “eye-booger monsters,” LOL! I’m curious as to why the ending made no sense to you. I think it did to me … but then I may just be imagining that. From what I can tell, the Doctor was able to save only himself and Clara (I don’t think Nagata made it into the Tardiss with them). And then we return to Rasmussen, who has been an unreliable narrator. He reveals to us that the whole point of assembling this video footage was not to warn viewers, but to ensnare them via the video. And then his face dissolves as the sand crumbles away. I thought it was a wonderfully creepy ending.

    DrBen @drben

    @nerys – Here’s the best I can work out about the ending.  The story we were made to believe for most of the episode was as follows:

    — Rasmussen creates Morpheus Mk. 2 machines.  Something about the machines causes your eye boogers to evolve into Sandman creatures who want to eat people.

    — Rasmussen is somehow under psychic control by these monsters, and intends to use the “man who hasn’t slept for five years” (who turns out just to be another Sandman) to infect all of Neptune and give the Sandman creatures more people to eat.

    — The Doctor sort of stops the plan, because Nagata kills Rasmussen and the Doctor shuts off the grav things, which causes the Sandman things to erode.  Fin.

    The twist at the end, as best as I can follow, is:

    — Surprise! Rasmussen is not dead, but is actually a Sandman creature himself (so why can he see and appear to be a person?)

    — The virus is not in the Morpheus pods, but is in the electronic glitches in the video he’s editing on the fly.

    — He’s made up the whole story to make a Blair Witch-style horror viral video that everyone will watch and be infected by the electronic glitches.

    — Therefore, apparently, the Doctor has lost and humanity is doomed (as are we all).

    But so, if Rasmussen made it up, which parts did he make up?  Presumably the rescue was a set up, as was the killing off of all of the rescue crew.  The Sandmen, apparently, are real, and still want to eat everyone.  So is the only lie that the “virus” is in the video itself and not the pods?  I suppose that could be some kind of message about how viral videos get in our heads, but if so, it’s a complete retread of The Ring, which came out like 10 years ago.

    Am I missing something?

    iusedtobethedoctorrs99 @iusedtobethedoctor

    i think this story will become more important in the over series ark and we will find out in the coming weeks, the morphious machine,  no sleep for a month, in the previous episode the doctor commented on “the longest month of my life”

    also, isnt morphing when something changes into something else, kinda fits in with the hybrid arc, and when clara was taken out of it, did it not remind everyone of clara in the dalek in episode 2 with all the blue wires???

    i think this episode will become significant as time goes on, my theory for the season finale is the time loop one where clara ends up in the dalek that matt smiths doctor met in asylum of the daleks

    SirClockFace @sirclockface

    Three things that I particularly enjoyed about this episode were the fact that the Doctor didn’t solve it because we’ve all gotten used to him turning up and saving the day which he couldn’t do this time. Clara also has the dust in her eyes so will eventually become a sand(wo)man…And finally I did really like the different uses of POV because like a few of you mention it gave the episode a different feel.

    @purofilion Yes I agree with you on the fact that Gatiss is very clever and I know that he will make an amazing sequel.

    @jimmyp and @bluesqueakpip I also enjoy the breaking of the 4th wall on this episode and in Before the Flood because it makes the viewer feel like part of the episode.

    @kharis Yes it truly is one of the greatest things about this show

    SirClockFace @sirclockface

    Oh and thank you @lisa for posting the link to the radio times page 🙂

    Kharis @kharis

    @janetteb YES!  Agree, I love the serious episodes and the fact that Doctor Who is not afraid to dive into the hardest questions, be rich in complexity and deliver a speech like in last week’s episode, but this ‘Sleep no More’ really was placed in the wrong spot in the season.  This season is epic and fantastic, but we have not had a fun and whimsical episode.  The kind you rewatch on a tough day to smile, or that your kind reenact in your yard.  ‘Robots of Sherwood’ was great for that, and I was hoping for at least one whimsical ride before we headed into Clara’s departure…which I fear will be heart wrenching.

    Yes, Clara’s dark and serious clothes seem purposeful.

    Kharis @kharis

    @purofilion Your review of ‘Sleep no More’ is so eloquently expressed, and thought provoking that I will certainly give this episode real attention and not throw it into the part of the mind I threw ’42’ which I never bothered to rewatch.

    Even on the first watch I think there was a very interesting theme expressed at the core of this episode, even if it was hard to stick through to the end.  I’m also sure it would not be easy to fill this week’s spot after such and epic premiere and first half of this series.  Also, I was hoping for a whimiscal episode, which isn’t fair of me I know, but Doctor Who usually has at least two per season, and they have become scarce.  One of the things In love about Doctor Who is the variety and it’s ability to go from a mind blowing visceral episode, to an intellectual journey and then seamlessly into a fun and whimsical episode….and sometimes all of these in one episode!   So I admit I wasn’t set up to be as forgiving as I usually am, so now I will watch it without my prejudice expectations.  🙂

    Kharis @kharis

    @bluesqueakpip Yes, I agree, I love that Doctor Who takes risks.  In all artistic endeavours, actually in ALL endeavours, it is best if we are given permission from others (and ourselves) to fail.  It was a courageous attempt and may possess some of the bones to build an awesome story arc, like @miapatrick ‘s great idea.  🙂

    Kharis @kharis

    @phaseshift Yes, you gave me another reason to rewatch the episode. I really loved the ‘Rings of Akatan’ from the first watch, and was shocked that other people didn’t enjoy it.  I begged people to give the episode a second watch and look for the layers, artful moments and beauty of it.  So, in light of that, I will go watch it now with a very open mind.

    lisa @lisa

    @iusedtobethedoctorrs99 @kharis

    If the stories are going backwards then the ‘longest month of my life’ may of
    been a month of Clara being held inside the Morphius? Probably not because….
    Well, I just wonder when we get to those last episodes we all come to find out that
    this is the case? They seem like they are trying to be a bit experimental in a few ways
    this season. The fact that the opening episodes feel a little like it could also be a
    series ending is interesting. Some here on the forum put that into my head a while back.

    I need to start having a much better memory so I can tag people! ugh!

    Whisht @whisht


    Worst Play evah!

    Shakey-spear is always too cocky and self-referencing like he’s sooo good.

    I wish they’d let Marlowe write an episode.



    [apologies, went over to the Guardian and was below the line…. submerged… under a lake of opinion….]

    Whisht @whisht

    I’ve still only seen this episode once, but I think I agree with @django and others (ie ‘Rasmussen’ has cobbled together an ‘episode’/ a story to entice people to watch his encoded message with which to propgate.

    Though for me Rasmussen hasn’t existed for a while. Instead he became the Sandman after experimenting with the upgrade to his Morpheus machine, and that happened before this episode begins.
    Now that I think about it, the Sandman and therefore sandmen are fully sentient, not dumb lumbering monsters. That’s just the Rasmussen Sandman getting the others to act like monsters for the benefit of his story.
    That’s why it made no sense and why the Doctor couldn’t puzzle it out – it actually was a story he was in, and he couldn’t see the author.

    But I have a thought as to how this exists within the context of this arc.

    If at the beginning of the next episode we see the Doctor still ruminating about the Sandmen and how it didn’t make sense, imagine this exchange:

    Doctor: It just doesn't make sense. It should but it doesn't...
    Clara: Oh don't worry. We're safe - you can't always win.
    [Doctor looks at Clara with 'that' look; the look suggesting he'll soon lose her]
    Doctor: But I'll *try*.
    Whisht @whisht

    ok – just one more (don’t want to hog the boards).

    I liked the conceit of the Sandman if not the lumbering monsters.

    Gatiss inverted the usual Sandman – the mythical character who sprinkles sand into the eyes of sleepers to induce (bad) dreams.
    Instead, the ‘sand’ you get on waking is part of the monster within being forced out through dreaming it out.

    That’s brilliant.
    Its also another case of the monster within.

    I think @phaseshift got it right with his Amicus call out. The Sandman at the end is reminiscent of Charles Gray talking to camera at the end of portmanteau horrors. Especially with the twist.

    So – I’ve posted this before but I’ll post again as its great – if you have impressionable children (or adults) I suggest they watch this just before going to bed.

    oh yes.

    soundworld @soundworld

    I just re-watched.  I think the episode is bloomin’ brilliant.  Just the whole way its put together, the story within a story – we’re all just stories, in the end…  There are so many layers to this one, and with what we’ve seen we don’t know enough to get the whole ‘story’.

    How is Rasmussen still alive at the end after being shot?  Or was he a Sandman all along? Or, is the whole thing all a set, in which case what are the Dr and Clara doing there?

    @whist – Gatiss inverting the  Sandman to make the monster within – excellent point.

    Something else maybe for the @purofilion list, here we have an electronic signal infecting our brains to turn us into sandmen-zombies; in Before the Flood we had the Fisher King scratch the symbols on his Space-hearse (nobody calls anything Space-whatevaah) which again infected the brain through the visual cortex to start  a process of turning people into things.  Infecting the BIOS of living beings to transform them.

    lisa @lisa

    We also can add Clara hooked up to the Dalek casing and the Mire Helmet had
    special tech hooking into their heads. That makes every episode with variations
    on this concept.

    bendubz11 @bendubz11

    I’m near the start of a rewatch and I just found something. Somebody said earlier how The Doctor losing and running away felt almost like it should be a Davison episode. Well, I just got to where CapDoc mentions “The Great Catastrophe”, looked it up, and apparently it is a reference by Gatiss to Frontios, one of Davison’s episodes. Anyhoo, back to the rewatch.

    lisa @lisa

    Missy’s Matrix was also another variation on a consciousness and Cybermen
    are basically altered brain mechanical creatures. The difference is that
    this season its all about Clara who keeps ‘plugging in’ over and over.

    blenkinsopthebrave @blenkinsopthebrave


    I just re-watched.  I think the episode is bloomin’ brilliant.

    Totally agree. Just watched it again myself. Just love the whole meta element (which can be done in a really clunky way, but this is done with a lightness of touch). I think, on second viewing, this is what I would emphasis–the whimsical way in which this story, within a story, within a story, is done.

    I was reminded of what was, perhaps, my favourite episode of “Star Trek: The Next Generation”, called “Ship in a Bottle”, where a holodeck programme of Moriarty from Sherlock Holmes gains sentience and Picard outwits him by creating a holodeck within the holodeck. At the end, Picard looks at the small computer module where they have “trapped” Moriarty and says, something like: “But who knows? Our reality may be very much like theirs, and all this might just be an elaborate simulation, running inside a little device sitting on someone’s table”. It is a lovely meta allusion. And so is this story by Gatiss.


    Arbutus @arbutus

    @drben    I’d rather they take risks and occasionally fail than never take risks at all.   This, absolutely.  @bluesqueakpip says it perfectly: the risky episodes, even when they fail all or in part, are what lead us to the unexpectedly wonderful ones!

    @starla   Rasmussen might have been better off just embedding the eye dust inducing signal into a cute cat video    Yes, it would have been game over for my whole family in that case!  🙂

    @whisht    A big smiley-faced “like” for your Guardian BTL Macbeth critique!  🙂

    Plot-wise, what I have taken from second viewing is this. The Doctor proposes that the creatures are “evolved sleep dust” and they have eaten the crew. Rassmussen never says that this is true. What he does say is that his Patient Zero will spread the infection on Tritan. But this is a lie. The “electronic signal” that makes the Morpheus pod work is the same as the one that is embedded in the video. Rather than having been eaten by Sandmen, the crew members would appear to have become Sandmen. So I would guess that Rassmussen wasn’t actually killed by the gun fire because he was already dust inside. But he was being pulled apart like all the other Sandmen, by Neptune’s gravity. So did he or did he not transmit the video before crumbling to dust altogether? My personal guess is “not”.

    The Doctor was on the verge of guessing the truth, when he said, “Like a story.” Given a little more time, he might have gotten to the truth. Maybe he did afterward.

    Re @purofilion’s list. @soundworld, I also noticed the connection to Before the Flood during my second viewing. @lisa   this season its all about Clara who keeps ‘plugging in’ over and over.   Except the Mire helmet, Clara didn’t wear that, did she? But Ashildr did, and her death and life seem to be connected to the arc in some way. So I think that all these techs are indeed something connected to the “hybrid” notion that Missy implanted in our consciousness at the start of the series. Add Davros’ reference to a Time Lord hybrid and I really am starting to believe that Clara is set to end up on Gallifrey. Whatever it is, I doubt that her fate will be as simple as death. We are being given too many clues leading away from that.

    One quirky thing that amused me, second time through: The Twelfth Doctor always seems a bit taken aback by what people see on the psychic paper!

    bendubz11 @bendubz11

    Okay that was a lot better on second viewing. I knew what to look for, so it was easier to follow and problems I previously had with it have been solved.
    My main problem had been Chopra’s seemingly meaningless death. The grunt had saved him, he hadn’t used Morpheus, it made little sense to me on the first watch. But I picked up on how he died this time and it makes a lot more sense. He dies in the room that the super sandman was in, and presumably he got absorbed into it making him larger. especially as we’re given no clue as to how different the timescale between Chopra reaching it and the confrontation with Rasmussen is. It could be hours, it could be minutes, I would personally guess at being as the episode goes, giving 5 minutes for the absorption and then re-encasement before Rasmussen opens it up again.
    There really is only two small gripes I have with it after this wholly more enjoyable second viewing.
    1 – why do we get a shot from the TARDIS at the end? surely it hasn’t used Morpheus?
    2 – Capdoc is quite clearly watching Clara, and in turn the pod, from very close quarters when it pulls her in. That strikes me as poor editing, would have made more sense for him to be looking somewhere else.

    Anonymous @


    Oh yes! I got that 4th time around (I’m a bit dense)  -the creatures weren’t just creatures -lumbering around. They are a story -and as well, whilst they are the dustmen of our eyes they are more likely the abomination that the Dr referenced: the monster within our sleep working it’s way out if there is no sleep “for sentient being”. The Doctor said it beautifully in the middle of the episode which was, I think, our ‘ah hah’ moment about who or what they were.

    I can imagine Gattis with  a pipe at home (no, not that kind) reading all the Graun comments and hooting as ppl try to work out when this happened, when that happened. I’m not sure we’ll ever know but I like the idea of stories being added to the list of thus far 7 eps??

    I also like @soundworld‘s analysis of how this is all working out in the mind’s eye, as it were and @arbutus, I agree -the anti-grav shields slowly caused the lot to go from dust to dust and meant Rassy was not successful in his e-vil plan to propagate dust/sand men from one galaxy to another

    @soundworld indeed yes: here we have an electronic signal infecting our brains to turn us into sandmen-zombies; in Before the Flood we had the Fisher King scratch the symbols on his Space-hearse (nobody calls anything Space-whatevaah) which again infected the brain through the visual cortex to start  a process of turning people into things


    so, the sandman creature is Rassy, right? He appears on screen because the others do -in the way he was speaking it is clear they can speak, moreover create human form -like the zygons hide as humans the sandmen hide also. He cannot be shot and isn’t successfully killed, he hides til the end.

    he believes he’s successful insofar as the ‘visitors’ will ‘lumber’ back into the tardis and he can continue his transmission which arbutus has suggested will not work.

    I’d add that how things enter our heads -is probably in a lot of different serials and sci-fi productions -the idea of images in our heads has been in Who quite consistently -but yes, perhaps too much??

    Anonymous @

    @drben could Rassy be the evolved form of the dust or sandmen? In the way the others are not -the so-called “I’ve got a man here who has not slept for 5 years” is all rubbish -he’s the same as any other eye booger (to quote @whisht)  and lumbers about being monsteriesh and is pretty useless apart from needing to ‘add to the dust’.

    But Rassy’s monster is evolved ? So he lied about that too?


    Anonymous @

    @whisht that was quite scary thank you

    The yourube comments alone were hilarious. Phew, that was….terrifying.


    Arch @arch

    Have to say, I really liked this a lot. Felt different to the rest of the episodes this season, but I really dont mind the odd stand alone episode. Initially i was confused what was going on, then finally half way through worked out what the hell was happening and got on board.

    I feel this episode will be a lot better once I have rewatched it, since I already rate it quite highly,  it could go on to be one of my faves.

    bendubz11 @bendubz11

    @arch I’m sure you will find it a lot better once you’ve rewatched it, it has for me, especially as it’s a lot easier to follow once you’ve already seen it. No period of confusion that makes you miss things at the start.

    Whisht @whisht

    Hi @purofilion – you’re giving me credit where none is due (again!)


    I didn’t mention “eye boogers” I’m afraid.

    Though it does make me think of these monsters as being the BoogerMan.



    Yes, I just did that….

    [crawls to bed]

    Anonymous @

    @whisht Aw, stop it -you deserve it.

    Boogerman. LOL. This will be around the dinner table tonight.

    @arch yes, I agree with @bendubz11 that a re-watch is a wonderful help. I went from “I like it” to ‘I love it’ but then it’s been an embarrassing 4 watches now. I don’t have any theorising to add -and I jolly should. Most has been said in very elegant ways.

    Thank you Sir Bendz -for the video uplink. I shall watch and add my comments under my little experiment name for google/youtube: Cindi -soon as I did that people started to treat me quite differently.  🙂

    I was considering ‘Candi’ but thought “no that really is wandering off into the names of strippers and other lady dancers.”




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