When we last left the Doctor and Clara, the former had shown his willingness to sacrifice the one to save the majority while the latter had proved the Doctor isn’t the only one who lies. Determined to keep up her double life, Clara’s playing a dangerous game with both Twelve and Danny.
But who was behind the computerized voice of Gus? Or does it even matter? Will “Flatline” continue the trend of the Monster-Of-The-Week (MOTW) or will the threads of this season start to coalesce? Time to find out!
Either we’re in the 1970s or this balding hipster hasn’t updated his decor since then. He’s whispering into a corded wall phone — truly an archaic device — to the police. He knows who did “it” and they’re everywhere. Whoever “they” are prove the hipster’s paranoid delusions are true by instantly murdering him.
Godspeed, sir. You make delightfully eccentric wallpaper.
In the TARDIS, Clara is haphazardly throwing her stuff into a bag. Ostensibly because Danny doesn’t like her leaving things behind, but in reality because Danny can’t find out she didn’t break up with the Doctor. Twelve is suspicious of a boyfriend being cool with time and space travel, but not with Clara leaving her toothbrush around. However, he doesn’t pick up on Clara being adamant in making sure they’ve returned to the EXACT same time and place they left from earlier.
Unrelated to anything, Clara’s jacket is amazing.
Ms. Oswald lies straight to Twelve’s face and turns to leave. But there is a problem. The TARDIS door is significantly smaller than it should be. It’s never done this before so of course the Doctor is intrigued. They both squeeze through (which is a hilarious visual) and OH MY GLOB. Sexy is so cute and adorable! But also, this probably spells certain doom, or at least a Scooby-Doo mystery to solve.
The Doctor is excited. Clara is pissed because they definitely didn’t land back in her apartment. “Let me enjoy this moment of not knowing something. It happens so rarely,” Twelve opines. Quite frankly, it’s refreshing to see this return to a Doctor who revels in not knowing instead of bluffing that he knows everything. Clara agrees with Twelve and wanders off to see if anything strange is in the area while the Doctor tries to figure out why the TARDIS is suddenly way, way smaller on the outside.
Nearby, graffiti artist Rigsy is suffering the indignity of doing community service…by painting over his own work. His supervisor is the instantly deplorable Fenton, a man who exhibits the kind of casual cruelty that makes you instantly hope he’s slated for death by monster.
A quick cut back to inside the TARDIS, where the Doctor is doing science with steampunk googles — hell yea! — when Sexy starts shaking like a Polaroid picture. That can’t be good.
Wandering around near the Bristol train station, Clara stumbles upon a memorial of some sort. Photos and candles and teddy bears are gathered against a wall. Further off underneath the bridge are murals of people, all with their backs facing the viewer.
One of the community service guys cat calls her and Rigsy is like “Dude, what the hell? It’s a MEMORIAL,” and abandons his civic duty to perform the sacred right of spewing exposition at a main character. He tells her about all the people who have gone missing, including the most recent person. I assume he’s talking about poor Balding Hipster. Finally, a clue!
Clara quickly returns to where she left the TARDIS but it’s nowhere in sight…until she looks down. Sexy is now a Teacup TARDIS. The Doctor explains something is leeching the external dimensions but he’s still the same size. Then he proves it by sticking his hand out of the tiny door and my brain is not happy about what it’s looking at but I have no words to describe this emotion.
Twelve instructs Clara to put the TARDIS in her bag, explaining he futzed with the weight and pointing out if the TARDIS didn’t displace her weight all the time, her true size would fracture the surface of the Earth. Huh, never really thought about that.
Before getting into her purse, the Doctor hands Clara the tools she’ll need to defeat whatever is out there. The psychic paper, the sonic screwdriver, and a nanotech optic nerve implant so Twelve can see what she sees.
Our artist Rigsy catches back up and asks Clara who she is. With an evil grin, Clara declares herself to be the Doctor. “Doctor Oswald,” to be precise. Inside the TARDIS, Twelve bristles, so of course she twists the knife by adding she’s not really a Doctor, she just picked the title because it makes her sound important.
With her local guide in tow, Rigsy and Doctor Oswald head to the latest crime scene. And it’s definitely not Balding Hipster’s house. Rigsy says when the victim disappeared, there was no sign of a struggle. The spookiest thing though? The doors were locked…from the inside. Great. We’re inside a fireside ghost story.
Side note: I assume that cracked desertscape one the wall is important, since the camera lingers on it.
Talking to the Doctor, who Rigsy can’t see or hear, Clara is coming off as slightly bonkers. Her declaration that perhaps the victim fell prey to a shrink ray, before getting down to start looking under furniture, is the last straw. Doctor or not, Rigsy can smell crazy and he is out of here. In a moment of desperation to keep her local guide, Clara busts out the Teacup TARDIS and introduces him to the Doctor.
Somehow this soothes Rigsy and he is back on board. A tiny person in a miniature police box is cool, I guess? Maybe Rigsy was a fan of “The Indian in the Cupboard” as a child.
But opening the TARDIS doors has let whatever was leeching the external dimensions steal the INTERNAL dimensions! I don’t know what that means but sounds bad! Clara agrees and closes the door while the Doctor paces near the chalkboard which is still housing the unknown equation that been around all season. WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
To the next crime scene! Okay, THIS is definitely Balding Hipster’s house. His commitment to the decorating schemes of the 1970s is admirably, if misguided. Clara has convinced a local police officer — via psychic paper — that she’s here to take over. At Twelve’s direction, she starts sledgehammering the walls. Sadly, there are no wolves inside them.
While Rigsy pumps Clara for information about how she got her “job,” the police officer steps into another room to talk to her superior on the phone. Which means it’s time for her to die. Oh look, the walls are melting! Either that’s the monster or we’ve all got a contact high from being in this house.
By the way, cool suspended egg chair.
Nope, it was the monster and definitely NOT drugs. The officer dies screaming as whatever it is sucks her right into the ground. By the time Clara and Rigsy arrive, there’s nothing left but her flashlight. Looking through Clara’s eyes, the Doctor finally realizes what is going on. The mural on the wall isn’t a spooky forest, but a flattened nervous system. The cracked desert was human skin. Whatever the MOTW is, it’s from a universe with only two dimensions.
And it’s vivisecting humans to try and figure out the third one.