Doctor Who Season 8, Episode 10: In the Forest of the Night

SPOILER ALERT: Don't read ahead if you haven't watched Doctor Who series 8, episode 10: In the Forest of the Night

If we're being completely honest, "In the Forest of the Night" was just there to fill the air until the two-part finale. Overall the episode was forgettable, so instead of diving into the commentary on how "nature exists to protect our planet and we should just let it do its thing," I want to focus on character relationships in this episode. One could spend hours debating the implausibility of the science of this sci-fi show, so let's just agree that it was all bonkers and move on to the good stuff, i.e. Clara.

One thing that has always bothered me about Clara's storyline was that it was conveniently dumbed down at its initial resolution. She was presented as the impossible girl whom not even the clever Doctor could figure out, only to turn out to be a completely ordinary person. However this season we've seen her become one of the most complex and three-dimensional companions The Doctor has ever had. I know many Clara haters disagree, but I think her narrative really shows a maturing of the content.

Unlike the companions of the past, Clara doesn't just play second fiddle to The Doctor -- she doesn't just gush over his heroics and she doesn't constantly rely on him to save the day. In fact, as we saw in "Flatline" she is practically The Doctor's equal. In a fascinating tidbit from "In the Forest of the Night," after concluding that Earth cannot be saved, Clara masterfully manipulates The Doctor into leaving Earth presumably to its doom. That is a huge -- albeit depressing accomplishment -- considering the Doctor always fights to his last breath to try and save humanity.

Clara's understanding of The Doctor's psyche and her ability to influence his actions will be crucial in the two-part season finale. As I discussed last week, Missy picked Clara for a reason, and if next week's trailer is any indication, Clara is looking more and more like a weapon against The Doctor.

One of the stellar fan theories I came across this week suggests that Missy is in fact a product of Clara and the Great Intelligence entering The Doctor's timeline in "The Name Of The Doctor." That narrative left us with loads of unresolved endings, some of which -- like the identity of the "shop girl" who brought Clara and The Doctor together -- are still being referenced in Season 8. We never saw how the two heroes escaped from The Doctor's timeline either, we also never got an answer to why River was able to maintain a psychic link with Clara, not to mention what came of the Great Intelligence. Missy's victorian garb can be a link to Richard E. Grant's get up in "Snowmen" and "The Name Of The Doctor." She also does refer to The Doctor as her boyfriend in "Breathe," right as The Doctor tells Clara "I'm not your boyfriend" in the same episode.

"Kill The Moon" made it seem like The Doctor pushed Clara the furthest she could go, just as Danny had predicted, causing the temporary rift between the two protagonists in "Mummy On The Orient Express." However, I think that point of no return that Danny spoke with Clara about has yet to be reached, otherwise Danny would have made good on his ultimatum to end their relationship.

With all of this in mind, I have hight hopes for the finale: seeing The Doctor pitted against his beloved companion should be a sight to behold.

"Doctor Who" airs on Saturdays at 9:00 pm EDT on BBC America.



Doctor Who Series 8