12 Great Moments From In the Forest of the Night
Mark McCullough picks out twelve faves from the tenth episode of Series 8.
Note: Episode spoilers naturally!
In the Forest of the Night was vastly different from any episode thus far this series, after two watches I’m still not entirely sure what to make of it. What it did have though were several standout moments going in its favour. It may be worth noting at this point that most of this come right at the start or end of the episode, which in itself may be a little telling that the episode somewhat fell flat in the middle section. So without further ado here’s what gripped me the most this week:
12. Annabel Returns
Probably the most divisive moment of the episode was the return of Maebh’s sister Annabel in the dénouement of the episode. Personally I’m not fond of the idea and think it was executed poorly. It would also have helped if we had actually been given more backstory to what actually happened with the character. I have included it here however due to the discussion points it raises. Was it the creatures (the Here?) rewarding Maebh for her message to humanity? Or was it perhaps something more sinister? My assumption was that Annabel had died, so given things are about to kick off on the heaven front, could she be the first to move between both? Missy did have an interest in events.
11. Doctor Idiot
The Doctor is smart and knows everything, usually. This was one of the rare occasions where the Doctor couldn’t actually figure out the situation at hand. Fire proof trees plus a solar flare isn’t hard to work out that there won’t be any burning, I know I had figured it out well before the Doctors moment of realisation. It is somewhat ironic that the Doctor missing the obvious here occurs after Clara had praised him for always being able to come with an answer. It would have annoyed me, only for the fact that it was foreshadowed by a conversation between the Doctor and Maebh. For that reason, I thought it worked quite well.
10. Maebh’s Message
I think this scene was a neat idea, to allow the children to attempt to save the world by delivering the message that humanity needed to hear. Maebh’s innocence really added to the heartfelt nature of the plea and her message for her sister to come back at the end brought a tear to my eye. However I don’t feel it was a very effective scene, because we were left with no indication at all as to what impact the message actually had. It is most likely that it fell on deaf ears, which would actually have been quite nice to see. What follows this scene was much more poignant, with the Doctor and Clara extremely interested by the solar flare, it transpired that everyone else had other priorities. For the children, this was for their parents. For Danny it was a chance to reflect on his past and what is truly important to him now.
9. Fairy Tales
I don’t think it would be too big a claim to say that this episode felt like one from Series Five where fairy tales were a common theme of the series. Given Frank Cottrell Boyce’s reputation as a children’s writer, it is now surprise that he would stick to his strengths and what he knows works. There are references to numerous popular tales within Cottrell Boyce’s narrative: we have the obvious comparisons between Maebh and Red Riding Hood, we even had the wolves too. Another one was the breadcrumb trail of Maebh’s possessions. Finally there were the actual fairies that appear to call themselves the Here and act to save the world from the solar flare.
8. Tyger, Tyger
In an episode named after William Blake’s “The Tyger”, it would have been criminal for there not to have been a tiger present somewhere within the story. Whilst it was quite good, it felt forced and unnecessary; the only real purpose served was to add a sense of threat to the narrative. I’m partial to it because it allowed Danny to shine and gave him a chance to be the hero. Being honest I was hoping for more references to the poem, especially as the DWM teaser for the episode was the poem itself.
7. Maebh in the TARDIS
The pre-titles scene this week was somewhat different to the previous three weeks in that it was light hearted and funny, mirroring perfectly the tone of the adventure we were about to witness. The content was the Doctor’s encounter with Maebh, a young girl who came looking for his help supposedly on the instructions of Miss Oswald (Clara). I thoroughly enjoyed seeing Capaldi getting to play a more childish role and he delivered some absolute belters including needing an appointment to see a Doctor, and comparing the TARDIS to Coke. If the Doctor was good in this scene, Maebh was great stealing the show with her comments about struggling to understand things so just accepting them. It shows that Cottrell Boyce has captured the child’s nature extremely well, something he is consistent in, providing a pleasant range of child characters.
6. The Forest Appears
Thematically the idea of a forest covering the entire surface of the planet, cropping up overnight and crippling major cities is just brilliant. Thankfully the realisation of the idea lives up to the promise of its potential as we are treated to an array of visually stunning scenes accompanied by an equally beautiful score by Murray Gold. The Doctor is the first to realise what has happened. Initially thinking his TARDIS is in the wrong place. The shot of Nelson’s Column is just incredible and things get even better as the camera pans to show all of London, covered in trees. Second to realise what happens is Clara, Danny and the team. They emerge from an overnight stay to witness the huge change. I loved almost every scene in the forest as it was very atmospheric and unique, however I do feel the episode missed a trick by not having part of the narrative set at night. That would have been just perfect.
5. Danny’s Morals
I must confess, I absolutely love Danny Pink’s character. Furthermore, I think this is the episode which handles him the best so far. We see a man who has a strong moral code and remains true to his duties despite what is going on around him. Essentially, despite having left the army, Danny is still very much a soldier, this is epitomised by his awareness of his responsibilities and his efforts to instil a sense of comradery within the group in the face of an unknown and potentially dangerous situation. This sense of duty is brought to the fore again when Clara highlights the fact that Danny would sooner stay on Earth and burn with the children than leave them. As Clara herself says, “Now that attitude is… actually very attractive.” Danny is a great character and an even better person. He is someone I would aspire to be like.
4. The Balcony Scene
How do you explain an event like trees growing all over the planet in a satisfactory manner without having too many implications on the universe the episode is set in? A first glance it would appear that Cottrell Boyce had written himself into somewhat of a hole. As it transpired it was one which he managed to get himself out of very well indeed. The inclusion of a last time demonstrates that the Doctor’s claim that people will forget, with the fear being the only thing that remained causing the memories to live on in fairy stories. Another interesting point to mention is the reference to superpowers (the second of this episode) and most certainly not the first this series. The best line of the lot goes to the one about forgetting how things felt otherwise we’d have stop killing (wars), or bringing new life (Birth). Essentially survival relies upon forgetting.
3. Danny Deserves the Truth
With the balancing act of lies which Clara has been playing, it was inevitable that it was going to come back to bite her at some point. As it transpired, she was caught out by leaving her marking books on the TARDIS and her insistence on making her students date their work. When Danny realised that he has been lied to, he confronts Clara about it and is surprised that even when the world is ending she is still reluctant to tell the truth. What is incredible about the situation is that Danny doesn’t get angry at her; he doesn’t demand the truth, as all he really wants is for her to trust him in the way that he trusts her. Likewise he doesn’t want to hear the truth immediately because he wants the trusting relationship to come from Clara, I don’t think he actually cares what the truth is. This is the best of many great moments between Pink Soufflé this week. Sadly, I can’t shake the feeling that something bad is going to happen to them in the finale due to the apparent foreshadowing.
2. The Solar Flare
Foxes music video may have spoiled this scene for me slightly, but it didn’t come in the way I was expecting at all. The threat of the episode is nature and that concept in itself is terrifying. The sun, the source of every single life on the planet is turned killer, and to make it worse, what happens in the script is entirely plausible to happen in reality. The shots of Earth from space with its new green colourisation were particularly beautiful, especially the ones which utilised the news bulletins. The solar flare itself is quite well executed. There is no disputing that Missy’s appearance added to this, why is she so invested in the events? Did she really want the Earth to end? Hopefully all will be addressed next week.
1. Clara Sends the Doctor Away
Scene of the week was never in dispute as the narrative delivered an incredibly poignant moment which is quite possibly my favourite moment of this series so far. With the situation looking totally hopeless, the team (yes I’m calling them that, sorry Samson) come to accept that this is the end of Earth. Clara suggests that the Doctor uses the TARDIS as a lifeboat to save a few people, only to reveal this was a ruse to get him to leave. It was quite interesting to have the dialogue from Kill the Moon repeated in a situation where what Clara wanted the Doctor to do was exactly the opposite. The actual idea that Earth was going to be destroyed and there was no way out was a harrowing one. I may be alone in wishing they had actually gone through with it, but that is something I’d love to have seen. Another wonderful moment with this one was when Clara proclaimed that she didn’t want to be the last of her kind, a true insight into her opinions on the Doctor perhaps?
Bonus: NEXT WEEK. THE FINALE BEGINS
Sadly the lasting impact from viewing this week’s episode comes from the next time trailer for the finale. Undoubtedly it is this which will occupy the minds of the majority of fans over the next week; as such In the Forest of the Night may not get the attention it deserves. Even with that in mind I can’t help but be mind-blown by the trailer, in fact I blame it for making a re-watch necessary to bring you this article. There we plenty of tantalising teases for what looks like it will be an incredible two-part (finally!) story. The trailer was too good to be ignored, but it would have been unfair to actually put it on the list at the expense of any of the others, so here’s your bonus moment. Is it next Saturday yet?