Doctor Who: Flatline

Doctor Who (Photo: Adrian Rogers / BBC Worldwide)
Doctor Who (Photo: Adrian Rogers / BBC Worldwide)

Jamie Mathieson provides the best – and creepiest – episode of this season of Doctor Who.

If there’s one thing I’ve pulled from the last two episodes of Doctor Who, it’s that the show needs to keep Jamie Mathieson on retainer and let him write as many episodes as he wants.  Mathieson’s episodes, particularly this week’s, “Flatline”, have managed to travel new ground and have played with wildly creative images while also continuing this season’s through-line of the relationship between Clara and the Doctor.  “Flatline” is easily my favorite episode this season, and maybe even my favorite episode of the show in the past few years.

With a dimensional anomaly shrinking the TARDIS and sapping its energy, Clara had to play Doctor for the week while figuring out just what was happening in Bristol.  The Boneless, as this week’s enemy got named by the end of the hour, were legitimately creepy – how would a two-dimensional creature attempting to understand the third dimension test things out? – and the effects on this episode (which featured couches turning 2D, murals coming to life, and other frightening dimensional transformations) completely fit the tone of the episode.  The Doctor dealing with the suddenly shrunken TARDIS led to some great Addams Family-style visual images as he essentially hung out in Clara’s purse the whole episode, and unlike the last episode that dealt with 2-D things come to horrifying life 1, the resolution for this episode felt thrilling and earned.

While dealing with dimensional anomalies from another world, we also got a few new ideas of what’s potentially to come in the last 3 episodes of the series2.  It seems like our friend Missy somehow selected Clara and is particularly proud of her progress so far, so that’s likely to pop up near the end.  More likely to pop up sooner, however, is the Doctor’s realization that Clara has lied to him about Danny being fine with her traveling.  She turned out to be a good Doctor for the day, but as he told her, “goodness had nothing to do with it”.  Something dark is coming, and as I’ve been saying all season, this is not going to end well.

Stray Thoughts:

  • This is totally the type of episode that would have had 9-year-old me hiding behind the sofa and afraid of chalk murals
  • Seriously, though, let Jamie Mathieson write as many more episodes as he wants because this and Mummy on the Orient Express were both absolutely fantastic.
  • As far as this season’s been going, this has been surprisingly consistent and high quality.  I don’t recall a season I’ve enjoyed so fully since Eleven’s first season a few years ago.


  1. the execrable “Fear Her” from Series 2  
  2. How are we already so close to the end?  It seems like just yesterday a giant dinosaur had appeared in the Thames.  

A Brief Word From Our Sponsors:

About Ben Smith 228 Articles
Ben has been writing about TV, music, and pop culture in some form or another since 2009, including stints at Mental Floss and Temporary Obsession. When not solving puzzles of some sort or consuming pop culture at a frightening pace, he can be found collecting shiny pieces of the internet at E-mail: