According to some, this is apparently the “Doctor-lite” episode of the season, but you really wouldn’t believe it in terms of the Time Lord’s engagement with the story, and the amount of time he’s on screen. True, circumstances mean that he and Clara are of necessity separated, but he’s always there to lend a hand – or whatever else may be required.
There’s a wonderful idea at the heart of this story, one that it’s something of a surprise that the series hasn’t ever tackled before, particularly given the reference to Relative Dimension in the TARDIS acronym. As with Mummy on the Orient Express last week, writer Jamie Mathieson doesn’t hesitate to enter horror territory, with director Douglas Mackinnon giving the whole episode an air of impending doom, with effective use of light, shadows and unusual perspectives. There are some genuinely shocking moments and a very nice visual treatment for this week’s foe – as well as for those that they affect.
It’s not all darkness by any means – there are some wonderful moments of character humour, as well as one of either the cleverest or the stupidest visual gags the programme has ever done (I go with the former; I’m absolutely certain there will be many who ascribe to the latter opinion). The relationship between the Doctor and Clara takes yet another turn and I’m really hoping that things won’t be rushed in the final three episodes of the season. Steven Moffat was right in his comparison of their relationship with that of Sarah Jane Smith with her two original Doctors – like that, the change in the leading man has brought out a whole new side of the companion, which will be good to see continue.
Verdict: A strong run of episodes is maintained with this creepy, effective tale. 8/10