Flatline is a strong contender for the best episode this season. This was a fascinating, unique and fun episode that may become one of those episodes that I re-watch constantly. It was strong throughout, literally everything they were aiming for hit the mark perfectly. This episode actually reminded me of how I reacted watching Blink for the first time, this is due to the fact that it introduces a unique monster with some effective uses of SFX that actually adds to the effect of the monster.
The special effects in this episode were some of the best we have seen so far in season 8, they illustrated the monster perfectly; capturing the whole premise of the creature in a few simple tricks. The artists behind this episode clearly used observation of real-life to incorporate it into the monster here. There were some elements of the creature’s movement that reflected paint running when wet or paper being crumpled. The effects with perspective and dimensions was mind bending, there were science fiction moments in this episode that I can honestly say I have never seen done before. One scene in particular that I was impressed by was the death of the man in the jacket with the number 22 on the front. The work with perspective that was done here was genius, we didn’t know that he had been taken until the camera shifted angle; the monster kills people by turning them into what is essentially a 2 dimensional image on whatever is next to them. Therefore when the camera was looking at the character side on it looked as though he was just standing still in the same position as before, unfortunately for number 22 when the camera pans slightly one way we realise that actually one half of 22’s body is painted onto a box and his’ upper half onto the wall behind it. It is only from a diagonal angle that you can tell that his appearance is distorted.
Jamie Mathieson trotted out another dynamic script with punchy dialogue and a nice self-contained story, this is makes sense as after looking at his’ IMDB page it appears he has written for Being Human (UK) which was another fantastically written British show. The dialogue was so well written that the episode remained engaging throughout, I was engrossed until the last few seconds. The pacing was masterful, at one point when I was watching I was actually surprised by how much time had gone by. Just like his work in the previous week on Mummy on the Orient Express, Mathieson had an excellent knowledge of who the characters are. Throughout the episode the personalities were in sharp focus; there wasn’t a single scene this week where the Doctor or Clara did something that felt out of character for them. Just like last week the writer of this episode provided a fresh way of illustrating the characters.
The episode had an interesting dynamic; much like in Blink, the episode focusses largely on normal humans trying to survive against a seemingly unstoppable force. Like in Blink, the Doctor took a back seat for most of the episode only getting involved in the fight at the last-minute when things were looking bleak.
This was a fantastic episode with a tease at the bigger picture in the closing scenes of the episode, next episode looks a lot of fun too, planet Earth after its major cities have been transformed into forests. You can expect a review next week of In the Forest of the Night.