The Doctor and Clara are surprised when Rigsy–“Local Knowledge” from last season’s story “Flatline”–calls the TARDIS emergency line. He’s got a tattoo on the back of his neck, but he doesn’t know where it came from. Indeed, he doesn’t remember anything about the events of the previous night. But this tattoo is no ordinary tattoo–it’s counting down minutes. And, as the Doctor discovers, they are the number of minutes Rigsy has left to live. Together the three explore the hidden streets of London for the people who gave him the tattoo, and stumble upon a strange world of secret aliens trying to live in peace, ruled by a long-time acquaintance. It seems a crime has been committed, and Rigsy stands accused. He must either prove himself innocent, or “face the raven.” Time’s running out, and, unknown to the Doctor, the stakes are higher than he could imagine…
SPOILER ALERT!! My comments may (and likely will) contain spoilers for those that haven’t seen the episode. If you want to stay spoiler-free, please watch the story before you continue reading!
After last week’s questionable offering from Mark Gatiss, we get back to form with, I think, a much more solid story. The idea that an ancient city like London might have hidden streets, like hidden closets or rooms in an old house, is very appealing. There’s so much you can do with that, like, for example, have a street where all kinds of otherwise hostile aliens co-exist under a peace agreement. Outbreaks of lawlessness are punished by death, and the countdown to death is marked on the accused’s neck. Sentence is carried out by “the raven”–a shade that can hunt a people down wherever they might be, so there’s no escaping justice. Of course, this is a fallible, Draconian justice, where guilt is determined more by crowd opinion than by evidence (do we have a bit of social commentary here?), and even stealing medical supplies for one’s spouse is punishable by death.
It was nice to have Rigsy back. He was one of the more popular characters from last season, and, given his involvement with the events in “Flatline,” I suppose he was a natural choice for a comeback. Of course, if Moff would bring back Rigsy, one imagines he has plans to bring back Shona from “Last Christmas”–she was also a fan favorite, and considered by many to be companion material. Who knows…?
Speaking of new companions, I suppose that spot is now vacant since this episode saw Clara’s departure. Russell T. Davies managed to avoid killing off companions, but Moff seems a little less willing to give the Doctor’s companions a nice send-off. Amy and Rory were both sucked back in time by Weeping Angels (“The Angels Take Manhattan”), and Clara unwittingly seals her own doom by taking Rigsy’s tattoo. Her final scene with the Doctor was very emotional, and I’m sure there were few dry eyes as Clara accepted her fate, and chose not to run but to face the raven. I have to say, while it was good and powerful, I thought it a bit drawn out. I found myself thinking back to Adric’s demise in “Earthshock.” There was something very simple and understated about it that made it, I think, at least as powerful. His last goodbye to his friends as they left him to solve the logic puzzle that would give him control over the ship–the Doctor knowing the odds were slim he would survive. The shot of Adric gripping his brother’s belt, after the dying Cyberman shoots the control panel, ending any hope Adric had of getting out alive. The shot of the ship crashing into the Earth, the Doctor, Nyssa, and Tegan watching helplessly from the safety of the TARDIS. The silent credit role at the end over Adric’s broken badge. That, to me, was as gut-wrenching as Clara’s speech, the Doctor’s protestations, and Clara’s slo-mo death fall and silent scream. But it was a bold end to the impossible girl’s time on Who, and, as always, brilliantly performed. The little tribute to Clara after the credits was also a nice touch.
So I was wrong about last week’s story having anything to do with Clara’s exit, which is a shame. That really does relegate “Sleep No More” to being this season’s “Love and Monsters.” Sorry, Mark!
It appears this was all a grand plot to capture the Doctor. Someone needs him, someone who could not have asked the Doctor directly because he would have refused. And now the Doctor has been transported away, and I can’t help thinking Missy’s involved in this somehow. I guess we’ll find out next time.
There are my thoughts–what did you think?