What happens when something mind-boggling unpredictable appears out of nowhere with no warning? Truly this line is part of the Doctor Who mythos, but “In the Forest of the Night” took that statement to a whole new level. As the entire Earth became filled with trees in less than three hours. And no one noticed until they stepped outside! Doctor included!
Truly both characters and fans were wondering the obvious question, “How did the worldwide forest come to be?” and of course, “How is this going to be fixed?” Especially when it was clear the Doctor himself didn’t quite know the cause or solution.
It was an interesting twist to involve Clara and Danny’s class, and have one of them be the “voice of the trees” so to speak. Especially when it was made clear that the girl wasn’t hearing voices metaphorically, but literally! The reveal of the spirits (for lack of a better word) was also nice. Especially when they talked about how they were here before the Doctor, and would be there afterward.
While maybe not the deepest story, you have to admit that the writer made the best of the “trees everywhere” situation. From the Doctor and Clara having to find clues to find the lost girl, to the trees breaking out the wolves and tiger at the zoo, to the trees being flame-resistant, it was all very cool.
But as true Doctor Who fans know, it’s the character interactions that truly make an episode special. I really liked the Doctor relating how trees were “mankinds nightmare”, which on certain levels is very true. The use of fairy tales was nicely placed. As was the Doctor’s analysis of how the Earth is changed because of catastrophes And then of course the “goodbye” scene between him and Clara was very heartfelt.
Somewhat less heartfelt was the conversations between Danny and Clara. Not that there wasn’t any tender moments, but some of their talks felt forced. I did like Danny being responsible and wanting to look after the kids first. Danny is clearly a very responsible person, and his military background really shined in this episode. But the one that rubbed me the wrong way was his talk about how one person is more amazing than a universe. It’s true to an extent, and Clara clearly felt the same way. However, the conversation right after was basically another argument about the Doctor. 180 much?
Also, Danny’s continued distrust of the Doctor was very annoying. Especially when the Doctor was trying to figure out what was wrong with the girl. Yes, he should want to look after her, but when the Doctor was clearly certain that something OTHER than what they suspected was going on, you give the man a bone!
The ending was very cool, as the trees were actually there to save humanity and not endanger it. Add to that the kids actually helping save the world, and you got a memory to last a lifetime. The return of the sister was a bit cheesy…but hey, it’s a fairy tale, we need a happy ending!
In the end, “In the Forest of the Night” was a very simple, yet very cool episode that captured the essence of a “what the heck just happened?” situation. Sure, not everything clicked, and the kids were slightly annoying at times. But this was an episode worth watching. And with only two episodes left this series, it’s about time we meet the lady in “heaven”.