Well…that was different, and in a good way! The funny thing about Doctor Who is that the seasons can go up and down in terms of quality, but then, in every season/series, there is an episode or two that you’ll remember forever. “Sleep No More” may just be that one for Series 9. Why? Because not only did it tell an epic, mysterious, and horrifying story in one episode (the first standalone of the series), but it left it hanging in a way that you know will have to be revisited at some time.
What really made it interesting was that “Sleep No More” fully embraced the now standard “found footage” genre. But unlike many of the movies, Doctor Who did it in a way that was not only believable, but broke the mold by revealing WHY this was in the style of found footage.
When the Doctor and Clara are stuck on a space station where all the crew are dead, and the only living people are a rescue crew, one “saved” person, and a bunch of monsters created from a sleep machine called Morpheus, things get really spooky. I can’t tell you how good this mystery was. Sometimes shows go too far in trying to tease the end or “reveal” what really happened. But Mark Gatiss (who has written many Doctor Who episodes, and Sherlock!) knew just how much information to give, and when to give, all the while being true to the characters.
For example? The “cameras”? Weren’t cameras! They were living organisms “spying” on everyone…or almost everyone. As this was a byproduct of the Morpheus machine. Which “helped” people keep working by “saving” them from a full nights sleep, by giving it to them in 5 minutes. Yeah…cause what could possibly go wrong with that?!?!?!?!?
I liked how though this was “standard” in the 38th century (on Triton no less), not everyone dug it. Espeically Clara and The Doctor, who talked about how sleep was necessary for every lifeform ever, and that it is blessed, and should not be conquered.
Another thing that really worked here was that you didn’t really get to see the Sandmen in fully view, the lighting and “camera” shots prevented that. That upped the horror and mystery factor, all the while not making them seem less than what they really were. Monsters.
And then there’s the ending! Oh what a cliffhanger! Just when you think the Doctor has it all figured out (though he fully admitted he didn’t!) we find out that the “master plan” was already delivered! Making this a story that we’ll have to pick up eventually…else there may be no future…and we know that’s not right.
“Sleep No More” may just be one of the defining episodes of this series of Doctor Who. Unlike “The Zygon Reversion” it wasn’t because of one scene, but the whole episode. Let’s hope the Sandmen come back soon…