Spoilers…. *Yawn* Sorry, a bit sleepy here.
I was a expecting perhaps a little too much from Doctor Who 9×09: Sleep No More. As I was already alerted that this was going to be one of those dream-related episodes based on the title, I was prepared for the dream-within-a-dream scenario. Then again, I’m not going to count that scenario out and you probably can guess why. I’ll tell you later down this post. Suffice to say for now that we get a little space adventure and the stuff that dreams (or nightmares) are made of. That needs some clarification.
We’re breaking a few rules here. We get no title music, no classic intro. Instead it’s found footage compiled by Professor Rassmussan, a scientist and inventor who owns this space laboratory orbiting Neptune. The station has fallen silent and a rescue team has been dispatched. Commander Nagata leads this team comprised of team members Chopra, Deep-Ando and 474, presented in datasheet fashion. The footage comes from each of the member’s viewpoints and the station camera footage. The Doctor and Clara Oswald walk into the shot as they’re chatting about space things while they casually stroll through a corridor.
The idea behind camera footage works and it doesn’t. Essentially we get different viewpoints with some movement. Nothing as extreme as Cloverfield or The Blair Witch Project, but just enough to drive home the idea that we’re watching it all from a character’s helmet camera. There’s this new invention to get a full night’s rest equivalent through five minutes of apnea inside this pod called Morpheus, which has its fans and its detractors. The inventor is Professor Rassmussan himself, who’s actually the one person left to rescue in the ship. Nobody else remains.
Except for the Sandmen. According to the Doctor’s theory, suppressing sleep through technology can have it costs. Although the idea of Morpheus is already a hit back in Earth, the pods in this laboratory are a new improved version. That have a few bugs to work out. Mainly, it seems like the dust that accumulates in your eyes when you sleep turns into a living entity that wants to digest you. So it’s not really the stuff dreams are made of, more more like they’re made of the stuff of dreams. In a scene that quite on purpose is not quite followed closely, Clara gets dragged into one of these pods. And taken out again.
Or is she? Well, the episode barges on as the Doctor and Clara finally vacate the ship via the TARDIS, after being swarmed by Sandmen and with nobody left to rescue. Professor Rassmussan is gunned down by Commander Nagata in a previous scene. It is then that we discover that the Rassmussan that has been talking to us is just made of sand. Also, Nagata makes it very clear they don’t have helmet cameras. Actually, after being inside one of the Morpheus pods, we can even see the footage from Clara’s own viewpoint. Never from the Doctor or Chopra, though. Neither of them use the pod.
I found this episode a little lacking. There are a few rescuable things to take from this episode, but the Sandmen are hardly on the same scary level than the Silence or the Weeping Angels. The Doctor himself screams that this makes no sense as he manages to follow Clara through the TARDIS. I was expecting the whole dream-within-a-dream scenarios, but who knows. Perhaps a few episodes from now, Clara will wake up to find out she’s still in the pod.
- I didn’t really find the Sandmen scary at all. Walking mounds of sand and mucus are hardly frightful. The idea they come from your sleep is halfway there. A better design would’ve been the other half. Also, if they are build-up from these new 2.0 pods, where is the buildup occurring? They seem to just show up around the corners.
- I know I didn’t recap the episode. I just don’t like runarounds, and this is another. First they run here, then there, then all around. Yes, it’s probably the same passage over and over.
- I did like the non-traditional diverse crew. It’s the 38 century. Japan and India have formed an alliance after an undisclosed major catastrophe. The casting complies with that future. That was very welcome.
- There’s a nice moment where Deep-Ando is trying to get away from the Sandmen and gain entry into a locked door. The computer states he has to sing the door. Producer Nikki Wilson plays the voice of the computer, which is slightly off tone in way similar to GlaDOS’ voice (the computer from the game Portal in case you live under a rock).
- Unfortunately, technological misuse is rampant in the 38 century. The enigmatic 474 is a Grunt, a lab-created human for manual work with low intelligence. 474 does have a nice moment saving Chopra, however. 474 is played by Bethany Black.
- So are we going to have a moment from now, sometime in a future episode in which Clara wakes up?
That will do for now.