Season 9, Episode 9 “Sleep No More”
Directed by Justin Molotnikov
Written by Mark Gatiss
Starring Peter Capaldi, Jenna Coleman, Reece Sheersmith, Elaine Tan
Air date: Saturday, November 14, 2015
This week’s episode of Doctor Who, 9.9 “Sleep No More,” seems to pose a question: Can the Doctor ever lose? In over 50 years, we’ve seen some rather pyrrhic victories (as in “Doctor Who And The Silurians” or “A Good Man Goes To War”), some inevitable stalemates (as in “Genesis Of The Daleks), or even the occasional tragedy (as in “Earthshock”), but we’ve rarely, if ever, seen him lose. What would a loss look like? Would the Doctor escape? Would anyone be hurt? How would the Doctor fail to grasp the full scope of the situation?
Writer Mark Gatiss presents us with such a situation this week. Framed as a sort of found-footage horror film, the Doctor and Clara escape with their lives but allow their enemy to achieve its goal. This raises two competing sets of issues. First, there are matters of plot convention; the twist ending that sets up an escape and/or sequel to a horror film is a pretty stock affair at this point. At the same time, this competes with the fact that the Doctor’s success rate averages somewhere very close to 100 percent of the time. An entity that defeats the Doctor had better be something pretty special, and sadly, much of “Sleep No More” is worse than average. Given Gatiss’ track record with the series, as well as his work on Sherlock and An Adventure In Space And Time, one should hope for better. This time, he pretty well missed the mark.
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