A great Doctor Who episode can always do with a good mystery, and this week’s is no exception. When you have a seasoned writer like Frank Cottrell Boyce take the reins of writing an episode of Doctor Who, you know you’re in for an interesting tale.
In the Forest of the Night is a rather interesting tale that’s spun this week, with a mystery in contemporary London that baffles The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), and Danny Pink (Samuel Anderson), for the entire Earth has apparently overgrown with trees overnight.
A seeming impossibility of a concept, In the Forest of the Night does well to continue the curiosity, but still keep it relatively plausible in the universe of Doctor Who. There are no mind-twisty time travel discussions here, nor are there any real antagonists that threaten our heroes this time around, just a load of questions that are looking to be answered.
Director Sheree Folkson does a stellar job balancing the constant oddity of a concept with character-building and humorous asides. Much like London in the episode, In the Forest of the Night just looks a little bit different compared to other episodes, attributed in part to the cinematography used. A lot of the episode just looks wonderful in the fictional overgrown city, with imagery like Nelson’s Column in the overgrowth to the raging sun shining through the density of the forest, plus the TARDIS is given a nice visual spin with the angles used and the handheld videography – it’s very much taken with a childlike eye.
Which is on point, for In the Forest of the Night is very much a child-centric tale. It doesn’t hurt that this week’s events happen when Clara and Danny have taken a school trip to an overnight stay at a museum. Throughout the entire episode, as well as the main enigmatic focus, In the Forest of the Night deals with the children in the world of Doctor Who, which is always a nice angle to take in the show, and it shows them in full force here, interacting with the Doctor, Companions, and the very mysteries in the episode.
What doesn’t quite work, and what is the main criticism for this week, is the child acting. A lot of it is really bad, and only some bits shine through. A lot of the supporting cast is weak in that respect, but the overall episode is still very effective. It continues to hold the audience’s attention with the whole unknown situation and how everything continues to build to a eureka of a climax.
If anything, In the Forest of the Night is a very strong episode to go into the two-part series finale. It was a wise decision to pair a strong script by Frank Cottrell Boyce with the balanced and visual directorial style of director Sheree Folkson.
All eyes really now are on showrunner Steven Moffat and director Rachel Talalay, for they are bringing us a two-part finale that already has one hooked with the sneak peek trailer.
Here’s to a very rather strong series of Doctor Who so far, and for the streak to continue.