Doctor Who in Review: Season Four, Episode #9 – Forest of the Dead
[EDITOR’S NOTE: My apologies for the late arrival of this week’s "Doctor Who in Review." We’ve been catching up after all of the Wizard World Chicago chaos! It’s times like these that I could really use a TARDIS. – RM]
The hit BBC series Doctor Who is now in its fourth season on the Sci-Fi Channel, and since we’re all big fans here at ComicMix, we’ve decided to kick off an episode-by-episode analysis of the reinvigorated science-fiction classic.
Every week, I’ll do my best to go through the most recent episode with a fine-tooth comb (or whatever the "sonic screwdriver" equivalent might be) and call out the highlights, low points, continuity checks and storyline hints I can find to keep in mind for future episodes. I’ll post the review each Monday, so you have ample time to check out the episode once it airs each Friday at 9 PM EST on Sci-Fi Channel before I spoil anything.
Missed a week? Check out the "Doctor Who in Review" archive or check out any of the past editions of this column via the links at the end of this article.
Keep in mind, I’m going to assume readers have already watched the episode when I put fingers to keyboard and come up with the roundup of important plot points. In other words, SPOILER ALERT!
Let’s begin now, shall we?
Season Four, Episode #9: "Forest of the Dead"
IN BRIEF: The race of shadow creatures known as the Vashta Nerada continue to hunt The Tenth Doctor and the team of archeologists who journeyed to The Library to investigate why its inhabitants vanished years ago. Meanwhile, Donna Noble begins a new life without The Doctor, but discovers that everything is not as it seems. In the end, The Doctor discovers that all The Library needs is a reboot of sorts, but the new beginning for all of the lives The Library saved comes at the cost of a woman that might be the love of his life… a lifetime (or more) from now.
SPOILER WARNING: For everyone watching the series on the BBC schedule as opposed to the Sci-Fi Channel schedule, remember River Song’s warning to The Doctor about spoilers! In order to provide this feature each week, I’m trying to keep on the Sci-Fi schedule, so keep that in mind when you comment here. If it hasn’t happened yet on this side of the pond, don’t tell us about it!
WHAT’S IN A NAME? Once again, the mystery of The Doctor’s true name pops up and we’re left wondering exactly if/when it will come into play in the greater story of the season and/or series. We’ve been fed clues about this mystery all season, with some of the most significant coming from "The Fires of Pompeii." The plot thickens!
LINE OF THE WEEK: "I’m The Doctor and you’re in the biggest library in the universe. Look me up."
DOCTOR GLASS JAW? While The Doctor’s brain has always been his best weapon, I never expected him to the glass jaw type. So, was his one-punch knockout by River Song an indication that he’s been bluffing all along, or was he taking a dive for the sake of preserving his timeline? The First Doctor (William Hartnell) often came out on the wrong end of tussles, but The Ninth and Tenth Doctors have always struck me as sturdier stuff. Of course, maybe River Song just throws a mean right cross.
FUTURE CONTINUITY CHECK: After River knocks out The Doctor, it’s interesting to note her realization that The Doctor she meets in the future must have always known about her death in The Library, since he actually met her at this earlier point in his timeline. It’s this sort of timey-wimey, wibbley-wobbley recursion that makes it a real drag to date time-travelers, I’d imagine.
THE CREATURE REPORT: As I originally mentioned in my review of the first part of the story, the use of the ambling spacesuits with free-floating skulls continues to be a clever way to provide a physical form for what is otherwise an ambiguous villain. Additionally, the distorted face of Miss Evangelista provides a great, flinch-inducing reveal.
SONG SUNG BLUE: Way back in "Planet of the Ood," The Doctor was told, "your song must end soon." So what did the Ood mean? Rumors abound when it comes to the potential connection between the Ood’s cryptic message and this episode, with some suggesting they might have meant River Song, who sacrifices herself to save The Doctor (and The Library’s inhabitants). So do we finally have our answer? Something tells me that there might be more to this one… but it’s an intriguing theory, isn’t it?
NEVER LEND ANYONE YOUR TOOLS: Maybe someone else can help me out on this one: The Doctor seemed a bit concerned during this episode about River Song’s possession of a sonic screwdriver, yet back in the first episode of this season, "Partners in Crime," he tossed a sonic tool much like his own into a trash bin. One would think that if the sonic screwdriver were such a rarity, he would’ve held on to the one he encountered a few episodes ago. Anyone?
FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF THE NEXT EPISODE, "Midnight": I wonder who’s playing William Shatner’s role this time. "There’s… something… on… the wing! Some… thing!"
Thanks to the good people at The Doctor Who Wiki for information related to several of this week’s story notes.
Want to know what you’ve been missing? Check out all of the past "Doctor Who in Review" features via the following links: