Published on June 20th, 2008 | by Simon Mills
Forest of The Dead
More real-time review madness from Simon R. Mills – I’d hate to watch Doctor Who with him in the house, talking all the way through it…
…and now, Forest of The Dead. Hmmm… Fear of The Dark! Recap with a reminder of that blood curdling scream from Her Majesty, The Queen of Scream, Saint Catherine of Tate! Diddley dum….
Ooh! Quick square gun cop out of last week’s cliffhanger. Girl watches the action as it happens in the library on her TV, cut to Donna in soapy hospital drama. Girl seems confused as to why Donna is there. Dr Moon meets Donna and says that he’s been treating her. Donna is confused, but Dr Moon utters the magic words "…and then you remembered" which seems to always flick a switch in his patients’ minds so they believe what he’s been saying. Who and what is Dr Moon? Why does he have this power over The Girl and now over Donna? He talks about Donna’s delusions of the Doctor and the TARDIS. In walks Lee McAvoy and we are we are fast forwarded through Lee and Donna’s romance, wedding and kids and another visit from Dr Moon. The Doctor briefly breaks through into Donna’s "reality" but quickly disappears. Dr Moon says "and then you forgot" again… and she does. This is great stuff, really getting the old grey cells going trying to figure out what Dr Moon is up to. Is he a good guy or a bad guy?
More lovely shots of library. Circling the wagons and testing the shadows for Vashta Nerada infestation. River is asked "Who is the Doctor?" and she responds that he is "the only story you’ll ever tell" and that she would "trust him to the end of the universe and trust me…we’ve been". River and the Doctor talks sonics at each other and it becomes increasingly evident that she is some "significant" person from his own personal future. Lux says that they are "squabbling like an old married couple," which more or less confirms what we suspect about their future relationship. She whispers a word in the Doctor’s ear and he is aghast and now believes her when she says he can trust her. He pauses and then launches into shouty spiel. "Tell me about the moon…" The Doctor Moon," reveaks Lux is a virus checker and maintenance software. Aha! Dr Moon! Donna’s image appears from the screwdriver and we realise this is the point at which he broke through into her "reality" but she is quickly gone. The Doctor sadly tells Anita she has two shadows. Doc tints the visor to try and fool the Vashta Nerada and then the "Ghost" of Proper Dave comes shambling around the corner. "Hey! Who turned out the lights?!?!"
The Girl watches Donna on telly with kids. Donna spots shadowy figure out of window and is starting to think something is wrong… as soon as she thinks of something then she’s there, as if no time had passed and then she "remembers" what happened in the meantime. It is now night time and she sees shadowy figure out of window again as a letter comes through the door. Lee reads it, "Dear Donna…the world is wrong…meet tomorrow"
The Girl shouts at Donna on her TV "don’t go" as Donna goes to meet the figure who then explains how time progresses in the time of the dream. The figure reveals itself as what is left of Miss Evangelista.
Doc and gang on run through corridores. "Hey! Who turned out the lights?" Doc tries to talk to Vashta Nerada, explaining they can use the communicator to "Point and think". They have discussion about why Vashta Nerada are in the library. They say they hatched there. These are our forests. The Doctor soon realises that the books in the library were there forest. Other Dave is now eaten. The Doctor is now trapped between the two Vashta Nerada occupied Daves and is conveniently standing on a trap door which he uses to escape. Hmmm… a bit too convenient for dramatic purposes, but we’ll let this slip at the moment. The story is otherwise top-notch so far.
Donna is talking with Evangelista who explains that "we’re all dead here" and that Donna’s kids "were never alive," pointing out that all the kids in the playground are identical – they’re from the same pattern. Evangelista has a warped face. The Girl, watching this on her TV still, screams.
Song talks about "her" Doctor, saying that armies turn and run away and that he opens TARDIS doors with click of his fingers. "I am the Doctor," he says, but she simply answers, "not yet". Anita asks what Song said to Doc to make him trust her but she doesn’t answer. The Doctor suddenly realises that the computer has been saying "saved" and not "safe" and this means the occupants were saved to the computer’s hard drive.
Donna says "this isn’t my real body…but I’ve been dieting!". Evangelista explains more, "decimal point shifted in my IQ" which makes her very clever. Ha! That’s one in the eye for the people who thought her stoopid! "One word…CAL" The Girl is getting upset now and shouts at Evangelista on the TV. Zaps daddy and alarms go off in library while Donna’s world has turned red.
Dr Moon is now with The Girl again and reveals that she saved them all… "and then you forgot." The Girl promptly zaps Dr Moon.
Doc and gang jump on lift to get to computer core.
Donna and kids. Bed time. Kids realize they’re not real. Moffat seems to have a knack of writing quite good "kiddialogue" (Kopic likes this new word – must find more uses for it!) "Mummy promises to never close her eyes again…" but kids disappear, anyway. Donna is distraught.
"Auto destruct in 15 mins"
Girl is struck down. "Please help me!"
At the core we hear The Girl’s voice. Mr Lux reveals secret at core of computer… Girls face on node. "She IS the computer" and she’s family. "Charlotte Abigail Lux" (CAL in case you hadn’t realised ages ago…) was dying, so her mind was saved into computer. "She saved everone in the library". The Doctor plans to hook himself up to use his brain space so that everyone that was saved can be returned to the real world. Anita has now been eaten. The Doctor is really annoyed about that but makes bargain by telling the Vashta Nerada to "look me up!" Song knocks The Doctor out and hooks herself up instead. "You’ve always known how I was going to die" she tells him when he comes round. This is nice dramatic stuff, reminding us just how complicated a relationship with a time-traveller can be. River dies during The Doctor’s very first encounter with her, but to her this is the very end of their relationship and, in fact, her life.
Donna and Lee are zapped along with their world. "I’ll find you!" she cries as they are a separated.
All the library people are now returned to the real world and, for some peculiar reason, are all wearing black. Maybe black is all the rage in the 51st century?
It is now the Doctor’s turn to be distraught now that Song has gone. Has there been any episode this year when the Doctor hasn’t been distraught about something or other? We likes Tennant, we does, but we doesn’t need him emoting ALL the time. Mind you, so far this year this is the only time when it really seems to fit the story.
Donna and the Doctor are now reunited and she asks him if he’s all right. He tries to nonchalantly answer that he’s always all right. Donna asks if this is "special time lord code for really not alright…coz I’m alright too". Kopic doesn’t think we’ve ever seen such a deep friendship portrayed on screen between Doctor and companion before.
This episode seems to have a number of finales. Next we see a touching moment where Lee with the stutter is unable to call out to Donna just before he is teleported away. What’s the word I’m looking for? "Tragedy" and in the true Shakespearean sense of tragedy (not that I’m comparing Moffat or RTD of being comparable to Shakespeare, of course). "What happens to me?" Donna asks The Doctor. "This is her diary…my future…I could look you up…? Shall we peek at the end?" Donna says, "spoilers, right?" They leave the book and River’s sonic behind…. "next chapter’s this way" announces The Doctor as they walk off.
Just like The Lord of The Rings movies, just when you thought it was all over another ending comes along! The Doctor runs back…"why would I give her the sonic screwdriver?!?!?" He fumbles a bit and then finds a secret compartment where River has been saved into one of those communicator things… so he dives headlong into the lift shaft, plunging down to the planet’s computer core and plugs her into the computer just before she expires for good so she can live a virtual life with her friends. The Girl is now joined by River and her dead friends all wearing white and says that The Doctor has fixed the data core. Hugs all round.
The Doctor smiles wryly and opens TARDIS doors with a click of fingers and closes them again from within with another click. This is a nice montagey thing. Kopic envisages lots of computer screens the world over with these images as their desktop wallpapers…
River now has the virtual kids, including CAL, and everyone seems happy with this state of affairs. The world is good. "Sweet dreams, everyone"