Doctor Who: Sleep No More

Okay, I like Mark Gatiss, I really do! But what was he thinking, writing this episode? As you can probably guess by now, I am fairly confused about Doctor Who‘s Sleep No More, but let’s just dive into the review. Spoilers ahead!!!

sleepnomore

What was it about?

Told via found footage, the Doctor and Clara have to face creatures called the Sandmen. They came to life after people started using Morpheus machines, which prevent them from sleeping. In the end, the Doctor and Clara can escape, but the Sandmen may have spread across the universe anyway.

My thoughts?

I know that I have written better summaries for episodes, but I am still struggling with what I have actually seen tonight. To begin with, I am not a huge fan of the shaky-camera/found-footage trope, however, if done well, it can be quite cool. I am not sure Doctor Who handled it all that brilliantly though, because from the beginning you knew something was off. The POV’s just didn’t fit at all! (at least the Doctor caught on to that as well)

The crew was a fairly standard mix of leader, goofball and grumpy-guy. The Sandmen as monsters were a little scary, but not as great as e.g. the ghosts in the first couple of episodes. Sometimes, when the light hit them just right and you could see their gaping hole of a mouth that could swallow you whole, yes, that looked freaky. But other times, they just looked a little too clumsy and heavy to really frighten me, especially considering that they are blind. The only time I was really freaked out, was during the last scene. The Doctor and Clara had gotten away in their TARDIS and everything just felt incomplete. Something still wasn’t right, the Doctor even remarked on it and then the self-recorded message of Rassmussen continued to play. He looked the part of psychotic scientist, but Rassmussen didn’t exactly sweep me off my feet until the finale of the episode, when he crumbled to dust/sand in front of us.

That scene is also what I have the most issues with. Did the bad guy just win? Was the message sent to the entire solar system and do I know have to be scared of the sleep dust in my eyes? Sleep No More was the first stand-alone episode this season and it ended with worst of a cliffhanger than some of the other episodes. I get that Doctor Who has to remain an aura of mystery around itself, but I can honestly tell you that I did not like that at all. I don’t want this to be resolved or picked up again in two seasons-time. I was excited to finally get a stand-alone episode and I wondered if they were going to be able to keep up the fantastic work of the two-parters, but I have to say I was fairly disappointed.

Last but not least, Clara has been infected and the process has begun. Did we all just forget about that? Will that be her ultimate demise or just another plot hole in the show? Or wasn’t she infected after all, since it was the broadcast message and not the pods? Why were there cameras from her POV then? I obviously don’t know the answers to any of this, but somehow I feel really unsatisfied with what I got from Doctor Who tonight.

So, as freaked out and confused as I was about Sleep No More, I am now kind of looking forward to Face the Raven as it is the return of Rigsy. Even though I don’t want him to become the new companion, I’d like to see how he’s doing and how the Doctor will hopefully prevent his death. Until next time! Gimme your thoughts on Sleep No More!

36 thoughts on “Doctor Who: Sleep No More

  1. Oh, do I have a lot to say about this episode! First off, the found-footage trope. I’m fairly tired of this as well. Sure, it can be an interesting way to tell a story and really cool if done right, but I don’t think Doctor Who handled it well. Too shaky and it switched POVs too much. I also thought that the monsters looked too big and clumsy, and only really looked scary in certain lights. Maybe a few tweaks to their design might’ve actually made them terrifying.
    As for the confusing plot, let me explain: remember when the mad doc, Rassmusson, at the beginning of the episode, told us not to watch? Well, if you got sent a random message that might cause you to watch, right? That was Rassmusson’s plan, to get us to watch. He created that whole video in order to keep us watching, while every now and then sending out a signal through the video that caused the sleep-dust in our eyes to come to life (using the same technology as the Adipose, maybe?). He even engineered diversions like the gravity-shields failing and the whole thing about Patient X in order to keep viewer attention on.the video. That was his whole plan, hook viewers in and make them watch while he subtly created his Sandmen. That’s why the Doctor disabled the gravity shields at the end, he crashed the ship into Neptune before the signal could go out, saving humanity.
    Or did he? I think, like most horror movies this episode is trying to make us consider the possibility that not everything is happily ever after. Whether or not that will lead to another episode is hard to say, but it’s definitely in the horror movie tradition.
    As for Clara…it was her first time and she was only in the pod for less than a minute. She barely got the treatment, so maybe she’s not at as high a risk as someone like Nagata would be. And if an electronic signal causes the Sandmen, perhaps a sonic signal from those loathsome glasses can undo it. I think, anyway.
    All in all, not impressed in the least by the episode. You can tell that they really tried, but in the end it was more confusing than terrifying. Definitely a low point in this series.
    Cheer up though. Next week’s episode looks interesting, Rigsy is coming back, and an online preview I saw had another familiar character in it, so I think that’s a nice surprise to come.

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  2. Did not like! Agree with you on all counts. I watched this live on Saturday night at a convention with several hundred other people, and, exiting the hotel ballroom, the most common reaction from my fellow attendees was “What the heck was THAT?”. Mark Gatiss has even been remarking about the negative feedback on his Twitter feed … oh, well. Every season has to have a “worst” episode, so a misfire like this was bound to happen sooner or later …

    Liked by 1 person

    • Glad we agree 🙂 I hope that this really was the traditional low point of the season and that the remaining three episodes will be awesome. I am quite excited for next week, even though I have a feeling I am going to cry … a lot.

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