Doctor Who: Review, Sleep No More, or Fight It and Nap

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This was an unusual episode of Doctor Who, in many ways. There was no musical opening; it wasn’t a two-parter, but didn’t end on a save-the-world note, and gosh darn it, it was relatively stupid. At least until you got to the end, and even then, I’m not sure. I can see Gattis and Moffat sitting in an office, looking over submissions from writers, banging their heads on their desks. “Well, sleep’s a good idea, but the crap in the corner of your eyes making monsters??? Oh, who cares, the rest of the episodes have been so good, nobody will notice.”

I really have to stop live tweeting with the show, or at least trying to keep an eye on the tweets – this episode was disjointed on purpose, and while many episodes have some continuity, some flow of ideas, this one bounced from thing to thing. 38th Century? “Grunts” grown in labs? And a minor hit from the 1950s still being remembered nearly 2000 years later? That was one of the most unbelievable parts. Sure, it was resurrected for “Fallout,” but it’s an awful song. (If you really need to hear it again, the video is below.)

The Doctor has come across a new monster species that he concludes is the result of this Morpheus process, created from eye b… dust. That’s just ridiculous. And I don’t know why the Doctor didn’t decide that as well. If we can see it, why couldn’t he? And at the end of the episode, we see Rasmussen talking to the camera, you figure it out – it’s not human waste, it’s an invading species using an electronic signal they’ve inserted into what, on the surface (to 38th Century people at least, I love my sleep) is a desirable machine. So if all the people use the machine or watch the video, everybody becomes a Sandman.

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And the episode ends on a cliffhanger! The Doctor says that they must “sort” Clara and everybody on Triton out – get any Sandman out of them – and then destroy all the Morpheus machines, but we know that won’t stop the invasion. And no, this isn’t a two-parter – so is it just my OCD, or does this need to be resolved? Did we care enough about this episode to want to return to it? After last week’s bravura performance in The Zygon Invasion, this episode was quite a letdown, and I’m not sure I’m interested enough in what I thought was a waste of an hour (although, to be honest, no Doctor Who is a waste, there are some that just aren’t as good as others) to come back to this odd idea. What do you think? I for one am going to fight the Sandmen by getting a good nights’ sleep!

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And on to this week’s quoteys!

Clara: Do you ever get the feeling you’re being watched?
Doctor: Paranoia.
Clara: Why is it so dark?
Doctor: Nighttime setting?  Faulty filament? Three-day week?

Clara: Looks like a Japanese restaurant. Oh! Have you brought me to a space restaurant?
Doctor: People never do that, you know.
Clara: Do what?
Doctor: They never put the word “space” in front of something just because everything’s all sort of high tech and futurey. It’s never “space” restaurant, or “space” champagne, or “space”,  you know, hats. It’s just restaurant, champagne, or hats. Even if this was a restaurant.
Clara: What about space suits?
Doctor: Peasant.

Nagata: You crew? Are you crew?
Doctor: (pulling out psychic paper)
Nagata: Engineering stress assessors?
Doctor: Yes. We are. We’re here to, uh…
Clara: We’re here to assess… stress.
Doctor: The stress.
Nagata: So, what happened?
Doctor: From the beginning of time, that’s a very long story. Well, we just arrived, you know, and there was nobody, but… What are you doing here?
Nagata: 24 hours ago, this station fell silent. No comm signal, no nothing. Dead. We came to find out why.
Doctor: Theories?
Nagata: Could be anything. Meteorite strike, space pirates…
Clara: Ah! See! Not just pirates, SPACE pirates.
Doctor: So, what, you are a rescue mission? Of four?
Nagata: All  right. So you’ll consider yourself…
Doctor: Part of the furniture?
Nagata: Under my command.
Doctor: Really?
Nagata: Yes, really.

Clara: I still  don’t know where we are.
Doctor: Indo-Chinese. (licking his finger) 38th century. Tuesday.
Clara: 38th century?
Doctor: Hm. After the great catastrophe, there was a tectonic realignment. India and Japan, they’re submerged.
Clara: I still don’t know where the crew is. A place this size – hey, what? Great catastrophe? What great catastrophe?
Doctor: Well, you’ve got a lot to look forward to, don’t you. This place looks like it’s been dead for a long while.

Chopra: He could have killed me!
Nagata: That’s how they grow, you know that. They react to any attack.
Clara: Grow?!
Nagata: They might not give them much upstairs, but our friend here knows how to fight. You’d be glad of her in a tight corner, I’d expect.
Clara: What does she mean, “grown”?
Doctor:  She’s a grunt, Clara. They’re bred in hatcheries. Clone muscles, low intelligence, brute force. Instant army.
Clara: That’s disgusting.
Doctor: Well, that’s how they roll in the 38th century.

Doctor: Hold my hand.
Clara: I’m ok.
Doctor: I’m not.

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Computer: May the Gods look favorably on us all. Friends. We live in a time of unparallelled prosperity. A golden age of peace, harmony and industry. But every shift must come to an end. Every working day must  stop. Of  course we can take stimulants to make that deadline, to keep us propped up for that important meeting. But always, always, sleep claims us in the end. Until now.
Doctor: Sleep deprivation pods?
Chopra: Not exactly.
Computer: Welcome, Morpheus. The Morpheus machine concentrates the whole nocturnal experience into one 5-minute burst. Now you can go a whole month without sleep. All the benefits of rest, but freeing up the nights to keep working, working, working. To get the edge on your competitor. To get that extra profit.
Clara: That’s insane. That’s horrible.
Chopra: Finally! Someone who sees it for what it is!
Computer: Leave the Rip Van Winkles behind and become one of the new generation of wide-awakes. The future is here. The future is now. Let yourself slip into the arms of Morpheus. Terms and conditions apply.
Doctor: But sleep is vital. Sleep is wonderful. Even I sleep.
Clara: When?
Doctor:  When you’re not looking.

Doctor: Sleep… that knits up the raveled sleeve of care. The death of each day’s life. Sore labor’s bath. Balm of hurt minds. Chief nourisher in life’s great feast. Congratulations, professor! You’ve revolutionized the labor market. You’ve conquered nature! You’ve also created an abomination.

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Doctor: Sleep dust.
Clara: You’re kidding.
Doctor: Do I look like I’m kidding? Is this a kidding face? Ask the crew at the station if I’m kidding. All that’s left of them.
Nagata: What is sleep dust?
Doctor: The stuff at the corner of your eye. The stuff you wipe away every morning when you wake up.
Clara: How, Doctor? How can those things be made of sleep dust?
Doctor: Well, when we sleep. the mucus crust builds up in our eyes. Blood cells, skin cells. That’s what dust largely is. Human skin. But your meddling has evolved it, hot-housed it. What used to be sleep in your eye has become a carnivorous life form.
Rasmussen: You can’t just throw accusations like that around.
Clara: So the longer you’re in Morpheus, the more it just builds up.
Doctor: Lying there in  those pods, people are a ready-made food source.
Clara: So where are they then? Where’s the crew?
Doctor: Digested.

Nagata: How does the dust become those creatures?
Doctor: You saw what happens. The dust molds itself, conglomerates into humanoid form. It’s adaptable, it’s clever, and it’s coming for us.

Clara: Nagata, you OK?
Nagata: No, I’m not.
Clara: What about the others?
Doctor: I don’t know.
Clara: We have to go after them.
Doctor: Don’t be ridiculous.
Nagata: They’re under my command. I owe it to them.
Doctor: To die? They won’t thank you for that. Nor you, Clara. To die, to die. Glamis has murdered sleep, and therefore Cawdor shall sleep no more. Macbeth will sleep no more.
Nagata: What?
Doctor: Shakespeare. He really knew his stuff. They all did, the ancients. Poets. All the sad songs. All the lullabies. Sleep is essential to every sentient being in the universe. But to humans, greedy, filthy, stupid humans, it’s an inconvenience, to be bartered away. But now we know the truth. Sleep isn’t just a function, it’s blessed. Every night, we dive deep into that inky pool, deep into the arms of Morpheus. Every morning wake up and wipe the sleep from our eyes, that keeps us safe. Safe from the monsters inside.

Nagata: What are you doing?
Doctor: I’ve hacked into the helmet cams, reviewing the footage. Something not right here.
Nagata: We don’t have helmet cams.
Doctor: Why did it kill Rasmussen like that?
Clara: It’s what they do, isn’t it? Kill people?
Doctor: That’s a direct attack. It’s not how they operate. Dust grows, consumes the host.
Clara: They evolve. You said so yourself.
Doctor: Maybe. There’s something going on here. Something we’re not getting.
Clara: What now. We can’t stay here, we’ll freeze to death. We can’t go back out there because the Sandmen will get us.
Doctor: Sandmen?
Clara: Yeah, it’s a good name. Fits, like the song.
Doctor: No. You don’t get to name things. I’m the Doctor, I do the naming.
Clara: OK, Sorry!
Doctor: It’s like the Silurians all over again.
Clara: What would you prefer then, the Dustmen?
Doctor: Sandmen. (pointing to Nagata) What did you just say?
Nagata: When:
Doctor: About 8 minutes ago.
Nagata: I said we don’t have helmet cams.

Doctor: You said you felt like you were being watched, Clara.
Clara: Paranoia, you said.
Doctor: Not this time. There is a feed, whilst these images are being stored by someone, collected. Nagata, look at this footage. What’s wrong with it?
Nagata: Don’t know.
Doctor: Look! There’s one very obvious thing about it. Do you see it yet? No? OK, I’ll tell you what’s wrong. There’s footage here of everyone. What’s missing on it? What can’t you see anywhere? All of this footage, all of this ship – look. Really look. There are no cameras here, no CCTV, no helmet cams. So how and why does this footage even exist? The Dust has been watching us. Each little organic speck is a tiny spy drifting through the air. The monster’s everywhere with us all along. That’s why the Sandmen are blind – their visual receptors are being hijacked, but by whom? and why? And then, there’s this. That’s you, Clara. That’s you, looking at me. You went into the pod. The Morpheus process has begun. There’s nothing here from Chopra’s point of view, because he refuses to use Morpheus. but everybody else is here, including you. You don’t have a camera, Clara, but you will have by now. Sleep in your eye.
Clara: We’ll fix this. YOU will fix this.
Doctor: Yes. I’m sure we’ll be fine,  I’m sure you’ll be fine. We’ll sort this, Clara. We’ll sort you, we’ll sort Nagata. And everyone back on Triton. And then we’ll destroy Morpheus forever.

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Doctor: You had that prepared well in advance, didn’t you. The statement, your alibi. There would inevitably be questions when you got to Triton. So you needed to get your story straight.
Rasmussen: You can’t fight them, Doctor. There’s no point. They’re the future. A new life form. A better life form. It’s very clear to me now, they made me understand. And we’re to be their food. That’s only correct. I just needed to find a way to get them off of this station, and back to Triton, and then they’ll spread. Everywhere.
Clara: And that’s what you want, you’re helping them wipe out humanity.
Rasmusssen: Things have been made very clear to me!
Nagata: But we saw you die! The Sandmen swallowed you!
Doctor: I think the professor has been playing a long game. Am i right?
Rasmussen: They speak to me. In my mind. They trust me, I think, but they’re like children. Babies. So new, evolving. Hungry, always so hungry. I made them understand, we have to find a way out. And then there would be new food sources, unlimited. So they spared me, and we waited.
Doctor: You and your cargo.
Rasmussen: I’ve got it in here, while you were all distracted.
Clara: What’s in there?
Doctor: Dust. It’s like smuggling a jam jar full of germs through customs.
Rasmussen: No. Rather more than that. I’ve been working on Morpheus for a very long time now. I had to start somewhere. Morpheus’ very first client. Patient Zero. The ultimate wide-awake. Inside there is a man that hasn’t slept in five years. He’s the wellspring. Once we get to Triton, he will spread his spores.
Clara: You said it was an encoded signal. Something electronic in the Morpheus process that changed the chemical reaction in the brain.
Rasmussen: That’s how it started, yes, but it’s changing all the time. Evolving new ways to infect and flourish .Whole moons, whole planets, whole civilizations. They’ll spread everywhere.
Doctor: You know I can’t allow that.
Rasmussen: You can’t stop it. None of us can.

Doctor: (after Nagata shoots Rasmussen) He’s not the only one dead. According to the data, we’re the only ones left alive on this station.
Nagata: Come on, man, we’ve got to go!
Doctor: This doesn’t make any sense. A man who hasn’t slept for five years.
Clara: You heard what he said, that’s the first Morpheus patient.
Doctor: The dust consumes the host.
Clara: And then they make Sandmen. They conglomerate.
Doctor: We escaped from that cold storage room because they were blind. And why power down the grav shields when they did? It was like this is all for effect.
Clara: We can have this conversation when we get off this thing.
Doctor: Like a story.

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Rasmussen: Hello again. The thing is, this message, this testimony wasn’t just my alibi, it was my plan. There are no spores, no infection. The Morpheus process remains the same. An electronic signal that affects the sleep centers of the brain, changes them. An electronic signal that’s contained in this recording. There it is! It tickles, doesn’t it. I’ve just got time to fit this bit in, and then I can finish this story in time to transmit this footage across the whole solar system. I do hope you’ve enjoyed the show. I did try to make it exciting, all those scary bits, those death-defying scrapes, monsters, and a proper climax for the really big one at the end. Compulsive viewing. I did tell you not to watch. There’s nothing left of Rasmussen any more. Only us. Only us. You will show this film to your family, won’t you. And your friends. And everyone, really. And then we can all be together. Dust to dust. Excuse me, you’ve got something there, just in the corner of your eye.

Doctor Who on BBC UK

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Erin Conrad