Doctor Who Review: “Sleep No More”

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Dear DocBlogger:

I’m so tired of being the voice of reason. Sometimes it seems like all the people around me are sleepwalking through life. I’m worried that at some point my vision may get clouded.

Dazed in Delaware

 

Dear Dazed:

Keep your wits about you. Before you make a major decision, sleep on it.

DocBlogger

***

Spoilers ahead, Sweetie…

Sleep No More was so Blair Witch for me I was getting dizzy. I’m sure that was the point — disorientation and uncertainty accomplished through multiple camera perspectives and a lot of jostling around. Overall, it left me unsettled, as intended, but also dissatisfied.

The Episode in a Nutshell

A video diary narrated by a man named Rassmussen introduces us to our current situation. It’s the 38th century and LeVerrier, a floating lab that circles Neptune, has gone radio silent for 24 hours. A rescue team comprised of four soldiers – Commander Nagata, Deep-Ando, Chopra and 474, the grunt who loves him – has been dispatched from Triton. As they search the dark hallways (there have been so many dark hallways this season), they discover the Doctor and Clara. All are attacked and run, losing Deep-Ando in the process before making it through a door that a mysterious monster’s arm tries to keep open before it crumbles into dust.

The remaining group comes across Morpheus pods, which we learn can concentrate sleep into short spans by changing brain chemistry so busy humans can be even more productive. Everyone on Triton’s doing it. One of the pods actually reaches out and grabs Clara, giving her the sleep it feels she needs. The Doctor believes that the pods have created a carnivorous life form comprised of sleep dust that forms in our eyes, and that the crew has been digested. We meet our video’s narrator, who has been hiding in a pod. Meanwhile, Deep-Ando is consumed by a monster even after singing the Morpheus song “Mr. Sandman” to the ship’s computer, a security measure instituted by the prior crew after a night of heavy drinking.

The Doctor et. al. are in a mess hall when the anti-gravity shields fail, hurtling the station towards the planet. Monsters attack, killing Rassmussen, and precious time is lost as Commander Nagara hesitates to give the Doctor access to schematics so he can fix the shields. Chopra and 474 are separated from the group. The Doctor, Clara and Nagara hide in a walk-in freezer so the Doctor can safely chastise Nagara by quoting Shakespearean passages on how important sleep is. Chopra and 474 discuss their plan, which is to kill the “sleep men” while heading to the rescue ship. If they haven’t made contact with the others they will be assumed dead and Chopra and 474 will blow the entire station up.

The Doctor hacks into everyone’s helmet cams and reviews footage even as Nagara mumbles that there are no such things. While the Doctor and Clara quibble over who gets to name the monsters, Rassmussen’s video lets us know that he wasn’t killed and that the Doctor’s plan to freeze the Sandmen (Clara wins) is sound. The creatures can’t see, so one is lured into the freezer and then locked inside. Elsewhere, Chopra and 474 are trapped between Sandmen and a fire, so 474 knocks Chopra out and saves them both in a move that she ultimately won’t survive. As the Doctor, Nagara and Clara regroup, they realize that since there are no helmet cams, the video feed is sleep dust, either in the air or in the eyes of those who have been exposed to Morpheus, watching them.

In my favorite scene, a Morpheus pod glides through the halls as the ship’s computer chimes: “Warning, dangerous materials in transit.” Chopra makes it to the rescue ship where the pod and its inhabitant wait, killing him. Now it’s time for the big reveal. Rassmussen is alive and hiding; he’s a wiling co-conspirator to the Sandmen, who he believes are a better life form. The pod houses Patient Zero, a Sandman who hasn’t slept in five years, and whose spores will infect everyone. He is released and Nagara shoots Rassmussen, but the Doctor keeps complaining that this seems to all be for effect, like a story. They make a break for the Tardis but it’s surrounded, so the Doctor self-destructs the anti-grav shields, which tears the Sandmen apart. We end with Rassmussen’s video diary, where we learn that there never were infectious spores, just the Morpheus electronic brain-changing signal now embedded within the tape we are watching along with a compulsive viewing algorithm. We will all be together…

No Rest for the Weary

This episode was a bit of a stretch even for Doctor Who. The sleep in your eyes becomes sentient and a carnivorous life form. I’m sorry, what? And honestly, this was so Under the Lake I was having flashbacks. Plus it was 50 shades of Blink, only a little more headache-y. The dust in the air watches us and provides a video stream while the Sandmen, who are made of said dust, remain blind. I’m just not buying it, and I have bought quite a lot of this over the last several Doctors.

I did enjoy the video perspective, probably because it brought me back to Blink, one of my all-time favorite episodes. Plus, there’s something comforting about an all-knowing narrator. I also find the idea that Rassmussen’s video is the spore very appealing. I wonder if the message ever got out. What do you think? Leave a comment below with your take on this episode’s ending.

To be honest, I was glad there wasn’t a “To Be Continued” on this one. The gods looked favorably upon us.

Liz Bowen, a.k.a DocBlogger


 

Liz Bowen is a long-time Doctor Who fan and first-time blogger living in Colorado Springs. She enjoys seeing her childhood recreated in cinematic excellence and will waste entire evenings waxing poetic about the technical beauty that is Transformers. She indulges in writing Supernatural fanfic and is working on her first original book.

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