Sunday, August 24, 2014

Doctor Who--"Forest of the Dead"

Praising Steven Moffat has been done so much by fans, it almost seems meaningless, but it is still well deserved after “Silence in the Library/The Forest of the Dead.” Moffat won a Hugo Award for last season’s “Blink.” I am confident he has won again for his contribution this season. There are going to be ridiculously high expectations when he takes over the show in 2010. I hope he can live up to them, spreading his considerable talent thin.

I was impressed with the story’s shift from the Vashta Narada to emphasize River Song and the Library. The Vashta Narada looked like a frightening element that would run through the entire episode, yet they became sympathetic, but no less deadly. The Vashta Narada live in forests normally. When trees were pulped into paper, they were part of it. The Library itself is the forest of the dead—their dead home. The resolution of their story line might have been a little too rushed, but it is a minor complaint compared to the rest of the episode.

The Library has some Matrix aspects to it. The main computer “saved” the original 4,000 patrons into its hard drive and created a virtual world for them to live in. Donna wound up there after disappearing last episode. Inside the computer, she found the life she always wanted with a loving husband and children. It began unraveling when she encountered the now disfigured Evangelista, who explained it was all not real.

It was a virtual world created by the daughter of the Library’s founder, a little girl who was dying. He uploaded her into the computer so she could live forever in the books. It was her who saved all the patrons from the Vashta Narada by uploading. Them. The Doctor discovers a way to bring them all back, but he would likely not survive it. River song stepped up, incapacitated him, and took his place. That was her destiny,.

Along the way, we learn they do have a special relationship at some point in the future. The Doctor has told her his real name, something he has never done for any past companion. It would appear they bond more deeply than he has with anyone else. Will their story remain untold, or is Moffat giving us a preview of the fifth season companion? There is some speculation the Doctor and Song are married at some point.

The ending is bittersweet. Song and her companions wind up in the same happy state as the little girl. A life of eternal bliss even though it is not real. But I suppose perception is reality, no?

Rating: **** (out of 5)

CORRECTION: Steven Moffat won a BAFTA for "Blink," and has been nominated for a 2008 Hugo. Sorry for the confusion.

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