Fans of the long running BBC science-fiction show Doctor Who were left scratching their heads after this week’s episode. Episode 9 of season 9, “Sleep No More,” is the first stand-alone episode this season. The Doctor and his companion, Clara Oswald, investigate the Le Verrier Space Station in orbit around Neptune. The episode was shot in a “found footage” format, which turned out to be a major plot point in the episode.
The twist ending of “Sleep No More” is a staple of Doctor Who. One that show runner Stephen Moffat has heavily relied on in season 9. IGN gave “Sleep No More” an 8.4 out of 10. Unfortunately, many fans say the twist is “Sleep No More” left them scratching their heads. Even worse, some fans say they were downright bored with the stand-alone episode.
It should be noted the fact that “Sleep No More” doesn’t make sense is the point of the episodes, at least according to the villain’s monologue. But fans don’t seem convinced, and that could prove to be a major problem. According to Forbes, Doctor Who is in trouble. Ratings for Doctor Who season 9 tumbled to 5.63 million viewers down from 7.14 million average viewers in the 2014 season. Whovians of the world don’t need to panic yet, even on a ratings down swing, the BBC isn’t likely to cancel the Doctor Who.
For one thing, Doctor Who is a cash cow in the United States, and the BBC keeps costs down by basing the production in Cardiff. For another, the BBC’s constitutional charter is up for renewal, and as Forbes points out, nobody at the BBC wants to admit that they let Doctor Who deteriorate so badly that the only answer was a second cancellation.
Yet, Stephen Moffat and Peter Capaldi have called Clara’s exit from Doctor Who “sad and shocking,” but the permanent death of one of The Doctor’s companions is rare. Never the less, Doctor Who season 9 is full of references to Clara becoming too callous and more than a little bit careless. The Doctor keeps casting her sidelong glances, as if he knows something she doesn’t about her future. Or perhaps he’s just afraid for her safety.
The trouble with these moments is that, so far, they haven’t amounted to anything. On the heels of a season in which Clara had a rich subplot that at times clashed with her time on the TARDIS, this season’s farewell risks feeling unsatisfying. It’s almost as if Moffat said his goodbyes to Clara Oswald last season, and this season is merely an epilogue. There are only three episodes left of Doctor Who season 9. Moffat is running out of time to deliver on his promised sad ending in a way that doesn’t come out of nowhere.
[Image via BBC]