Take every fear you ever had as a child, every shadow that haunted you after your parents said good night, every rustle or tap outside your window that you swore was a blood thirsty creature; take all of those things and amplify them by ten. You now have the creepy factor of Doctor Who Series 6 ‘Night Terrors.’
While not the first time, not even for the current Doctor, we have our favorite Gallifreyan making a house call to a seemingly normal frightened little boy scared of something hiding in his closet. Of course, in a very Moffat way, things aren’t always as they seem and the problems surrounding this child and his parents are at a time space grandness that only The Doctor and his faithful companions can deal with.
I’ll come right out and say it: I love this episode. ‘Night Terrors’ is by far and away one of the best episodes, not just of the Matt Smith years, but of any Doctor Who episode I’ve seen since I started watching the show back in the Tom Baker days. There is so much that is classic Who, and at the same time so much that makes it very Moffat and very fresh. The callback to the ’74 stage play Doctor Who, The Daleks, and the Seven Keys to Doomsday is almost a throwaway reference to anyone but serious die-hard Whovians. At the same time, the exchange between Daniel Mays’ character and The Doctor completely exemplifies the Eleventh Doctor and everything that makes him my all-time favorite.
‘Night Terrors’ is an episode of character definitions. Not only does it offer what makes The Doctor, The Doctor, but is also illustrates what all of the adventures and traveling have done to his companions. Faced with the complete unknown and dropped into a dark, in more ways than one, scenario, Rory nonchalantly suggests that maybe they had died again in a way that makes it seem as commonplace and “not a big deal” as getting onion rings instead of French fries at Burger King.
The story itself, about a little boy being overcome by his own fears, is beautifully executed. Everything you could think of as creepy makes an appearance here: little British kids singing a nursery rhyme, old doll house, little blond twin girls. I haven’t slept since watching it and that isn’t just the 5-Hour Energy shots. At the heart though, and another classic bit of Moffat-ery, is a story about being a parent, a child, and all the things that we face in our everyday lives. It is a powerful story with an ending that almost brought me to tears.
Sprinkled throughout ‘Night Terrors’ are also references to the compelling storyline we’ve been experiencing since ‘The Impossible Astronaut.’ The Doctor makes a very curious comment when talking to little George that may have just been an oversight or a throwaway line, I’m not sure, but he mentions that when he was George’s age, “Oh, about a thousand years ago…” Now, George is 8 and last I checked The Doctor was between 907 and 909 years old, but The Doctor from ‘The Impossible Astronaut’ was significantly older. Was a switch made? Did we miss something? Am I over thinking things?
The very last shot is a nice tie-in of the overall “scare the pants off you” feeling of the episode and the impending death of The Doctor. No spoilers here.
Goes the clock,
Even for The Doctor”
Eerie. Creepy. Can’t wait for things to come. I will state it now, that when this season is all said and done and we finally found out what really happens at Lake Silencio, Utah, ‘Night Terrors’ will be the key to everything that we should have seen.
– James Zappie