All I could think of after I watched this week’s episode of Doctor Who was how happy I was that we’ve finally got an episode that just feels like Doctor Who. I am not entirely sure what I mean by that, but after all of this convoluted plot making we have had to endure over the past season, this episode was a refreshing change of pace.
“Night Terrors” starts in the bedroom of a little boy named George. George has become terrified of everything, especially the things that are inside the cupboard in his room. This is where his parents have him keep his supposedly imaginary fears (thinking they are helping him), but in fact, this only seems to be making matters worse. George is so terrified of the monsters that his pleas for help are heard universes away by the Doctor, who receives the George’s message on his psychic paper.
So of course, the Doctor, Amy and Rory traverse time and space to find this scared little boy.
Once they find him, all horror breaks loose and Amy and Rory end up trapped in a creepy doll house with even creepier dolls and the Doctor informs George’s fathers that monsters are, in fact, real.
But the twist here is similar to a previous episode’s, “Fear Her.” The monsters are actually manifested by George himself in response to his fears. George is not human. He is an alien designed to blend into his surroundings and has found a home with this human couple, who were unable to have children (and their memories were slightly altered in order to accept George as their son).
The story, by Mark Gattis, is utterly brilliant. According to the official Doctor Who website, the episode came about when Gattis was asked what the scariest place in the universe was. His answer? A child’s bedroom. This dialogue actually makes it into the episode.
This is also one of my favorite Matt Smith episodes in that we see a good portrayal of his Doctor without him reacting to Amy, Rory or River Song. Since Amy and Rory are trapped in the dollhouse early on, we see Matt’s Doctor interact with George and his father. And we see, once more, that mad man in a box that we’ve all fallen in love with. I’ve missed the Doctor like this and it’s nice to see an episode that features more of him. Because regardless of this past season, it’s still called DOCTOR Who and not the Amy, Rory and River Song show.
There are some scary moments, especially with the wooden dolls, as well, in this episode. And if I had to make a comparison, I would say this is more terrifying than the previously mentioned “Fear Her.” George is completely unaware of what he’s doing and it’s not until the end of the episode that he realizes this and learns to control it.
I found the ending to be touching, too, when George’s father assures the boy that no matter who or what he is, that he’s still his son. This emotional element of the series has been left out quite a bit this season, too, and has been sorely missed. It feels as if we have been so bogged down with THE PLOT this season that we’ve lost sight of THE CHARACTERS and actual storytelling. This is the first time I’ve felt a real emotional connection to the show in some time.
Of course, though, at the end of this episode, we have a reminder of the Doctor’s upcoming pending death. Because, apparently, we will not be allowed to forget THE PLOT. Even worse? Next week’s episode looks to be an Amy-centric one, which totally takes away from the fact that, once again, this show is called DOCTOR Who, not AMY Who. I’m already pretty sure I’m not going to like it. But who knows? Maybe I’ll be surprised (I doubt it).