WARNING: This review contains spoilers
Well, that was… something.
Can you believe ‘Sleep No More’ was the first standalone episode of the season? Written by Mark Gatiss, this was the scariest, creepiest Doctor Who episode we have gotten in a while. Probably the most confusing one as well. And, talking about Doctor Who, that’s saying a lot.
After seeing Professor Rassmussen (Reece Shearsmith) warning us not to watch this (which totally reminded me of Tenth telling us not to blink), we head straight to action with little to no explanation. Between this and the confusing point of views, I felt the episode failed to hook me during the first minutes. This was certainly a slow build up, but what’s important is that it was worth it.
We are introduced to the Morpheus pod, which offers a person a month’s worth of sleep in just five minutes, so that everyone can keep working and making profits. This is even scarier when you consider that it doesn’t necessarily seem that unlikely in our future. On top of that, the “sleep dust” originated by it created very creepy creatures that Clara baptised as “the sandmen“. I didn’t find them necessarily scary when it came to their monster design, but the whole ‘can’t-see-you-but-don’t-make-any-noise’ thing has always gotten on my nerves. Besides, that creepy song…
The reason why this episode felt so off and confusing for the most part was the constant switch of points of views and camera angles. For the majority of scenes, we got to see everything from Clara’s point of view, which led me to believe that something had happened to her inside that Morpheus pod, and that perhaps we’d seen an evil Clara again. That wasn’t the case, and it’s not like their helmets had cams either so… what was going on? It turns out that the confusion created by that found footage and its origin were the whole point of the episode. While it was an interesting idea, I still felt like some of the shaky scenes were a bit too much and felt a bit forced at some points.
And now for the surprising twist: for starters, this time the Doctor and the others ran away instead of solving the problem. Did Rassmussen succeed then? Will we see him again or at least the consequences of Morpheus and the Sandmen? While I don’t think this episode could work beyond a standalone episode, I still believe it would be nice to see some continuation of this.
Also, I believe I am not the only one who’s struggling to comprehend the ending of that episode, but it does seem like the Doctor, Clara and the others were just taking part in Rassmussen’s meta story all the time (which would explain the lack of the title card). No matter what, there’s no turning back from this now. Like Rassmussen said, we can’t unsee it. Good luck sleeping tonight!