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This episode opens with the Doctor returning Clara home, unfortunately the TARDIS lands in Bristol rather then London. To their surprise, the TARDIS is now half the size on the outside while remaining larger on the inside. The Doctor, trying to figure out what has happened to the TARDIS, stays behind while Clara investigates the area in which they landed further. She quickly discovers that locals have been disappearing and mysterious murals of them have appeared on the side of a train tunnel.
Upon return to the TARDIS, Clara finds it has miniaturized further and that The Doctor is unable to exit it in order to examine the current mystifying happenings himself. He hands Clara his psychic paper, sonic screwdriver, and a device that allows him to see and hear what she is experiencing, while also communicating with her. With the TARDIS so small she is now able to carry it (and by extension The Doctor) in her purse.
Equipped with the tools she needs, she approaches a local community service team tasked with cleaning up the graffiti and poses as “Doctor Clara”. The leader of the community service group, a grumpy older man, sees through her ruse immediately, stating that the paper she is showing them has nothing on it, something we rarely see on Doctor Who and puts the crotchety older man firmly in the possible “red herring” category. Regardless of this she is able use this persona to befriend one of the community service team members, a graffiti artist named Rigsy, and proceeds to investigate the case. This leads her to the home of one of the victims, where she finds what seems like a desert landscape that has appeared on the wall, but no sign of the victim.
Using the psychic paper to dupe a police woman, they then visit the home of the first victim. Here they find a design on the wall that is recognized as a layout of the human nervous system. The Doctor believes that whatever is behind the disappearances is in the walls. In a humorous moment, reminiscent of Mary Poppins, Clara pull a large sledge hammer out of her bag that The Doctor has handed her through the door of the miniaturized TARDIS.
While Clara is tearing out the wall with a sledge hammer, the police women that was assisting them is taken by the creatures. Upon hearing her scream, Clara and Rigsy race to the next room to assist her, but find no trace of her. However, when they attempt to leave the room they are attacked, with all the items in the room being taken out of the three dimensional realm and being made two dimensional (flat like paper).
Danny Pink, Clara’s boyfriend, calls. During this conversation both The Doctor, and the audience, realize that Clara has not been telling Danny the truth, but hiding the fact that she has continued traveling with The Doctor (and the fact that she is currently in danger) from Danny. This conversation happens while her and Rigsy are escaping the creatures from what the Doctor theorizes are from a two-
dimensional parallel universe, and may not be fully aware of the chaos they are causing to the three-
Returning to the community service team, Clara leads the team to shelter, and with The Doctor’s guidance, maintains control of the group away from the community service leader. It is in this scene that Clara really starts to adopt the guise of “The Doctor” and tries to do what she feels he would do in the situation if he were not acting like a Time Lord purse dog.
The creatures are now quickly learning and modifying their behavior, which is making them more menacing. They quickly advance from just removing things from the three-dimensional world, to actually projecting three-dimensional items and beings themselves. While are heroes are escaping in the tunnel, the TARDIS is dropped onto an active train track, with a train quickly approaching. The Doctor acts quickly, hatching a plan to evade the oncoming danger (in a humorous bit in which he uses his hand to move the TARDIS, much like Thing in The Addams Family). He puts the TARDIS in “siege mode”, resembling a simple Gallifreyan cube, much like the Pandorica, to protect it, but in doing so drains the last of the TARDIS’ power. This seems to cut off communication between The Doctor and Clara temporarily.
Now on her own, Clara stops the next oncoming train with Rigsy, who tries to be a hero making a play to sacrifice his life by ramming the aliens with the speeding locomotive, but Clara intervenes, rigging the train with her headband so that it goes unmanned, crashing into the two-dimensional barrier. However, instead of breaking through, this only results in the train being made two-dimensional. Clara then finds the “siege mode” protected TARDIS. Finding that she needs to recharge the TARDIS in order to restore it to its full size and free The Doctor to stop the creatures, Clara devises a plan to trick the creatures into trying to make a two-dimensional door (that is really a painting created by Rigsy) three-dimensional. By putting the TARDIS on the other side of the wall from this, it is able to absorb all the dimensional energy the aliens are putting out.
Shortly before this plan is enacted we see the TARDIS slowly powering down, the lights dimming, and The Doctor running out of air as the life support systems start to fail. In an emotional moment, The Doctor says goodbye to Clara and says that she was a good doctor, high praise from him.
With each of the previous Doctors we are given a glimpse into the essence of their character within the first couple of episodes. Ten was “The Man Who Regrets” and Eleven was “The Man Who Forgets”. It is significant that this Doctor calls himself “The Man Who Stops the Monsters”. We get this glimpse into his character as he explains to the two-dimensional creatures he now names “The Boneless” that he attempted to reason with them and had given them the benefit of the doubt. However, they continued to act like monsters, so like monsters he will treat them. The Doctor sends them back to their dimension with a warning not to return.
With the world once again safe, The Doctor comments on Clara’s enjoyment of being The Doctor for the day. He then says something poignant, that she was an exceptional doctor, but that goodness had nothing to do with it. The short final scene of this episode leaves us with Missy looking a picture of Clara on a tablet and stating cryptically that she “chose well.”
The themes of the episode are important ones that have been looming over the series for a last few episodes. While River informed us previously that “Rule #1: The Doctor lies” (Season 5, Episode 3, “The Big Bang”), in this episode, we see what that does to someone who has traveled with him for a great deal of time. Clara has learned how to be The Doctor, and for her, that now means that lying comes easier. Not only is she lying to Danny in order to stay with The Doctor, but she also has little trouble assuming his identity in order to save the world. The Doctor himself seems affected by her ease in slipping into his role. Maybe he is finally realizing how he seems to his companions (or in particular Clara), or he is sad to see what effects traveling with him have had on her.