Before I review Sleep No More, I have to make a disclaimer. What the Doctor calls “sleep dust” I’ve always called “eye boogers.” The entire episode, every time they said “sleep dust” I was wishing they had said “eye boogers” instead. I just want to hear someone with an English accent say the word “booger,” okay? All this aside, I thought this episode was really fun and quite scary!
This is the first episode of the season that isn’t part of a two-part story. It stands very well on its own, and I enjoyed having a one-off before the finale. I was looking forward to this because I love Reece Shearsmith and knew he would be appearing. However after the Robin Hood episode last year turned out to be a lower point in the season for me, I was a little anxious to see what Mark Gatiss would come up with this season.
What I liked about “Sleep No More”
- The episode started off strong. Having the words “Doctor Who” show up in the code at the beginning was neat.
- I really love how the Doctor never knows what’s going to be on the sonic paper and just answers “YES” to everything. He would make a great edition to an improv team.
- The intro to the rescue team is interesting. I’m not the biggest fan of the specific character introductions but I like the different take on the found footage. I thought it was an interesting choice to include the grunt 474 in the group. This season Doctor Who has been tackling at lot of political issues inadvertently, and this episode touched on both racism and homophobia. The “pretty” stuff between Chopra and 474 was a little clunky, and I’ll repeat my outstanding request again for more platonic relationships, but it’s nice to see queer characters existing as part of the normal narrative.
- The Doctor’s reaction to hearing “Mr Sandman” is the same as mine, which is to say “Oh no, no, no. Enough of that.”
- Northern accents. We got to see another woman in charge in this episode, which was fantastic, and Nagata’s accent made me wish she had a lot more dialogue.
- I really like that you can’t completely really see these monsters for more than a few seconds. After all, the unknown is always scarier than whatever reality is.
- The entire concept of hacking sleep is incredibly tempting because I have a lot to do. But, as The Doctor says “sleep in wonderful” and I really enjoyed the concept.
What I didn’t like about “Sleep No More”
- I wasn’t a fan of the times where graphics would show up on the screen to introduce characters. For example, we didn’t need it spelled out on the screen that the grunt responds to all physical violence because Nagata and then The Doctor literally explain this directly after the graphic disappears. I guess this is one place where “show don’t tell” doesn’t apply.
- There was a lot of world building in a very short amount of time, and a few things didn’t quite land for me. For example, the argument Deep-Ando had with the door was confusing. This whole culture seems to have a super cult mentality, and the conversation with the door solidified that. The fact that droids and technology are so commonplace that having a conversation with a door seems pretty normal can say a lot about the world we’re in, however a lot of their normal had to be explained in the weird dialogue with an object.
What I LOVED about “Sleep No More”
- The ending. Holy wow this was a fantastic ending! I was on the fence about this episode until the end, and that ending really made it!
- Throughout the episode, I thought the “found footage” format was a little strange. I told myself that it’s playing up the terror of having someone always watching, as well as the general creepiness of not knowing that someone is watching, which ties into being completely vulnerable while you sleep. I was guessing that Rassmussen was going to be like Clara in Aslylum of the Daleks – a monster that think he’s human. I wasn’t completely wrong!
- Once it was discovered that the “cameras” were actually the sleep dust in everyone’s eyes, I started to get a little confused. And once the eye dust came out of the Morpheous chamber that Rassmussen’s “first customer” was in I was extremely confused. So much so that when The Doctor stated “None of this makes any sense” I found myself yelling “IT SURE DOESN’T CAPALDI” at the screen. Luckily that was all part of the plan.
- I loved how the ending tied everything together and left us wanting more. The effects used on Reece Shearsmith’s face were legitimately horrifying, and the thought that the code is now in all of our minds is terrifying.
What did you think of Sleep No More? Are you a Whovian? Let us know your thoughts below!