This episode of Doctor Who titled Sleep No More tackles the question of whether we should figure out how to remove the need for sleep or not. Check out Josh’s recap below, and then our thoughts on the episode!
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Episode Recap of Doctor Who, Season 9 Episode 9: Sleep No More
This episode of Doctor Who begins with a man named Rassmussen, who is on a video recording, telling us not to watch. He seems spooked, and doesn’t know what is going on. The recording then seems to go back in time, and it looks like we are aboard a spaceship. It is filmed “found footage” style, and Rassmussen narrates what is going on, introducing us to Chopra, Nagata, and Deep-Ando and they are complaining about their mission. Then introduced is a genetically engineered type person, referred to as 474. Their mission was to find Rassmussen it seems, with him giving the plan.
The group heads into an abandoned looking, futuristic ship. The crew continues to explore, and finds Clara and the Doctor. The group overhears the two bantering back and forth and the group confronts them. The Doctor presents his psychic paper, saying he is an engineer investigating the issue. The group explains they have come to investigate as well. Nagata, the officer, puts the Doctor and Clara under her command.
The crew then gets in a scuffle, as 474 attacks Chopra. Chopra had slapped her hand away, which activated the 474’s fight response. The Doctor explains what the 474 is, an “instant army,” and Clara doesn’t like it. Then the group gets freaked out by something, and the group makes a run for it, hiding in a storage room. One of the “things” chasing them tries to reach through the door opening to attack them, and the arm disintegrates, looking like sand.
Deep Ando was separated from the group, and the Doctor investigates what this thing is. Clara seems concerned with some sort of pod, which is used for sleep, and “more than that” according to Chopra. Messing with the machine, it actually grabs Clara and puts her in a sleep. The Doctor rescues her from sleep. Then the group discovers another sleep pod is not empty. The group works to get it up, and Clara decides to chat it up. The window opens up, and Rassmussen pokes his head out.
Then a recording advertisement shows up explaining what these pods are–they provide a 5 minute sleep that lasts for a normal sleep cycle. Rasmussen explains he invented this device, called Morpheus. The group seems split on whether the machine was a good invention or not. The Doctor seems to think this machine is what made these monsters.
The Doctor explains that these monsters are “sleep dust,” the stuff you wipe away from your eyes when you wake up. He thinks it has evolved into this beast. The Doctor thinks that this beast has eaten the other crew members as well. Rassmussen begins to freak out, and demands he is taken to safety. Meanwhile, Deep-Ando tries to survive on his own. Deep-Ando is forced to sing the sleep song in order to enter a room, as the AI controlling the doors won’t open until he sings. The monsters approach, and he seems to escape just in time–except he doesn’t. He is caught, and Rassmussen indicates he was the first to go.
Back with the rest of the crew, the gravity machines seem to be having trouble, and the ground begins shaking. The Doctor works to try to save the ship, but the Monsters have come in now, attacking the crew. The Doctor seemed to have righted the ship, and he, Clara and Nagata flee to another room to get safe. The others are trapped outside, and the Doctor doesn’t seem too excited to save them, while the others want to.
Chopra and 474 decide they have to kill the monsters, as Chopra is worried that the monsters will spread like a disease. Chopra thinks the best way to do this would be to destroy the entire station. The monsters beat on the window, trying to get in. While locked away in their room, the Doctor tries to figure out these monsters. The Doctor thinks the best course of action is to let the monsters in. Meanwhile, Chopra and 474 are surrounded, and not sure how they can escape. Back with the Doctor, they have hidden in some bags and let the monsters in. The Doctor learned that the creatures can’t see, and the group makes for an escape. Back with the other two, 474 used an explosive to hold off the monsters, but mortally wounded herself in the process. 474 tells Chopra to leave, and he takes on the monsters herself.
The Doctor then starts going over all of the footage taken while on the ship. The Doctor realizes that there are no cameras, so he surmises that the monsters are watching them, but not through their monsters’ eyes, but through the sleep dust that came from people’s eyes who use Morpheus, the sleep machine. Clara has been infected as well, so the Doctor has to figure out how to save her. Then the Doctor thinks that someone is sabotaging the ship. The Doctor has an idea has to who the mystery person is, but keeps it to himself for now.
Chopra continues through the ship, and behind a door, is attacked by an unknown assailant. Back with the Doctor, Clara and Nagata, we hear Rassmussen and it looks like Rassmussen is trying to help these monsters, thinking they are better than humanity. Rassmussen seems troubled, saying they are in his head. His plan is to try to get them out of the ship, and onto land. Then Rassmussen shows the group a Morpheus machine. Inside is “Patient Zero,” a man who hasn’t slept for 5 years. This is the way Rassmussen plans to spread the monsters on Earth. The machine then opens up, and the monster inside attacks. The Doctor, Clara and Nagata sneak past the monster, and Nagata shoots Rassmussen to stop his plan.
The Doctor still seems perplexed though, not understanding this monster. But the three head to the TARDIS. It is surrounded by monsters though. The best solution for escape is to destroy the gravity shield. Somehow this destroys the monsters and the three make it to the TARDIS.
Then Rassmussen comes back to the screen to narrate, explaining that his machine never produced spores as he had hinted to earlier. Then we see Rassmussen slowly changing to sleep monster, seemingly planning to have us watch this recording all along, as it is the electronic signal in the video that actually creates the monsters…
Josh’s Thoughts: Doctor Who, Season 9 Episode 9: Sleep No More
I guess first off, I am confused by the ending of this episode. From what I can gather, it seems as though we (the viewers) were unwitting victims of the Morpheus sleep machine, and we were watching the crew and the Doctor go through this journey. If I am understanding correctly, the Morpheus machine does actually exist, but perhaps everything else in the episode is just a figment of our dreams, and the Doctor and Clara didn’t actually go through any of this? At the end of the episode, the Doctor says something to the effect of, “none of this makes any sense!” which to me would indicate that everything in there is a dream. Another indication everything was a dream was the Doctor’s reference to cameras, and nobody wearing any. That indicates to me when dreaming you often see yourself in the third person rather than always looking through your own eyes. That would kind of make sense as to why this was all a dream as well.
There are problems with my theory as well though. For example, we have seen various time frames in Doctor Who, so I think it is safe to assume we have seen past the point in time of this episode, and these sleep monsters have not taken over the world. This is tricky to really analyze though, as if we really are in a dream, then we don’t know exactly what happened. Maybe this Rassmussen (if HE even exists) was just a madman who put “us” in a sleep machine, and nothing really happened. Or perhaps his plan failed ultimately. Or maybe just a part of the world is dealing with these sleep monsters, and we haven’t seen them yet.
This episode is difficult to analyze because the dream factor makes it hard to identify what is real and what isn’t. I could be over thinking it, and perhaps everything really did happen, and we are just looking through the sleep machine, and using the “cameras” to see what happened. This would seem odd though, when looking at it from the evidence I provided above.
Overall I think I liked the episode. It had a found-footage/horror vibe to it, much like Blair Witch Project, or Paranormal Activity. It also reminded me of the show Angel when Loren gets his sleep removed, and there is a “sleep monster” there too.
The one issue I am starting to have with Doctor Who is its formulaic nature. Every episode seems to be one basic structure: Doctor and Clara wind up in some trouble, the Doctor and Clara deal with said trouble for a while, the Doctor says something to the effect of, “we’re missing something here!” He then eventually figures out what that is, and generally it makes very little sense. The world is saved, and the next episode will rinse and repeat. It gets a little old, and I think something should be done to change the basic format of the show, so it isn’t just the same routine every episode. I think part of that would be resolved by putting an story arc, rather than the current method of going episode to episode. My favorite seasons of Doctor Who have been the ones with a storyline, rather than one-off episodes.
Violet’s Thoughts on Season 9 Episode 9 of Doctor Who: Sleep No More
Throughout the episode I kept thinking that the cameras were being used in an interesting way, as I quickly noticed that we kept seeing things from a person’s perspective, and that the only time we would see everyone in the frame was when we would see the security camera footage. It did not occur to me that this would actually come into play later on, so that was pretty clever. However, I wasn’t completely fooled, as I did notice that several times we were seeing things from Clara’s perspective, who obviously wasn’t wearing anything that would suggest that we were seeing things from a camera she was wearing, so I hadn’t actually thought that we were seeing anything from the crew members’ helmet cameras. As I already said, I thought it was just interesting camera work showing us things from each person’s perspective.
However, if what we were seeing was only dust cameras, how come the “security footage” was the only footage that was in black and white, and of security footage quality, while everything else was in normal color? I guess you could argue that the dust in the people’s eyes somehow was able to take on some of the person’s seeing ability since it was still situated in their eyes. That’s the only explanation I can come up with anyway.
Overall, I did actually enjoy this episode, as it kept me guessing, and had an interesting twist. My question is how far did this video actually reach, and how many sleep monsters were created? Will the Doctor revisit this era and stop this from happening in a future episode? We often see the same monsters pop up again and again on Doctor Who, so I wouldn’t be surprised.
Scenes from Doctor Who, Season 9 Episode 10: Face the Raven
Here are scenes from next week’s Doctor Who episode titled Face the Raven: