Review of "Forest of the Dead"
Written by Steven Moffat, Directed by Euros Lyn                                                                                                       7 June 2008

The shadow-filled library, that takes up a whole planet.

by Monika Lewis

This episode is a great follow-up to "Silence in the Library," continuing Steven Moffat's theme from "The Doctor Dances" of "everybody lives."  It also reflects the "Voyage of the Damned" scene where the Doctor brings back Astrid Peth, in saving River Song.  Appropriately for a story about books, the plot includes wordplay on "saved" meaning rescued from death and saved in a computer's memory.  River Song might still turn up in the future showing how she met the Doctor for the first time, since this story shows how the Doctor initially met her.  It is a unique relationship in which their meeting happens at different times for the two of them.  The computer plotline recalls the Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes "Relics," in which engineer Scotty is in suspended animation through the transporter for 75 years, and "The Inner Light," where Captain Picard lives another man's life with a wife and children through a computer memory.  Donna seems to marry and have children also, but with a new take on the montage scene in which she only experiences the bits that the audience sees.  Moffat takes all the complex plot elements and makes them original because for once the Doctor is reacting to revelations about his own life from River in addition to working out how the girl is controlling the library environment and the threat of the Vashta Nerada.  I was glad to see River Song live on with her friends in the Library thanks to the Doctor, and the Time Lord learned some new things about himself as well.




Next time: it seems the Doctor could really use a vacation.  So he goes on a bus tour of the planet Midnight while Donna finds a vacation spot of her own, but of course trouble finds the Doctor.  There is still more to come in "Turn Left," when the Doctor's old friend Rose Tyler comes back, and will meet Donna.  We will also see Sarah Jane Smith and Captain Jack Harkness again after their experiences shown in "The Sarah Jane Adventures" and "Torchwood"!  Just four episodes left in the fourth series, and they will be epic!