Monthly Archives: January 2017

Sexuality and Violence in The Bloody Chamber

It is seen throughout all the stories within Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber, but especially in the title story, that there is a connection between violence and sexuality that Carter is trying to emphasize about. Carter was influenced by Marquis de Sade and the term sadism which is defined as the tendency to derive pleasure, especially sexual pleasure from pain and suffering. It is seen that Carter’s reason for creating her fairytale stories with this use of sexuality and violence, is to show that there is a darker side to what humans desire.

The fairytale genre was made to “reinforce essential gender differences – cultural double standard of desire, denies presence of personal, individual story to characters, and associates female ‘virtue’ with ‘being good’.” Fairytales are created with an abundance of imagination that people are attracted to because it can often times be an escape from reality although having somewhat realistic features that makes it relatable. Just like fairytales, pornography is also a type of expression that depicts human sexual desires that are full of imagination. This is why it has such a similar impact on lives as it shows off desires that most people want and long for.

Unlike Carter’s writing, most fairytales depict woman as the damsel in distress that needs a hero to save her, as well as a subject to the male. Carter challenged this in order to show that women should not be depicted as these social gendered norms that typical fairytales use and instead show the hidden desires that women are often afraid to show. With the use of sexuality and violence that is found within the text, it allows for readers, especially men to realize that women should not be trapped in their bodies. Using sexuality and violence shows that woman are not seemed as objects in the sense that some woman may desire certain pleasures that shouldn’t be seen as shameful or a wrong behaviour.

Carter encourages in most of her stories in The Bloody Chamber that her reading shouldn’t be unsettling, but something that makes people want to break against the stereotypes that censored fairytales and social ideologies deem woman as not being the imaginative and sexual souls that they may be.

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My concern with fairy tales:


When we tell stories to our children, they become normalized and expected as elements of their reality. In the same way that a four-year-old doesn’t quite grasp the sleight of hand required for a card trick, they also don’t recognize when they are presented with false representations of reality. So, we can pretend a coin can exist and then disappear, and they buy it, much in the same way that they will just accept the binaries we put in front of them.

When a four year old is a boy, and watches a film in which no man ever cries, has a certain body type that might not even be healthy, and is told he has to “get the girl” to be a success in life, why would we expect him not to aspire to those goals as he grows up? His parents – for the time being – are the moral arbiters of the universe, so when they sanction an ideology, it’s unsurprising that the child will take it as gospel. Where then, is the space for development of that child? If from the earliest age he is indoctrinated with the belief that man falls in love with woman, and then begins to have feelings which put into question that dogma, there will be psychological turmoil.

Why do we continue to read our children these stories then? Well- it’s because they are stuck. They are stuck in our collective consciousness—as a society – because we grew up with them too! It might not be our fault, but we are conditioned to believe that these stories are somehow wonderful moral tales which will indoctrinate the leaders of tomorrow with all the correct narratives they could possibly need. Only, there hasn’t been a lead character of questionable gender identity, or sexuality, or even someone who isn’t perfectly beautiful. So, we teach our kids not just that it’s the straight, good looking, monogamous individuals who succeed, and also, probably more importantly, that any other identity actually doesn’t exist. Never confronting a child with the reality of the multitudes of varying human experiences is tantamount to instilling ignorance, and should be avoided at all costs.

Not only do fairy tales instill regular norms regarding the way we “should” behave, but they trap us into believing that we can’t be happy without money. As Marx would love to remind us, modes of production are controlled by the few, and cinema is simply another mode of production for the self fulfilling capitalistic ideologies permeating its creative output. The simple binaries regarding gender, sexuality, relationship type etc. all work because we already are conditioned to believe it. We are literally being controlled by a corporate elite, told what to think and who to accept, because it brings more capital into their pockets and out of ours. Cinema, but more specifically fairy tales (and their production in film) reflect a firm ideological stance of the majority of our society, thus morally and financially bankrupting us from the inside.

Fairy tales, we might say, are four times removed from the truth. They don’t attack any real fundamental truth, they don’t even show us our physical reality, and then—extending Plato’s original concern – they don’t even represent the truth of human experience. We are beings of many levels, almost everything is on a bell curve, and we can’t be stuck in one or another binary. So, stop reading fairy tales, and start thinking more critically about our culture.


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An Exploration of the Different Ways in Which Gilman and Carter Depict Patriarchy

The Yellow Wallpaper and The Bloody Chamber express feminist ideologies through their depiction of female characters in victimized situations. In The Yellow Wallpaper through the perspective of the narrator, the audience is able to feel the emotions and constraints applied by the husband, John. By deeming the narrator as ill, John controls every aspect of her life; this represents the way in which women are treated in a patriarchal society. John is clearly working to hold control over the narrator in order to claim the masculinity he is entitled to, this connects to patriarchy in the sense that women are put down in order to keep men up. John limits the narrator emotionally and physically, by forcing her to remain in bed rest and by limiting the artistic activities she is able to indulge in.


Carter, in The Tiger’s Bride, depicts a female character who is constrained by her not only father but the masculine Beast. The narrator is objectified to the extent that she is gambled by her father to the Beast. She is locked away in a cell by the Beast, similar to the way the narrator in The Yellow Wallpaper is metaphorically locked away by John. These strong symbols of patriarchy are exposing the effects they apply on women, as they are treated as secondary figures.


Both authors provide insight on how the roles of women are changing, while they are not entirely positive, they are legitimate examples of the evolution of patriarchy. In the end of The Yellow Wallpaper, the narrator goes crazy trying to escape from John, serving as a reflection on the fact that women are realizing their constraints in society. While escaping from bedrest, the narrator claims “I’ve got out at last”, and then questions the situation by asking “in spite of you and Jane?” (Stetson 656), which implies not only an escape from John but a release of her entire persona as a female under the control of a male. Her name is finally revealed, and she doesn’t even feel as if it belongs to her. In a different story by Carter, The Bloody Chamber, the story ends with a dramatic killing by the narrator’s mom on Marquis, who is moments away from murdering the narrator. While this ending provides no clear ideology towards patriarchy, it leaves open the idea that women do not always have to characterize the victim.

Works Cited: Stetson, Charlotte Perkins. The Yellow Wallpaper. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.



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Self-Repression in ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’

An element of the (female) gothic that is very evident in The Yellow Wallpaper is the recurring theme of repression. In one sense, the main character, through her confinement to the room with the yellow wallpaper, is being forced to repress all of her creative and intellectual urges. She isn’t allowed to leave the room, write, do any sort of physical activity or have human contact with others. This deprivation of all stimuli is arguably what causes her to go insane, as all of her repressed energies manifest in the observations of her immediate surroundings i.e. the wallpaper.

One element of the story that struck me was how absent John, the main character’s husband, is. On the one hand, he takes on the role of the male oppressor; he is the one who has ferreted the main character away to this mansion and is urging her to complete the rest cure. Yet in the immediate story, he is rarely physically present; most of the time, he is alluded to through the narrator’s own mental projections of what he might say or think. Some examples are:

  • John would suspect something at once
  • And I know John would think it absurd
  • John has cautioned me not to give way to fancy in the least.

In this sense, ‘John’ embodies all of the societal pressures and expectations of the woman’s role that the narrator has internalised. From when the husband is physically there, his role is less that of the villain and more the doting husband who wants his wife’s mental condition to improve. This situation reminded me of the poem from Christina’s lecture about the imaginary (male) obstacle standing in the narrator’s path. Most of the villainous image surrounding John comes from the narrator’s paranoid ramblings (I am getting a little afraid of John). Even at the short story’s conclusion, John’s efforts to get into the room could be expressing his fear for his wife’s well-being rather than sinister intentions. Even when he enters the room and faints, the narrator simply continues ‘creeping’ around the room; John as a physical entity carries little importance, it seems. Through this aspect of the story, Gilman could be commenting on the internalised sexism that women at her time were undoubtedly feeling: the phenomenon where women believe and internalise the gender expectations and stereotypes in society around them and fail to act or stand up for themselves because of it. The narrator of The Yellow Wallpaper is technically free to go; she isn’t technically locked into the “atrocious nursery”, and at the story’s end actually locks herself in and throws the key away, which could be construed symbolically. At one point, the narrator laments: I wish John would take me away from here. So although she wants to escape her situation she doesn’t feel capable of doing so on her own.

Another noteworthy aspect of The Yellow Wallpaper is the sense of self-denial that I caught onto in my first reading of the story. The “nursery” in which the narrator is staying seemed to me from the very first descriptions revealed to a reader like a prison cell rather than a children’s playroom. These observations innocently made by the narrator seemed very sinister to me: from the “barred windows” and “nailed down” bed to the “gate at the head of the stairs”. From the manner in which the narrator speaks of herself in relation to the room, it seemed to me as if she notices this prison-like aspect of it, yet chooses to deny it:

  • It was nursery first and then playroom and gymnasium, I should judge; for the windows are barred for little children, and there are rings and things in the walls.
  • It is stripped off the paper – in great patches all around the head of my bed, about as far as I can reach
  • How those children did tear about here! This bedstead is fairly gnawed!

This final quote is especially ironic because shortly thereafter the narrator “bit off a little piece at one corner” of the bed. This denial, in combination with the narrator’s manifestation of her internalised sexist ideas through the John character, could be Gilman’s way of criticising the failure of women in her time to become aware of their oppressed and marginalised situation and work to change it. This aim of informing women was without doubt one of Gilman’s purposes through her work, also expressed through her publication of The Forerunner and her feminist novel Our Androcentric Culture.

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Implications of Epic Theatre on Consumerist Society

One of the most interesting points I took from seminar was the discussion regarding the unpopularity of epic theatre in society today. Epic theatre had already been established before Brecht in the early to mid-20th century, however he was the person who unified the practice, developed it and popularized it (Cash, Theatre Links). Brecht argued that “one of the goals of epic theatre is for the audience to always be aware that it is watching a play” therefore, unlike mainstream films, epic theatre must not immerse the audience but keep them constantly thinking (Cash, Theatre Links).

In current-day society epic theatre remains to be massively unpopular, this is due to the effects 21st century culture has had on society worldwide; multinational companies throughout the world has changed people in society into consumerist machines which changes the way we behave as a whole. Instead of being taught to think and question everything in the world, we are subtly changed into mindless consumerist zombies who simply buy the product, use it, then proceed to move on to the next once we tire of them. An example of this method of thinking in society are the songs we listen to today, unlike Beethoven’s symphonies which has survived through time, they are given simplistic beats and melodies in order to make people listen (consume) them for a short period of time. Multinational companies enforce this way of thinking so they can take advantage of our short attention spans and have their customers come back for more. This contrasts Brecht’s goal in epic theatre where they force the audience to think and question which allows them to become more knowledgeable.

Works Cited:

Cash, Justin. “Epic Theatre.” Theatre Links. N.p., 1998. Web. 09 Jan. 2017. <>.

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Why the Cabinet of Doctor Calligari illustrates an important argument about the horror genre:


Horror films seem to reflect, in their plot, form, mise-en-scene, and other technical elements, the society in which they exist. The Cabinet of Doctor Calligari is an illustration of Weimar Germany, in an expressionistic sense, because the film is imbued with an air of strangeness, uncertainty, and imbalance. This is a parallel to German society in the 1920s, which has just lost WW1, and is entering into a period of harsh reparations, foreign control of German territory, and a fluctuating economy. There is very little known about the future of the German state, and people are suffering psychologically from the horrors of the Great War, leading to a country which was shrouded in danger and mental illness. Think of Cesar, the somnambulist, who had stark and pale makeup, gesticulated in large, unrealistic ways, and was barely human. He typifies the lack of clarity in the direction of the German state, not having clear gender, sexuality, or motivations; he is controlled by outside forces, and has no autonomy. The jagged sets and non-realistic colors, as well as the strange perspectives forced upon us by camera angles, all add to this general tone of uncertainty and “creepiness” which is so prevalent in German society.


Calligari then sets the precedent for horror films well into the future. To prove the argument that horror reflects societal values and emotions, we must analyze another period of filmmaking. Take the 1960s and 70s, where horror films are characterized by slasher flicks, extremely violent stabbing murders, and strange unknown terrors such as Freddy Krueger or Michael Myers. What is the societal parallel? Well, the Vietnam war! It is a period where war was, for the first time, streamed at near-real time speeds to the West: to the home front. We were surrounded by actual violence, seeing the horrors of a war fought in the jungle, where chemical weapons were dropped on largely innocent civilians to tragic effect. No longer are horror films filled with a sense of unease. Instead they are replaced by openly violent scenes, with blood gushing (think Nightmare on Elm Street when Jonny Depp’s character is dragged into his bed), and unquestionable evil monsters who have no soul. One has to wonder about the parallel to the Viet Kong, another enemy largely unknown, with values so different to our own that we cannot emotionally connect in the least.


The horror genre consistently reflects the most terrible elements of our society, as Calligari illustrates. It’s almost like the Horror genre is attempting to deal with the elements of a culture which we otherwise wish to repress. We don’t want to remind ourselves, in a cognizant way, that Germany is on the brink of economic and social regression, nor that we are engaged in an ideological proxy war where war crimes of being committed. So horror films play an important role, it allows those terrible, unthinkable things to be dealt with in a fictional, often cathartic way. We can handle the uncertainty of Weimar Germany in a film about a somnambulist, and we can work through the horrors of the Vietnam War when we know every death is a matter of special effects.

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Brecht’s Thoughts on Heroism

While this play may appear to be a critique towards Galileo himself, given it is called The Life of Galileo, it is actually meant to reveal the skewed political intentions behind science. According to Brecht, progress and science have lost their definition and are being reestablished by the bourgeoisie. As a Marxist, Brecht does not agree with the way in which people praise individuals such as Galileo who are members of the privileged class. As a result of these anti-capitalist feelings, Brecht urges his audience to reevaluate the way we constitute heroic action through the example of Galileo.

Brecht’s production techniques enhance his purpose by passing the burden of judgment onto the audience, as people are left to interpret the play without being lost in theatrical illusions. In light of the present political situations during the 20th century, Brecht wants people to realize the greater moral message of the play. His most important lesson is regarding the concept of heroism, something that seems to belong exclusively to the upper class. The bourgeois class is granted access and opportunities to knowledge that the lower class does not, creating a misconception that these are the people responsible for scientific progression.

Galileo, although a good scientist, does indeed take advantage of his privilege. Brecht is pointing out that somebody at some point sooner or later would have made the same discoveries because they are facts. This connects to Plato and his idea of the forms, as they do not belong to anybody because they cannot be changed, they simply are. Brecht is working for his audience to realize how the global commons belong to specific groups of people and are being marketed to benefit them.

A present day example of a bourgeois self-benefitting action is Donald Trump building the Trump Tower to ‘make more jobs’, when in actuality the tower is most beneficial to him because it will improve his life. Thus, it is inappropriate to consider Trump a hero for taking advantage of his social status.

Ultimately, Brecht presents the Life of Galileo from a Marxist perspective by critiquing not Galileo, but the oppressive class system. Science has fallen into the wrong hands and until people understand this, the bourgeois will continue to capitalize knowledge and take credit for global commons.

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Bertolt, Neon Demons and American Gods

Jason’s comment that the Brecht-ian concepts are somewhat lost to us because they have become the norm in our lives is quite applicable to me; I had a hard time understanding why his revolutionary form of theatre was, in fact, so revolutionary. I therefore explored some of the ways in which Brecht’s theories on theatre can be found in some of the literature and films that I have come across of late.

What immediately sprung to mind was Nicolas Winding Refn’s The Neon Demon, which I watched recently. Of all the catchphrases that I took from Monday’s lecture, the one about strange becomes familiar was most applicable to the movie. The opening scene serves as an example: Elle Fanning playing a lone, underaged model lies motionless on a couch, covered in blood, surrounded by a surreal and unnatural studio set-up.

No effort is made here to make the viewer feel comfortable or natural; watching this, I found myself drawing back from the film rather than pulled into it. If Refn’s purpose was to recreate Brecht’s Verfremdungseffekt, then he succeeded with me. Another example of the surreal intruding into the film is when Fanning returns to her motel room one night to find that a wild mountain lion has broken in and torn through her belongings. The entire movie is scattered with such unnatural and plainly weird examples of motifs and mise en scène, of which the pictures in Monday’s lecture of odd set designs reminded me. I was also able to read elements of Brecht’s theory on Gestus into the film. As the film progresses, the main character becomes less easy to empathise with; she loses her humanity and begins resembling an ideal more than a person: Ambition, perhaps. Rather than add to her complexity to draw a viewer in, Refn seems to take away from the relatable parts of her characters, so that a viewer can see her objectively. After finishing the film, I felt dissatisfied and thought of it as quite superficial. Only after learning about epic theatre and it’s methods and goals did I re-evaluate the film; it concerns itself with the superficiality of high fashion. Maybe the pretty and mesmerising, yet shallow, scenes are meant to make a viewer criticise the empty glamour of the industry. In any case, Brecht-ian methods were applied in the film.

When we discussed the Gestus and abstraction of characters, I also thought of American Gods, a book by Neil Gamain that I read a while back. The story follows a man named Shadow as he is introduced to the world of the American Gods. Gamain’s gods relate to Brecht’s epic theatre in the sense that each one represents something that humans worship in the world, be it an ancient Egyptian deity or ‘the TV’. In the book, the ‘old’ gods are at war with the ‘new’ ones (money, sex, etc.). The novel relates to Brecht’s epic theatre not in the methods used by Gamain in it, but more superficially in this dimension of characters who are abstracted to represent one ‘thing’ or concept. Nonetheless, the story provided food for thought on the direction that modern society is going and the way that we worship useless and artificial things, so whether it was Gamain’s purpose or not he succeeded in making me as a reader question circumstances outside of the text.

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Was Brecht successful in getting what he wanted?

Dear Readers


Bertolt Brecht was an interesting and complex figure in the 20th century. His epic theater had a huge influence in the world today.  Brecht’s motivation comes from the fact that the lower class in the 1920s were desensitized about all sorts of injustice and persecutions around them.As a result,  he tried to create a form of theater that makes the audience to think and reflect problems in real life. This approach to theater was novel at the time.

In order to make audience reflect other than enjoying a performance, Brecht tried a number of techniques to make the audience emotionally unattached to the performance and the actors on stage. Here are some examples of what he did.

Interrupting the performance by music and songs that are not closely related to the play.

Gestus,(Gestures) abstracting the character to make them simpler to understand. Staring at the audience for no particular reason.

Unconventional props and set designs. Such as using one tree to represent a forest. Characters dressed in bleak and white custom.

changing props and settings under audience’s eye

Big curtains that never close throughout a performance.

However, despite Brecht’s effort, the function of art and theater haven’t changed. Personally, I don’t expect to think or reflect anything when I watch TV and I don’t know anyone who does. In some occasions, I would relate the theme of a TV series to something I have read, but that doesn’t make me reflect anything.

Although Brecht didn’t enjoy the way audience think about theater in his era. However, I don’t think he was successful in making people think. Regardless of what he thought about Hollywood ( a false representation of what’s going on in the world ), it is still making lots of profit. In other words, Brecht did not succeed in making people think. After all, people still go to movies for pure enjoyment.




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The Sci-Fi Sandman

If you’re reading this, I warn you, it’s probably going to be a long one. I’ve worked on it for a while. 

After reading Hoffman’s The Sandman, apart from the song constantly getting stuck in my head I also couldn’t stop thinking about a Doctor Who episode that took the legend of the Sandman and reinvented it into something that, as my title suggests, is a bit more sci-fi. It’s kind of confusing, but I’ll try to explain.

The title of the episode is brilliant in its own way. “Sleep No More” basically describes what the episode is going to be about, but is still vague enough that you wonder what it is going to be about. It is set in the 38th Century, after the Great Catastrophe where India and Japan are the ruling powers. The Great Catastrophe has basically led to humans fleeing Earth to find a home on Triton, one of Neptune’s moons. The episode itself is actually set on an abandoned ship that is orbiting Neptune, with a four person crew assigned on a rescue mission to see why the ship fell silent. The episode is pieced together in a found footage style using footage from the crew’s helmets and security cameras in the ship, with narration by the scientist Rassmussen, whose voiceover on a black screen warns the viewer not to watch the video in the beginning, “You must not watch this. I’m warning you, you can never unsee it.” (0.00 – 0.22). Naturally, this would typically make someone want to continue watching.

Now, initially when I re- watched the episode I thought that perhaps I’d find parallels between the episode and Hoffman’s short story, but I realized when I was grasping at straws that there were none, so I looked up an interview with the writer of the episode, Mark Gatiss, who said that his inspiration came from his experiences with insomnia throughout his life. Now the title makes even more sense.

What I love about legends is the way that they can be transformed into anything, from Hoffman’s story, designed to blur the lines between appearance and reality and freak you out, to the children’s movie Rise of the Guardians (Ramsey, 2012), in which the Sandman is a lovable guardian who helps children fall asleep and makes sure that their dreams are happy and bright. I think you can imagine though that my favourite interpretation of the Sandman is Mark Gatiss’ version. Back to the episode.

Rassmussen claims that he is the one who put the videos together in an attempt to explain what is going on, making it seem that he is the sole survivor of whatever is occuring. Through the footage we meet the crew, who go into the ship and run into the Doctor and his companion Clara who have also just arrived on board. My first grasp at straws was the name similarity between the Doctor’s Clara and the Klara in Hoffman’s story, but really the only similarity is in the sound of their names. You hear Clara say that she feels as though she’s being watched, and the Doctor explains it as paranoia. The leader of the crew tells the two that they are now under her command, and they resume their scope of the ship. Another camera catches the Doctor and Clara talking when the Doctor sees a layer of dust just under the camera, swipes it up and remarks that the ship must have been dead for a while before blowing the dust in the direction of the camera.

After further exploration of the ship and an incident with crew member 474, a Grunt who, in the 38th century, are a breed of human solely made for their strength and brute force, a monster is attracted to the team and begins chasing them. They run away, 5 out of the 6 people in this newly enlarged team barely making it through the doors to a room. They close the door on the monster’s arm, the arm disintegrating into a pile of dust. The Doctor takes a sample to find that the dust is actually made of mostly dead skin cells and mucus. Inside the room they’ve found themselves in are a line of bulky, pod like devices. The crew explains that these are Morpheus Devices, named after the god of dreams, but that they are more than just sleep pods. Clara activates one to find that when activated, they play a holographic video of The Chordettes singing the famous “Mr. Sandman”, a song with a chirpy, upbeat melody and slightly unsettling lyrics. The song itself may even invoke a sense of the uncanny, and it especially did in this context. The device then opens up and traps Clara within it, for only a minute before the Doctor is able to get her out, pulling the wires from her and waking her up. She gets out and they find that her pod wasn’t the only occupied one, and that the pod at the end is not empty. Clara is able to talk to whoever is inside and convince them to open up their pod, and they do, only for us to find that it is Rassmussen inside the pod, hiding.

To elaborate the whole ‘it is more than a sleeping pod’ thing that I mentioned earlier, Rassmussen activates another hologram that explains to the Doctor and Clara what exactly the Morpheus Devices do. As it turns out, by targeting the sleep centres of your brain and altering your brain’s general chemistry, it concentrates your sleep down to only five minutes a month. In this five minutes the device gives you all the chemical benefits of rest but without the time it takes to actually get it. The crew reveals that these devices are commonplace back on Triton, where efficiency is valued. Rassmussen then proudly reveals that the Morpheus Devices are his invention, but Clara and the Doctor are disturbed by this society’s need for efficiency going so far as to allow the fundamental chemistry of their brains to be changed in such a way. Chopra, one of the rescue team members, agrees with them. In fact, he is the only crew member who doesn’t use the devices.  This is where the Doctor devises a theory.

The Doctor’s Theory: The monsters that inhabit the ship are actually made out of the dust that forms in the corner of your eye when you sleep.

Explanation: This mucus crust is made of blood and skin cells, and the electronic pulses that Morpheus sends into your brain to alter its chemistry actually caused the cells to evolve into a carnivorous life form. The longer that you are in Morpheus the more dust builds up, until it entirely takes over the host. The dust conglomerates and then can mold itself into human form after it eats its host. It’s quite an adaptive creature, actually.

Here is where I skip a ton of drama that goes down by saying that a ton of drama goes down, the gravity shields that keep the ship from being pulled in by Neptune’s gravitational pull are deactivated (but the Doctor reactivates them), and this further breaks up the crew and the monsters kill Rassmussen. The Doctor hacks into the leader’s helmet cam to review earlier footage of Rassmussen being eaten, finding something odd in the way the monsters do so. We see a pod being transported somewhere and then the cameras cut back to the Doctor and Clara dubbing the monsters ‘Sandmen’ before the Doctor remembers something the leader mentioned earlier; she said that their helmets are not equipped with cameras. The Sandmen break into the room that they’re in and that’s when the Doctor sees that the Sandmen are blind. Rassmussen cuts in here, showing that he’s alive. The Doctor, Clara and the leader all escape the Sandmen and the Doctor now shows us that there is footage being taken wirelessly and stored somewhere, but there are no cameras anywhere doing that job. The Doctor explains this with his line, “[T]he dust has been watching us. Each little organic speck, just a tiny spy, drifting through the air. The monsters have been with us all along. That’s why the Sandmen are blind, their visual receptors are being hijacked! But by whom? And why?” (31.52 – 32.16).

The biggest twist in the episode happens when the Doctor points out the reason for the PoV footage that was shot. The rapid cutting and the amount of people in the group, in addition to the amount of different angles that we got from the dust specs alone was enough to trick the audience into thinking that the PoV footage was shot from every person’s perspective. It wasn’t. There were two people whose perspectives we never see; and those are the Doctor’s and Chopra’s. Everyone who had been inside Morpheus had a PoV, even Clara. This leads the Doctor to theorizing that being in the Morpheus Devices for even the shortest time begins the process of becoming a Sandman. This revelation was enough to send a chill down even my spine.

So the Doctor figures it out, even finds that Rassmussen is still alive and they corner him. Rassmussen tells them that he was willing to sacrifice himself for the betterment of the Sandman race, that the Sandmen spared him because he promised that he would find a way to get them off of the spaceship and into Triton so that they could spread. He plans to use Patient 0, the box that I mentioned was seen being transported earlier, the first Morpheus client who hasn’t slept in five years, and release him into Triton to spread his spores. Rassmussen explains that the Morpheus Devices are constantly evolving and changing and as a result, so are the Sandmen. Their ability to infect others goes beyond the devices now, they are able to use spores to infect their victims.

The Doctor finds inconsistencies with Rassmussen’s story, and tries to figure them out but they don’t have time. They have to get back to the TARDIS and escape, but are blocked by Sandmen. The Doctor then destroys the gravity shields, causing Neptune’s stronger gravitational field to pull apart the Sandmen. They get into the TARDIS, but not before the Doctor looks around and yells, “It doesn’t make sense! None of this makes any sense!” (42.12).

The episode ends with Rassmussen getting up from the seat that the leader shot him down in earlier, explaining that the whole story in the video was really just a ruse that he put together to embed the same electronic glitch that Morpheus used in the sleep process into the video, therefore kickstarting the Sandman process in the viewer and spreading the ‘virus’ to whoever watches it. With one last smug smile, he rubs his eye and it crumbles into sand, the rest of his body following suit.

Whether or not Rassmussen was successfully able to release the video is not known, and the episode ends without us knowing the fate of the Triton people. We do know Clara survives, but that is about it.

Believe it or not, that was my shortened summary.

As I said before, I love when legends are recreated and revamped into different genres and made into their own original stories. Within this episode I mentioned the Freudian uncanny of the song “Mr. Sandman”. But even the Doctor seemed to feel his own sense of the uncanny when he realized that the story just wasn’t adding up, and to the Doctor that’s the worst kind of conclusion.

Not to mention Darwin would have had a field day in this spaceship, analyzing the components of the evolution and creation of the Sandmen.

What I appreciate the most about this episode though is the annoyance I felt when I didn’t initially understand what was happening, and then the annoyance I felt seeing that Rassmussen had created this whole story in the end solely for his own purposes, to fulfill his own agenda. I mean, talk about unreliable narrators. Not to mention just overall confusion that stayed with you throughout the episode, only for it to be resolved into utter annoyance knowing that the hero of the story, the Doctor, didn’t see the ultimate plan of Rassmussen’s to release the video he created. Ultimately, the hero lost without properly realizing it. That’s not supposed to happen. Well, I mean, welcome to Doctor Who, where things that are dead don’t stay dead, races that are supposed to have been wiped out turn out to be alive and thriving, and a pansexual time traveler who doesn’t take life seriously ends up being the oldest being in the universe. And that last one I’m not even referring to the Doctor.

I just hope that there’s a sequel in the future.




“Sleep No More.” Doctor Who. Writ. Mark Gatiss. Dir. Justin Molotnikov. BBC One, 2015.

“The Chordettes. “Mr. Sandman.” Mr. Sandman, Cadence, 1954.

Rise of the Guardians. Directed by Peter Ramsey, DreamWorks Animation, 2012.

Hoffman, E. T. A. The Sandman. 1816.

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