“Sleep No More” is one of the most unusual episodes since “Blink.” The usual opening titles are not used, and the episode is more like found footage that will have an unexpected result in the end.
*** SPOILERS BELOW ***
The story centers on a man called Rasmussen (Reece Shearsmith), who warns the viewer not to see this video because once you do, you can’t unsee it. He’s talking from a lab orbiting Neptune in the 38th Century, recalling a rescue effort for him. He was found in a sleep pod he invented called Morpheus, which changes the sleep centers of the user, giving the person eight hours of sleep in five minutes. As he puts it, ” we spend a third of our lives asleep, and time is money.” Everyone on the Neptune moon Triton is using it, in fact, because it helps them work longer, but maybe not better. Clara accidentally used it when she tried to figure it out. The Doctor, of course, thinks humans bartering away an inconvenience like sleep is insane. He also doesn’t like the process’ theme song, “Mr. Sandman”, complete with hologram singers.
It’s already had a side effect. The “sleep dust” people have (mostly bits of skin from people) has mutated into monsters that eats its victims. The Doctor suspects they may have killed the crew, and is also hunting the rescue crew including Chopra, Nagata, Deep-Ando and a grunt (artificial soldier) named 474.
Ando is the first to die, mainly because the computer is reluctant to let him enter another room unless he sings “Mr. Sandman”. He does, but it’s too late.
The Doctor and the crew have other problems, when the grav-shields start failing, and it looks like they’ll crash into Neptune. He fixes the shields, though, but is forced to leave Chopra and 474 behind.
He looks over the video from the helmet-cams, but figures out no one has one. It’s the dust that’s providing the footage, especially from those who have used Morpheus, including Clara. The dust is also helping the Sandmen (as she named them) see their way around. He is certain, though, he’ll fix everything and end Morpehus.
He also suspects the grav-shields were powered down to protect something else.
Chopra is ready to blow up the lab because he can’t contact the rest of the crew, but the Sandmen get to him before he tries that. The 474 soldier also dies helping him.
It gets to the point that even the found footage is getting suspicious. It looks like it’s been re-edited to create a story of what happened in the lab. Sure enough, it was a plot by Rasmussen to destroy humanity on Triton by replacing it with the Sandmen, the ultimate worker drones. He claims they communicate with him in his mind, and even shows “patient zero”, a man who hadn’t slept in five years.
Nagata kills Rasmussen, but the Sandmen surround her, the Doctor and Clara before they get to the TARDIS. However, he destroys the grav-shields, making the Sandmen dissolve. They get away, go to Triton, and destroy the Morpheus pods. World saved again, right?
Well, if you’ve seen The Ring, it’s not so. Rasmussen is still alive, and explains seeing the footage released the Morpheus electronic signal that just changed the sleep centers of the viewer’s brain. Now he plans to show it to everyone in the solar system. What’s more chilling is seeing him change into a Sandman, poking his eye out and hoping “we will all be together, dust to dust.” If that’s not scarier than seeing a video that kills you in a week, what is?
It makes you wonder if this is the end of the story. It may be possible we have a new monster that would even make the Weeping Angels blink.
Next week, the Doctor meets some familiar faces in an unusual London neighborhood, including someone who has a new job.