Once a week, we have an unapologetic Doctor Who geek-out here to discuss the latest episode. I’ve just finished watching the 5th episode of the 8th season of the rebooted Doctor Who called Time Heist.
Fair warning now: this is not a summary, just an off-the-top-of-my-head response, and it does contain spoilers. Of course it does – we have to talk about this stuff! So let’s begin, Whovians…
First response: that’s it?
I admit it. I felt a bit let down this week. I think I had really high expectations because of the premise but ended up feeling a big old shrug. I suppose that is inevitable after the feast that was Listen but let’s unpack it a bit. I think I was expecting so much MORE because of the premise and the cast, but….yawn.
I liked the two one-time companions – both were complicated and well-rounded than we usually see. And their abilities were fascinating. I was actually quite interested in them both – Psi as a hacker of the future and Saibra in her shape-shifting loneliness. I suppose it should have been a bit of a tip-off as to The Architect when she said that no one can trust someone who looks at the world through their own eyes. I was particularly fascinated by the idea of an augmented human with download capabilities – that seems like it should be it’s own episode altogether. Hello, Cyberman opportunity story, nice to see you.
Plus I was so looking forward to this episode because of Keeley Hawes – ever since I first saw “Wives and Daughters” and “Upstairs Downstairs” (the remake), I was hoping for her to show up on DW at some point. Wish granted. And she was an excellent villain, right? I thought she was a bit one-dimensional until you realise Ms. Delaphox a clone of Madame Karabraxos. THEN it all makes sense and she seems so much more sympathetic and interesting. But the way that we move from unrepentant MK to “dying in her bed with old age make up” MK just felt, well, too convenient. Whatever, man. Die with your regrets, you deserve them.
One character issue I had was with the Doctor himself. I simply could not suspend disbelief that this was anything that ANY of the Doctors would have done so quickly and without question. Anyone remember in season 6’s opener, The Impossible Astronaut, how the Doctor flat out refused to do what the “mysterious person” had asked him to do – even though that person was himself in the future? He knew that he was being manipulated and didn’t trust River Song enough to go along. It took Amy swearing on “fish fingers and custard” for him to put his life in her hands and go along for the adventure, trusting it would come clear. And yet in this episode, he just blindly goes along with The Architect? So I was positive he knew who the Architect was throughout the show and was lying beautifully until I found out that he DID have to figure it out. Then I was all “whaaaaaat?” He just robbed a bank because some faceless person wanted him to do so? I don’t think so. Just seemed totally out of character.
The other thing I noted is the absolute lack of a rousing monologue. You know me – I love a good monologue a la The Pandorica Opens or The Rings of Akhaten. So I was really gearing up for a good monologue about why the Doctor should be in charge or why he was worth trusting or even why they were doing this whole thing, but meh. Apparently the Doctor was just figuring it out with the rest of us and seemed like he didn’t have the time or inclination to bother getting anyone else on board. Which is spot-on for this incarnation of the Doctor. But don’t mind me crying in the corner over the lack of emotional monologues…..
And one other quibble – when the Teller reads the Doctor’s thoughts, nothing happens. Nothing. Zip. Zero. Zilch. There is no big revelation about either one of them. I was really hoping for at least a bit of insight into the Doctor and his relationship with guilt. After all, that has been a bit of a theme so far with character development this season. For instance, in Deep Breath his premiere episode, he says something about how he’s made a lot of mistakes in 2,000 years and it’s time to do something about that. And then we have this weird creature who can detect guilt and….nothing. Weird.
I do love Capaldi though. I do. He’s subtle, methodical, funny, weird, other-worldly, and brilliant. He reminds me so much more of Christopher Eccleston’s Doctor – the 9th Doctor – in these ways. But…. I do miss the compassionate Doctor though, the one who was easily and profoundly moved by people. That one line from Psi about how Capaldi is a doctor because he’s cultivated professional detachment just seemed so sad. That’s not my Doctor. *pout pout*
Few good laughs several times in this episode – as always his “shut up shut up shut up” thing when he’s trying to think even if no one else is talking is hilarious. (And anyone else think it was a little homage to his Malcolm Tucker famous line when he said “shuttity up”?) And then they ask – “why are you in charge?” Basically, it’s the eyebrows. Agreed. Even making fun of his previous incarnation’s bow tie was fun.
Clara was just along for the ride this time. Her warmth and empathy continues to be her hallmark even when there isn’t much for her to do. The part where Psi saves her by offering himself up to the Teller was beautiful and moving. I kept waiting for Missy to show up and prove our theory about how only the ones who sacrifice themselves for the Doctor go to “heaven” but sure enough it wasn’t death but teleport so never mind.
Let’s talk about the Teller, shall we? I found the idea fascinating but it just wasn’t doing it for me, I admit. I couldn’t figure out the strait jacket when it’s abilities/power lies in its antenna/eyes/mind either. When the show turned tables and made him the victim in need of rescue, I was glad and all, but I didn’t really feel much. He wasn’t sympathetic, hadn’t betrayed any feelings or “self” at all. Just seemed mechanical. So great, the Teller and his mate are free but we don’t really have a sense of them as “persons” – motivations, history, foibles, loves – like we usually do with our Who monsters. Also: awkward walking away shot. Nice tail, Teller.
Also, for the record, security seemed SUPER light for such an important bank. They were popping in and out of vents with tremendous ease and the hallways were empty, they easily found where they wanted to go, even into the private vault through just an air shaft. Womp womp, Madame Karabraxos. Even for the threat of a solar storm, it sure seemed like everyone was rather ho-hum about it. I thought it was just a good old solar storm – as in The Almost People/The Rebel Flesh – but then all of a sudden, this is apparently one that will incinerate the bank. Oh, okay then, good to know. The urgency just wasn’t there in this episode. Lots of random red lights do not a security system make, my friends.
I got such a kick out of seeing the memory worms again – the last time we saw them was in the Christmas episode, Snowmen, right? Such a great idea.
So we get to the resolution and, like I said, I felt kind of like “that was it?” This was the whole episode?
No big reveals, no big emotion, no big resolutions, no big character development, no big twist. Just – that was it.
Now what do you think? Did you like the episode? Any theories or ideas or highlights? Have at it – I love your comments and can’t wait to get the conversation going.