For this week’s episode, I wanted only one thing: no disappointment. I didn’t care about anything else, I just wanted my most anticipated episode for series eight to live up to my expectations. Blowing them out of the water was preferred, but not required.
And while it could have been better, Time Heist did far from fall short of what I’d imagined. Steve Thompson took the best bits from his previous Doctor Who work and mashed them together into a season highlight. It took the concept of a well-paced adventure with strong (if, perhaps, underdeveloped) supporting cast from The Curse of the Black Spot, and combined it with the Doctor/Companion characterisation and brilliant plotline that makes Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS my favorite New-Who story. Everything important to the story felt right – Clara and the Doctor had a strong dynamic, the supporting characters were given time to develop, the plot wasn’t too complex and had room to breathe, and the resolution was quintessentially Doctor Who.
So how did Mr Thompson manage it? You guessed it, it’s time to re-examine the biggest bank heist in history…
A Few Initial Reactions
- I thought the beginning of this episode was great. The Doctor watching Clara get ready for her date was one of those priceless domestic Doctor Who moments that I live for.
- It never actually occurred me that the Doctor wouldn’t be used to his companions wearing decent high heels. As I’m sure the likes of Peri discovered, they’re far too impractical for TARDIS travelling!
- “Why is your face all coloured in?” oh come on Doctor, don’t tell me you’ve never noticed Clara’s make-up before! She used to pile it on just for you back when you were younger.
- Clara and Danny are still so adorably yet gratingly awkward. I love how she patiently indulges him.
- I can’t believe the Doctor still hasn’t patched the telephone back through the console unit. Not even in honour of Handles?!
- And this is where one of the best cold opens ever begins. The memory worm is back! There’s two random weirdos! “I am the Doctor, a time lord from Gallifrey. I’ve agreed to this memory wipe on my own free will.” Looks like Doctor Who to me! Now it’s time to reverse the polarity of the neutron flow! Allons-y!
- On that note, I thought the recording was an ingenous way of introducing Psi and Saibra, and also bringing out that they were (mostly) human. I like it when introductions get to the point.
- Looking back at the Architect’s message, it does seem a lot like the Doctor. “A fortress for the super-rich – if you can afford your own star system, this is where you keep it” – that’s something I can definitely imagine Capaldi saying to Clara.
- The fact that Psi and Saibra had no idea what was going on really helped with their likablity. They were in the same boat as everyone else, and I liked that they weren’t violent or flirty or nasty. They were just…people, trying to get on with their lives. Exactly the kind of companions the Doctor would hand-pick (hehe).
- Ah, the good old run up a corridor, complete with awesome flying companion hair, brings us back to the Doctor Who we know. Corridor sprints are sort of becoming the quarries of the 21st century.
- “Robbing a bank is easy if you’ve got a TARDIS…so why am I not using it?” To all those reviewers who said this episode was lacking comedy: shame on you.
- I like Mrs Delphox, Keely Hawes does a great job at playing a classy antagonist. But that alien is awful, they could have at least made it a little more attractive. I know that’s not the point, but there was no reason for it to be that disgusting.
- The thing with the guy’s head caving in freaked me out. And hello, does he not have a skull??? I felt if just took the almost panto-horror Doctor Who is known for a bit too far. It was like The Brain of Morbius, and it shouldn’t be. Ever.
- Is anyone else thinking that the Doctor made the bomb look “bomb-like” so he would know what it was? It looked a little too primitive for something so advanced – fuses, wires and a timer? Please.
- “I still don’t understand why you’re in charge.” “Basically it’s the eyebrows.” Haha +1 for the attack eyebrows
- Hang on, cyborgs from the future connect to other computers via a USB?! You have got to be kidding me. Kind of like how the terminals to access CAL in The Library had Mac keyboards. I mean, at least Sarah Jane closing a time fissure with a booklight demonstrated some creativity – this is just plain weak.
- A bomb that transports the matter to somewhere else and puts it back? Sounds like the same tech as Jack’s sonic “squareness gun” from The Empty Child. Awesome.
- While the “everybody lives” ending was a bit painful, Saibra’s ‘death’ was so dramatic that bringing her back kind of had to happen. The episode would have been way too depressing if she actually had have died like that, it was a sad but fantastically written and directed scene.
- I really like Psi, his personality is cute. He’s not some baddie with a dark heart like Journey Blue from Into the Dalek, he should so come back as a companion. An augmented human would be so interesting to have in the TARDIS. And the fact that he sacrificed himself for Clara was adorable.
- The images of criminals that flashed up when Psi was attracting The Teller had some great easter eggs. It had New, Classic and (I think) real criminals. I picked up on the Sensorites (Classic), Androvax (Sarah Jane Adventures), The Gunslinger (New), a Terileptil (Classic), John Hart (Torchwood, according to the internet), Absalom Daak (comics), an Ice Warrior (New and Classic), a Slitheen (New), The Trickster (Sarah Jane Adventures).
- I thought it was really cute when it was revealed that Psi and Saibra’s motivation for bank robbery wasn’t necessarily selfish – they just wanted to be normal. Once again, you can so tell they were hand-picked by the Doctor.
- I really, really wish I could remember more year 12 organic chemistry so I could work out the formula on that gene suppressant bottle (although I think some of the symbols on it, like the ‘Nike tick’, have been made up and added to make it look alien). Like the cyborg USBs it’s probably a diagram for polyester or something stupid.
- I liked the idea that Mrs Delphox was a clone of the rich bank owner. It felt like a tiny bit of cheap twist, but it fitted the story all the same.
- The Doctor is the Architect?! That has to be one of the best episode revelations ever. It makes so much sense, Steve Thompson wrote the episode in a way where you’d never have seen it coming but it didn’t sound stupid when it did. While I feel it may have been let down visually, the writing of this story if superb, and the way the flashback sequence was put together was great. It was a fun way of clarifying everything for the
idiotschildren who didn’t already get it
- The evil last-of-his kind monster has a girlfriend? Nope, sorry, it’s wayyyyy to much like last year’s Hide. Basically exactly the same, in fact. I’ll only accept it if it’s a foreshadowing.
Maybe Romana is coming back!
- I liked the moment when the Doctor and Clara were on the hills with the TARDIS. It was kind of reminiscent of Ten and Rose’s picnic in New Earth.
- “Calories consumed on the TARDIS have no lasting effect” bahaha every woman’s dream. The Doc’s still got it.
- “Robbing a bank, robbing a whole bank…beat that for a date” and finally the first literal LOL moment came at the very end of the story. I think it’s meant to foreshadow the next episode, in which Clara’s basically having what JLC described as “affair” between Danny and travelling in the TARDIS. Once again, I think her double life will have to end soon…but just how soon?
Next Week: The Caretaker
It looks fun, but nothing special – kind of like School Reunion all over again (is anyone getting a serious Series Two vibe this year?). I’m excited, however, to see what happens when Danny and the Doctor meet. I’m wondering how quickly the “no soldiers” thing will be addressed, and I want to know a lot more about Danny’s story – Into the Dalek and Listen were such an unfair tease! And I was wondering, has the Doctor actually realised that the school Clara works at is Coal Hill? There needs to be some form of Susan, Ian and Barbara reference in there. You don’t know what my brain is doing at the extremely slim possibility of a cameo from “I. Chesterton” – aka “Chairman of the Governors”. PLEASEEEEE GARETH ROBERTS.