Doctor Who S08E05: "Time Heist" Maybe it's because "Time Heist" had the unfortunate task of following last week's surprisingly well done time-travel episode "Listen," but it left a lot to be desired. There wasn't anything particularly awful about watching the Doctor, Clara, and their two compatriots rob the most well-protected bank in the universe, but it didn't have that spark, nor did it inspire me with hope for the rest of the season. In fact, it was fairly predictable from start to finish, which might also be why I didn't feel particularly moved by it. Joining Steven Moffat as a writer this week was Steve Thompson, who penned the Matt Smith adventures "Curse of the Black Spot" and "Journey to the Center of the TARDIS". He's also responsible for a handful of
Sherlock episodes as well, which is why I expected a bit more from this episode. As a standalone outing, "Time Heist" was perfectly fine and moved along fairly swiftly while hitting all the necessary beats. But it was a fairly typical rescue mission episode masquerading as a caper, which is where it lost some of its steam. In the end it was revealed that the Doctor wasn't robbing a bank so much as rescuing the last two remaining creatures of a particular species through a set of carefully planned, perfectly timed steps, with the final and most important one coinciding with a solar storm that took down the bank's defenses. It felt a bit like last season's "Hide" in that regard, and while I rather enjoyed that particular outing for the creep factor, this one felt a bit tired. The time-travel here was less complicated but also more clunky than in "Listen," and I found it to be fairly obvious early on that the Architect was the Doctor. From the memory worms, to the suspiciously placed briefcases with clues and bombs and more—it all felt very Doctor-y. Plus, once you realized that the Doctor and Clara's special skills for robbing a bank were just that they were the Doctor and Clara, it became clear who had orchestrated the entire thing. Like I said, there's nothing inherently wrong with the episode as far as one-and-dones go, but I was hoping we'd get more development on the overarching mystery of the season this week. We're five episodes in to Season 8 and the only real continuity present in the episode was Danny's 30-second scene prior to the opening credits. At least "Into the Dalek" and "Robot of Sherwood" felt connected (if a bit awkwardly so) to the mystery of Missy and her secret garden. Before I'd realized (about a few seconds before it was revealed—I must be slipping in my old age) that Saibra and Psi didn't die, I thought we might once again see how people who die in the Doctor's presence are sent to Missy's weird version of purgatory, or whatever it may be. But alas, it was not meant to be. Instead, we were introduced to two characters played by Keeley Hawes. As a clone of Madame Karabraxos, Ms. Delphox was responsible for running the bank and using the Teller's ability to detect guilt in order to melt the minds of people with criminal intent. Prior to the beginning of the season, the Ms. Delphox character was described as being the ultimate villain, but that feels a bit overstated now, doesn't it? In some area of my brain I know that what she did to the Teller might be considered ruthless, and I'm not saying locking up one's mate in order to secure its cooperation isn't offensive and morally wrong, but the episode didn't make me
feel anything either. I was looking forward to Hawes' performance here, but she wasn't given the best material. Psi, the human/computer hybrid hacker, and Saibra, with her ability to replicate DNA by touch, were interesting additions to the overall
Doctor Who gallery of episodic companions, though, which might be what truly saved this episode from feeling too formulaic or boring for me. Psi and Clara formed a bond fairly quickly once she realized that he voluntarily deleted the memories of his family and friends to keep them safe prior to being interrogated in prison. His life is a lonely one, and it's not terribly surprising that Clara would take a liking to someone so selfless. She's risked her life to save and protect the Doctor countless times now as the Impossible Girl. But I do think their insta-bond, one that allowed Psi to seemingly sacrifice himself because Clara had friends and family and he had no one, rang a bit hollow given that there wasn't much time to truly develop a relationship of any kind. How is it possible that an episode with proper pacing still felt a bit rushed? Let's just blame time travel.
NOTES – "I was hoping for minimalism. I think I came out with magician." – There was a lot of talk about having different faces this episode as it concerned Saibra, but also the Doctor (Madame Karabraxos and her clones, too, albeit in a different way). He's had a lot of them over the years, and I liked the mention of Tom Baker's scarf and Matt Smith's bowtie when the Teller scanned the Doctor's brain. I think we all know that Capaldi's Doctor will be remembered for his eyebrows, so it's rather nice that the series also finds time to point them out. thekaitling:list:doctor-who-what-did-you-think-of-time-heist/