Saturday, September 20, 2014

Doctor Who, Series 8 - Episode 5 - Time Heist


A good, well-written episode. Capaldi's Doctor finally feels like his own man yet also seems much more like The Doctor we know and love. The guest stars are memorable and work well with what relatively little material they have. And the monster for this episode is one of the best in recent memory... no pun intended.


The Doctor is ready to go off on an adventure but Clara has other things on her mind.  Specifically, her second date with Danny Pink.  But adventure has a way of finding you when you least expect it... or want it, in Clara's case!  So when The Doctor answers the phone on The TARDIS that never rings, the two quickly find themselves elsewhere, with a cyborg computer-hacker, a mutant shape-shifter and directions from a mysterious figure called The Architect on how they are to go about robbing the most secure bank in the universe!


* By necessity, a good heist film has to be tightly plotted and this episode is that.  There's no major plot holes and the story hangs lampshades on all the obvious problems (i.e. Why aren't they using The TARDIS, when a time machine would make any bank caper ludicrously easy?) before providing a logical explanation in the end.

* Great cinematic direction again this week by Douglas Mackinnon.

* All the guest stars in this episode are excellent.  Jonathan Bailey brings out the full humanity of the cyborg Psi as does Pippa Bennett-Warner the shape-shifting Saibra.  And Keeley Hawkes is an imposing villain, despite not being given much in the way of depth.

* The Teller is one of the most frightening monsters - physically and conceptually - in a good while, looking like something from Star Wars crossed with a particularly nasty beast from the 1st Edition Dungeons and Dragons Monster Manual.

* Every episode of the series so far has struggled with two questions - "Is The Doctor a good man?" and "Is he a hero?"  This episode is no exception but the answers this time  are a bit clearer.  We're still not sure where Capaldi's Doctor may stand at any given moment but, to paraphrase a line from Terry Pratchett, "...where you stand isn't as important as which way you are facing."  And this Doctor is firmly established as staring into the shadows with the light at his back.


* While some of the twists in this episode are effectively played, most fans will figure out the identity of The Architect long before The Doctor does.  And not for the reasons given involving nobody liking to look at themselves but because of the good and logical reason that The Doctor and Clara bring nothing useful to the heist and there's no reason for them to be there... unless The Doctor is the one running things.  The one "in charge".

* I'm as sick of Clara's Mary Sue tendencies as everyone else, she has very little to do in this episode and contributes nothing of significance to the plot.

* Moffatt really needs to stop with the two word admonishments.  On top of everything else, "Don't Think!" sounds way too close to "Don't Blink!".


Easily the best episode of Series 8 so far.  The story is well plotted and the guest stars are superb. Most importantly, this is the first episode where Peter Capaldin's Doctor truly seemed like his own man rather than a hodgepodge of elements from earlier Doctors vying for dominance.  Here's hoping for more episodes like this!

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