Atypical from our usual Doctor Who (but really when is anything typical with him), we are set in the midst of what first appears to be a bank heist fit for the likes of James Bond or Danny Ocean and his crew, but turns out to have a Who twist by being a Time Heist!
With last week’s episode, Listen, being such a phenomenal show, Time Heist definitely had a lot to live up to and in some ways it did deliver, but unfortunately fell short in other areas. It did well to establish itself as a very different kind of Doctor Who episode – we don’t normally follow the Doctor in petty crime adventures, typically he’s either saving entire species or trying to foil their evil plans by destroying them (or letting them destroy themselves). Here we get a totally different feel for problem solving and puzzling out the situation with only clues The Architect (or rather, the Doctor) has left for the group. It needed to differentiate itself from the best episode ever to not totally flop in the wake of Listen and it did a good job at the former.
Psi and Saibra, the two stranger companions were great and added dimensions to the character
interactions similar to the Paternoster Gang. While they were not the main focus, they played their parts within their limited storyline and I would not be unhappy to see them as re-occurring companions later on down the road.
The clue hunting was interesting and fun as the viewers were left to figure things out along with the Doctor, even with some frustrating plot holes. Luckily no one used the shredders on the Teller (as I was audibly suggesting at the TV during the hallway chase scene), since they turned out to be teleports to the rescue ship and ultimately enabled the mission to be successful. However, before realizing that, the fact that everyone seemed to immediately only think of using the shredder on themselves instead of on the enemy seemed rather short-sighted.
Also, despite the cool effect of the dimension bomb conveniently removing the floor of the safety deposit box for exactly the amount of time it would take for the guards to get into the door (which I will give them since it was all planned in the future), the rest of the impenetrable bank was rather easy to maneuver around with no cameras or security doors. While the Teller is a definite hindrance to the small time crook, I feel like he wouldn’t be quite as effective against a larger operation, even without the Time Lord leading.
More egregious than anything though was the evil female character model we seemingly have fallen into. Was I the only one that thought it was Missy for half the episode? Can we get a different look besides the thinly framed woman in a skin tight suit with futuristic up-do? The eye accessories vary between Time Heist’s Mrs. Delphox, series 8’s re-occurring Missy, and the Silence’s follower Madame Kovarian, but to the un-trained eye could all easily be mistaken from one another (I won’t even mention that Irene Adler from Sherlock falls into this image as well since that’s a whole other irritations-of-Moffat rant).
Despite feeling underwhelmed immediately after viewing, the nuances of Time Heist slowly came around in my mind – the continued banter between the Doctor and Clara is perfect, his complete obliviousness to her appearance continues to be delightful and funny. Capaldi shines as the Twelfth Doctor yet again, doing justice to a complex character that continues to develop – the comment to himself “Robbing a bank. Robbing a whole bank. Beat that for a date!” shows a bit of vulnerability to an otherwise seemingly-detached personality. In the words of the famous Peter Gabriel, he wants to be wanted. He wants acceptance and companionship and he’s still trying to figure himself out, let alone figure out how to express that.
Bringing some humor and levity to any situation, Capaldi’s quips on his appearance (naming his eyebrows as the reason he’s in charge and a poke at his outfit seeming more magician than simple in this episode), add depth on the other side of the more serious Doctor. If he hasn’t already, Capaldi is doing a fine job of warming all of our cold, hardened hearts after losing the Ponds and 11 (and 10 for those of us die-hard fans that still don’t want to go). We’re five episodes into his tenure and the only thing that seems to be missing is his tagline word. I would not be disappointed if it he went with: Shut up, shut up, shuttity up up up.