On the D/L – Doctor Who
Season 8 Episode 5 – “Time Heist”
Here we have the first episode of this season of Doctor Who that acts as a bit of an adventure and at least tries to have some fun with the Time Heist concept. The Doctor and Clara receive a mysterious phone call that causes them to find themselves in a room with people they don’t recognise and their memories erased with only the vague instruction to rob a bank and a recording verifying that they are willing participants to guide them.
From there they set out to rob the bank using the resources they have to hand as well as care packages left by a mysterious benefactor. There are some obstacles in their way such as security systems and a terrifying alien -referred to as “The Teller”- with the ability to consume thoughts and turn the brain to “soup”.
All told the episode does pretty well as a stand alone adventure story with some mystery thrown in. Peppered throughout the narrative are some -admittedly obvious- twists that more or less make sense in the context of the episode, I won’t spoil these twists here but I will say that generally they worked. There really wasn’t anything that had me scratching my head which I must say is refreshing for a script that has Moffat’s involvement. There were plenty of hints that the episode was based on the recent banking crisis.
I found the memory eating alien to be a really good monstrous threat and it felt like they were genuinely in danger whenever it was nearby. There were some notable cop outs that negated some of the stakes but it’s nice to see a new alien used very menacingly. As intelligent villains go Keeley Hawes’ Miss Delphox was pretty good, if a little incompetent some of the time. Between her and her staff it seems to be a fairly lax security system for such an impregnable bank but the character was played well and was a suitable foil for The Doctor and his group.
It seems that director Douglas Mackinnon was a little too eager to dust off as many heist clichés as he could think of. Genre fans will recognise elements from Mission Impossible, Hustle and the Oceans film series to name but a few. Some of this made it seems a little too tongue in cheek but can’t really argue with the presentation. Clearly the director was having some fun with the idea and the less than serious tone of the episode reflects this nicely. Visually the sets weren’t all that interesting for the most part as the characters spent most of their time running through identical looking corridors. Aside from the frosted glass hibernation room housing the alien the locales were almost all fairly boring.
Character moments, good or bad were light in this episode. We’re still suffering from a huge case of this childish humour that I dislike so much and the references to Clara’s fledgling relationship are something I could do with skipping. I’m still not getting a feeling for Capaldi’s Doctor yet, I’m not sure what kind of a man he is which after 5 episodes is getting a bit tiresome. There has been an almost complete lack of his character development this series seemingly to make room for Clara to have it all, with the exception of this episode where she didn’t have a lot to do either. At least this story was one where The Doctor took the lead somewhat and got to be the one solving the issue and having the answers, something that has been massively absent this season thus far.
A massive improvement on the previous two episodes. The story was a nice standalone adventure with little in the way of character development. Common problems such as childish humour and narrative cop outs are still present in the story but on the whole it was well executed. This is the only episode of the series so far where Capaldi’s Doctor felt central to the story.