REVIEW: Doctor Who – ‘Time Heist’

The Doctor, Clara, a shapeshifter and an augmented human star in the 2020 'Ocean's Eleven' remake of a remake.
This week the Doctor, Clara, a shapeshifter and an augmented human star in the 2020 ‘Ocean’s Eleven’ remake of a remake.

So What Happened? 

After the Doctor lands the TARDIS in Clara’s living room and tries unsuccessfully to coax her away from her date with Danny, the ringing of his phone stops them both in their tracks. Within seconds of Twelve answering it they’re both transported into an undisclosed room only to find it cohabited by Psi (Jonathan Bailey), an augmented human with the ability to download information straight to his brain, and Saibra (Pippa Bennett-Warner), a shapeshifter who can take on the form of whoever she touches. In with them are also several memory worms, who appear to be responsible for their amnesia. So where are they and why are they there? A video from a dark, hooded figure calling himself The Architect informs them that they are inside the most secure facility in the Universe, the Bank of Karabraxos, and that they’re about to engage in the potentially fatal mission of cracking open the bank’s vault.

What ensues is ‘Hustle’ meets ‘Memento’ with the usual sci-fi twist, as the gang find themselves evading capture by the bank’s head of security, Ms Delphox (Keeley Hawes), who thinks nothing of turning fraudsters’ brains into soup with the help of her captive, The Teller, the last of an alien species who can detect a person’s guilt and then pulverise their mind. As things become increasingly fraught, both Saibra and then Psi are forced to use the shredders that The Architect had strategically placed inside the bank, leaving Twelve and Clara to crack open the bank’s main vault with the assistance of a massive solar storm that fries the electrical circuits. Once inside, they find the reasons why Psi and Saibra could be cajoled into coming along on the mission; a circuit to reboot all the memories he deleted to protect his friends and family when he was imprisoned for hacking, and an antidote to the mutation that makes her shapeshift, respectively. Just as the Doctor and his companion are about to investigate why they’re there in the private vault, they are caught and escorted to Ms Delphox’s office, before being told that they’ll be disposed of. As the Head of Security leaves her henchmen to follow through with her orders, the armed men inexplicably begin to free the prisoners and reveal themselves to be Saibra and Psi, who were actually teleported to safety instead of  committing suicide when the Teller had them in his brain-squashing clutches.

In his downtime Twelve also presents 'Wheel of Fortune'.
In his downtime, Twelve also presents ‘Wheel of Fortune’.

With ‘Team Dead’ newly in tow, the gang head to the private vault and to their surprise find that the Head of the Bank, Madame Karabraxos, lives amongst her wealth like a more youthful, greedier Mrs Haversham, and looks all too familiar.  As it transpires, Ms Delphox is in fact one of many of her clones she’s put to work to safeguard her bank and who is doomed to be disposed of like a string of others when she fails to meet her boss’ high standards.  Gradually starting to piece things together, the Doctor realises why he’s there, giving Madame Karabraxos a piece of paper informing her that he’s a time traveller and jotting down his number for her in the hope that she’ll regret her actions and give him a call  in the future. Of course she does, which brings us back to where we started. The Architect was none other than the Doctor, compelled to keep even himself in the dark so he couldn’t fall victim to The Teller, and ironically so he could save the creature and it’s similarly imprisoned partner and therefore preserve a species. After dropping them off on a lush, deserted planet, Team Dead say their goodbyes, their memories now intact and their conditions cured, before Twelve takes Clara back just in time for her date.

The Teller telling Peter Capaldi's Doctor that he too has beautiful eyes.
The Teller telling Peter Capaldi’s Doctor that he too has beautiful eyes.

“Monster” of the Week

Marieke: Can you Teller what the monster was? Har har! Couldn’t resist. Anyway, it was a proper looking monster wasn’t it? In Guantanamo gear too! It truly showed its power in the scene where it was making soup. Such a homebody, that Teller. But I have to be honest, later on it wasn’t that scary to me. The whole ‘locks-onto-thoughts’ idea didn’t entirely work for me and felt a bit fake. It was like the latest addition of things you can’t do. Blink, breathe, look behind you, think… Moffat is turning all of us in monsters of the week if he’ll continue like this…. We’ll be proper zombies!

Danielle: It’s been a while since we’ve seen an episode where it’s the human who turns out to be the real monster. When we do it always seems to feed into the over-arching theme of the series that appearances can be deceptive. You need look no further than the TARDIS and the human-looking Doctor for proof of that. Poor Teller and his unfortunate brain-blending skills though. At least now he’s free to be with Mrs Teller and go forth and multiply, whilst the evil Madame Karabraxos lives her life wracked with guilt.

Creep Factor

Marieke: Running down the hallways being chased by the Teller! Such an iconic Who scene. Hallways, running… I have to say though the soup was creepy. Did you see that bloke’s head?? And maybe the amnesia was creepy too. The Architect, who is her and what are his plans… (although that was predictable) Creepy worms? That was a nice effect. Nah, honestly, it wasn’t creepy this time, more ‘heist fun’ and actually rather heart warming at the end. Mr. and Mrs. Teller, finally finding their own paradise to make many little Tellers. It must’ve created one big ‘d’awww’!

Danielle: Seeing someone have their head hollowed out is not an image you forget easily, but furthermore seeing someone survive that in a vegetative state is the very definition of creepy.

We'd be very happy to see 'Team Dead' (Psi and Saibre) again.
We’d be very happy to see ‘Team Dead’ (Psi and Saibre) again.

Mystery

Danielle: The mystery in ‘Time Heist’ had little to do with the actual bank robbery, and was all about identity. The whole episode, along with much of this series so far, hinged on the fact that the Doctor is still unsure about who he is after his latest regeneration and was therefore able to dupe himself into undertaking the mission more or less blindly. It’s ironic therefore that he seems to know everybody else he encounters better than they know themselves, accurately predicting Madame Karabraxos’ future guilt as she lay on her deathbed and thus setting the events of the episode in motion. Perhaps the only other person who continues to be a riddle to him is Clara, with his constant bafflement at what she wears and his disbelief that she’d rather go on a date than explore all of Time and Space with. Odd considering she’s the person he’s currently meant to be closest to.

Twelve-o-meter

Marieke: I am warming to him a bit. There was no getting used to, annoyance or unfamiliarity for me this episode. I actually laughed at him ridiculing bowties (they’re still cool though!) It was as if he felt more at ease. I am not sure how I will rate 12 eventually and how he’ll end up in the line of the new Doctors 9-11. I am also a bit done with him criticising Clara all the time, although she’s tough enough to take him on. So was Saibra at the end. One thing that confuses me is that it seems 12 hasn’t much memory of 11’s time with Clara? Or is that appropriate-for-the-writers-amnesia?

Danielle: Still love the miserable sod.

Keeley Hawes as Ms Delphox.
Keeley Hawes as Ms Delphox.

Familiar Face of the Week

As former ‘Ashes to Ashes’ fans, we were stoked to see Keeley Hawes take on the dual-role of the deliciously evil, Madame Karabraxos and her equally devilish clone, Ms Delphox. Next stop: Bond villain.

The Verdict?

On the whole ‘Time Heist’ was one of those episodes that was fine enough in it’s own right, but was more or less a fun placeholder until we get to the real meat of the series and find out what’s going on with Missy and her Heavenly welcome party. That’s not really a problem as it was enjoyable enough, but the real revelation here was Team Dead, who rather than the Paternoster gang being dragged out again and again, we’d love to see make a reappearance in the near future.

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