Another good episode of Doctor Who. Once again radically different in tone than what we saw last week. And while I enjoyed last weeks more, I was well and truly entertained by Stephen Thompson’s best Doctor Who script. (With Moffat as co-writer I can’t help wonder how much of the script was re-written. I’d like to think that it was a genuinely collaborative effort, but as with the RTD era, I’m going to guess that a good chunk of the dialogue is Moffat’s).
Because it’s a story that’s trying very hard to be clever and a bit twisty, the plot doesn’t entirely hold together. Or more to the point I felt like crucial bits of exposition were left on the cutting room floor. For example, why wasn’t the bank protected against solar fares? Or better yet, why was it situated close to an unstable star? Is it because the flare wasn’t expected? I’m assuming that’s the case, but the episode doesn’t tell us.
And then there’s the question of why the Doctor doesn’t just take his TARDIS straight to the Private Vault before the solar storm. OK, yes, the Director is still present. But so what? It doesn’t looks like she’s that well defended and I’m sure this Doctor would have done something a bit naughty to release Mrs Teller.
I think that issue a little easier to answer. For one, the Doctor doesn’t know about Mrs Teller until he’s told. So going further back in time to rescue Mrs Teller would have resulted in a paradox – i.e. he has knowledge of something that was never imparted to him. There’s also some guff mentioned late in the episode about a telepathic link between the Teller and the Director. I got the impression that the only way Mrs Teller could be freed was for that link to be broken and the only time the link is broken is when the Director leaves the bank. In anycase, I think the episode just about gets away with it.
And frankly, even with those niggles I still enjoyed the ride. The episode looked wonderful. The direction was slick. The Teller is a great idea, complete with a shitty Doctor Who wobble effect. The shot of the man with his head caved in is genuinely icky. (I love how the episode keeps coming back to that caved in head, as if to say – LOOK AT HOW AWFUL AND ICKY THIS IS!!!!!)
Capaldi goes from strength to strength. He’s still a cool… pragmatic Doctor… willing to give someone a suicide pill rather than try his best to save them – because in his mind that is saving them. But here, for the first time, we get glimpses of a twinkle in his eyes and his step. A genuine sense of happiness that his friends didn’t die and best of all that he got the chance to reunite two members of a race. Yes, it was reminiscent of Hide, but as Paul Ebbs notes somewhere on Facebook, it was lovely that the thing the Doctor wanted the most was to save a species.
Time Heist wasn’t ground breaking. The twist that Doctor is the Architect is obvious and yet for some reason satisfying. Possibly because it gives us another side to this very layered new Doctor of ours.
For me this has been a very consistent run of Doctor Who. This is the most I’ve enjoyed the show since Moffat took the reigns. May that consistency continue…