Reaction to the first four episodes of the new Peter Capaldi Doctor has been lukewarm to say the least. While he has been fun, and vastly different from recent Doctors, other factors have been less than stellar. And the mysteries of Missy and Danny Pink have been generating much discussion, but there’s also the question of last week’s “Listen.” Some folks have been saying it’s one of the best episodes of “Doctor Who” in years, and others believe it’s just one more reason to lynch showrunner Steven Moffat up in the street. No matter what you thought of it, you can check out my thoughts on this week’s “Time Heist,” after the jump.
Perhaps this week’s episode, written by Stephen Thompson who previously gave us the fun “Curse of the Black Spot” and has written several tales for Moffat over at “Sherlock,” will give us a fresh perspective on this new Doctor, new season, and possibly new direction for the series, that during the David Tennant and Matt Smith years was called the most watched show on Earth. Audiences have been cool to Capaldi, so that title might not be so accurate any more.
Thompson gave us pirates and a sexier and saucier than usual Amy Pond with his last outing, perhaps we will see a new side to Clara this time. I must confess to not liking the Impossible Girl very much while in Matt Smith’s company, but I have been warming to the chemistry she has with Peter Capaldi. Maybe there’s more to Jenna Coleman and her Clara than just the more annoying Donna she appeared to be at first to me.
A Date with Danny, Again?
Once again we have this dance with Danny Pink. We have seen Clara and Danny flirt, we have seen several different versions of their first date, and now it’s time for a second. I find it very odd that The Doctor doesn’t seem even the slightest bit aware of either Clara or the human dating ritual. Could it be part of the self-defense mechanism built into the regeneration that he hinted about when he found he was old in the first episode of the season? No more flirtation, no more hanky panky with companions? No more even awareness that there could be attraction? Is that why The Doctor is so squeamish about hugs?
Despite this aversion, The Doctor arrives at Clara’s apartment to play, he wants to take Clara for a day out but she’s prepping for her date. Again it looks like another date she just won’t be able to make or finish, or at least not finish in order… because, well, time travel. I do like that The Doctor keeps parking the TARDIS in her tiny apartment though. Like his personality, that too seems very Scottish. All bets are off however when the phone on the outside of the TARDIS rings. And the adventure begins. Poor Danny.
Upon answering the phone, both The Doctor and Clara are transported to a room around a table with two other individuals, a cyberpunkish chap named Psi and a cloaked woman named Saibra. All have been mindwiped of the events that led them here, voluntarily apparently. A computer communiqué from an entity called The Architect tells them about the most dangerous bank in the galaxy, Karabraxos, a bank he informs them they are to rob, a bank it appears they are already in, as security is at the door. Naturally our new foursome flees when The Doctor says “Run!”
Psi is a hacker/bank robber. Saibra is a shapeshifter taking on the appearance of beings she touches. The Doctor is a Time Lord, though curiously without his very useful TARDIS. And Clara… hmmm… just along for the ride, or will her Impossible Girl ‘powers’ be helpful? The four decide, for lack of any choice, to take on the bank job from The Architect. We get a few cool scenes of our gang prancing into the bank, complete with Reservoir Dogs style and sound. Gotta love that heist music.
Next we’re introduced to the newest in a long line of frightening Who monsters, The Teller. Part of bank security, this beast, in a strait-jacket and with two thick antennae sticking out of the sides of its head and needle sharp teeth, is a guilt hunter. It locates and destroys those beings who have criminal intent or guilt or seek to harm the bank – and punishes them. Yeah, this is messed up and scary.
Led by head of security Ms. Delphox, The Teller finds a guilty party just as our gang enter the lobby of the bank. It telepathically scans him, then deletes his memory, turning as The Doctor says, his brain to soup. The guilty man’s head dramatically deflates, his brain being gone. Delphox announces that the next of kin will be contacted, and incarcerated as an example. Man, this bank does not fool around. Still, undeterred, the gang carries on.
A Good Man?
Some things are beginning to become clear. ‘Team Not Dead’ was mindwiped to evade The Teller. If there’s no memory, there’s no guilt. Also, someone has been in the bank before them as they continue to find cases from The Architect. Perhaps this is just a test of the bank security? Or perhaps it is something much more sinister.
As our team journeys deeper into the bank, they discover the cell of The Teller, and Saibra sacrifices herself rather than be devoured by the monster. She tries to get The Doctor to promise to kill The Architect when he meets him, but he can’t make that promise. She calls him a ‘good man,’ but that’s the thematic question of this season so far – is he? We know he’s a good Dalek, but… is the Peter Capaldi Doctor a good man?
When The Doctor mouths off to Psi and Clara apologizes, Psi tells her she’s been with him a while, because she’s really good with the excuses. Is he a good man? Maybe she should have quit with Matt Smith…
Knowing there is now a threat in the bank, Delphox releases The Teller into the tunnels under the bank. This is followed by some old school running down corridors, that was refreshing, almost as good as the big scarf reference. Even though The Doctor can’t figure out that Clara is going on a date, he does figure out The Architect’s identity, and that is also refreshing. What isn’t is the fact this is the second episode in a row with no real villain, at least Clara didn’t save the day again, and we know why she was along as well.
So it may turn out that The Doctor is a good man after all. He saves the day, he saves the potential new companions, he even saves the gimmicky new monsters. The question is – can he save himself? He’s quite clever, but has lost much in this regeneration, not the least of which may be ratings, viewers, and fans. One curious line in this episode refers to himself as a magician. Is he? If so, can he turn this around?
Next: The Caretaker!