With Clara Oswald presumed dead (don’t count your chickens, or ravens, and all that), and The Doctor captured and sold to a mysterious enemy, then teleported away, things are not looking good for the multi-part end of a “Doctor Who” season that has been almost all cliffhangers. With this episode, we may be looking at the biggest one yet. Meet me after the time and space jump for my thoughts on “Heaven Sent.”
Spoiling the Magic
As he steps out of the teleporter, The Doctor is full of vengeance, and monologuing crazily at an unseen enemy. Seemingly the enemy is stalking him, but it’s actually a nightmare of his from Gallifrey, a dead woman, the specter of death, you pick, we’ll call it The Veil, a proper Gallifreyan name. The Doctor is surrounded by an odd clockwork Rubik’s Cube-like castle (it feels a bit like Trenzalore, doesn’t it?), an elaborate trap with an eventual end at the hands of death spirit.
As much as I hate when showrunner and episode writer Steven Moffat does that over complicated trap crap when he doesn’t explain the logic, I hate it just as much when he over-explains. When we are let in on The Doctor’s thought process, especially this Doctor’s for whom surprise after the fact is almost trademark, it spoils the magic. But then again, spoiling “Doctor Who” is what Moffat does best, isn’t it?
Clara and the TARDIS
One of the spoils is that when The Doctor faces certain death, he mentally returns to the TARDIS to help himself out of the circumstance. For him, the TARDIS is a thought palace, a fortress of solitude if you will, if only he was alone. The problem here is that The Doctor, as well as Moffat and the show, is still obsessed with Clara.
The monologue at the fourth wall that has also become a trademark of the Peter Capaldi Doctor has hit a tolerance point when we know he’s talking to Clara, and it gets a bit worse when he knows he’s talking to Clara. When she starts answering him via chalkboard and then out loud, it’s really bad. Come on, weren’t we done with her last episode? How about a new companion? Or better yet, an old one?
In the midst of The Doctor’s journey through this nightmare trap, he postulates on the origins of the specter stalking him. I had theorized while watching that the skulls at the bottom of the sea might be those lost in the Time War. Apparently The Doctor is still mourning since his outburst in “The Zygon Inversion.” In his ever-annoying monologue, he matches his pursuer, The Veil, to a Gallifreyan legend from before the Time War – The Hybrid.
From the first I’d heard of this legend, I marked as a ridiculous concept immediately. According to The Doctor, The Hybrid was a creature who was half-Time Lord and half-Dalek. Okay, all together now, ewwww… Now that is over with, consider the union of Time Lord and Dalek, and I hope you haven’t just eaten. The legend questions whose side in Time War The Hybrid would take. And no, I haven’t forgotten that Davros hinted at this in “The Witch’s Familiar,” but that doesn’t mean it’s not a dumb idea.
With all the clockwork machinery, I half-expected the Half-Face Man from “Deep Breath” at first, then we kept getting told the specter was a ‘bird,’ which I still didn’t get. The title, and the Gallifreyan references, also seem to indicate Missy/The Master as well. She was canoodling with the Supreme Dalek when last we saw her, if that doesn’t spell mysterious enemy of a season finale, I don’t know what does.
Wait, you don’t suppose Missy and the Supreme Dalek… ahem… no, let’s not go there. The confession dial is the trap, which I guess some of us should have guessed as it kept demanding the truth – or confessions. As it turned out, the castle was in the dial, and when he worked it all out, he found himself teleported, finally, to Gallifrey. And for those new schoolers who think the Time Lords are friends, you might want to think again…
Once The Doctor has his bearings, and has sent a child to the city to herald his return to Gallifrey, he again ponders aloud the legend of The Hybrid destined to destroy the Time Lords. It’s not about a half-Dalek half-Time Lord but about himself. Riiight. For a moment there I thought Moffat was going to pull that old half-human nugget from the Fox TV movie out of his ass… and maybe he still will…
If I’m telling the truth, and despite the annoying parts of his monologue, this episode is a tour de force by the lone Peter Capaldi. He’s brilliant, as is director Rachel Talalay, and yes, not counting the usual shenanigans and Moffatisms of the script, even Moffat is deserving of props on this one.
Next: Hell Bent!