I have to confess to thinking the plot of the episode was going to be much different than it ended up being, thanks in no part to several interesting twists we saw at the end. The episode starts out with Clara getting ready for a date with Danny, a subplot I’m already beginning to tire of, and from the looks of the “Next Time” trailer at the end of the episode, I’m going to really be sick of next week. The Doctor is at her flat trying to persuade her to come with him, but the phone on the TARDIS rings, and after he answers it, we next see him, Clara, and two other characters, Psi and Saibra, being held in a conference room of sorts. After that, we learn that someone named The Architect wants them to rob the Bank of Karabraxos, the most elite and impenetrable bank in the universe. Of course, being Doctor Who, it’s not so impenetrable. Cue 40 minutes of characters running down hallways, climbing through air ducts, and emerging through grates. The Teller was an interesting character, and the scene where it literally sucks out someone’s brain, causing their head to concave, was legitimately disturbing. Other than that, it was structured more like an episode of Hustle or even the Reservoir Dogs, especially the slo-motion shot of the four of them (Saibra having taken on the disguise of a bank customer) walking into the bank. It had that certain pastiche about it. I would have preferred something similar to Ocean’s Eleven, in terms of the style of the production, but as it was, it wasn’t bad. The twists, of course, were:
- The Doctor was the Architect the whole time, as the entire plot was revealed to be a circular loop. The massive storm that happened in the future was the catalyst for going back in time and robbing the bank, as that was the only moment the bank would be vulnerable. The reason they don’t have any memory of the initial meeting is the Doctor made them all touch a worm (I know, I know) that sucked out their most recent memories. We see toward the end that the Doctor sought them out, knowing that something they wanted most dearly would be contained in the bank’s vault, which would be considered payment for services rendered.
- Miss Delphox was a clone of the bank’s owner Karabraxos, and at the end, we see it was her who instigated the entire thing by calling the Doctor and asking him to do something for her.
- The Teller was not the last of its kind, Karabraxos had been keeping its mate prisoner in exchange for it sussing out people with guilty thoughts. That explained what Karabraxos meant when she talked about having regrets. She wanted the Doctor go to back and let them go, which was the real “heist” the title alluded to.
- The “exit strategies” weren’t what we thought them to be. They were transporters that took them to a waiting ship hovering above the planet, instead of killing them, which we’d been led to believe.
All in all, I really liked this episode. It wasn’t as strong as Listen or Into the Dalek, but it was better than Robots of Sherwood and Deep Breath. What I liked:
- The overall pace and style of the episode — it was shot well, and I got a kick out of watching the Doctor run down a hallway, then demand everyone stop because he was getting out of breath. As Peter Capaldi is a long-distance runner in real life, obviously that wasn’t taxing or arduous for him, but it was still funny to see the one older-looking person in the group have to pull up, when he (both the actor and the character) could have probably run circles around them all.
- The Teller was a properly horrifying monster, one I hope we see again. I know there’s only two of them, but still.
- Capaldi and Coleman’s chemistry has been increasingly fun and exciting as the series as gone on. They work really well together, and I hope the rumors about Jenna leaving at Christmas just rumors, because I’d like to see them have another series together…..though I’m fairly sure that won’t be happening.
- The bit at the end where the Doctor says, “Robbing a whole bank. Beat that for a date” right after Clara leaves to go have dinner with Danny. I don’t think he’s in love with her, but I do think he’s incredibly jealous that he has to compete with someone else for her attention. Should definitely be interesting when the Doctor and Mr. Pink finally meet.
- Psi and Saibra were compelling characters, given we only saw them for one episode and didn’t know that much about them, but the writing made us care when we thought they were dead, and that’s what you want.
- NO MISSY! AGAIN!
- The four of them eating Chinese takeaway in the TARDIS, laughing at bad jokes. It kind of made me wish Psi and Saibra were the companions along with Clara, at least on a more full-time basis than she is. That leads me to….
What I didn’t like:
- I’m getting a little sick of Clara treating traveling with the Doctor as an annoyance. I don’t necessarily have a problem with her wanting to both travel with him and have a life outside of that as well, but in Series 7B you got the feeling that when the Doctor showed up, she was excited and happy to see him. Now, she just seems like she’s humoring him, rather than genuinely wanting to spend that time with him. The whole side-plot with Danny is part of it. The Doctor is feeling like he has to compete to keep her around, and as it’s his show, he shouldn’t have to.
- While I liked the twists, I thought the resolution was a bit rushed. You didn’t get a chance to really appreciate the convoluted nature of it all before it was hurriedly wrapped-up and everyone in the TARDIS chowing down on Kung-Pao Chicken, or whatever it was they had in the cartons.
- The theme music is really annoying. I mean, I wasn’t a fan of the version used during the Matt Smith years, but this version is worse than that. I’d rather they go back to what they used in the first two series or all the way back to the original Delia Derbyshire version. The visuals are fine, but the music needs to go.
So, I give it an 8/10. Next week’s episode looks potentially dodgy, especially with all the Clara/Danny angst which I could really do without, but we’ll have to see.