Doctor Who: Time Heist Review (Contains Spoilers)

Not so much Ocean's Eleven as the Doctor's four...

Timeheist06 Doctor Who is at its best when it thinks outside the box. If you accept that statement as generally true, it neatly sums up both the good and the bad about Time Heist. €œSo neat I could write a thesis€, to borrow a quote from the Eleventh Doctor. This week saw Doctor Who step out into properly uncharted territory as it tackled the heist genre for the first time. And it did so in its own inimitable style. While a lot of the episode is a standard action romp, what really takes it to another level is the plot point of the characters only discovering what they€™re doing very gradually thanks to a reappearance from the Memory Worms. The memory loss is an excellent way of keeping the characters and audience in the dark, and pulls the Doctor back from being able to just storm through the bank and do a clever thing to complete the mission. As is providing him with one-off companions that have specialised abilities and a monster that there€™s not a really a solid defence against.
The Teller is a brilliant creation and Psi and Saibra are great fun. Their abilities are the foundation of their characters and allow the writers to build up their personalities and back-stories from that point on. An involuntary shape-shifter and a memory-impaired cyborg offer a lot more opportunities than a woman in her mid-twenties from modern day Earth. Also, it€™s nice to see the Doctor have a gang again so that we get a variety of interactions rather than just banter and exposition between the Doctor and his companion week after week. The only weak link in terms of the characters is Karabraxos. Although Keeley Hawes plays her very proficiently, the character doesn€™t really feel too different from New Who€™s standard female villain. Miss Delphox is a step away from the archetype by virtue of her being subordinate to Karabraxos but it doesn€™t come across too often before we get to the Private Vault and she is more or less thrown out of the mix.
Each episode of Doctor Who is pretty much guaranteed to have at least one element that stands out above everything else as something seriously special. And this week, real credit has to go to the FX team that designed and built the Teller. The head in particular is so well built and moves so naturally that for a moment you could almost mistake it for a digital creature. And that something so organic, natural looking, and downright evocative could be created on a BBC budget is nothing short of miraculous. As mentioned, the episode does have some weaker moments and they usually crop up when episode sticks too closely to convention. Which comes into play especially clearly towards the end when the time travel and paradox elements come to the forefront.
As well as this, the twist that the Doctor is the Architect just feels a bit weak. Particularly as it starts being telegraphed more obviously once we enter the Private Vault, and the reveal of the Teller€™s true nature after it being shown as such a threat is note for note the same as the reveal of the Crooked Man in last year€™s Hide. Including the Doctor reuniting it with its mate. But the weak twists are only a minor setback and there are more good twists and surprise moments than bad. Even if the fake-out of Saibra and Psi€™s deaths made the death scenes feel a bit cheap and pointless in hindsight. Overall, the episode is almost an excellent piece of work that does something almost entirely new for the first time in ages and succeeds with aplomb. It€™s a fun colourful adventure that keeps you guessing and still manages to work in some darker moments without compromising the tone too much. Definitely one of Series 8€™s best episodes so far. What did you think of Time Heist? Was it worth storing in the Bank Of Karabraxos? Let us know in the comments section below...
Contributor
Contributor

James T. Cornish is a writer and filmmaker from the south of England. He also works as an editor and VFX artist, and has a BA in Media Production from the University Of Winchester.

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