‘Time Heist’, the fifth episode in Doctor Who’s eighth series, had a tough act to follow coming after last weeks stunning ‘Listen’. Whilst not as good, it certainly wasn’t the worse episode of the series – no, that accolade is reserved for ‘Robot of Sherwood’.
‘Time Heist’ was a caper with heart. In parts it veered towards BBC’s Hustle – it was slick, it was directed and executed brilliantly, and it even had a little montage at the end to show how everything came to be.
Clara’s relationship with Danny is fleetingly visited again. This time she’s off on her second date, and similar to their first one, the Doctor intervenes. This is clearly just teasing their eventual meeting next week. Expect fireworks.
As the close of ‘Time Heist’ showed, the Doctor is slightly jealous of Clara’s dating. To him, nothing can beat robbing a whole bank. The Doctor and Danny clearly aren’t going to gel instantly, but I hope their animosity doesn’t last too long. I want Danny to join the TARDIS crew permanently. I like the dynamic of more than one companion. The Amy/Rory combination is the best of new-Who, simply because there are two of them.
The opening of the bank story is a brilliant, if quick, introduction into the setting and the characters. Here we meet Psi, a cyber-augmented human who is a part-time gamer, and a part-time bank robber. How convenient.
We also meet Saibra, a mutant human (expect to be sued for copyright infringement from Marvel – Saibra is clearly one of the X-Men) with the ability to shape shift into anyone whom she touches. Again, extremely convenient.
And finally we meet the Architect. Even if his eventual reveal is slightly obvious, this segment is chilling. The robotic voice was the perfect way to disguise the Doctor. That voice, saying ‘Karabraxos’ is just amazing. I could listen to it all day.
We’re barely given time to breath as the four team members are thrown straight into the action. They easily infiltrate the Bank of Karabraxos, despite it being the most dangerous and highly guarded bank in the cosmos. But this is when it gets good.
The Teller is a gorgeous monster – the prosthetics/CGI work that has gone into creating this beast is extremely impressive. It’s been quite a while since we’ve had a new monster of this magnitude and it is a welcome return. That doesn’t necessarily mean the Teller should return (because you know, the Moff has a penchant for returning monsters), but it will certainly be remembered. Its mode of murder is an interesting take on something we’ve seen countless times before. Much like the first two episodes this series, we see death, and boy is it welcome. I am loving this darker era for the show.
This darkness similarly manifests when Saibra seemingly meets her end in the Tellers hibernation chamber. Capaldi is callous as he instantly dismisses her demise – there will be time to mourn her later. Interestingly, though, Clara doesn’t seem all that bothered – until Psi is killed, that is. Much like Danny, Clara took an instant liking to this attractive half-human. Can we please have a companion who doesn’t fall in love with everybody they meet?
This episode wasn’t without its problems though. The main villainess, Ms Delphox, is rather fruitlessly utilised and doesn’t really show much depth until her final, aged appearance. Another bugbear I have, which could have easily been rectified, is that the Bank of Karabraxos had no non-human visitors. Why not throw in a few of the monsters created for last year’s ‘The Rings of Akhaten’, just to fill in the background? Surely the biggest bank in the cosmos would have alien customers.
Likewise, some fans believe that too much was thrown into this episode. Whilst I personally disagree, I do think there is opportunity for both Psi and Saibra to return. Future companions perhaps? That would make for a fresh change. They’re still human, yes, but not completely. These two characters were interesting but not fleshed out all that much. There is definitely scope for expanding them. Maybe the Doctor could call on them for help in a later adventure?
In a change from recent weeks, Clara takes a lesser role this week. It’s Capaldi who shines, particularly in his final encounter with the Teller. He is given another great speech and he delivers it with relish. And much like the reveal of the Architect, the reveal that the Teller isn’t all that bad is likewise predictable. But it’s completely understandable why the Doctor would agree to rob the bank – he knows firsthand what it is like to be the last of a species, and he doesn’t want the Teller to meet the same fate. He would still risk his life to save others, despite being touted as bad. Maybe Saibra was right – maybe he is a good man after all. You just know that ultimately he is going to be good, but the darkness is welcome nevertheless.
So will ‘Time Heist’ be remembered in the long run? Probably not, but it is an episode that can be watched time and time again. It probably could have done with an extra ten or so minutes to flesh out Ms Delphox, but it was still a decent enough episode.