There simply aren’t enough words to describe how compelling the latest episode of Doctor Who was. Peter Capaldi was absolutely captivating and he carried the entirety of this episode on his shoulders. That, coupled with excellent writing by Steven Moffat and the inspiring direction by Rachel Talalay, has produced what is rightfully being dubbed as one of the greatest episodes of Doctor Who in its 52-year lifespan.
You could be forgiven for slightly dreading this episode; I certainly was. I know that Capaldi is exceptional now that he has found his way with this role, but I didn’t believe there was a way that this episode could come together in a coherent way without dragging or feeling as though it was lacking something.
But the Doctor’s method of receding into a mental TARDIS and explaining everything to a vision of Clara (and subsequently the audience) was a stroke of genius. Highly reminiscent of Sherlock, these segments allowed the viewer to finally see as the Doctor sees, and it meant that the Doctor wasn’t simply talking to himself for 50 minutes.
I wasn’t happy that Clara returned, and I have a feeling she’ll return next week too. I know she died, and I know the Doctor is dealing with her death, but to have her return merely one week after her demise robbed something from her death, I feel.
This is the only grievance I have, though. Everything else worked.
The castle that changed as the Doctor revealed secrets – or confessions, if you like – was intriguing, and it nicely wrapped up the Doctor’s confessional dial that has recurred throughout the series. I have a feeling there is more to be confessed, however, and I can’t wait to discover the Doctor’s secrets.
52 years on, and the simple notion of the Doctor fleeing Gallifrey because he was scared, and not because he was bored, managed to shake the foundations of what we know, without drastically altering anything at all, really. But it helps to nicely tie into the concept of the hybrid, and make it feel as though this isn’t a last-minute plot by Moffat.
Likewise, the threat was particularly effective: the sinister Veil never spoke a word, and yet we were never in any doubt about what it wanted. The rotting flesh, the buzzing flies… everything tied together to produce another creepy Moffat creation. That is if he doesn’t have it recurring throughout the next series like the Weeping Angels. Some things are better off with just one appearance.
But of course, everything was leading up to the massive cliffhanger that was first teased over a year ago. Moffat told Doctor Who Magazine, ‘I’ve figured out the cliffhanger to the penultimate episode of series 9. And it’s a whopper. Ohh, I don’t think you’ll see this coming!’
Unless, of course, you see the BBC’s pre-publicity for this episode and the following one, that is. But even those spoilers didn’t rob anything from the groundbreaking shot of the Doctor once more stepping upon the shores of Gallifrey – reportedly the first time in over 30 years.
But let’s backtrack a moment. Though ‘Heaven Sent’ was initially confusing, Moffat managed to tie everything gloriously together, and the montage of the Doctor repeatedly killing himself, enduring the castle, and punching the azbantium wall over the course of two billion years was one of the greatest shots ever produced on Doctor Who. It managed to convey a great deal of time passing, and simultaneously keep the viewer pitched on the edge of their seat. We all knew something was coming, and this was effectively teased for a prolonged period of time. Bravo to Talalay for that effective shot.
So, the Doctor is back on Gallifrey, and declares that the hybrid isn’t half Dalek, but that, in fact, it’s ‘me’. Now, is that me, or Me? I have a feeling it’s going to be Me; she’s been the big bad throughout the series, after all, even if she hasn’t been that bad at all. Yet, anyway. And she referred to herself as Me – it’s just too great a coincidence for it not to be her.
If this is the case, and Me is ready to shake up the mythology of Doctor Who, the Mire REALLY should have been better executed. If Me is the hybrid, and she is going to conquer Gallifrey (as a side note: not gonna happen. Why would Moffat construct the 2013 50th anniversary episode around the resurrection of Gallifrey just to destroy it completely two series later?), she and the Mire will be remembered for all the wrong reasons…
But, as always, time will tell. The Doctor may have taken the long way around to return to Gallifrey, but the wait was worth it. Now, my bucket list for the final episode isn’t that long, but if all of these don’t happen I’ll be very annoyed.
I want Timothy Dalton and Michelle Gomez, as Rassilon and Missy respectively, back.
I want a convincing explanation as to why the Time Lords are working with Me, and why they trapped the Doctor in his confessional dial.
I want Clara to be wrapped up, without being resurrected. And ultimately, I want Gallifrey to survive, and the Time Lords to recur throughout series 10. That isn’t too much to ask, now, is it?