8.5 – “Time Heist”
The Doctor, Clara and two unknown companions find themselves deep in the heart of the universe’s most impenetrable bank, with absolutely no idea of how they got there. All they have to go on is a recording from a mysterious figure called The Architect, who tells them just how shit their odds of surviving are before commanding them to rob the bank. Well, seeing as how they’re already there…
So far this series, Peter Capaldi hasn’t been given the chance to do much running up and down corridors. This blatantly needed to be remedied and so – tah dah – “Time Heist” provides plenty of fast paced running antics and a mystery plot that unravels with a nice bit of flair instead of just unfolding with a quick thunk like a folded up mattress. It also gives The Doctor something new to add to his long list of career choices; bank robber!
Things kick off in the traditional manner; Clara is trying to get ready for a date with Mr Pink and The Doctor is busy harassing her into going on a day out to some amazing alien locale, but before you can say plot contrivance, the TARDIS phone rings. Like all good Whovians, Clara knows that this will inevitably lead to “a thing” and, no sooner has The Doctor answered, than the two of them suddenly find themselves in a room with two complete strangers and they’re all holding rather phallic looking worms to their faces. Unpleasant!
Turns out that The Doctor and Clara, along with their new pals Psi and Saibra, have been recruited by an unkown entity (who refers to himself as The Architect) to rob the bank of Karabraxos – a feat thought to be impossible. Whatever lies in the vault deep in the heart of this heavily fortified instilation, it holds the key to the foursome escaping with their lives and so they venture into the bowels of the bank to discover the secrets. Things are slightly complicated though by the bank’s security system – guards, booby traps, explosives etc. but also a rather unpleasant looking fellow named The Teller, who is able to detect a persons true intentions via psychic connection. As our heroes look on, they get to witness first hand what The Teller does to those with the intention of dishonesty – it liquefies their brains, leaving the would-be robber with a head that looks half inflated. Further unpleasantness!
There’s lots of twists and turns on the way to freedom of course, lots of cool and sarcastic dialogue from Capaldi’s Doctor and even the guest cast get to have some dramatic moments. At one point, Saibra is cornered by The Teller and can’t escape, so The Doctor hands her a device that should vaporise her instantly without pain. In a way, he’s trying to give her a better way out than having her brain squished but it does seem very cold and The Doctor does his best to seem unfazed by her untimely death (leading Psi to remark that “Doctor” obviously stands for “professional detachment” shortly before his own death). But it becomes clear later, when The Doctor and Clara discover that the disintegrators were actually teleporters, that not only is The Doctor relieved to find Psi and Saibra both alive but that he also feels quite guilty for having put them in the situation in the first place where they needed to seemingly take their own lives to help him and Clara get to the vault.
Having finally made their way to the vault, the team discover Madame Karabraxos inside, who looks identical to the bank’s manager Miss Delphox thanks to the wonders of genetic cloning. She informs them that The Teller is on his way to turn their brains into soup and promptly leaves, but not before The Doctor gives her his phone number and tells her to call him. It seems his memory might be coming back and after a few blasts of psychic fury from The Teller, The Doctor finally remembers that it was an elderly and regretful Karabraxos who phoned him at the beginning of the episode. She didn’t send him and Clara and Psi and Saibra here to rob the bank – she sent them here to free The Teller and its companion so that they could go off and live peacefully somewhere quiet and restart their species. The Doctor understood Karabraxos’ guilt and agreed to help The Teller, necessitating that he wipe his mind and the minds of his co-conspirators in order to get past the security of the bank. That’s right, The Doctor was The Architect all along! Hooray for Scooby Doo endings!!
All in all, I really enjoyed the faster pace and fun scenes of “Time Heist”, so much so that I watched it again the following day and once more for this review. The guest cast aren’t amazing but they’re enjoyable to watch and I particularly liked the dynamic that Capaldi had with each one of them. Admittedly, the ending felt like a bit of a retread from “Hide” but it was well executed and that goes a long way here. Can next week’s episode continue the winning streak?
After the wonderfully cerebral and atmospheric “Listen”, episode 5 of series 8 dives the viewer into a mystery/adventure that will give The Doctor and Clara something out of the ordinary to do whilst also delivering on the fun factor. “Time Heist” features plenty of good comedic moments, some nicely unsettling ones, a great ensemble guest cast for Capaldi and Coleman to play off and there’s even time for a quip about The Doctor now looking like a magician. A rollicking good 8/10.
Written and edited by Richey Hackett