TV Review: “Doctor Who” – “Time Heist”

Written by Caitlin Cooper September 21, 2014

Doctor Who

“Doctor Who” is one of those shows which thrives on making viewers think it’s going in one direction….and then it actually goes in a completely different direction. You can never be sure how a mystery will be solved, and nothing is ever really quite like it seems. But that’s one of the draws of this long-running British sci-fi. You can expect to be surprised, and that expectation is met with each episode. “Doctor Who” is perhaps one of the few shows which can accomplish this fairly consistently. I think that’s partly why the show is so unique and refreshing, and each episode is an adventure. This time the adventure happened to be bank robbery in outer-space.


“Time Heist” begins with the Doctor (Peter Capaldi) yet again interrupting an evening in which Clara (Jenna Coleman) has plans with Danny pink (Samuel Anderson). But when the Tardis gets a phone call, it means there’s something important they must do. They answer the phone…and then wake up in a room with two other people. No one can remember how they got there. A hooded man who calls himself the Architect tells them they have to rob the bank, and they have to do it exactly the way he says or they’ll all be incinerated by security. I bet you never thought the Doctor would want to rob a bank, but he knows that they all agreed to do it for some mysteriously good reason.

“We’re actually gonna do it? Rob the bank?”

As I said, nothing on “Doctor Who” is what you expect. The same can be said of this episode, called “Time Heist”. They haven’t merely been sent to rob a bank, they’ve been sent back in time by someone from the future to rob the bank when there’s a storm (the storm makes their security system vulnerable). But who would send them, and what does he want them to steal? The answer is not what you’d expect, but it gives a lot more insight into the new incarnation of the Doctor than we’ve gotten so far this season. We may only be 5 episodes in, but it doesn’t feel like we’re any closer to learning more about the Doctor. Capaldi plays the character with ease and flair, but the character remains a mystery. Until “Time Heist”. We finally get to learn some of the Doctor’s motivations, and what – who – he cares about. When Clara is in danger from the Teller – a creature who can turn your brain to soup – he is immediately frightened for her. You can see the terror on his face, and hear it in his voice. For the first time since his regeneration, we actually see the Doctor we know.

Doctor Who

One of the most well-written aspects of the episode are new characters Psi (Jonathan Bailey) and Saibra (Pippa Bennett-Warner). In my review of “Robot of Sherwood”, I said that I hoped we’d be given more characters to help reveal more about the Doctor. While Psi and Saibra don’t mirror the Doctor like Robin Hood did, they help show the more human side of him. In season 5 episode 11, with the Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith), we got to see him make a friend that wasn’t a companion; the Doctor had a roommate with whom he shared his secret. While the scenario in “Time Heist” isn’t quite the same, it does show the Doctor making friends and thus shows us another side to this incarnation of the Doctor. Aside from that, these two guest characters are really compelling. Neither are human, and we learn about their vulnerabilities, their past, their hopes. As well, Psi sacrifices himself for Clara even though he only just met her (though we later find out he’s still alive). Saibra gives the Doctor something he’s wanted since he regenerated: to let him know if he’s still a good man. I hope we see Psi and Saibra again this season.

“You’re a good man.”

Whereas Steven Moffat’s writing for “Listen” had a pretty big weak spot, in “Time Heist” the writing is stronger. There’s probably a plot hole or two, but it’s not as noticeable as the one in “Listen”. Also, something Moffat seems to do well is writing comedy, especially for fast-talking characters. There’s one particular scene that is so similar to a scene in “Sherlock” in which Sherlock tells everyone to shut up even though no one is talking. Sure, it’s not exactly fresh comedy, but with some slight alterations it works in “Doctor Who”. While the Doctor does tell some pretty cheesy jokes, it was nice to see him for once joking about something that has nothing to do with the way Clara looks (though that did happen earlier in the episode).

Doctor Who

Overall, the fifth episode of “Doctor Who” season 8, called “Time Heist” is one of the best of the season so far mostly because it finally allows us to get beyond the fast-talking, mysterious exterior of the Doctor. We finally get to learn more about the Doctor, and this is aided by the presence of guest characters Psi and Saibra. Up next on “Doctor Who”: the Doctor visits Clara at her work.

My Rating: 9/10

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About Caitlin Cooper

Caitlin Cooper

Caitlin is an avid watcher of movies and television shows so she decided to use her passion to write about them. She has a B.A. in English Language and Literature with a Minor in Creative Writing.

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