Spoiler City Ahead!
Who doesn’t love a good heist story? This Doctor Who episode, “Time Heist,” is stylistically a lot like the Ocean’s film franchise. In a behind-the-scenes clip during the episode, Jenna-Louise Coleman said it was Oceans Eleven in space. This episode pretty much jumps right into the adventure without much time to realize it started. Clara is about to go on a date, so she refuses to go with The Doctor. It sure seems like Danny Pink is getting set up to be a tragic loss or the reason Clara leaves. She is heading out the door until the Tardis phone rings. Both Clara and the Doctor stop dead in their tracks and ponder who it could be, since very few people in the universe have the Tardis phone number. As the Doctor goes to answer the phone, we are immediately transferred to a dark room where we have Clara, The Doctor, and two unknown people all screaming and holding memory worms.
We then jump right into things as they are given the plans to rob the bank and, alerted, the bank has already sent security to bring them to the incinerator. Quickly, we learn who the other two people are: Sabina and Psi. Saibra, who can change shape, as her face changes right as they let go of the worms. We learn she thinks it is a curse because she changes shape whenever she touches another living being preventing her from having any kind of romantic relationship. Then we have Psi, who is a Cyborg and is also an expert bank robber. We learn he has wiped his mind completely in the past to save his loved ones when he was incarcerated in the past. After the short intros, Psi downloads the heist plans and they run! They make it into the main bank with Saibra help posing as a bank customer and as they are making their way in and whole force of men run out, surrounding a man while a huge alien is escorted in in chains and a straitjacket. Ms. Delphox tells the man his guilt has been detected and as he yells at her that he is innocent she just bats and eye and has the alien, whom she calls The Teller, scan his brain for guilt and since he finds it Ms. Delphox orders his mind wiped, which makes the mans head cave in which for a show that is meant to be able to be watched by children was a bit gruesome.
The team make it past the main room undetected and get into an elevator; it is here where they are detected and find a case filled with a helpful tool put there by the man who orchestrated the whole heist, “The Architect”. They open the case and find an odd tool. The Doctor finally figures out how to use the device and it ends up cutting a hole in the bottom of the elevator then immediately replaces it for an awfully easy escape plan. They continue their way through the bank until they have to pass by a room that has The Teller locked up in a cage. While security is searching the whole bank for them and literally running right by them the team struggle to maintain composure in trying to keep their minds blank so The Teller can’t scan them. As they finally are able to make a run for it Saibra gets caught by The Tellers psychic powers and can’t move. As they discuss how they have no idea how to have her escape the doctor remember these six devices given to the team that seemed small at the time but he figures they are suicide pills basically and throws one to Saibra as she does not want to become like the man who’s head got caved in. Saibra uses it and is immediately disintegrated. As the team makes it to the next room we find it is the hallway leading straight to the vault and in the mean time, Ms. Delphox is tracking the team and decides to let The Teller loose and roam the halls trying to scan and find the last three members of our team.
The conflict between the team starts to really fly here as Clara and Psi cannot believe the Doctor just let Saibra die, helped and now doesn’t seem to care. Psi has a great line against The Doctor saying, “Is that why you call yourself The Doctor huh? Occupational hazards?” Although things get a bit heated, they still have a job to do; since the vault is right there and so are the three of them, the Doctor figures The Teller would be able to detect three minds in one place better than three separate minds. So he and Clara run off leaving Psi to hack into the vault and open it. Psi says he would be happy to be one of The Doctors Occupational hazards and then the Doctor hands him another one of the fancy little suicide pens he gave to Saibra. The Teller ends up finding Clara and trying hard to scan her mind, but she holds on long enough to have Psi finish hacking the vault and have him hatch his own plan to upload the memories of every thief and robber in history which entices The Teller and makes him leave Clara to chase down Psi. Once they meet Psi tells Clara that he must do it because when her life flashes before her eyes she sees family and friends, but he sees nothing and then he injects himself/stabs himself or whatever those suicide things do… (Damn Doctor Who… We just meet these two people and you kill them off right after to make me love them!) The Doctor and Clara hurry to the vault only to find out Psi’s hack didn’t work and that there is one more lock in place. All of a sudden, a solar flare hits the bank, we figure out a whole solar storm is coming, that is when the Doctor realizes they were not sent there to rob a bank but actually sent back in time to fix something at the bank and the only way they could do is during the solar storm because it would lower security to the bank. Then right as this realization comes to fruition the bank vault opens.
The Doctor and Clara look through the vault to find the three different items Psi, Saibra and The Doctor were sent to retrieve. They get to Psi’s first, which is an item to reboot a system and restore all files which would give Psi all his memory’s back. Then they get to Saibra’s item, which is a formula to stabilize her genetics. Then right as they start to head to the private vaults to find the Doctors Item they turn a corner and there stands The Teller. We then flash to Clara and The Doctor, captured by Ms. Delphox, in which she reveals The Teller is the last of his kind. The Doctor argues with Ms. Delphox’s actions and she send them both to the incinerator. But right when we feel all hope is lost one of the guards assures us it isn’t and changes form to reveal it as Saibra and the other guard takes off his helmet and it is Psi! The Atom disintegrators or so the Doctor thought were actually just teleporters which sent them to the ships hull where they find the Tardis and figured a way into the private vault. The team heads out to the final destination and as they enter the vault they find unlimited amounts of treasure from across the galaxy and one woman at a desk – Madame Karabraxos, the owner of the bank. The Doctor threatens her until she turns around to reveal it to be Ms. Delphox. Or rather, Ms. Delphox is just a clone of Madame Karabraxos whom she has killed for letting The Doctor get into the private vault. We then get to the point that the solar storm is going to destroy the bank which makes Karabraxos panic and grab all the treasure she can, The Doctor starts acting a bit silly, telling everyone he hates “The Architect” who orchestrated this and then he figures out he actually is the Architect himself and he sent himself back to rob the bank. While he is going on this tirade, he writes down the Tardis Phone Number and writes, “I am a Time Traveller” on it and give it to Karabraxos, whom then leaves. Everyone now is really confused and asks the Doctor is he remembered why he was there and he says well, there is only one way to remember and the doors open to reveal The Teller. The Doctor want him to scan his thoughts and as The Teller does the Doctor over powers him as he remembers why they are there, which is for The Teller himself because he is not the last of his kind, as Madame Karabraxos had a female of his species locked up.
The team then heads to the Tardis where The Doctor sets both of the alien species free on their homeworld to continue their species. After this we are treated to a happy ending with everyone eating chinese food talking about how awesome the heist was and confirming relationships which are left open for either Psi, or Saibra to return at a later date. We then of course have the Doctor drop off Clara for her date with Danny and as she runs out of the Tardis, the doctor says, “Rob a bank…Rob an entire bank…Some date…” Which leads to some interesting questions of why he cares…
This episode was definitely one that I feel may not count a lot toward the major plot going on this season, despite the Doctor basically thinking he was killing these two people and despite him giving himself the teleporters to begin with. As Clara stated at one point, “He isn’t really like that all the time” and as much as this season had made us question that, this episode showed he still is the hero we know and would more so save a life than spare one for convenience. While this episode was very high quality and a bit more of a smaller stylistic type of episode very much wanting to have The Doctor be the new Frank Sinatra or George Clooney in this sci-fi take on a heist story. I liked The Teller the whole time, but I really liked the idea of having the menacing terrifying creature whom all we see is him destroy actually be the victim and the whole reason they were there. I felt this was a great point because it was more than a heist and more than even a time-travel heist; it was a rescue mission first and foremost.
Overall this episode was somewhere in the middle for me for this season, as it seemed more that Stephen Moffat just wanted to do a heist story more than progress the overall story of Doctor Who, much like last year’s episode a Town Called Mercy where it was just a reason to do a spaghetti western and not much to offer as a good Doctor Who. I would give this episode a good B- mostly because it was a very fun and enjoyable episode, and Doctor Who always makes me fall in love with characters even if they are in only one episode. Only if the story had as much heart as the style I feel this episode would have received a higher score, but at least The Teller is free!
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