Monday, November 30, 2015
My Review of Doctor Who's 9x11: "Heaven Sent"
Written by Steven Moffat
Directed by Rachel Talalay
The Doctor: "The hybrid is me."
Or is it Me as in a certain Viking lady who played an indirect role into Clara's death? Now there's a question we won't have to wait too long to see resolved but as a means of ending this episode, it was something of a nice cliffhanger.
Had the BBC not actually spoiled what was due to come, I think most of us would've figured out that Gallifrey was fairly imminent anyways but the final scene with the Doctor on his home planet after so long and the confession finally said aloud was still a wonderful moment to behold the series. I really do hope that Hell Bent resolves this one beautifully to be honest.
Of course with the obvious long way return to Gallifrey being such a vocal part of this episode, the other main issue was the Doctor mainly going it alone for this 55 minutes. Steven Moffat - love or hate the man certainly has a way with experimenting with the show and while not all of his attempts have been favourable over the years, they've certainly left an impression. This episode is no different in that respect.
The Doctor going it alone was an interesting move. I already know that Peter Capaldi is both an amazing actor and Doctor respectively but this episode certainly tested his mettle to it's very limit and he made the whole thing look effortless. That's how incredible an actor Capaldi is and that's how lucky we are as an audience to have him as our Doctor. This episode alone will prove how much he'll be missed when he does step down from the role.
Seeing the Doctor locked in a castle of grief, increasing amount of skulls, flies, paintings of Clara and be stalked by the Veil (a creature plucked from his childhood) - a menacing, non speaking creature worked pretty well as the Doctor slowly began to realise where he was and what he needed to do in order to get out of it as well.
However for an episode that was supposed to be a one hander, Moffat kind of bended the usual rules with that particular trope (when doesn't he, eh?). We had the Veil in a non speaking role and we had a little boy when we landed on Gallifrey but despite being killed by the raven, we also had Clara in one of the most clever and affecting uses going.
For most of the episode, the Doctor was talking to her but not really seeing her. Clara was either turned away from him or invisibly writing on the chalkboard to challenge and motivate him at different key points in the episode. Then we saw her properly, comforting the Doctor when he was at his lowest and even telling him to get up off his arse and win. Nope, she really did say that and it's provoked something of an online discussion. Personally the use of the word 'arse' didn't offend me but I'll admit that it did jar a little and didn't seem needed for that scene though.
Of course while I love a good experimental episode as the next person, there were two overriding thoughts while watching this one. One - as much as I love the Doctor, he needs a companion and this episode reinforced that belief for me and two, this really could've done with losing ten minutes. In particular the last few where the episode was overemphasising the point a little too much and I found wishing for the Doctor to break the diamond wall and get to Gallifrey already. In that respect, less actually would've been a little more.
Also in "Heaven Sent"
Peter Capaldi was the only actor in the opening credits. Jenna Coleman and Jamie Reid Quarrell (the Veil) were credited at the end of the episode.
The Doctor: "I am the Doctor. I am coming to find you and I will never ever stop."
Is Steven Moffat really going to revive a plot from the 1996 TV Movie? I think he just might. I just don't see Ashildr being the Hybrid, it feels too easy if it's her.
The Doctor: "Rule one of dying: don't. Rule two: slow down."
The Doctor: "This is theatre. It's all about fear."
I hadn't actually realised that the skulls were actually modelled on Peter Capaldi. Now that really is impressive, isn't it? Plus we got a Room 12 in this episode.
The Doctor: "It's confession. I have to tell truths I've never told before."
The Doctor: "I'm not scared of hell. It's just heaven for bad people but how long do I have to be here?"
The use of a certain word aside, this episode was the most bloody I think we've had since the Colin Baker era of the show with Twelve getting royally burned by the Veil.
The Doctor: "I confess. I'm afraid."
Clara: "Doctor, it's time. Get up off your arse and win."
Standout music: This episode was easily one of Murray Gold's most striking work, wasn't it?
The Doctor: "People always get it wrong with Time Lords. We take forever to die."
Chronology: From where Face The Raven essentially left off.
Now this was an interesting episode. An essentially solo Doctor, a little more gore than post 2005 has been used and a new/redefined reasoning as to why the Doctor left his home planet in the first place. Heaven Sent certainly wasn't a dull affair in the slightest but much as I enjoyed the episode and think it's great that Moffat can still genuinely surprise and challenge with the series, this is not an experiment I'd want to see repeated in the near future. As for Peter Capaldi, he truly was sublime in this one.
Rating: 8 out of 10