I am always up for a good caper, and “Time Heist” is a fun play on the classic caper. Is it the best episode of eighth season of the relaunched Doctor Who thus far? No, that honor still belongs to last week’s “Listen,” but “Time Heist” is still a way-the-heck cool and engaging outing for our beloved Time Lord.
The story opens with the Doctor (Peter Capaldi) imploring Clara Oswald (Jenna Coleman) to join him for a little sight-seeing in time and space, but she’s getting ready for a date with Danny Pink (Samuel Anderson), her teaching colleague and relatively new love interest. Suddenly, the T.A.R.D.I.S.’s phone rings—the rarity of which means something big is going to happen, and the Doctor reaches to answer it despite Clara’s protests. Whoosh! Our intrepid heroes find themselves in a dimly lit, very sci-fi-looking chamber with a hacker and a shapeshifter, who, like the Doctor and Clara, are suffering from memory loss. Then, a briefcase opens, recordings reveal their identities and jog some of their memories, and the group learns that someone called the Architect wants them to rob the Bank of Karabraxos, the most impenetrable such institution in the entire universe.
Our caper has begun, and the traps that await.
A few things make this episode awesome:
- The Doctor’s relationship with Clara continues to evolve. He gives her a hard time about her appearance and pressures her to go gallivanting in the T.A.R.D.I.S., rather than go out to dinner with Danny Pink. After all, traveling through space and time is more fun than dinner in a boring restaurant, right? The Doctor has become Clara’s father or older brother—even that friend who can’t understand why you’d rather spend time with a romantic partner. It’s interesting and fun—moreso than Clara all moon-eyed over the Doctor’s eleventh regeneration. I’ve been a fan of Clara from her first appearance in the series, but this season has done more to make me care about her than ever before.
- Clara’s relationship with Danny Pink continues to evolve, albeit slowly. Honestly, it’s a nice dose of pseudo-realism in a show that can be so many different genres of fantastic. Given the trailer for next week’s episode, it’s becoming clear than Danny has figured out that he may not be the only man in Clara’s life.
- he Doctor gets to be both Danny Ocean and Sherlock Holmes—in addition his (un)usual Time Lord-y self. Obviously, he takes the lead in getting into the Bank of Karabraxos’s vault, but, more than that, there’s a puzzle to be solved here—and, as we learned in “Listen,” the Doctor asks a lot of questions and likes a good mystery. Who is the Architect? What’s so important in that vault? What’s the logic of the bank’s security measures? What’s up with this thrown-together cast of characters? We’re with the Doctor as he goes through his process—peeling back layers as he ventures through the bank’s levels of security.
- There’s a nice nod to the past when the Doctor is getting some of his memories back—a mention of “a long scarf” and “a bowtie.”
The Doctor Who renaissance continues with “Time Heist,” even though it lacks the haunting resonance of the prior week’s “Listen.”
I’m calling it 9/10. “Time Heist” is a solid episode with much in the way of rewards for viewers, but you’ve got Gotham, Sleepy Hollow, and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. to look forward to this coming week.