After the big disappointment last episode, I was again not looking forward to this week’s episode, Time Heist. I wanted to be optimistic, but I just haven’t been able to with the offerings this season so far. I’m happy to say I wasn’t disappointed with this episode. It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t bad either. It was a fun action piece with the Doctor and Clara, with some help, breaking into the most impenetrable bank in the universe. Clara is once again preparing for a date with Danny, when the Doctor drops by for a day-trip. To both the Doctor and Clara’s surprise, the phone on the TARDIS starts to ring. The Doctor answers and then it cuts to the Doctor and Clara in a room with two other people all holding memory worms. With their memories wiped, they hear recordings of themselves agreeing to rob the Bank of Karabraxos, and are given instructions by their “employer”, The Architect. The Doctor and Clara are assisted by Psi, a hacker with an augmented brain and Saibra, a woman who can shapeshift. Led by instructions from The Architect, the quartet break into the bank, avoiding guards and having their brains liquefied by a creature known as the Teller. They must make it to the bank’s vault and break in to find their prize.
I liked this episode. It was a straight forward, stand alone episode. No one was trying to be clever, and there was no connection to the season’s arc other than the mention of the TARDIS phone number. It was just the Doctor doing what he does best; bouncing around the galaxy helping people. When it is revealed why the Doctor is doing this, there is no questioning his motives. Until then, it was a fun mystery trying to figure out what the Doctor and Clara were going to get out of heist. Psi and Saibra had things they wanted and strong desires to motivate them. The Doctor doesn’t have those kinds of desires. It would take something extra special to get him motivated, and that’s just what he gets.
I wasn’t quite as annoyed with Clara, as Psi and Saibra balanced the team out well. I quite liked them both. Saibra has some great moments with the Doctor. They share an especially touching one when she thinks she’s going to die. Psi was interesting too as the augmented human, downloading the info they need and coming to Clara’s rescue when the Teller appears. He’s not so bad for a supposed criminal. I loved the name the Doctor gave them all; “Team Not Dead.” Amusing and accurate. The Teller wasn’t too interesting as an alien species, but that wasn’t it’s job. It served it’s purpose as villain/victim well enough. The collapsing of the would-be guilty person was a nice touch for some creep factor.
I didn’t realize how much I miss the Doctor just traveling around and solving problems until this episode. That’s one of the things I’ve so disliked about Clara as a companion. She’s not a proper companion. She’s a part-time companion, jumping in the TARDIS when it suits her. Every adventure has to start on Earth with the Doctor picking Clara up. I don’t like having the companion so grounded with a life on Earth. I want the Doctor to have a proper companion so they can travel through time and space, meet new alien species and save the universe. Every other episode this season until has been solving some problem on Earth. If this were the Third Doctor’s era and he was stranded on Earth, I’d be fine with it. But the Doctor is having to come back again and again to pick Clara up and then drop her off like some taxi service. I don’t like this split time. Either travel with the Doctor or don’t. You can’t have your cake and eat it too.
And unfortunately, the next episode is another Earth bound story with the Doctor invading Clara’s place of employment; Coal Hill Middle School. I can’t say I have any more high hopes, especially when Moffat is dipping his fingers into this one as well. At least he didn’t muck this one up very much.