After a cracking episode last week with ‘Listen‘ (reviewed here!) this week ‘Doctor Who‘ ventures off in to space for a distinctly Earthly tale on a far away planet at the Bank of Karabraxos. Guest starring Keeley Hawes, Jonathan Bailey and Pippa Bennett-Warner the episode is another big change in content from the previous episode and is our first truly out there space mission for the new Doctor.
Capaldi has now had an adventure set in Earths past (‘Deep Breath‘), a adventure featuring Daleks (‘Into the Dalek‘), an adventure co-starring a literary hero (‘Robot of Sherwood‘) and a chilling scary tale (‘Listen‘) so it was about time that Moffat and co took him off to the far reaches of the galaxy in search of some great looking aliens and of course a whole heap of danger.
It’s not physically possible to compare ‘Time Heist‘ to ‘Listen‘ as the two are absolutely poles apart and both enjoyable in their own ways. So far season 8 has been very Earth bound with only ‘Into the Dalek‘ set in space but even then only short sections of the episode showed off any of the world outside the Dalek itself. Clearly Moffat has been saving the spectacle of the Bank of Karabraxos for when audiences have had some time to get used to the new Doctor.
Capaldi actually fades a little bit in to the background for much of this episode as we learn about his companions on the bank heist but upon reaching the private halt he once again comes in to this own. His presence is there throughout the episode and the trademark humour we’ve come to know over the last few episodes is there in spades but again it is Clara who is the glue that holds this episode – and judging by the teaser also the next episode – together.
Coleman once again steps up to the emotional plate as Clara gets to have a bit more fun after the heroics of last week. Here she does what every companion does best and questions the Doctor at almost every turn. She also forms a great emotional bond with Psi (Bailey) which helps to bring him in to the fold.
The BBC really hyped up the guest appearance by Keeley Hawes and she does a good job here but sadly doesn’t make the mark on the show that perhaps the writers may have hoped for. Given further development her character could have made a great entry to list of emotionally torn villains that the show has featured over the years but sadly she’s not quite developed enough.
The special effects and the makeup in this episode are again standout, the character design for the Teller is brilliant and evokes a feeling of the original ‘Star Wars‘ trilogy. A lot of the extras in the bank are humanoid which is the first let down of the episode as it seemed like the perfect way to bring in some great creature designs but I can’t complain too much as what we got was great.
For eagle eyed viewers there was also a very brief see-who-can-spot lineup of criminals from the Who-verse. Who did you spot? For me it was James Marsters ‘Torchwood‘ character Captain John!
The second, and bigger, let down of the episode was its predictability. There were aspects of the show which were not predictable such as the identity of Karabraxos but on the flip side it was fairly obvious from the very outset who the mysterious Architect would be. It’s not often that ‘Who‘ falls in to this kind of predictability trap but when it does it tends to ruin the enjoyability factor of the episode, add to that a very quick wrap-up at the end of the episode which fails to explain show the characters escaping from the bank and unfortunately this episode does become a low point for the season so far.
That being said a low point for ‘Doctor Who‘ is still a high point for other genre series.