It’s Ocean’s Eleven meets E.T on this week’s Doctor Who, when Clara and the Doctor find themselves coerced into undertaking the ultimate bank robbery. Apparently, the Karabraxos Bank is renowned for its ultra-tight security and extreme measures when it comes to dealing with intruders. But when a shadowy figure known as The Architect pits them against the devilish head of security, it seems they have little choice.
Just imagine BBC’s Hustle if it was set in outer space.
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Of course, it’s not quite as straight forward as that – there’s a mysterious creature which roams the hallways, feasting on intruder’s memories. And when The Architect appears to have already broken into the bank in order to leave the team some supplies along the way, Clara and the Doctor (as well as their professional bank-robbing allies) can’t help questioning his motives.
Obviously, something is not quite right… and as the job progresses, it turns into an interesting yarn that you’ll be trying to unpick. But don’t try too hard. Although it’s eventually brought to a pretty satisfying conclusion, I can’t help thinking that ‘Time Heist’ thinks it’s a lot smarter than it actually is.
That’s not to say there aren’t some truly clever moments (and even some unexpected surprises) but the big twist will leave you guessing for all of five minutes. And when the episode eventually stumbles into its inevitable conclusion, you’ll be left wondering – was that really it?
Don’t get me wrong – there’s still plenty to enjoy. After all, it’s a stylish romp through the bank heist genre with an added sci-fi twist. And while previous episodes have been either farcical or rather deadpan, Time Heist walks the line between fun frolics and impending fatalities.
But when it comes down to it, I can’t help thinking that Time Heist suffers from the same trappings as many inferior heist stories – it’s all a bit style over substance.
It’s got jaunty camera angles, a jazzy theme tune and even a ridiculous monologue that explains what happens, complete with choppy exposition edits. It’s clearly having fun riffing on the genre… but I can’t help thinking it needed a bit more to it.
And then we get back to the Doctor’s personal issues…
It’s a running theme in Series 8 that the Doctor is forced to face his fears – most of which seem to come from within. It’s not surprising then, that his shape-shifting accomplice poses another existential conundrum – would you trust someone looking back at you with your own eyes?
Essentially, the bigger question is whether or not the Doctor trusts himself… but it’s not exactly the most subtle way of posing that question. Instead, we’re spoon-fed this existential puzzle every step of the way. And perhaps that’s why the final act is so underwhelming.
Thankfully, Peter Capaldi continues to shine, and it feels as though he may have found his feet. The insults towards Clara are coming thick and fast… but it seems there’s more to this banter than meets the eye.
“Robbing a bank… robbing a whole bank,” says the Doctor before dropping her off for a liaison with the lovable Danny Pink. “Beat that for a date.” But while this ageing Doctor proclaimed that he’s not Clara’s boyfriend, does he have a soft spot for her after all?
It’s certainly starting to seem that way… and judging from the teaser for next week’s episode, we’ll find out soon enough.
What did you think of Time Heist? Could it have been better or did it live up to your expectations? Let us know what you think in the comments below…