The Doctor and Clara attempt to rob Karabraxos, the most secure bank in the universe.
The heist is a great genre for Doctor Who to take on, particularly bringing in classic science fiction ideas like telepathy, shape-shifters, cyborgs, teleportation and time travel. I really enjoy the structure of a good heist story; carefully showing just enough clues to help the viewer try and figure out the caper. The BBC’s own Hustle worked well in this vein, and the way Time Heist is shot and scored is reminiscent of both that series and the Oceans movies. Very slick, cool and stylish. The great addition here is that the bank robbers themselves don’t know what they’re up to either, and are trying to work it out along with the audience.
This is really tightly written. The questions I was left with from my first watch I found were all answered on a second viewing. There are lines of dialogue in there to cover everything, so it benefits even more than most on second viewing.
The modern series has no recurring villains, just recurring species. So whenever there is a mysterious figure to be unveiled at the climax, it is always somebody already set up within the story. Admittedly in the old series it was usually, with the relentless inevitability of a Monday morning, the Master. As the mystery becomes who have we already seen that could be unmasked, there are a small number of possibilities. In this case there are both the Architect and Karabraxos to uncover, but it did keep me guessing until the end. I thought that they would be one in the same, and had Psi or Saibra pegged as my prime suspects, especially when they didn’t appear at Missy’s house when they seemed to kill themselves.
I’ve worked for a bank since the Eccleston era, and it’s interesting to see a take on the future of financial institutions. Physical currency will be outdated in my lifetime, so it makes sense that the Karabraxos Bank deals predominantly with safety deposit boxes. Ultimately high street banks will become far less prevalent, and even now counters exist solely for people who refuse modern, convenient alternatives. Given the low esteem banks have been held in since 2008, it’s not surprising this one is depicted as ruthless and exploitative.
The Teller looks great, and is a very effective menace. The result of his mental attacks, a sagging skull, is a disturbing image without being gory; a very Doctor Who fate to inflict. Literal pudding brains.
I found the tone of the ending a little strange, the scene where Psi and Saibra are getting dropped off. Something about the music, and the odd way the Doctor holds his arm at one point as if in pain. It felt like it was leading up to some last minute denouement, but it just plays out and ends.
The notion that you might hate, or at least can’t trust, what you see yourself reflected in, could play into next week’s episode. In Listen Danny is set up as a mirror of the Doctor (both were scared children visited by Clara, imprinted with the idea of ‘a soldier without a gun’ and chose their own names).
Originally published on my Doctor Who blog, called Trap One