Doctor Who Review: Heaven Sent

 

The Doctor finds himself alone in a mysterious castle, being chased by a veiled figure.

Cast and Crew

Peter Capaldi as the Doctor
Jenna Coleman as Clara
Jami Reid-Quarrell as Veil

Written by Stephen Moffat
Produced by Nikki Wilson
Directed by Rachel Talalay

Premise

Following last week’s events, the Doctor has been teleported into a mysterious castle. But where is it? What is it for? And how can he escape?

High Points

 

“The day you lose someone isn’t the worst; at least you’ve got something to do. It’s all the days they stay dead.”

Low Points

I’m still not entirely sure what was going on, but I suspect we will find out next time.

 

The Scores

Originality: Surprising direction given last week’s setup, and quickly you find yourself in what feels like new ground. The Doctor’s working out his grief at the same time as trying to figure out what’s going on and how he can escape, and really you just don’t see much storytelling like this. 5/6.

Effects: Overall the effects are pretty good. There’s one shot near the end which particularly impressed me in its utter weirdness and yet it looks exactly like you’d think it would. 5/6.

Story: not the direction I would have predicted after last week. I like that. This is different, this is the Doctor by himself trying to cope with what he’s just seen and the situation he now finds himself in. This is the Doctor going a little bit mad. It’s creepy and it’s excellent. 6/6.

Acting: Almost nobody has any screen time save for Capaldi himself, and I think you’d be hard-pressed to find many actors who can pull off a solo episode so well, or do such a good job of what it feels like when you punch an unyielding wall as hard as you can. 6/6.

The emotional response was stronger for me than last week’s. Like the high point said, it’s not when you lose someone that it’s hard, it’s all the days they stay dead. 5/6.

Production: the castle is creepy as heck, with very good use of camera to heighten the tension and the mysterious chasing figure to start with. After a while you possibly see too much of it, but by then it’s not the scary part anymore. 5/6.

Overall: Best episode so far. One of my friends even stated he thinks it’s the best episode of Doctor Who he’s ever seen. I’m not sure I’d go quite that far, but it’s certainly close. 6/6.

In total, Heaven Sent receives 39/42. The final episode of the series is going to have a lot to live up to now.

10 replies on “Doctor Who Review: Heaven Sent”

  1. JD DeLuzio says:

    Kudos for the SF exploration of the implications for transporter technology that Trek, despite using the device weekly, rarely examined, and never quite like this. I was going to stop watching after the first few eps this season, but they’re going in a new direction now, one worthy of the actor currently playing the Doctor.

  2. Fez says:

    I’m not sure what everyone was so crazy about. I didn’t really care for it. Can’t really put my finger on why. Capaldi is good but most of the episode I was more bored than intrigued. The room resetting thing didn’t really sit well either, especially when that wall didn’t. And nobody thought to come looking for him even after billions of years? I would have been happier if something or someone external broke the loop.

    Maybe it will make more sense after next week.

    Window of Opportunity is still the best time looping episode of TV ever by far.

    • Jethro says:

      Totally agree about the SG1 episode.

      This wasn’t that kind of time looping though – he wasn’t reliving the same day, and he certainly didn’t remember it.

    • zocalo says:

      That’s the funny thing about time travel – given that the Doctor will return to our contemporary time period in the next series, how would anyone ever know he was missing in the first place? From his perspective, sure, but from everyone else’s?

      As for the resets, I thought the rooms were being reset after The Doctor “solved” them, either through a confession/truth or some other means, and since he didn’t actually solve the last room until he broke through the wall… As you say though, lots of things are not entirely clear and there’s clearly still a good deal of explaining to do in the finalé which might clear up at least a few of those issues.

      On the whole though, perhaps not the best Who episodes ever, or time travel/loop stories for that matter, but definitely one that might have redeemed what I have found to be a rather lack lustre season, so hopefully this week’s episode will be to the same standard.

      • Fez says:

        I suspect that last part is key here — it only seems like a great episode by comparison to the rest of this season, rather than overall. :-)

        • zocalo says:

          A fair assessment – I’ve been underwhelmed with most of the episodes this season, so what might only have rated a “good” rating in one of the stronger seasons would inevitably seem like it’s much a better one here. I’m still hoping that the second half might come together with the first half into something truly great, and maybe set a new tone for the next series as well, but best to keep expectations low at this point…

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