Hello! It’s time for another review – I’m slowly but surely getting caught up on these, just in time for the finale! I can’t believe that the series nine finale is tomorrow night already – where has the time gone?!
I mean, the timey-wimey. Where has that gone?
This episode (and the one following it) was originally supposed to be reviewed by Orphu @ A Mirror Made of Words, but she very graciously agreed to let Alex review the finale episodes instead since Alex signed up for episode ten… which I didn’t realize would be part of the finale! I think it’s pretty important to review any of the multi-part episodes with the same person, so… yeah.
Anywayyyyy. CHECK OUT THAT POSTER. I SERIOUSLY LOVE IT. SO BEAUTIFUL.
P.S. You can find previous collaborative reviews of Doctor Who‘s ninth series here.
Alexandrina Brant is a third-year psychology and philosophy student at Reading University, England, which means she alternates between planning experiments and critiquing history. When not polishing her fantasy romance novel about time travel, she’s cosplaying steampunk, singing, and playing Quidditch for the university team. She has authority in writing this review because she’s River Song’s doppelganger, hair and all. You can catch her blogging at Miss Alexandrina. She tweets prolifically @Caelestia_Flora. Yes, her Twitter username is Latin.
Warning: Spoilers ahead, sweetie!
Engie: Oh my god, I loved the concept of this episode! I totally wasn’t expecting him to have been in the confession dial all along… wow.
Engie: Also, I was just really impressed by the whole story-repeating-itself thingy. I know some people who HATED that part, though, and I can see why. This episode, like several others in this series, seems to have sharply split people’s opinions.
Alex: Personally, I liked seeing the Doctor going through the confession dial rooms over and over – as I mention below, it adds to the clever timey-wimey elements. The use of the story about the bird and the mountain – and how, although the sequences in the rooms were repeated, the Doctor managed to say more and more of the story each time – added variety to seeing him doing the same thing over and over, even though to me it didn’t feel like him doing the same thing, as each time he was changing just a little of the dial.
Engie: OH MY GOD. This episode very nearly put Twelve at the top of my “favorite Doctors” list? BECAUSE PETER CAPALDI. OH MY GOD. His acting was amazing in this episode. I mean… Matt Smith wasn’t a bad actor, per se, but Capaldi’s acting just makes me FEEL so much more. He’s very good at conveying emotions through just the slightest shifts in his facial expression. I can’t believe he carried that entire episode on his own – he was the only actor until the very, VERY end! Wow.
Engie: Also, the Doctor missed Clara soooo much in this episode AND IT MADE ME SAD.
Alex: I didn’t actually like the whole use of Clara in the episode. I understand the Doctor’s need for someone to explain his plans and schemes, but I felt it was more for the benefit of the TV audience. I did like his thought-processes, especially to cut between the action scenes of him running from the creature around the castle, but they were scenes that I might consider unnecessary if I were writing the episode.
Engie: That’s true. I guess I was more of a fan of the whole thinking-about-Clara thing, but not the let’s-explain-everything thing. THAT part seemed very Sherlock-mind-palace-ish, which bothered me because A) I dislike being reminded of BBC Sherlock since I cannot stand that show and B) Moffat is not very original. Meh. Whatever.
[Alex didn’t have anything to say about the music, but I do, so… I’m going to say my piece really quickly and then move on to the rest of the review! Also, here’s a lovely suite of the music that I found on YouTube the other day! I’ve heard the score of this particular episode compared to Beethoven’s music, actually, so… yeah, it really is as good as I’m saying it is.]
Engie: I FREAKING ADORED THE MUSIC IN THIS EPISODE. OH. MY. GOD. It was so good! I heard many lovely variations on the Twelfth Doctor’s theme – which I love! – and kdfsjhdfjhgfdjh I was so pleased.
Engie: My only complaint is that we didn’t hear “This is Gallifrey” at the end of the episode… I’ve been waiting for that theme to reappear! On the other hand, I can see how it may not have fit the mood of the ending, so in that case… well, I certainly hope that it’s featured in “Hell Bent”!
Alex: That creature was freaky! I’m not sure what to make of it, though we can summarise now that it was a fable/creation of the dial, rather than a solid being or alien. Seeing as the Doctor’s confession dial was personal to him, the monster was personal to him, that figment of his childhood fears expanded and made into something that actually might kill him.
Engie: I agree… also, yeah, I loved how the monster was from his childhood. Honestly, that fit so well because at the end of the episode he returned to Gallifrey – his childhood home.
Engie: BAHAHAHA I KNEW IT. I KNEW IT. I knew it would be Gallifrey back in episode TEN!
Alex: I was not expecting Gallifrey! I mean, I had an inkling that the “they” Me was referring to in “Face the Raven” was Time Lords, but I didn’t think we’d see – or have anything set on – Gallifrey.
Engie: You see, that’s what tipped me off – the Doctor has known that Gallifrey exists, that it’s somewhere out there, and he’s been trying to find it for a few series now. Missy knows where it is, and it was implied that Me was working with/for her. I wondered if I was reading too much into that line of dialogue, but as soon as she implied that the Time Lords were behind this, I knew that the Doctor would see Gallifrey in the next episode, that that was where he was being sent.
Engie: Because… Gallifrey has become such a big theme these past few series that it just didn’t seem POSSIBLE to mention Time Lords – as in, more than one, more than just the Doctor and the Master hanging out and endlessly quarreling – without finally showing us what the plot of the show has been moving towards for ages now. I just didn’t see where else the plot could possibly go.
Engie: …I actually thought the castle-y thing WAS on Gallifrey for the longest time, and only realized the Doctor was trapped in his own confession dial when he realized it as well.
Engie: Also, and this is probably another case of “Engie reads too much into little snippets of dialogue,” when the Doctor mentioned the stars in this episode… well, that made me think as well. It’s difficult to explain my thought process at that moment, or even why that scene stood out to me, but… he looked up at the sky for a very long time and he seemed to recognize those stars. And he seemed worried, or maybe even scared – he said something about “oh, that’s not right” as if he didn’t think he could possibly be on that particular planet looking up at those particular stars.
Engie: That made the gears in my brain start spinning, wondering if maybe – just maybe – he was on Gallifrey. Thanks, little brain gears.
Alex: To me, as someone who became obsessed with Doctor Who aged nine or so, with the Ninth Doctor, I’ve always pictured Doctor Who as being a show without this magnificent/all-powerful race. Having Gallifrey back changes things. What do you think?
Engie: It definitely changes things! The narrative framework for most of New Who was that both Gallifrey and the Time Lords did not exist anymore. That was retconned in “The Day of the Doctor,” but it was a loooong time before the Doctor ever actually found Gallifrey in this episode. There’s just so much to explore from now on, stuff that I’ve only barely thought about because for so long, going back to Gallifrey wasn’t even an option. I’m really looking forward to the next episode, because in Classic Who the Doctor didn’t get along with the other Time Lords very well…
The confession dial
Alex: I think the use of the confession dial was a clever use of plot. I don’t think the Doctor knew he was in there, but I think it was clever how the Time Lords were manipulating him to tell them what they wanted to know after his encounters with Davros. It’s an unusual position to see the Doctor as the manipulated, rather than the manipulator.
Engie: YESSSSS. THIS.
Alex: On the other hand, this is what made me guess that it was the confession dial. It’s a location that rotates on dials which are unlocked by confessions. Plus, the confession dial had to make a spectacular return after it was brushed away in the opening two-parter.
Engie: Ehehe, see, I didn’t predict that at well! It’s funny how we picked up on different revelations in this episode.
Alex: Also, how were the Time Lords expecting to get the answers about the hybrid if The Doctor didn’t figure out that confessions change the rooms, or if refused to confess? Unless it was their plan overall to kill him?
Engie: I have no idea. Good question.
Engie: Also, was the Doctor REALLY inside his confession dial for over two billion years? That seems so improbable that I want to believe that time somehow works differently inside of that confession dial… but I also can’t see any way that that could be true.
Alex: I was wondering that, too. I guess for Time Lords, two billion years is little time for them. But, if so, that makes the Doctor OLD.
Engie: Yeah. Like, I don’t doubt that Time Lords can live to be that old, but it struck me as more than a little ridiculous that he apparently just spent two billion years in the same body. How long did Nine and Ten live? A year and three years, respectively? Maybe? Even Eleven only lived, like, three hundred years.
Engie: AND AND AND HOLY CRAP I JUST THOUGHT OF SOMETHING. I know that the confession dial keeps resetting, but time didn’t reset – it kept going. So… why didn’t the Doctor age? Three hundred years passed for Eleven in “The Time of the Doctor,” and there was a huge emphasis on how much he aged. So what happened here?!
Alex: I think I remember The Doctor saying he was half-human.
Engie: BAHAHA YES APPARENTLY THE EIGHTH DOCTOR SAID THAT IN THE MOVIE. “Half human on my mother’s side,” or some such thing. That would be pretty hilarious if that ended up being true.
Alex: But there’s something that makes me think Ashildir/Me is the hybrid. Wasn’t there something mentioned at the end of “The Girl Who Died” about her being a hybrid? Half Time Lord by the technology keeping her alive; half human. And perhaps that is the warrior race. Who says it has to be the Daleks? So, I reckon the Doctor is bluffing, but he knows the truth: Me is their downfall.
Engie: Well, she is a hybrid – the Doctor already said as much in “The Girl Who Died,” as you mentioned above – but at the end of this episode, the hybrid prophecy thing was mentioned again. In the series opener, it was said that there would be a half Time Lord, half Dalek hybrid, and at the end of this episode the Doctor it was him. So I don’t necessarily think she is the hybrid of the prophecy, but on the other hand I sincerely hope this is just one of Moffat’s all-too-frequent fake-outs because seriously? The Doctor is half Dalek? And there’s a prophecy about him?
Engie: WHOAAAA. WAIT. I JUST REALIZED SOMETHING. The Doctor literally said, “It’s me.” Did he mean, “It’s Me?” OHHHH MY GOD I DON’T EVEN KNOW WHAT TO THINK NOW. Is this what you meant with your Me theory?
Engie: What is your overall opinion of this episode?
Alex: I liked this episode a lot. Although it was Doctor-heavy, it didn’t feel that way. I love the visual setting, the CGI of the castle turning. The inside of it was skipped over, but I think this leaves more room for viewer imaginations to create more of this world… if you can call it a “world,” as such. The conflict/threat to the Doctor was tangible. Personally, I felt for him, and this made the episode all the scarier. Capaldi subtly showed the fear. Again, great acting!
Alex: However, I think there were a few predictable elements in the episode, particularly the Doctor loop. We’ve had episodes before – I don’t know if they were written by Moffat or not – where the Doctor has been setting himself up; and that’s something I like to imagine (and write) in temporal fiction.
Engie: I loved this episode. No, wait – I looooooooooooooooooooved it. PETER CAPALDI IS SUCH A GREAT ACTOR OH MY GOD. And I was so pleased to see that my prediction came true! I’m anxious to see more of Gallifrey…
Engie: Thank you for reviewing with me!
What is YOUR opinion on “Heaven Sent”? I’d love to know!