“I still don’t understand why you’re in charge.”
“Basically it’s the eyebrows.”
An intergalactic bank robbery, erased memories, and a brain-melting alien: Doctor Who held no bars on the excitement level this week as the Doctor and Clara found themselves criminals in a life-threatening situation—with no recollection of how they got there. Less terrifying than last week’s “Listen” but no less a cerebral sci-fi success, “Time Heist” is just the fast-paced adventure this season of Doctor Who had been waiting for.
Clara Oswald might be falling for Danny Pink, but it doesn’t stop the Doctor from whisking her off on another life-threatening adventure. When the TARDIS’s phone rings and interrupts Clara from going on a date, little do the time-traveling duo realize what’s in store for them on the other line. A split second after answering the phone, they find themselves in a mysterious room with their memories wiped, now at the mercy of “The Architect,” a faceless friend (or foe) who leaves nothing but clues to guide them on their journey. Their objective: to rob the Bank of Karabraxos, which holds the belongings of the richest beings in the universe.
A highlight of the episode was a new alien species unfamiliar to even the Doctor, with minotaur-like features and cleverly nicknamed “The Teller.” A tortured creature, the Teller can read minds while simultaneously destroying them—an ability we see put to use early on and a recurring danger throughout the plot. This unique foe, paired with the unsettling bank manager Miss Delphox (Keeley Hawes) makes for a multidimensional team of baddies who pose a real threat.
The Doctor also gained a couple of new sidekicks this episode: shapeshifter Saibra and augmented human Psi. Between disguises, willing self-sacrifices, and surprise rescues, they proved quite the pair, and it was refreshing to meet some new allies with whom there was an immediate connection. It raises the question of why the Doctor tends not to choose companions who promise to be of more use on his adventures (no offense to Clara).
“Time Heist” is chock full of suspense, puzzles, twists, and even happy endings, and proves itself to be another solid installment in the show’s eighth season. Capaldi’s Doctor remains cold, showing little remorse or fear in dire situations, but continues to deliver with his dry humor and hilariously pessimistic vibes at just the right moments.
Next week, Danny Pink returns and the Doctor takes on a new disguise: Coal Hill Elementary School’s new janitor. Check out the trailer for “Caretaker,” set to air on September 27 on BBC America and BBC One.