"Heaven Sent," a true challenge for the Doctor!
Peter Capaldi is an excellent actor, and his take on the Doctor has its own strengths and weaknesses, like any actor to play the role. While his run has lacked many instant classic episodes thus far, "Heaven Sent" is the type of episode that only Peter Capaldi could possibly pull off, just like how Smith could pull off the more zany adventures or Tennant with, well, basically anything.
Revolving around the Doctor being trapped on a mysterious castle on an unknown planet, the episode puts the Doctor to the test. He is pushed to the limit of his wit and ingenuity, as he attempts to escape the castle and figure out how and why this he is there.
"Heaven Sent" relies heavily on Capaldi's performance. With the exception of a brief Jenna Coleman cameo and that child at the end, Capaldi is the only actor with any lines. The script is heavy on internal monologue and the despair of his situation. The gravity and weight of the episode plays well to Capaldi's strengths. After Clara's death, he is angry, yet he's the Doctor; he keeps his cool and figures things out. That is what he does!
Yet another strong aspect is the character development, or rather exposition. The Doctor must face his truths, and stop lying to himself, which is the only way to stop the Veil creature. The Doctor is truly tested, and using the TARDIS and blackboard to explain his thoughts to the audience is an excellent concept, reminiscent of Sherlock's Mind Palace.
Towards the end, when the Doctor figures everything out, we get a montage of the Doctor punching his way through the way through the wall over the course of four billion years! While the aspect of the Doctor dying and resetting himself with the teleporter is a bit too easy in a sense, since he is more or less cloning himself, the concept is fascinating, and pulled far better than much of Moffat’s “Because Space Magic” plot devices.
Thus far, it seems the main point of criticism is that the episode is slow, and potentially boring. While certain parts are admittedly slower, "Heaven Sent" is a nice change of pace. It is darker, without losing a bit of wit, and actually tests the Doctor more so than any challenge Twelve has yet to face. Granted, stories where the character must figure out how to escape an impossible situation with his or her mind is my cup of tea.
After finally making his way through, we discover that he is trapped inside his Time Lord Confession Dial, which confused me, since it is suppose to be a thing that helps Time Lords accept their fate. As an bit of retrospective info after watching the next episode, the reason the Confession Dial trapped the Doctor in a endless cycle of torment was so that the Time Lords could discover the information about the "Hybrid," which explains why the Confession Dial was used in that way.
Overall: 9.3/10- Capitalizing on Capaldi's strengths, "Heaven Sent" presents a truly unique challenge for the Doctor, making it one of the highlights of Capaldi's run as the Doctor.
Note: Due to a DVR malfunction, the last 25 minutes of the finale episode, "Hell Sent," did not record, which means I have not seen it. The episode doesn't air again on BBC America, and it is not on any official websites that I can find. If anyone knows how I can watch the final episode, please let me know. I will be very grateful.
- "Under the Lake"
- "The Witch's Familiar"
- "The Magician's Apprentice"
- "Before the Flood"
- "The Girl Who Died"
- "The Woman Who Lived"
- "The Zygon Invasion"
- "The Zygon Inversion"
- "Sleep No More"
- "Face the Raven"
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