DWO’s Spoiler-Free Preview of episode 9.11: Heaven Sent;
Doctor Who has never been afraid to try out something new from time to time. We’ve had episodes that range from high comedy to full-on drama. We’ve had episodes told in real time, and just a few weeks ago the programme gave us its own unique take on the ‘found footage’ genre. It’s often quite special when Doctor Who tries to do something different with a format, and it’s fair to say that Heaven Sent ranks rather highly on the ‘different’ stakes.
For the most part, it’s 53 minutes of Peter Capaldi… and only Peter Capaldi. Oh, sure he’s being stalked by a rather nightmarish vision from the pits of his memory, but it’s not a particularly talkative nightmare, meaning that it’s up to Peter alone to carry the weight of the episode, and it’s to his great credit that you never once find yourself longing for someone else to show up and take some of the burden.
Steven Moffat’s script is filled with things to keep Capaldi chewing over - from the moments of darkness that he does so well, to showing off and having a ball. The Doctor is really put through the wringer in this one - repeatedly - and by the time the episode is finished, you’ll feel that you’ve been on a fairly similar journey yourself.
It’s the closest that Doctor Who has ever come to producing its own art house movie, and while it may risk feeling out of place on BBC One on a Saturday night, it’s a refreshing change of pace, and one which allows us to get a handle on the Doctor as a character - and this incarnation in particular - more than ever before.
The whole episode is really lifted by the return of Rachel Talalay to the director’s chair (having also helmed last year’s finale, Dark Water / Death in Heaven). In the hands of a less competent director, the story could run the risk of becoming formulaic and dull, but Talalay injects every shot with something of interest. Particularly of note is the way in which the TARDIS is shot here - the current console room has never looked better, and never looked bigger.
And at the end of it all, finally overcoming all the turmoil and the pain, the stage is truly set for an explosive finale.
Five things to look out for;
1) “As you come in to this world… something else is also born….”
2) The Brother’s Grimm.
3) “Don’t you want to know how I survived? Go on, ask me!”
4) Just how old is the Doctor, these days?
5) “Personally, I think that’s a hell of a bird.”
[Sources: DWO, Will Brooks]