Imagine what would happen if you used time travel to rob a bank, especially one that is super-secure. Someone has recruited the Doctor, Clara and two other people to do just that. But is it for money…or something else?
It was good to see the Doctor in a caper this week in “Time Heist”. It was a basic bank robbery story with a twist, although there were two plot lines that were a bit too convenient.
It starts with the Doctor dropping in on Clara just before she’s about to go out with Danny, but he’s puzzled by her makeup and high heels. Then, the TARDIS’ telephone rings. Who has THAT number?
Next thing he knows, he’s holding a memory worm, joined by Psi (Jonathan Bailey), a gamer who’s part human, part computer (sort of like Johnny Mnemonic), and a shape-shifting mutant named Saibra (Pippa Bennett-Warner). They’ve agreed to have their memories erased in order to do a job for someone called “The Architect”. They’re assigned to rob the Bank of Karabraxos, the most secure bank in the galaxy. A woman named Miss Delphox (Keeley Hawes) has something called the Teller, who can determine guilt by reading a person’s mind. Anyone caught even thinking about defrauding the bank has his brain melted, then kept in a cell as an example to others.
It seems the Architect wants something from the bank, but it can’t be just money. The crew also finds the Architect has placed special cases in certain areas for the mission, including a special bomb to get to the inner works of the bank. Yet how did he do that?
They try to stay one step ahead of Delphox and the Teller, It’s revealed Saibra wants to suppress her shape-shifting, so she can avoid being alone. Psi wants to restore memories he’s been forced to delete after he was arrested for hacking and bank robbing
The crew then finds a case with six items. The Doctor thinks they’re atomic shredders, which can literally kill whoever is using it. Saibra is the first, and Psi is upset the Doctor doesn’t feel remorse over her death. He thinks the Doctor calls himself that because of his professional detachment. He has a point, but the Doctor still chews Psi out for that.
As Psi tries to break into the vault, the Doctor and Clara have to separate, Clara is caught by the Teller, and locks into her brain. Psi sacrifices himself to save her, so it’s just the Doctor and Clara. While Psi didn’t unlock the vault completely, a solar storm is able to break the vault’s atomic lock. That’s when the Doctor figures out the Architect planned the heist in the future, and sent them to the exact moment when the solar storm makes the bank less than secure. It also means the TARDIS couldn’t land there because the storm would have upset its navigation.
They find what was on the card in the final suitcase: a special circuit that would have restored Psi’s memories, and a gene suppressant that would have preserved Saibra’s identity. However, they don’t know what’s in the private vault that they need. Unfortunately, that’s when the Teller finds them. It looks like Delphox will get rid of the Doctor and Clara, as she tells the guards to dispose of them. However, the guards are really Saibra and Psi. Those shredders were actually teleporters, which is a bit too convenient for the plot. Once they reach the private vault, they discover that Karabraxos looks a little too much like Delphox. That’s because Karabraxos has staffed her bank with lots of clones, including Delphox, which she can literally fire (with fire) if they don’t do their jobs.
The Doctor doesn’t understand that attitude, until he suddenly has a revelation. He says he hates the Architect, because he’s overbearing and manipulative. It means he is the Architect. He also gives Karabraxos the TARDIS’ phone number. He thinks she might use it someday, when she’s older, and full of regret for the things she can’t change. In other words, when she becomes him. She’s more concerned with leaving her bank before the solar storm destroys it.
That doesn’t mean he remembers why he had to rob the bank. When the Teller arrives, and scans his brain, he does figure it out. That phone call in the beginning was from Karabraxos (which I called from the start) on her deathbed. She does have some regrets, and wants the Doctor to resolve one of them. The bank heist was really a way to reunite the Teller with its mate. With two of the extra atomic shredders, they’re able to go back home. So, this wasn’t a robbery, but a way for several people, and creatures, to be restored: Psi gets his memories back, Saibra can suppress her shape-shifting condition, the Teller goes home, and Karabraoxos clears part of her conscience. In many ways, that’s better than money.
Capaldi’s performance as the Doctor is still very good, although his style may still ruffle some feathers from those who were used to Matt Smith and David Tennant. Capaldi’s Doctor may not be lovable, and a bit callous, but he is still a caring person. He had regrets, just like Karabraxos will have, except he can try to fix his mistakes thanks to his TARDIS. His relationship with Clara is getting better, but he seems to be a bit too curious about her life outside the TARDIS. That’s why next week Coal Hill School will have a new employee…who looks a little too familiar.
One more thing: the upcoming Christmas special is getting a lot of attention because of its cast. It will include Nick Frost, best known for Shaun of the Dead and Paul, and Michael Troughton, whose father played the Second Doctor. Details about the story, however, haven’t been revealed.