“I am The Doctor. I’m coming to find you and I’ll never ever stop!”
After last week’s emotional story, Face the Raven, we are given a completely different story and something we haven’t seen in Doctor Who for sometime – a companionless story. This story could be considered Doctor Who meets Groundhog Day, because that’s how it felt towards the end watching him punch the diamond wall over and over again, it became repetitive and dragged out a bit too long. The normal 45 minutes would have sufficed and some of the Groundhog Day sequences could have been cut down a bit. That’s my opinion and it seems I’m in the minority here as lots of thought it was great. But I did get what they were doing and what tale they were referencing to (if you Google How Long is Eternity? you’ll have the source for why The Doctor was punching the diamond wall and why it took 2 million years), which was pretty clever in a way but I still thought that it was way too reminiscent of Groundhog Day instead of a fable; but the fable is where it comes from.
Now that I got one of my major gripes over about the episode, I thought what they did was pretty good and I actually like it when they do something different. Now on first watch I didn’t enjoy Heaven Sent as much as everyone else going crazy about it on social media did. But watching it again, knowing what is going on and what will happen I did enjoy it a bit more. But I still had problems with it. When the castle resets every time The Doctor dies and pulls the reset button to send him back to the beginning with a new version of himself from the teleporter everything is supposed to reset. Then why is there a new set of clothes for him to change into when he is all wet from jumping into the water? How come the diamond wall isn’t reset also? You would think it would not be a cave every time he goes to it if the castle resets every time The Doctor resets it. Another thing, The Doctor, now a copy of himself, when he gets to Gallifrey at the end, does it set him back to who he really is? Lots of stuff that Moffat generally ignores when he writes a story and doesn’t care about minor details like that and that gets frustrating sometimes when you watch his episodes. It could have been easily explained with a passing comment.
By reading the first two paragraphs you would think that I totally hated Heaven Sent. That’s not true at all. I did enjoy it for the most part and really liked what they did and tried to accomplish. This story sort of reminded me of the Matrix scenes from The Deadly Assassin when The Doctor was in that strange world going up against Goth and trying to find out what The Master was up to. I did enjoy watching Peter Capaldi’s Doctor racing around this castle afraid for his life. Along with the mystery surrounding everything and the clues that he left for himself just added to the whole mystery of the story in general, as you wanted to know what was inside room twelve and what bird means. Stuff like that I really enjoy and helps to immerse me into the story.
Peter Capaldi’s performance in Heaven Sent is the best performance any actor playing The Doctor has ever done. It was amazing how he went from scared to serious in a blink of an eye and every time he confronted the ghost or hybrid just made you shiver with awe, especially when he confessed about the hybrid. That was just classic and really well done and he is indeed the best actor to play The Doctor. Plus how strange was it seeing The Doctor really scared? We are not accustomed to seeing this part of him but you got a sense that his fear was real and it came across the screen that way. Which just gives more indication to the great performance of Peter Capaldi.
I also enjoyed him talking to Clara in his mind. Here we get to see how The Doctor thinks and how he figures out how to get out of a situation. This added another dimension of the story as he needed someone to explain something to, and if talking to a Clara in his mind helps the audience know what is going on, I am fine with it as it was done well and really added something to the overall story.
I really loved the awesome cliffhanger with The Doctor stepping onto Gallifrey as he finally escapes from the castle / confession dial (which we now know what was the one Missy had). Now he has indirectly found Gallifrey what will happen next is anyone’s guess, but it will have us talking all week about it. I just loved it when you had the really mad Doctor tell the Gallifrayan kid that “I’m back” and will be coming to kick the Time Lords butts. That was really awesome and just had to have you cheering for The Doctor. Heaven Sent is the middle part of the three-part Series 9 finale and so far the story is pretty good compared to most finales’. Let’s hope Hell Bent keeps the story interesting and good. For the most part I did enjoy Heaven Sent but I felt there were a lot of problems with both the length and lack of explanations regarding some of the paradoxes.