The 12th Doctor – Series 9, Episode 11 – “Heaven Sent” – The Doctor’s Secrets and his Vengeance

HEAVEN SENT (By Steven Moffat)

  Capaldi is one of my favorite Doctor’s at this point. He is amazing when he is alone and we see everything he brings to this character. This episode is living proof of why as we get to explore all the depths and layers of what makes the Doctor the Doctor as he we see the torment of him facing himself and just how far he’s willing to go to keep some things secret. This is one of my all time favorite episodes and easily the strongest for this season.

      “Heaven Sent” was directed by Rachel Talalay and written by Steven Moffat.

SPOILERS ahead

      The story involves the Doctor being trapped in a mysterious castle that changes whenever he confesses. It is up to him to find a way out without revealing too many of his secrets as his present loss of Clara haunts him.

The Pros: The Soundtrack – Murray Gold’s soundtrack really sells this film. It adds layers to events and helps us get even deeper into the mind of the Doctor. Moments of tension are made greater and sadness pervades the entire piece. He truly is one of my favorite composers and this episode helps capture why.

The Castle – The Castle is in the middle of water with millions of skulls underneath. It’s haunting and is full of videos recording the Veil’s tracking of the Doctor. It is a masterful prison that changes with each of the Doctor’s confessions. In the end we see that it is what is inside the Doctor’s Confession Dial.

The Veil – This creature is wonderfully scary. We never see it’s face but we hear it slither and see the flies flow from it. It also kills the Doctor in one strike. It is creepy and a great threat as it can kill the Doctor in a single strike. His only way to survive is resetting things back to the beginning leaving his body behind, where each time his skulls fall into the water and he is returned with none of the knowledge of past events and has to figure things out again.

The Doctor’s Secrets – The Doctor left Gallifrey because he was afraid, We learn this relates partially the the prophecy and from it him wanting to protect Gallifrey. By episodes end we learn what that means. There are more stories too, the Doctor dies again and again to hide his secrets…showing us all the more stories the show can explore.

The Doctor – The Doctor is awesome! I felt so bad for him in this, not only is in a hell, trapped alone and hunted mourning the loss of his friend and companion Clara but we see him rise and face it. He doesn’t mope around like 11, he does something about it and in the end through pecking away at the diamond he takes the long way out of the Confession Dial to appear and Gallifrey and he’s angry. This is “Family of Blood” and “Human Nature” Doctor level anger. His Mind Palace is also him in the TARDIS, which makes complete sense. It is great visualizing the conversations with himself as they lend depth to how he thinks and how he mourns Clara.

The Reveal – The Doctor is the hybrid who will conquer Gallifrey. This could mean he’s the hybrid because he left Gallifrey and is more human from all the time spent on Earth, or maybe he is half human. At the end of the day what it means is up to interpretation. The reality is though the Doctor is Gallifrey’s greatest enemy right now because of what the Time Lords pulled with Clara’s death.

  This was the perfect episode and with “Listen” is the best episode of Capaldi’s run. Regardless of how Moffat ends it, this episode stands strong on it’s own and is a must see for any Capaldi fan. This is him in his element where his full experience and talent as an actor is on display and from that all the complexity that makes the Doctor compelling.

Final Score: 10 / 10

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12 Days of Doctors – The 11th Doctor – Series 5, Episode 1 – “The Eleventh Hour” – The Time Traveler

DW_Eleventh_Hour_Atraxi_eye_through_crack

We continue 12 Days of Doctors with “The Eleventh Hour” the first episode in Series 5 and the introduction of Matt Smith as the 11th Doctor as well as his main companion for this season, Amy Pond. The episode was written by Steven Moffat, who became the showrunner after this point (for better and for worse) and was directed by Adam Smith.

The story of “The Eleventh Hour,” is that the Doctor’s TARDIS is nearly destroyed after his regeneration so he needs to get it fixed and healed up, so he arrives at the home of Amelia Pond where his TARDIS crashes and she helps him heal. They than go to her room where the Crack in Time is and the Atraxi send out a warning that Prisoner Zero has escaped. The Doctor than jumps forward to fix his TARDIS, but jumps forward too far and Amy is no longer a little girl. Together they must stop Prisoner Zero from causing the Atraxi from destroying the Earth as well as re-establishing that he is the same Doctor she met as child and their current relationship.

Doctor and Amy

Here is the assessment of the episode:

The Pros: The 11th Doctor / The Eleventh Doctor – Matt Smith is the Peter Pan Doctor, he is the Doctor who will whisk you away from reality and takes joy in the little things, and also the one who is openly pretty full of himself and confident, as well as oblivious. It is thanks to Amy Pond that he survives his regeneration when he is trying to find his footing and how Prisoner Zero is defeated. He has eccentricities and also has some of the Tenth Doctor’s savvy, though he is much more of the child-like Doctor than David Tennant’s as everything is extreme with him, and he is earnest, even when he lies…which he does a lot. Matt Smith definitely deserves his place among the Doctors and is one of the most joyful to watch.

Amelia Pond / Amy Pond – We see Amy when she is a little girl, alone in her house with a haunting crack in her wall, and grown up when she’s a kiss a gram with a boyfriend. After watching this episode, I think some of the criticism against her character isn’t as deserved. She is Independent, to the point that she takes action when her boyfriend Rory does not, she risks the adventure at the end with the Doctor and she holds her own against Prisoner Zero…her boogeyman from childhood beyond the mysterious crack throughout the episode. The Doctor is only able to defeat Prisoner Zero because of Amy facing her fears making her an active agent with a lot of agency in this episode. Also, as a small thing…she’s the one pulling the Doctor and telling him to run, which is a nice subverting of the usual Doctor/Companion relationship. Karen Gillian is fantastic.

Rory – We only see him briefly, but he helps fight against Prisoner Zero with the evacuating of the hospital and he is the one who helps the Doctor figure out Prisoner Zero is masking itself from the Atraxi by tapping into people’s dreams who are in a coma. You see how powerless he feels for a lot of it too, as Amy doesn’t admit they are a couple to the Doctor. He still does quite well though and respects Amy.

Prisoner Zero – What an awesome baddie, this enemy who committed unknown crimes is the haunting space eel thing that can shape shift into multiple people, but can’t match the voices to the bodies. It is a good threat and wants to let the world burn rather than be caught again, so it’s motivation makes sense. It also gives the Doctor the warning that “Silence Will Fall,” which is a major plot point over Eleven’s Arc. The fact that it takes the Doctor and Amy together to defeat it along with the Atraxi is a testament to it’s power. Also it has the Moffat playing with senses deal as it’s true form can only be seen from the corner of your eye.

The Atraxi – Giant Space Crystal’s with large eyes…unless that is what their ships are…these guys are good Galactic Police as they cannot see beyond their own people until the Doctor reminds them that they can’t bully other planets or the Earth in their hunt for criminals or simply just because. He shows them the planet is defended.

The Doctor Revealed – The best reveal of the Doctor as a Time Lord happens in this, both as him visiting Amy as a child and when she is grown and his unawareness of how much time has passed, and at the end when the Atraxi scanning screen reveals how all the Numbered Doctors from 1-10 have defended the Earth. We see their images, ending on a big picture of Ten before Eleven walks through and tells them, “Basically, run.”

The cinematography – Is the best it’s ever been. This is a beautiful episode and it captures the mystery and subtext of scenes very well, as well as the threats of the Atraxi and Prisoner Zero.

The Music – This is some of Murray Gold’s best work, from Amy’s scene, to the Doctor Triumphant and the music inbetween. Definitely one of my favorite composers.

I highly recommend this episode. It keeps the fairy tale theme that is referenced in the episode, but unlike the fairy tale theme…the princess doesn’t need to be saved. The Doctor and Amy work together, and Rory too defeat the threats that appear and they are treated like fully fleshed out characters. Prisoner Zero is a great threat as are the Atraxi in their obliviousness and Matt Smith as the Peter Pan Doctor is a pleasure in all the joy he takes out of things. Definitely the best episode thus far…I’m curious how “Deep Breath” and the 12th Doctor are going to compare now…we shall see. Until then, bow ties are cool.

10 / 10. Good enemy, great Doctor, companions are partners against the threat, great music and cinematography, and establishes the Doctor as a Time Lord, that there were Doctor’s who came before, and his role as defender of the Earth.

11th Doctor