Doctor Who: Heaven Sent

So, this is it! Heaven Sent was the first part of the Series 9 Finale of Doctor Who. My thoughts are still a little scrambled, but let’s try and tackle this anyway. As always, Spoilers are ahead! Please don’t read it if you haven’t watched the episode yet.

heaven sent

What was it about?

The Doctor arrives in his very own torture castle with projections from his memories and bad dreams. Not finding a way out, he is forced to relive the same scenarios 2 billion years until he can create a passage out of his personal nightmare, having to make some confessions on the way. He eventually ends up on Gallifrey and is hell bent on making the people pay who were responsible for Clara’s death and his entrapment. 

My thoughts?

I don’t think I have as much to say this week as I may have had in previous posts. I was originally very excited to have a Doctor-centered episode and I am not sure what I was expecting, but it didn’t quite hit home with me. I get the slow storytelling, but the first half of Heaven Sent was just a little boring to me nonetheless. I was hoping for more emotion, more devastation on the Doctor’s part, but somehow I didn’t really get that. I know that Twelve isn’t the type of person to dissolve in tears and he obviously had the tiny issue of needing to survive somehow, but there were only few moments where I really felt his pain (hint: it was Clara’s actual cameo). Maybe it’s just me, but a lot of the time Twelve is a little too composed for me, even when he is supposedly scared for his life.

Also, whatever was “chasing” him through the castle simply didn’t scare me. If anything, the sound of flies just annoyed me. I hate it so much! Most of it was cleverly done though, I am just wondering why room 12 is the only one not resetting itself like the other rooms. In addition to that, I have to say that I feel quite proud because I mentioned to a friend that I think the castle is like a real life confession dial and then lo and behold it turned out to be the confession dial. I got something right!!! I still can’t believe he hit a material seven times thicker than diamond for two billion years. He couldn’t remember it all, which is helpful I guess, but still … that’s such a long time. A great mind-blowing cycle though!

I realise now that I’ve made it all sound very bad, which it wasn’t. I’m just saying that it could have been better. The second half of the episode was more intriguing to me because it picked up in pace and the puzzle pieces started to put themselves together. The final confession of the Doctor, the one that he is the Hybrid, startled me though. Just like how? He’s clearly part Time Lord but what other master race is he made of? You can’t be a hybrid without being made of different components. (And yes I know about what the 8th Doctor said … are they seriously picking that up again?)

I’m really looking forward to next week’s conclusion. What did you think of Heaven Sent? Did it resonate with you or was it another miss of the season?

22 thoughts on “Doctor Who: Heaven Sent

  1. I get that it was a bit slow but for me that made it even more tense!
    I can’t even get over it. I thought it was the best episode of the season so far. Probably my favourite Capaldi episode!
    “The Hybrid is me” or “The Hybrid is Me” – omg it’s so clever. 😀

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  2. I thought it was pretty good. It kind of reminded me of a classic horror movie, with some elements from the movie It Follows. I also thought it was an interesting psychological thriller at times, probing deep into the Doctor’s fears and into his anger. I actually felt that anger. Twelve’s not the type to cry, he’s actually the type to bottle up his grief in the form of anger, so I definitely felt that. His talking to Clara was the only way he’d allow himself to show grief.
    And I loved the twist, that the Doctor is constantly solving the maze and dying and resetting himself so that he can eventually get through the maze. Though the fact that the maze is a confession dial really surprised me. I didn’t think that was what a confession dial did. Or maybe his is just special. That’s the only part I’m confused about.
    All told, I’m looking forward to next week. I wonder if the Doctor really will become his warlike self again. And if he does, I wonder how he’ll recover himself.

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    • We were bound to disagree at some point. I get the anger on Twelve’s part and while I don’t think it was a bad episode at all, it just didn’t come off as strong to me as it did to others.
      I loved the twist as well. He can be glad that he didn’t remember the 2 billion years, that would hvae been the real torture.
      I kind of thought it was the confession dial as I’ve mentioned in the post. I was only confused why room 12 didn’t reset like the others did.

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      • I’m sure there’s a wibbly-wobbly explanation somewhere for that.
        Also, remember early on how the Doctor mentioned that he was basically taking part in theatre, a carnival haunted house? That reminded me that in the First Doctor serial “The Chase”, the Doctor and companions spend a short amount of time in a house that has Dracula, the Mummy, the Frankenstein monster, a banshee-like woman. The Doctor believed that he and his companions (and the Daleks, who were chasing them across time and space, hence the title of the serial), had somehow made it into a space or dimension based upon the human mind and what terrifies us. In reality it was a carnival haunted house that was closed due to a need for repairs. Thought I’d mention it, seeing as DW likes to reference itself in so many different ways.

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  3. I enjoyed it a little more than you did — for me, a big improvement over each of the last two weeks.

    Two points:

    1) The confession dial is Gallifreyan technology and part of the Matrix, so the entire scenario — dying 2 billion times — was virtual, taking place in the Matrix. Like having a dream that lasts years. Hence some of the discontinuities (like punching a wall in the same exact place 2 billion times creating a wide tunnel tall enough for a grown man to walk through, or 2 billion skulls not stacking up to rise high above the ocean).

    2) “The hybrid is me (the Doctor)” or “The hybrid is Me (what Ashildr calls herself)”? Based on the money shot of the sunglasses going on as he made that declaration, I’m going to guess the hybrid is the Doctor. The TV Movie created the half-human thing, and the book series (New Adventures, Eight Doctor Adventures) turned both of the Doctor’s parents into semi-recurring characters between 1997 and 2005. I’m wondering if Moffat will adapt from this going forward and give some overt explanation as to the Doctor’s parentage?

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