Doctor Who’s 9th (since the 2005 revival) series nears its end as Peter Capaldi’s 12th Doctor shows how great he is, by himself… for nearly an hour.
Trapped in a world unlike any other he has seen, the Doctor faces the greatest challenge of his many lives. One final test. And he must face it alone. Pursued by the fearsome creature known only as the Veil, he must attempt the impossible. If he makes it through, Gallifrey is waiting…
Note: Full Spoilers From Here On Out!
“Why does every alien castle look like its from Earth?”
Where to start? I mean, the story is literally The Doctor running around a castle while being stalked by a silent , ghoulish image from his childhood nightmares for 55 minutes, and it works. Peter Capaldi is absolutely amazing in this, carrying the whole episode on his back with ease. The term “acting tour de force” is used a lot (well, quite often, anyway) but this really was a tour de force. Fear, confusion, loneliness, anger, realisation and pain, all shown with subtle hints and facials. Great stuff.
Then there’s the plot. Steven Moffat can either be brilliant or all flash and no substance, and here he is brilliant. He’s used time loops before, but this is great. The Doctor arrives in a matter transporter, therefore every fiber of his being is recreated by the transporter’s computer, gets chased around the castle (including seeing a mountain of skulls under the water) and eventually arrives at a super thick diamond-like wall leading to the exit. He punches it a few times before being nearly killed, leaving him just enough life left to crawl to the transporter and tell it to resend his data to the pod, meaning a new Doctor arrives as if he’s just left, and goes through the whole process again. Each time discovering a skull that each time ends up rolling in the water. His previous copy’s skull. So the mountain of skulls is a mountain of Doctor skulls, as he constantly chips away at the diamond block over and over, each clone going through the same routine over and over until final, after something close to four billion years, the diamond wall breaks through to the other side. The sequence showing this as the Doctor is reciting the poem about the bird pecking a mountain of diamond before dying over and over, each time we see The Doctor at the moment of realisation saying an ever increasing amount of years must have passed… amazing.
Oh and the musical score throughout the episode was great, well paced and not too noisy, especially during the above-mention time-lapse segment.
“I don’t care what you tell me, my keys are here somewhere!”
Not much! I am a bit confused as to the fact that it turns out the whole prison is the “confession dial” that he’s been going on about all series, and that he was last seen giving to Ashildr last episode, and yet he breaks out of it onto Gallifrey, where his dial is lying in the sand. How did it get there? I have no problem with the castle being in a small dial, because Time Lord technology is all about being bigger on the inside, but how did it go from Ashildr’s hands to Gallifrey? Ah well.
Well, if you have to be stuck somewhere for a few billion years dying over and over again, at least it has a nice view?
Not much. It’s a one man show, with no real connection to the past of the show, with the obvious exceptions being mentioning Clara’s death from the previous episode, and the fact it ends with the locked-in-a-pocket-dimension Gallifrey being an accessible place again.
“Oh God! Deja vu!”
Well, what else is there to say? I can’t remember the last time an episode of anything gripped me, entertained me, and made me gush about it so much. I honestly can’t help it, it almost made me want to applaud my TV, as if it has something to do with the episode creation and deserved some credit. Top stuff. Don’t miss it!