Villordsutch reviews Doctor Who Series 9 Episode 11 – ‘Heaven Sent’…
Doctor – It’s funny, the day you lose someone isn’t the worst. At least you’ve got something to do. It’s all the days they stay dead.
After last week’s rather brilliant but shocking episode “Face the Raven”, we were left with the Doctor being teleported away by an unknown force, leaving Clara dead in the Alien Street, Ashildr with her people she’s protecting and Rigsy no longer facing death. We didn’t know what to expect from this penultimate episode of Series 9; perhaps the Doctor facing those that brought the death of Clara, but what we didn’t expect was two billion years of purgatory for the Doctor and a recounting of The Shepherd Boy by the Grimm Brothers.
With a badly burnt hand pulling a lever before collapsing to the ground and fading awa,y the Doctor teleports into the room. Giving a threat to anyone who is listening – in the room – he makes his way out into the corridor, where he discovers this corridor appears to be part of an extremely high castle for the bottom cannot be seen when he looks from the window. As he searches for clues to his location he finds a used spade along with television monitors placed along the walls. They instantly come to life and the Doctor notices the live feed is coming from a Death like figure across from him. As it loom’s towards him – surrounded by flies – he makes his way towards the nearest door and as he begs it to open – which it does to reveal a brick wall – the creature goes to grab the Time Lord, and he confesses he’s scared to die. It’s at this point the figure halts, the castle halls rotate and the door now reveals a bedroom which the Doctor enters, shutting out the cloaked figure.
With the Doctor taking a breath in the room he looks up and notices an oil painting of Clara. Investigating it he’s puzzled to find out that it’s very old, and fails to notice the flies appearing in the room as the beast has returned. At the last moment the Doctor sees him, so begins to pluck petals from the flowers he found in the room and drops his eye-glass to the floor, the Time Lord then leaps from the bedroom window to a unknown drop. Retreating inside his head – represented by the TARDIS – and it’s here he questions his actions with a chalkboard and Clara Oswald, who doesn’t turn around. It appears the Doctor has deduced for the dropping of the petals and the spy-glass, plus timing the stool going through the window first, the smell of the air, and the noise of the splash that there is sea water just below the castle and seconds later he lands in it; however a gruesome discovery is made as the seabed is strewn with skulls.
With the Doctor mulling questions in his head regarding what made the creature stop and how he will win, he swims up to the surface finding a room with a roaring fire and a fresh set of the clothes matching the ones he’s currently wearing, drying by the fire. The Doctor believes that this house has been built to scare him and the monster is slowly following him to terrify him, for what reason he doesn’t know. Entering one room we discover an eight-sided flag stone missing from the floor with arrows pointing towards the hole, as he wanders down another corridor to a decaying garden area he discovers what looks like a freshly dug grave and he sets to unearthing whatever is below. Midway through the excavation the creature attempts to enter and the Doctor thwarts its ingress, with the lurching monster seeking an alternate route to the Time Lord. Looking to the stars, the Doctor notices something wrong with their placement however he proceeds to dig and it’s here he finds the stone which reads, “I am in 12”. At that moment the creature leaps out from behind the loose soil straight at the Time Lord.
Appearing once again within the represented TARDIS the Doctor retreats into his head as he works out how he got out of the first attack from creature. Here he deduces that confessions are needed to stop the beast from attacking, so the Doctor gives him one. He didn’t leave Gallifrey because he was bored, he left because he was scared and with this the creature retreats within itself and the Doctor scrambles out of the grave, where he watches the castle rotate its numerous levels; as the camera pulls back we see the castle is isolated in the middle of a vast ocean.
The Doctor monitors the time in the prison to work out how long the creature takes from getting from one end of the castle to the other. He has the maximum of 82 minutes to eat, sleep and work, but his goal is to find Room 12. Discovering the rooms tidy up after themselves, he proceeds to wander the corridors until one day he stumbles across the teleport room. Here he finds a skull and the word “Bird” written into the dust by the skull. When he utters the word “Bird”, a door opens which leads him to a room up above the castle, once again the position of the stars upset him as they are around 7000 years out-of-place. Slowly the creature creeps up behind him, as it gets closer the Doctor tells it about the Dalek Hybrid and confesses he knows it’s real and where it is.
As he leaves the chamber he discovers the entrance to Room 12 and it is now open, making his way down the corridor he finds the TARDIS trapped behind a material 400 times as strong as diamond and twenty feet thick. Taking himself back into his head he speaks to Clara about how he is lonely; with this Clara tells him to “…get up off his arse and win!”. He begins to recount the Grimm Fairy Tale “The Shepherd Boy” as he punches the solid wall in-front of him. As he punches this wall, the creature slowly makes its way up, the Doctor offers it no more confessions but only the truth, that the hybrid is a dangerous secret and it needs to be kept; the beast grabs his head, violently burning the Doctor. With the Doctor dragging himself to the teleport chamber he explains that a teleporter is basically a 3D-printer, and with this he connects himself to the chamber and produces another Doctor in the teleport chamber again and the story begins again.
We discover this loop has already ran for 7000 years and we proceed to watch the loop run again for the Doctor for another 2 billion years until finally his bloody punches crack through the substance encasing the TARDIS. However stepping through the light it’s revealed the Doctor has been inside a confession dial and he’s now standing upon a desert planet. He’s then approached by a small boy for which the Time Lord stops the boy and tells him to, “Go to the city, find somebody important and tell them I’m back. Tell them I know what they did and I’m on my way. And if they ask you who I am tell them I came the long-way round.” As the camera sweeps across the horizons the planet the Doctor is standing on is revealed to be Gallifrey.
Here is a Doctor Who episode that is sheer perfection, and one that really shows Peter Capaldi as the Doctor. It brings in the tricks of the trade of the renegade Time Lord, but also the fragile glass-like frame that is holding together our Doctor too. Not only this, but Steven Moffat delivered such an unbelievable tale which saw the Doctor held in his own purgatory for 2 billion years were he fought against an unknown external force along his own repeated mourning with each and every lifetime. Then to be shown Gallifrey at the end of the episode at which the Doctor sent the messenger off with his threat; I couldn’t have asked for more in this episode.
Everyone knows after a fantastic episode it must follow with a poor, dull episode and Steven Moffat has now destroyed that rule forever. Heaven Sent was truly a piece of Doctor Who history that deserves to be given the stamp of “Classic”. Not only this anyone that still bleats that Peter Capaldi isn’t very good as Doctor Who needs to never speak to me again.
You can watch two trailers for the concluding episode “Hell Bent” here at Flickering Myth.
Villordsutch likes his sci-fi and looks like a tubby Viking according to his children. Visit his website and follow him on Twitter.