Saturday, November 28, 2015

Review: "Heaven Sent"

When we last left the Doctor, something terrible had happened. Just as he has a moment to posture and pose, he's teleported...

And we get to "Heaven Sent". Spoilers.

You were warned.

The Doctor appears in a chamber just after some hapless, smouldering bloke collapses to the ground and turns to ash, leaving a single word drawn in the dust: "Bird".

The Doctor finds himself in a strange castle surrounded by a seemingly endless sea. In most of the chambers of the castle is a monitor. From the monitor, the Doctor can see the castle from the perspective of the other inhabitant: a shambling, shrouded, fly-encrusted creature with claw-like hands that slowly, inexorably follows him. It's conjured from his darkest nightmares so he's got good reason to haul ass and get away from it.

After some cat-and-mouse, he learns that he can make the creature freeze by confessing a secret.

The Doctor quickly divines that he's being interrogated. After an involved internal lecture to the now-deceased Clara, he puzzles his way through to the exit from the chamber: a wall of some diamond-like substance. To open it, he simply must confess his arbitrary dark secret of the season, what he knows of "the Hybrid."

If you haven't been paying attention, "the Hybrid" is the Moffant McGuffin of the season. Some kind of creature, presumed to be half Time Lord and half Dalek that will destroy Gallifrey or something.

You know? Don't ask. It's a Moffatt thing and is probably best ignored.

Anyway, the Doctor refuses to reveal the whole Hybrid thing (or admit it's really about these fancy cars he developed on Earth or something). He lets the creature kill him but he doesn't die immediately. He slowly dies and claws his way back to the teleport chamber. He figures out the teleport thingie has a backup of him somewhere. He does Doctor-finagling and reboots himself by vaporizing himself, which is how the episode started.

Turns out that "Bird" refers to the story of the bird that pecked its way through a mountain or something similarly-silly. The comparison here is that the Doctor is slowly, one incarnation at at a time, punching his way through the super-diamond wall somehow over a billion years or two.


Okay, so he finally gets through. The creature disintegrates as the door is open and the Doctor exits to find out he was in his Confession Dial, the other McGuffin thingie that's been a season-theme.

And he's popped out on Gallifrey.

Oh, and he claims he's the Hybrid.

So... yeah. As an exercise in watching Capaldi do his thing, I enjoyed the episode. I can gloss over the logistical issues of flesh-and-blood eventually punching through a wall harder than diamond. He's a Time Lord. Whatever works.

Overall, I'm super-tired of these ridiculous and stupid story arcs that Moffatt dreams up. The whole constant deconstruction of the Doctor thing he does really poisons the show for me.

And I'd be willing to deal with it if his deconstructions weren't such utter rubbish.

This whole Hybrid thing came out of nowhere and is just very... um... stupid.

I mean, if you're going to deal with why the Doctor left Gallifrey, it seems to me anyone who has watched the show would take cues from the very beginning of the show.

The Doctor and his granddaughter, Susan, stole a TARDIS (she claimed to have created the name, so arrogance runs in the family, I expect). It's implied they fled some trouble from their home but it wasn't explored until much later. Largely 'cause they didn't have a concept of Time Lords until the Second Doctor's era.

So, back to history: why make up arbitrary bullshit reasons for the Doctor's exit? We know he had at least one child, and presumably a spouse. It's been stated that he's lost family - presumably all of them - at some point. If he was popping off with his granddaughter, one can assume his children, and probably his spouse, were dead.

Instead of going into ridiculous prophesies, why not simply explore how his spouse and children died? Why did the Doctor skip off Gallifrey with his granddaughter instead of just raising her on their homeworld?

Given that the Doctor was in his first incarnation when he skipped out, and how long Time Lords live, I'm curious how he had grandchildren. He must've been a horn-dog by Time Lord standards, but that's neither here nor there.

Oh well. Next week is the end of another lackluster season of Moffatt's reign. Sigh.

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