I do like it when the Doctor does something different. I mean, rarely a week goes by in which he’s not breaking and entering, trespassing or meddling with fixed points in time, but robbing a bank – that has the potential to be interesting…
[Spoilers below the line]
The idea of a mysterious “Architect” instructing the Doctor, Clara and two other people to rob the Bank of Karabraxos – a seemingly impossible task – is sold beautifully at the start. Like the amnesiac would-be bank robbers, we’re hustled into the story with such speed and efficiency that it’s a while before we’re given enough time to start piecing things together for ourselves.
I love the Teller and I love that we’re given such a whopping great clue right at the start (not that I noticed the orange overalls at the time and I misattributed the restraints – as I was meant to). And I enjoyed the line about encouraging honest financial transactions. I’m not saying we should turn the brains of the bankers who caused the global financial crisis to to soup, but it’s good to remind them that we haven’t forgotten, and won’t be forgetting anytime soon.
What I did work out at the third suitcase was who the Architect had to be – well, honestly, there’s only one person we know who is smart enough to break into the bank in advance of breaking into the bank, right?
I’m going to ignore the fact that this (combined with the fact that Steven Moffat is incapable of killing anyone and actually leaving them dead), sucked the jeopardy right out of the next 20 minutes. I can do this because, although Hat Jr doesn’t write these reviews, she was still invested in the story (which isn’t always the case) and stayed there until the end.
What I’m struggling to ignore is the vaguely abusive tone of the Doctor and Clara’s relationship – summed up by Psi pinpointing how good Clara is at making excuses for the Doctor. I’m more than ready for a flirt-free Doctor/Companion relationship, but there’s a nasty edge here that I’m increasingly disquieted by – the slaps, the aggression, the not-funny putdowns about Clara’s looks, the Doctor competing for Clara’s attention (“Robbing a bank, robbing a whole bank, beat that for a date”) – and I’d like it to stop please.
Anyway, back in the story, after two not-really-deaths we’ve reached the final-impossible-lock moment. Was I the only one hearing Alan Rickman’s voice as the solar storm made the lights flicker? (“You asked for miracles, Theo, I give you the FBI…”)
We’ve also reached the vault and found two of the three rewards. Unfortunately, the Teller has also caught up with our heroes… In a convenient, conventional narrative twist Keeley Hawes’ Ms Delphox doesn’t turn their brains to soup, and because Saibra and Psi didn’t really die our heroes are freed to finish their mission. And for all that I’m tired of love saving the day, I am happy that the purpose of saving the day was the love of two rhino-hooved, stalk-eyed beasties.
I do have a couple more quibbles. One of those is appropriation from other stories, and I say this as someone who generally loves a bit of crossover. But if you’re doing it on purpose you need to do it with love or wit (preferably both) and if you’re just being lazy, then you shouldn’t do it all. Neither dressing Keeley Hawes to resemble Miss Foster (Partners in Crime, series 4) or reusing the smoke-filled alien tanks from Torchwood: Children of Earth fits my first criteria. The Hustle-style shooting in early scenes did work, but needed to be used more – as it is, it feels like someone lost confidence in the joke halfway through.
I’m also puzzled as to why the bank guards were wearing army camouflage. They could have gone for Swat-team black and looked just as menacing. I’m hoping it’s not a weak way to sustain the soldiering theme touched on in Into the Dalek.
But overall, this was the strongest episode of this series and gets a thumbs up from both of us at Hat Towers. I have my qualms about next week (as did Hat Jr, who asked where the monsters were when watching the trailer…) but fingers crossed that I’m being unnecessarily pessimistic.
Posted by Jo the Hat