What happens when “Doctor Who” goes completely out there with an episode, and keeps things simple in some ways stylistically? Apparently, you get one of the finest episodes that we’ve ever seen of the show.
Last season, we had a story in “Listen” that provided such an aesthetic, as it tackled the issue of literal and metaphorical monsters dwelling underneath beds and other places. This season, we have “Heaven Sent,” a singular story told almost entirely with no dialogue beyond Peter Capaldi. (There was a brief Jenna Coleman cameo in here, but mostly out of a manifestation of his own mind.) He tackled issues of life and death, survival, and understanding. He was imprisoned, but was it his own prison? Can he save Gallifrey when he cannot even save himself?
We suppose that the closest thing to a shocker in here is the surprise reveal that the Doctor may very well be the hybrid himself. We wonder if this is a tip of the cap to Paul McGann and the comments of the Doctor having a human mother. Is that now canon? It’s hard to say. The same goes is whether or not the Doctor is even the same man anymore after being trapped and tormented by the mysterious-but-terrifying Veil for thousands of years.
Plot-wise, we’re not entirely sure all that much happened other than getting the character into a position where he can start to consider Gallifrey. With that being said, the writing of Steven Moffat coupled with the performance of Peter Capaldi as someone whimsical and tormented was outstanding. This may be the first time that we’ve ever said a performance on this show is truly Emmy-caliber. Well done, and we believe that this particular story will sit with us a while. Grade: A.
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