Series Eight, Episode Five
The Doctor and Clara find themselves in a locked room with a cyborg and a mutated human, all four having had their memories wiped, and are told by someone named The Architect they have to rob the most secure bank in the world… and then find out they are in the bank already and security are coming to kill them. There’s being thrown in at the deep end and there’s that!
The cyborg is named Psi, and is a computer hacker who has robbed banks before. The mutated human is named Saibra, who can take on the appearance of anyone she touches. They were clearly chosen to take part in the heist because of possessing those skills, which they both use over the course of the episode. But we learn that they both had personal reasons for going on the heist. Psi had deleted his memory one time he was being interrogated by police, so as not to accidentally betray his friends or family. He wants to regain his memories. Saibra considers her condition to be a curse, as she can never be truly close to anybody. She wants a cure so she can be a normal human, or at least something that will keep it under control. The Architect has hidden the objects that will allow them to do that in the vault.
The bank is managed by a businesswoman named Ms. Delphox, who is very similar in appearance and personality to Madame Kovarian. She isn’t quite as sinister as Kovarian, but then that’s not saying much. The bank has incredibly tight security, and their biggest weapon is a humanoid slug-faced creature named The Teller, which has psychic abilities to read peoples minds to see if they are guilty, and if they turn out to be it can turn their brains into soup.
Our team make their way through the bank vaults, having to escape The Teller a few times along the way. There are revelations galore as the episode reaches it’s conclusion. We’re led to believe that Saibra and Psi chose to commit suicide rather than die via the Teller, using devices which they think will disintegrate them. It turns out the devices are teleporters, and they both return to rescue the Doctor and Clara. We find out when we meet the boss of the bank, Director Karabraxos, that Ms. Delphox is in fact merely a clone of her, and Karabraxos makes it a matter of course that she destroys her clones the instant they displease her. The Architect turns out to be none other than the Doctor himself, he arranged the whole thing. The reason for it was that he gives the number to Karabraxos knowing she will call him one day. When she is very old, Karabraxos does call the Doctor, saying she regrets something and if he can she wants it put right. The day of the heist is the day when a solar storm will destroy the bank. Karabraxos escapes with very little of the treasure she spent a lifetime collecting, but that it seems is not ultimately what she regrets. The Teller had worked for them because they were keeping its mate locked in a vault, and the entire point of the heist was to rescue the two of them and return them to their home planet. Phew! I’m not even sure that’s everything. It’s almost as tangled a plot as the Metal Gear Solid series. I suspect Time Heist might have made a good video game actually.
This episode had a lot of twists and turns, and I didn’t see any of them coming. It was certainly adventurous, time traveling bank heist in a race against time before it is destroyed by a solar storm. There was some amusing satire of banks. It had two very good guest characters in Psi and Saibra, which survive the episode, and I suspect we’ll likely see both again at some point. They could potentially be great semi-regular companions in the same way Vastra, Jenny and Strax have been. Speaking of returning, I liked that we saw the memory worms from The Snowmen used again. It’s very unlikely we’ll see Director Karabraxos or Ms. Delphox again, but Keeley Hawes did a good job playing both of them. Even though they were technically the same person, they were subtly different. Karabraxos wasn’t as icy as Delphox, but she was a lot more cruel and ruthless. Time Heist did feel very like a filler episode, and maybe it has too much crammed into it, but that’s probably nitpicking. It was a good episode.