Well that was fun.
Two weeks after delivering a swashbuckling Robin Hood adventure for the ages, "Doctor Who" continued its solid Series 8 run with a straightforward "Oceans Eleven" meets "New Earth" (with a little bit of "X-Men" thrown in for good measure) bank robbery episode, "Time Heist." Overall, the story really worked, giving the Doctor and Clara one of their most thrilling, fast-paced, and consistently engaging adventures yet as they robbed the galaxy's most wealthy space-bank.
What's that, you say? The Doctor and Clara robbed a bank? Well, yes. They did. But the Doctor and his Companion were not after money, and their final act endgame was a fine justification for their morally questionable actions. Let's dig in to the episode's biggest moments.
Danny Pink Gets Brushed Aside -- Again
When the episode began, Clara was preparing to go on yet another (probably crappy) date with Danny Pink. Of course, as we've all learned over the past few weeks, where there is Clara getting ready for a date, there is also, without fail, the Doctor getting ready to destroy it.
The Doctor wanted to take Clara on an adventure through time and space (or just to the beach), but a call to the TARDIS quickly changed everybody's plans. Just as the Doctor picked up and scolded Clara for scolding HIM about the dangers of picking up that mysterious phone, both of them were whisked away to a location unknown, sitting at a table with two complete strangers.
The Gang Loses Their Memories
At this point, mere minutes in, the thrilling adventure picked up big time. It quickly became clear that hours -- maybe even days -- had passed in the seconds between the phone call and this mysterious table-meeting, but the Doctor, Clara, and their two new friends remembered none of it. However, all four of them had recorded themselves giving their future, memory-wiped selves assurance that they agreed to this mission, so the Doctor knew that nothing particularly sinister was at play.
There was also, however, a message from "The Architect," saying that all four of them had agreed to rob this mysterious bank in which they were currently housed, a bank that incinerated people who were not members. The two new Companions were revealed to be Psi, a computer hacker "augmented human" who had already erased all of his memories before the heist, and Saibra, a "mutant human" who could instantly morph into any person she touched. (Hence the X-Men reference. Saibra was basically a less-blue, much less deadly Mystique.)
The reason why these two had joined the adventure was unclear to everyone involved, but the Doctor quickly assumed leadership (it's the eyebrows) and told the gang that all of them must have something they really, really want in that bank, otherwise none of them would have agreed to rob in. So, on they went...
A Sinister Teller Rears His Ugly Worm-Head
If the incineration wasn't bad enough, an even worse form of bank-death was soon revealed when the gang -- using Saibra's mutation to morph into a member, thus allowing them passage and eliminating the threat of instant death -- ventured into the common area. The Teller, a giant worm creature imprisoned by the bank as a full-time, unpaid bodyguard, walked up to random bank-goers to scan their minds for guilt. One poor soul must have been late on his cable bill or something, because the Teller locked into his brain waves and turned his head into a smashed-in pile of brain-soup. Brutal.
Our heroes then moved on, with Psi eventually proving his worth by using his completely wiped brain (no friends, no family -- nothing that could get anyone he once loved hurt by his hacker activities) to pass the Guilt Test.
New Friends Die Horribly
Psi and Saibra were pretty solid one-off episode characters, since both of their issues directly mirrored some of Clara and the Doctor's. Saibra's eternal, tragic loneliness -- every time she touched someone, that person instantly saw themselves, and no one wants that -- clearly resonated with the Doctor, though Twelve is clearly still struggling (or not caring) about the whole "bonding with humanity" thing. Meanwhile, Psi choosing to wipe his own memories to protect those he loved the most, thus dooming himself to a life of unnecessary solitude, resonated with Clara, who is currently facing a similarly lonely life if she chooses the Doctor over her family and suitors like Danny Pink.
It was this quick-yet-solid characterization that made it actually sad when the two of them died at the hands of the Teller. Both went bravely as the Teller hunted the group (and their tasty brainwaves) around the bank, each one choosing to kill themselves instantly with the Architect's incineration syringe instead of losing all of their memories and becoming a bank-zombie.
Psi even chose to sacrifice himself when the creature locked in to Clara, adding some extra pain to the gut-punch that was losing these two selfless bank robbers.
... Just Kidding!
As Clara and the Doctor descended further into the heart of the bank, it was revealed that a planet-changing solar storm was on its way, which would seriously damage the financial institution's airtight defenses. The Doctor realized that this meant that the bank heist was also very likely a Time Heist -- someone knew exactly when the bank systems would be down -- hence the name of the episode.
The Doctor and Clara accessed the bank's main vault as the storm began, finding antidotes for both Psi's memory loss and Saibra's mutation via the Architect's detailed instructions. However, they were stopped by the bank manager Ms. Delphox before they were able to access their own prize, and the uptight bureaucratic ordered her lackeys to have them killed as she fled the storm-ravaged bank.
Of course, all was not lost for Clara and the Doctor, as her lackeys were revealed to be... Psi and Saibra! The death-juice was actually escape-juice, and both of them were teleported to a nearby ship then sent back in to save the day. Phew.
The Architect Is Revealed... And The Doctor Hates Him
With the gang all back together again, everyone set off to the vault to figure out why the Doctor and Clara ended up at the bank in the first place -- but all they found was a lived-in, lavish room populated by Ms. Delphox. Sorry, make that "all they found was a lived-in, lavish room populated by the bank's owner Karabraxos, who cloned herself a zillion times to make employees, then incinerated the ones she didn't like because she's bats--t crazy."
Karabraxos prepared to flee the bank, and as she rambled on about being an awful, self-hating rich person, the Doctor came to a realization -- the reason why he couldn't stand the Architect was because the Doctor was the Architect, and he'd need the Teller to try to steal his own memories from him if he wanted to get them back. He did get them back, of course, and gave the owner the TARDIS number on her way out, knowing that she would one day call him as she did in the beginning of the episode.
The Doctor and Clara's reason for robbing the bank ended up being pretty sweet -- years after the heist, Karabraxos, on her death bed, realized that she'd done the wrong thing by leaving the Teller alone to die in the bank. And by alone, I mean they trapped his poor giant worm wife in a vault closet and forced him to work for them lest they kill her, so she died too. KB realized the err of her ways in her old age, so she called up the Doctor and asked him to save them.
He did, returning the loving couple to their empty home planet (they were the last of their kind), and a flashback montage revealed the Doctor and Clara meeting with the elderly bank owner and picking out Psi and Saibra from the TARDIS database, hence giving us all of the lost memories that the Doctor had recovered. (Not Clara, though. Sorry, Clara.)
What did you think of "Time Heist?" Let us know your thoughts in the comments!