Well, I thought that I’d quickly share some of my rambling thoughts about today’s episode of “Doctor Who” called “Heaven Sent”. This is the second part of the series’ three-part finale.
Before I go any further, I should warn you that this review may contain PLOT SPOILERS, but I’ll try to avoid major ones.[EDIT: I’ve just changed the next paragraph slightly, since it inadvertantly contained more of a plot spoiler than I thought]
“Heaven Sent” begins with an ominous speech about how we are all followed by something in every moment of our lives. We see bloody footprints in the cold stone corridors of a castle. A burnt and bloodied hand twitches and moves in a pile of sand before falling lifeless. Yes, this isn’t your average episode of “Doctor Who”.
After this, a teleporter activates and The Doctor finds himself alone inside a strange castle-like building. A strange, shifting building. A strange building with screens in every room that happen to show the world from something else’s eyes. Something else that is moving towards The Doctor…
In case you haven’t guessed already, this is a horror episode. And, my god, what a horror episode it is!
Everything from the mysterious zombie-like creature to the gothic set design to the sea bed that is filled with nothing but skulls just oozes gothic creepiness. The best word for this episode would probably be “Lovecraftian“.
Everything from the constantly following creature, to the Doctor’s gradually deteriorating emotional state, to the castle’s strange shifting design could have been taken straight from the pages of a H.P.Lovecraft story and, yes, this is as dramatic as it sounds.
Although this episode was touted as being the first episode in the show’s history to only include The Doctor, this isn’t strictly true.
Since the episode is punctuated by scenes that take place within The Doctor’s mind (which looks a lot like the TARDIS), Clara makes a few appearances here – leaving mysterious advice written on a blackboard or, in one scene, actually talking to The Doctor. But, despite this, you still get the sense that The Doctor is completely and utterly alone as he explores the dark, mysterious castle.
Still, Peter Capaldi’s performance in this episode is absolutely stunning. There’s no other way to describe it, this is probably his best episode as The Doctor.
Another astonishingly cool thing about this episode are the sheer number of clever plot twists here. Ok, I guessed the episode’s main plot twist about a third of the way through the episode (the clothes by the fire gave it away)- but it’s still revealed in an astonishingly dramatic and creepy way near the end of the episode.
Not only that, the way that the main plot twist handled is surprisingly inventive – and some of the Doctor’s more nonsensical actions gradually start to make sense during a dramatic montage near the end of the episode.
The very last scene of the episode also sets everything up for the beginning of the next episode – which seems like it’s going to be an epic sci-fi episode 🙂
All in all, this episode is amazing. I know that I’ve thought that other episodes were “the best episode in the series“, but this one towers above them all!
It’s an astonishingly good horror episode that is filled with a level of psychological and dramatic complexity that is on a par with, if not better than, many great horror movies. It’s dark, it’s gothic and it’s absolutely compelling.
If I had to give it a rating out of five, it would get six and a half!