Doctor Who Recap Series 9, Episode 11 – “Heaven Sent”
In “Heaven Sent,” the Doctor has been teleported into what seems to be a large castle. Still angry about Clara’s death, the Doctor threatens whoever it is keeping him there. However, he begins to be chased by a figure in a veil and covered in flies; he soon realizes that the figure has been literally plucked out of his nightmares and that the things in the castle were deliberately put there to scare him. The Doctor becomes trapped in a bedroom, and in order to escape the Veil, he throws a stool at the window and jumps out into the water below. While he’s falling, we get a look into his mind, which is basically a TARDIS with a silent Clara. In his mind, Clara is writing questions to him on a blackboard, helping him to figure his way out. After coming out of the lake, he goes back into the castle, where he finds dry clothes identical to his own. He changes into the dry clothes and goes back to wandering the castle and keeping out of sight of the Veil. As he explores, he finds what seems to be a grave in a small courtyard with a shovel near it. As he digs, the Veil comes back, but he is able to fend it off. He continues digging until he finds stone at the bottom, which says “I am in 12.” In that moment, the Veil appears again, and the Doctor goes back into his TARDIS-mind to figure a new way out. Afterwards, the Doctor spends his time searching for Room 12 and dodging the Veil. He goes back to the teleport room, where he finds a skull and the word “Bird” written in the sand. Soon, he makes it outside. He sees the stars, and sees that it seems he has traveled 7,000 years into the future. Confused, as this can’t be possible, he goes back into the castle, where he finally finds Room 12. Within Room 12 is a wall of azbantium, a substance 400 times harder than diamond. The Veil appears again and he realizes that he needs to make another confession, this time that he knows the identity of “The Hybrid” a prophesized figure said to be half-Dalek, half-Time Lord. He then proceeds to punch the azbantium until the Veil burns him, which makes him begin dying. He has just enough time to crawl back to the teleport room and use his remaining energy to power the teleport again, which has his print hardwired. He dies powering the teleport, but another copy of himself is teleported into the room, and he goes through everything again and again until in 2 billion years he has completely punched through the azbantium. On the other side, he comes out of his own Confession Dial. He appears to be in a desert, where he finds a child and tells him to send a message that he has arrived. We find out then that he is finally come to Gallifrey.
So I think that this episode has officially bumped Series 9 up my list of favorite Doctor Who seasons (list coming soon). I had no idea what to expect with “Heaven Sent,” and I was curious to see how they would portray the Doctor after Clara’s death. We haven’t really seen the Doctor alone since the Tenth Doctor’s losing Donna, and in that he pretty much went rogue. With the Eleventh Doctor, we know that he pretty much spent a hundred years in solitude after the Ponds, but we never really saw that much of it. Here, we see the Doctor literally right after Clara’s death; he knows that whoever brought him here also had a hand in killing Clara, and while he promised Clara he would take revenge he threatens whoever it is keeping him there that he doesn’t always listen.
I thought the tone of this episode was very dark, but unlike in Series 8 it didn’t hit us over the head with it. While there was the Veil, and the empty castle, the darkest part about the episode was the Doctor and his grief, and I thought it was really smart of them to ruminate on that rather than make the storyline overpower it. Most of the dialogue was him talking to himself, though he acted as if he were speaking to Clara in order to get himself to act. In a way, it felt like a reverse of what happened in the beginning of season 8; the Eleventh Doctor helped Clara to accept Twelve, and here his memory of Clara helped him to do what needed to be done.
The whole time loop thing, where it took him 2 billion years to knock down the azbantium was so great. The fact that he had to keep dying in order to get through it was so interesting and the slow reveal was really great. Also I love how he was imprisoned in his own Confession Dial. It’s been referenced a couple of times throughout the season, but I didn’t really think it would be as significant as it has become. Given the appearance of Gallifrey in the end, it now makes sense why Ashildr asked for it. I love how it both contained the Doctor’s worst nightmares and required him to make confessions in order to stall his worst fears. I’m wondering if the Time Lords imprisoned him inside because he didn’t give them his name in “The Time of the Doctor”? Also TIME LORDS. WE’RE ON GALLIFREY! I’m so excited for the next episode, I need my TARDIS to go forward in time to next Saturday.
“Oh you’re a gardener, I hate gardening. What sort of person has a power complex about flowers? It’s dictatorship for inadequates. Or, to put it another way, it’s dictatorship.”
“Doors are notoriously cross.” Lol sorry for never talking to you, doors.
“Why is it always me?” – The Doctor and Neville should make a club.
“Dying properly can take days. That’s why we like to die among our own kind. They know not to bury us early.” *tears*
The skulls at the bottom of the lake reminded me of Inferi and I’m really glad they didn’t wake
“The rooms are all jumbled up as if they move around” – like Hogwarts, but more horrible.
What is The Hybrid??? It’s supposed to be half-Dalek, half-Time Lord, and in the end the Doctor says it’s him (which would make “Into the Dalek” and the rest of series 8 make more sense) but he could just be trolling…I guess we’ll see.
I love how they make his mind the TARDIS with Clara there. He always talks about how you wouldn’t want to be in his mind, and seeing it as the TARDIS sort of makes sense: it’s bigger on the inside. It’s also a break from the creepy castle.
TIME LORDS. GALLIFREY. YESSSSSSSSSSS.