Doctor Who Series 9 Episode 11 'Heaven Sent' Review

Okay. No muss, no fuss, no beating around the bush, no messing about, just straight to the point; 'Heaven Sent' is quite possibly the best episode I've ever seen. If there ever was an episode of 'Doctor Who' that could easily be put in an art museum, this is it. For the longest time I thought 'Listen' would be the magnum opus of the Peter Capaldi era... but oh man was I wrong.

I might have to stop calling episodes awesome by this point because it's gotten really redundant by this point. There's just no way to get around it, Series 9 just works. And judging by the reaction 'Heaven Sent' has received around the internet, I don't think I am exaggerating when I say that this episode is going to go down in history as one of the finest we have ever gotten. Whether or not it is the best piece of television 'Doctor Who' has ever produced overall has yet to be decided as we should give it a couple of months and let it breathe first. If its staying power is strong enough and this kind of excitement and wonder remains in a year or two, then we know for certain just HOW good 'Heaven Sent' is (and the same goes for Series 9 in general). What I personally do know for sure right now, is this is definitely the best episode the show has produced since at least 'The Big Bang' from Series 5, and it's an unbelievably strong contender to be the best ever.

Peter Capaldi is utterly transcendent here. Encapsulating everything we know about the Doctor in 50 minutes and bringing us the best performance any actor has ever given on the show. He has proven time and time again throughout Series 9 that he is a magnificent actor and the BBC would be incompetently stupid not to promote these performances for a plethora of awards when the time comes. From his speech in 'The Zygon Inversion' to his angry hatred towards Me (not me, Me) in 'Face the Raven' to this entire episode from beginning to end. If you are someone who stopped watching because the Doctor no longer looked like a dashing young gentleman... then I seriously pity you. This is an actor who singlehandedly carries all the emotional baggage of this episode and it's still easily one of the most emotional episodes ever made. It's hard to even comprehend how good he is with words because because (as I always do) I praise him in each every review like he's the second coming or something - and yet here he tops everything he has done. What can I even say about an actor like that?

He is also blessed here by a magnificent script by Steven Moffat who proves without a shadow of a doubt why he is the showrunner and that no matter how flawed aspects of his era have been - he still remains the best writer the new series has had. 'Heaven Sent' is poetic, multilayered and downright ingenius. Moffat has been saying for months how this has been the most difficult script he has ever written, but the end result (and probably the greatest achievement of it) makes it seem like it was a walk in the park. The narrative unfolds so effortlessly well that you really have to applaud him for being able to pen episodes as strong as this even after ten years of writing for the show. The rewatch value here is incredible as you constantly pick up on more and more things to like about it or different ways to interpret what's actually going on. And thankfully all of it is being shot by the brilliant Rachel Talalay who returns after the astonishing work she did on 'Dark Water' and 'Death In Heaven' last year. She brings such an Ingmar Bergman-esque feel to the whole thing in a way 'Doctor Who' has never really done before (again continuing the risks Series 9 has been taking). This is the best looking episode I've ever seen on television.

The final piece of the puzzle that truly makes this episode what it is, is Murray Gold who continues to top himself. This is his finest hour, bringing us a whole new style of music that again reminds me of Ingmar Bergman. It is through these main four people working in harmony that this episode works as well as it does.

The Veil itself is not a monster that will stand to be one of the classics, but it serves this story perfectly. It is not a creature that even tries to draw attention to itself and there is really nothing special about it other than that it is always walking towards you, reminiscent of 'It Follows'. The idea of a creature always walking towards you and won't stop until you're dead is scary and honestly done way better here than in that aforementioned movie. The presence of The Veil is always there as you never get the feeling that the Doctor is in a safe place. Naturally we probably won't see The Veil ever again and I will be very thankful for that as I felt it was used very appropiately here and any other appearances would just lessen its ties to this episode.

Steven Moffat bringing the mind palace from 'Sherlock' into the show worked surprisingly well. I will admit I was a bit hesitant once it first appeared but the more it was used - the more appropiate it felt for this kind of story and by the end it makes for some heart breaking scenes as we truly get into the mind of the Doctor. In terms of exploring the Doctor's character, no single episode has ever done it as well as this.

Overall it is through the brilliant metaphors, poetic dialogue, pitch perfect editing and Peter Capaldi, Steven Moffat, Rachel Talalay and Murray Gold working together in complete harmony - that 'Heaven Sent' transcends everything else I have seen on Television for a long time and emphasizes that 'Doctor Who' is at the top of its game right now. It is time to send this show to the Emmys. 'Heaven Sent' truly is heaven sent.


- Lucas


Post a Comment