Doctor Who: Heaven Sent review

Posted on Dec 5, 2015


The Storyline

Heaven Sent by Stuart Manning - 11

Heaven Sent by Stuart Manning

This story starts with the Doctor talking about life and its meaning as scenes of a fortress are shown, of a mysterious hand at controls, of a melting hand in the sand. And then the Doctor materializes in the fortress, seemingly alone.

He works out where he could possibly be and speaks aloud to his mysterious captor whilst television screens turn on showing he is being filmed and a figure watching him from across the courtyard in another room in a cloak that catches up with him, a mere few feet from him now. The Doctor is scared of this monster as says he is scared of dying, when suddenly his pursuer stops much to the surprise of the Doctor, frozen in time.

He enters a room to find a painting of Clara and then the creature finds him again as the Doctor runs and jumps out of the window, falling and yet ending up in the Tardis where there is a figure with its back to him that seems to be Clara.

He works out his fall in the Tardis and lands in the water below. His chalkboard starts writing questions in his Tardis whilst his other self sees thousands of skulls below water. He enters another room in the castle to find the same clothes he is wearing dry by a fireplace so he changed leaving the wet ones to dry.

As he asks questions aloud the chalkboard answers him back. What is holding him there? He moves around the castle into an overgrown neglected courtyard finding a spade like earlier. It seems he is being ordered to dig and the chalkboard agrees with him.

Still he is being watched as he digs, flies everywhere. He goes to the door from which he entered to find the wraith waiting for him and the Doctor quickly shuts the door. The TV screen also seems to show where the reaper-like thing is going. As he digs he finds a sign saying you are in 12? What does this mean? The Wraith jumps out and he is back in the Tardis with the mysterious Clara figure writing questions on the chalkboard. Suddenly he is back in the hole and tells the creature he left Gallifrey because he was scared.

The Doctor looks out of the castle to an endless sea, two skulls bobbing and sinking to join others below. The castle keeps moving, recycling itself, confusing the Doctor, thinking he has no way out, stuck forever with his tormentor.

He finds a skull with wires attached and a word in the sand saying Birds. He then finds Room 12 and enters it but finds nothing. He goes to the parapet of the castle looking at the stars realizing they are in the wrong place whilst behind him the reaper stands, the Doctor admitting he knows of the Hybrid; a thing that is half Timelord, half death and fears it, not knowing what side it is on, good or evil?

The creature stops and everything changes again, and he finds himself at another barrier blocking him from his escape and answer. His heart breaking he angrily questions why he must be the one to do things and Clara briefly comes back to tell him to win.

Back at the barrier he decides to fight, the Wraith closing in behind as he hits the barrier repeatedly. The Wraith finally gets him, enclosing its hands around the Doctor and promptly disappears leaving the Doctor fallen, badly injured as he watches himself suffer on screen in his Tardis.

The Doctor realises he has not time travelled or that the stars are in the wrong place and that there are two versions of him trapped, one of which has been for 7000 years! He works out that he is caught in a loop of which he cannot seem to escape and so it all begins again and again and again, nothing changing, always staying the same.

Eventually he smashed the barrier and finds himself on another planet, realising he was trapped in his confession dial. Suddenly he realises he is home. He is back on Gallifrey and that he is the Hybrid of legend.

The Review

Just wow! What an outstanding episode that was, so good in fact I watched it again not long afterwards. There were so many questions with very little answers and finally, after many years, the Doctor returns home to Gallifrey but it seems he may not be going home in glory, but as a conqueror?

This was pretty much a standalone episode for Peter Capaldi and if people are still unsure about him then I do not think they will be now for he controlled every moment and every scene.

He simply blew the screen apart and for me is now the ultimate Doctor, up there with Tom Baker. With the reintroduction of Gallifrey, things will get interesting now and I only hope that this is a permanent thing for this is a dynamic that needs to be there. The Doctor, the Tardis and Gallifrey are all as one and keeping them separated for very long periods does not work to the shows best abilities.

A slight problem I had was at the end when it was revealed that the Doctor is half human and half-Timelord. Now this particular storyline has been chopped and changed over many years, even with the updated series where he was meant to be fully Gallifreyan and yet they have gone back to the awful American backed film of 1996 where the brilliant Paul McGann as the eighth regeneration played him and in that it was revealed he was half human, yet when the rebooted series started his was fully born and bred from Gallifrey. There are so many inconsistencies in Doctor Who that you have to wonder who the team of researchers are for the writing can seem lazy and slack at times but tries to cover it up in other ways. A lot of people want Moffat out as head writer but with an episode such as this I think he still has legs even if it is questionable. For instance, is the Doctor now billions of years old as he was trapped for so long, the skulls all his other self in a timeloop or is this a trick? I suppose this will be revealed in the last episode next week until more is told in the Christmas special with the return of River Song played by the brilliant Alex Kingston.

All in all I loved it though and hope it keeps to its traditional roots with no more drastic changes being forced on us such as a female regeneration, the whole Missy/Master thing, the half human/Timelord and a missing/reappearing Gallifrey, the Doctor’s name along with many other things.

As I always say, if it ain’t broke then don’t fix it. When the writers and producers think that they are better than a fifty-two year old show you have to question their futures and also the show if they change it in any drastic way. Keep the show fresh by all means but do not change it for the sake of it. If I can think that way then why can’t they? Just leave things be and be inventive in other ways. I have many ideas written down that does not involve change in any major way.

Anyway, I look forwards to the last episode before the Christmas special and wait in baited breath to see what they will do to Doctor Who history…

If you are interested in the above poster or any of the brilliant work done by Stuart Manning you can buy his prints and he does commissions too. You can view his work here and buy them here.

The Cast

Peter Capaldi – The Doctor
Jenna Coleman – Clara

Jami Reid-Quarrell – Veil/Wraith


Writer – Steven Moffat
Director – Rachel Talalay