Monday, November 30, 2015

Sometimes Doctor Who has a plot so complex that I'm not sure I quite understand what's going on.

This post contains plot spoilers for "Heaven Sent," episode 11 of this season's Doctor Who.

I'm not sure what to think of this season's Doctor Who. First off, I'm actually not positive that I understand it either, but maybe that's the point? Last week we bid farewell to Clara Oswald, who (in being very much like the Doctor), had become reckless. Her death was uncomfortable, but I think the character of Clara had run its course so maybe this way was the best way to go forward? However, the result of Clara's death was the doctor being ensnared by Ashildr into his own confession dial, which (as it turns out) is a revolving castle where he's stalked by a monster that epitomizes his greatest fear.

The episode Heaven Sent (episode 11 of the 35th series of Doctor Who) was brilliant in its creepiness. There was the slow plodding monster that always caught up to the Doctor (82 minutes was as much of a lead as he could get on the thing if he ran from one side of the castle to the other). In order to open up new corridors, he needed to confess to the monster something deeply personal, which then caused everything to move as it does in Hogwarts.

Eventually, he'd find himself at room 12 which had some kind of wall harder than diamond and many feet thick (covering the way out which consequently led to Gallifrey--the doctor's home world which he kind of/sort of destroyed). He could hammer at it with his fists and make a small chip here and there like a bird pecking at a diamond. Then his greatest fear would catch him and...dying...the doctor would crawl back to a room where he would fry his own brain with an electrical charge to force a version of himself stuck in the hard drive of a computer to be born so he could start over again (have you guys ever seen the movie "The Prestige"? It's like that). After several billion years of doing this and repeatedly chipping at the wall, he finally breaks through to find Gallifrey. At least, that's what I got from it.

The episode was as creepy as Doctor Who gets too. It effectively used lighting and the loneliness of being trapped in this shifting prison (not to mention the buzzing flies which heralded the approach of the monster) to convey fear. And when the mystery of thousands of skulls buried beneath the water was solved (they all belong to the Doctor and his billions of reincarnations) the true horror of this place set in. Basically, the Doctor was trapped in his own hell and just like the journey the narrator takes in Dante's Inferno, he had to pass through the portal in the ninth layer before he could begin the ascent to some kind of redemption.

Anyway, the great reveal at the end of the episode is another confession from the Doctor: that he's the Hybrid, and I've got to confess I'm not really sure what that all means in the lexicon of Doctor Who. Any readers care to explain it to me? I'd be interested to know. This series continuously pushes the envelope of what I think I understand.


  1. Somewhere (facebook?) I was reading comments between people about how they'd stopped watching the show because they just couldn't get into the story line or the new incarnation of the Doctor. They thought he was too much like the character, House.

  2. I'm way far away from watching this episode. I'm still in the first season with Christopher Eccleston.

  3. Don't watch the show but that episode is a mind bender from what I just read. Love the Hogwarts reference and glad there are still shows pushing that lovely crazy envelope. We need that in television more than ever.

  4. Maybe even the writers are confused and hope to write their way out of it later.

  5. Unfortunately I can't help you. I gave up on Who two seasons ago. Not even Capaldi could save it for me

  6. I haven't gotten into Dr. Who, but it seems millions of people have.

  7. I found this episode fascinating. I knew Clara was leaving, because the actress had said she was leaving last season and then decided to stay on a bit longer. (Unfortunately, I kind of spoiled that for my nephew who's just caught up to the current season. Sigh.)

    I liked how that confessional dial thingie came back into play. Nice how they brought it up in the first episode of the season. Felt a bit like a Chekhov's gun in that respect. (I think that's what it's called.)

    I did have a couple questions, though. If every room reset, how did the Doctor's clothes remain in that room with the fire? And the "I am in room 12" thing? Who put that there in the first place? And how could the Doctor chip away at the harder-than-diamonds wall? Wouldn't those have all reset to their original condition?

    But, that was kind of mind-blowing. It takes a special kind of tenacity to keep doing that over and over and over again. But then again, did the Doctor realize any of it? He started from scratch each time. When did he figure out that he was repeating the same few days? I figured it out when he switched his clothes in front of the fire.

    It's a good one to ponder. And it sets up an interesting finale.

  8. This episode was so sad. It was heartbreaking to watch the Doctor go through the same scene again and again and again at the end. Four BILLION years. It was insane. And to think how many skulls there were after just 7000.

    I'll admit, it was quite confusing at the beginning, but I've learned to accept that with Doctor Who. I just sit back, take it all in, and wait for more clues.