Monday, December 7, 2015

Doctor Who, Season Nine, Episode Eleven: Heaven Sent

The Doctor's voice over at the beginning of this episode:
As you come into this world, something else is also born. You begin your life, and it begins a journey towards you. It moves slowly, but it never stops. Wherever you go, whatever path you take, it will follow — never faster, never slower, always coming. You will run, it will walk. You will rest, it will not. One day, you will linger in the same place too long — you will sit too still, or sleep too deep. And when, too late, you rise to go, you will notice a second shadow next to yours. Your life will then be over.
In episode ten, we saw the death of the longest serving companion, Clara Oswald.  The Doctor is then transported away. The penultimate episode of this season begins with blood trails in a stone castle. We follow the camera in a journey around the castle and see a bloodied hand pulling a lever. It disappears to ash and then the Doctor appears in the transporter. The Doctor picks up the ashes at his feet and says,“If you think because she’s dead, I am weak, then you understand very little. If you were any part of killing her, and you’re not afraid, then you understand nothing at all. So for your own sake understand this: I am the Doctor and I am coming to find you and I will never ever stop." Ominous indeed.

The Doctor cautiously begins to explore the castle.  He speaks his thoughts aloud and says that he isn't far from where he was and is in the same time zone.  The Doctor adds that when the sun sets, he will know exactly where he is. Full of bravado, the Doctor makes it clear that he may not keep his promise to Clara not to take revenge.  The Doctor calls out repeatedly to face his antagonist but gets no answer.  When Doctor looks out the window, he sees the Veil staring back at him from another part of the castle. The bravado is now gone and clearly the Doctor is alarmed.  He continues to move cautiously through the castle looking at his surroundings and at monitors placed strategically on walls. The Doctor approaches a door and when he finally gets it open, there's a brick wall instead of an exit. The Veil approaches and the Doctor admits that not only is he scared but that he is scared of dying. This confession stops time and the castle shifts, opening up an exit for the Doctor.

The Doctor finds himself in a bedroom with an old and crumbling painting of Clara. The Doctor realises that his nightmares have been stolen.  The Veil is approaching him again and he is asking whether he is in a trap, prison or torture chamber but he gets no answer.  The Doctor tosses a bench through a window and dives outside.

When we see the Doctor again he is in his Tardis talking to Clara.  In reality he is falling to his death and the Tardis is only in his mind. The Doctor admits that he is dying but adds that he is going to explain to Clara how he survives.  The Doctor notes that he smelled salt when he broke the window which means that the castle is standing in the sea. The Doctor starts to calculate how far he is going to fall and how fast. The Doctor hits the water and floats unconscious.  On the Tardis, Clara asks on the chalkboard what the Doctor said that made the Veil stop.  It's clear that the Doctor is exhausted. When Clara rights win, the Doctor regains consciousness and sees that the floor of the sea is covered with skulls.

The Doctor swims ashore and makes his way inside the castle. A dripping wet Doctor approaches a roaring fireplace and finds a replica of his clothing.  He quickly exchanges his wet clothing for the dry ones. The Doctor leaves the room behind and again makes his way through the castle.  The Doctor realises that there are screens everywhere showing him where the Veil is.  The Doctor believes that the Veil is trying to scare him and that he is experiencing a bit of theater.  The Doctor believes that he is literally trapped inside a box trying to scare him to death.  What he doesn't realise is that the box doesn't want to scare him, it wants his confessions.

Cautiously, the Doctor is on the move again and this time he heads outside where he finds a fresh mound of dirt. The Doctor starts to dig after he sees a spade. He finds a sign which reads, "I am in 12".  When the Doctor hears the sound of insects, he opens a door to investigate, only to find the Veil once more.  The Doctor manages to get the door closed and uses the spade to keep it secure.  When the Doctor checks the monitor, he sees no sign of the Veil.  The Veil bursts up from under the sign and attacks.

The Doctor is in his mind Tardis again and this time Clara writes, "tell no lies" The Doctor realises that he is being interrogated and that the Veil wants his confession.   The problem however is that there are some truths that he can never tell.

The Doctor tells the Veil that he didn't leave Gallifrey because he was bored but because he was scared.  The Veil accepts this confession and backs off, so the Doctor gets out of the hole and sees the walls of the castle shifting yet again.  The Doctor heads inside the castle and sees that it is completely surrounded by water.  Skulls float to the surface in macabre fashion briefly before sinking to the bottom.

The Doctor has figured out that if he draws the creature to one side of the castle and then runs to the other, he gains 82 minutes to eat, sleep and work.  The Doctor believes that his work is finding room 12 which is what the castle wants him to do. The Doctor says that the rooms are jumbled up which is making this difficult.  He feels that he is inside a closed energy loop which constantly recycles. The Doctor wonders how long he will have to be here.

In a room he finds the word bird written in the dirt along with a skull.  The Doctor continues to talk to Clara. The castle shifts again and this time the Doctor makes his way outside and looks up at the night sky briefly. Once inside he finds rooms 12 but when he opens the door it leads to a brick wall and he is closed in again.  Back outside, he tells Clara that he knows how to move the wall. Looking at the stars he says it seems he traveled 7,000 years into the future. The Veil sneaks up on him and the Doctor confesses that the Time Lords knew that the Hybrid was coming but they didn't know which side it was on.  The Doctor confesses that he knows that the hybrid is real and that he is afraid.  The Veil pulls back and the castle shifts again.  The Doctor rushes back to the door to room 12 and this time he opens it.  He finds a 20-foot-thick wall of Azbantium which is 400 times harder than diamond. In the wall, the word, "Home" appeared briefly.  The Doctor remembers the word Bird in the ground.

The Doctor is back in his mind Tardis. The skull is missing because he took it with him when he went to the tower.  We know that the Doctor has been there for 7,000 years and that every skull must therefore be his.  The Doctor says that it would be so easy to tell whoever wants to know all about the Hybrid. The doctor says in anguish that it's not fair and asks Clara why he can't just lose.  The Doctor tells Clara that he can remember it all.  The Doctor collapses in grief saying whatever he does, she still won't be there.  Clara answers that he is not the only person who has ever lost someone and that he is to get over it and break free.  Clara tells the Doctor that it's time.

The Veil approaches as the doctor sits in front of the Asbantium.  The Doctor tells the Veil that it is not getting anymore confessions but he will tell the truth. The Doctor turns and faces the Asbantium and punches it as hard as he can screaming in pain.  The Doctor says that the hybrid is a very dangerous secret which needs to be kept and he punches the Asbantium once again.  The Doctor punches for the third time promising to get out and find out who put him there in the first place. The Doctor punches for the fourth time and admits that it might take him a little while.  He punches the fifth time and starts to talk about the brothers Grimm.  The Veil continues to approach and the Doctor continues with his story about a mountain made out of diamond and a bird.  The Doctor is then grabbed from behind and he screams.

When we see the Doctor again he is collapsed in front of the Asbantium.

The lights in his mind Tardis turn on.  The Doctor says that Timelords take forever to die, even if they are too injured to regenerate.  The Doctor explains that dying can take days and that is why the Timelords like to die among their own kind.

In reality, the Doctor is crawling slowly up a spiral stone staircase.  He is making his way back to the teleport chamber, telling Clara that he has to be strong.  A copy of the Doctor is saved in the teleport chamber and as he makes his way back there, he realises that there were never any other prisoners and that he has been in the castle for a very very long time.  He hooks himself up to the control panel, flips the switch and burns away. A new Doctor appears in the teleport chamber and it begins all over again. The Doctor repeats this cycle for the next 2 Billion years until he breaks through the Asbantium wall and finally finishes his story.
“There’s this emperor, and he asks the shepherd’s boy how many seconds in eternity. And the shepherd’s boy says, ‘There’s this mountain of pure diamond. It takes an hour to climb it and an hour to go around it, and every hundred years a little bird comes and sharpens its beak on the diamond mountain. And when the entire mountain is chiseled away, the first second of eternity will have passed.’ You may think that’s a hell of a long time. Personally, I think that’s a hell of a bird.”  
The Doctor walks through the Asbantium portal and when he steps outside it shrinks down into his confession dial.  This entire time his prison was his very own confession dial and now he finds himself on Gallifrey of all places.  The Doctor sees a child and he tells the child to hurry to the city and to let someone important know that he is back and that he knows what they did.  The Doctor adds that if the child is asked who he is talking about, the child is to respond,  "he came the long way around".  Alone once again, the Doctor finally reveals to the confession dial that the hybrid is not half Dalek and Timelord because the Daleks would never allow that.  The hybrid who will conquer Gallifrey is the Doctor.

Since the Doctor is supposedly the hybrid that means that he must be human on this mother's side. This is a confirmation that Whovians have been waiting for for quite some time. It is no longer just a suggestion of the Master's. This is a huge revelation and I know some Whovians will be spitting mad at this.

First. let me say that this episode was absolutely beautiful to watch.  Every time the castle shifted we got a small glimpse of exactly what the Doctor was up against.  His prison being his confession dial was absolutely brilliant because it became a prison of his own design.  It made the horror that he faced that much more startling particularly because for the first time in a long time, the Doctor was alone.  In fact if you think about it, not only was the Doctor alone, he was alone with his own demons. I think that the Veil chasing him represented death.

The process that the Doctor went to through for 2 billion years I think was a commentary on regeneration.  As fans, we've always seen the regeneration from a very specific perspective.  We are either sad to be losing a much beloved Doctor or relieved to see a Doctor that we are not fans of leave. That being said, what we are not considering is the physicality of the regeneration - the pain and or emotional trauma that it involves. He asks, "How many times can I keep doing this - burning the old me to make a new one?"  It's an obvious analogy to regeneration and the Doctor's exhaustion. He can keep running but he cannot escape what waits for us all - death.

What we know for sure is that the Doctor is very angry, lonely or desperate  he turns Timelord Victorious. This means he stops following the rules that he laid out for himself. He becomes over confident (yes, even more than normal) and this will lead to a problem. The fact that he is on Gallifrey and feeling like this could mean very bad things for his people.  Even after 2 billion years he is not forgotten Clara or his grief and I have a strong feeling that someone is going to pay.

The one thing I want to know is what the return of Gallifrey means for the Doctor. He has been desperate to find his planet since he stashed it away to end the time war.  Will he again be following orders he is given? I am hard pressed to believe that he will go back to business as usual considering how much time he has had to be a free agent with no one to stop him.  Will Gallifrey become a major part of the Doctor's life again?  So very many questions.