The episode was fantastic in a sort of Memento way, working backwards to reveal the reason for the heist. However, as a fan it was slightly predictable. Still, the clever writing prevailed throughout, and some of my favorite lines are merely in passing at the end of the episode in the Tardis. Next week, the Doctor becomes a caretaker at Clara’s school, according to the teaser at the end!
“Spoilers, sweetie.” If you have not yet seen the September 20th episode of Doctor Who, “Time Heist”, do not read any further!
You’ve been warned.
The Doctor arrives to interrupt yet another of Clara’s dates, and the phone of the Tardis rings. He is confused, because so few people in the universe have the number. When he answers, he and Clara are transported to a room in the most secure bank in the universe, with memory worms in their hands. They are presented a case with a recording from someone claiming to be the Architect, telling them they are to rob the bank. They also are seated with two others: a hacker convict named Cy who is half computer, and a genetic anomaly human named Saibra who shifts into the form of whatever living cells she has last touched.
Their presence is announced and they must escape with Saibra transformed into a prominent bank customer. But, they discover the bank is protected by a creature called the Teller. It hunts guilt and feeds on memories, detecting bank robberies before they even happen. When it does, it then turns the rest of the brain “to soup”, killing the guilty party. The person’s family is notified and also killed as payment for a heist that never happened. The creature looks unhappy, and the head of bank security, Ms. Delphox, explains it is the last of its kind.
When they enter the private depository, they are given a bomb to break into the bowels of the bank via the floor. The team is worried that they are not supposed to survive the heist, but when the bomb goes off, it is merely a time shift bomb that displaces the floor particles to another dimension temporarily.
The team descends into the tunnels of the bank. They slowly are given pieces to the puzzle about what they are stealing in the first place, as a case is presented them with six vials inside. However, their presence is again announced to the security team, who sends the Teller after them. Saibra and the Doctor discuss why she is alone: she believes one cannot be trusted after “looking at you through your own eyes”. The Teller finds Saibra and locks on to her brainwaves, so the Doctor gives her a “shredder” that kills her instantly and painlessly, “in a moment”, in contrast to the painful death she would face with the Teller.
Once they escape, Clara learns that Cy has had to delete every person he has ever loved from his memories in order to keep them safe. He manages to begin to unlock the 24 locks of the main vault for them to enter. When Clara herself is confronted with the Teller, Cy lures it away by taunting it with all the memories of all the bank robberies in the universe. He tells Clara that he is saving her because while she will see the faces of all those she loved when her life passes before her eyes, he will see no one. He too takes the shredder route, as given by the Doctor.
Inside the vault, Clara uses the message from the case by the vault locks to figure out what they are supposed to be stealing. The first box finds something to restore computer data, presumably for Cy’s payment. The second box reveals a gene suppression serum, to fix the problem for Saibra. However, their prize lies in the private vault. Before they can reach it, they are captured and brought to Ms. Delphox. In the wake of the solar storm, she leaves her guards to do away with the Doctor and Clara, but the guards turn out to be Saibra and Cy. They were not dead after all. The shredders were really escape teleportation devices, which allowed them to survive, and helped the Doctor and Clara believe they were dead so as not to tip off the Teller creature.
They go into the private vault where they are met by the wealthiest person in the universe, Madame Karabraxos. She informs them that she has sent for the Teller to kill them, and that her clone, Ms. Delphox, would be tossed into the incinerator, or “fired”. The Doctor realizes why she hates her clones based on what Sabra had told him earlier about seeing one through their own eyes, and pieces together why he hates the Architect so much: he is the Architect. Unfortunately, the solar storm is destroying the bank, and she must escape with some of her most prized possessions, theoretically leaving the Doctor and his crew to burn. Before she leaves, the Doctor gives her the telephone number to the Tardis and tells her he is a time traveller.
Flash back quickly to the phone call from the Tardis. It is actually Karabraxos on her death bed. She tells about how she lived a life full of regrets, but that the Doctor can help her alleviate at least one and make it right.
The Doctor allows the teller to lock on to his brainwaves in order to remove the block that reveals the reason they are robbing the bank in the first place, which the Teller does. It also unlocks the final vault, as it knew the combination from being linked to Karabraxos. Inside is it’s female companion; it was not the last of its kind, it was one of the last two. The horrible things it did in its captivity were to keep her safe and alive. The Doctor then realizes it’s actually a rescue mission to save the Teller and its companion, and that the six teleportation devices were meant to help with their rescue.
The Doctor returns the Teller and its companion to solitude on their home planet. He then returns Cy and Saibra to their homes as well. Finally, he returns Clara to her flat just in time for her date, but not before taunting her with a quip about calories on the Tardis being meaningless, which is merely a joke. When she leaves, we are teased with a slight bit of jealousy on the Doctor’s part in regards to Clara’s date.