The Doctor: A-
Was anyone really surprised that the Architect turned out to be the Doctor? Doctor Who has demonstrated time and time again that no one ever out-clevers the Doctor. The only surprise was that it took the Doctor so long to figure it out. He complained that his age has made him slower, so it's explained. But still awfully hard to swallow, and the one thing that keeps the Doctor from earning an A+ for "Time Heist."
I was convinced that the thing the Doctor was after at the bank was going to turn out to be something related to finding Gallifrey. A hint, a clue, something to get him back on his journey to finding his lost homeworld. That story thread has been frustratingly dropped since Matt Smith's departure in "The Time of the Doctor." We're now five episodes into the next season, and it has yet to be mentioned. Is showrunner Steven Moffat giving that storyline a rest to allow us viewers time to get comfortable with Capaldi? Very possibly. But he's going to have to address it sometime.
Before she "died," Saibra called the Doctor "a good man." It would seem that the Doctor finally got the answer to the question he's been asking all season. We always knew he was a good man. It remains to be seen if Saibra's endorsement will convince him.
Peter Capaldi once again got all the best lines, which fit so easily into his mouth. One of them in particular jumped out at me, though. "Shut up, shut up, shut up, shuttity up up up!" Longtime Capaldi fans may find this reminds them of an infamous line spoken by Malcolm on Thick of It. (Warning: NSFW video at that link.)
The Doctor said again and again that he hated the Architect, even after he'd (finally) figured out that it was him. He described himself saying, "he's overbearing, he's manipulative, he likes to think that he's very clever." What the Doctor is hinting at here (rather loudly) is that this incarnation, the 12th Doctor, has a certain degree of self-loathing. We've seen signs of this in prior episodes, such as his refusal to be called a "hero" and his constant questioning of his own ethics.
His self-commentary when the Teller was scanning him was very revealing. He finds 11's bowtie embarrassing, and he's still not thrilled with his new face. "I was hoping for minimalism, but I think I came out with 'magician.'" The ongoing comments on 12's eyebrows harken back to the repeated jokes about 11's chin.
It's disappointing to see Clara become mostly useless in this episode. She gets points for asking all the right questions and doing her empathy thing, but she's been so proactive this season that she can't help but feel unnecessary when that's taken away. She wasn't just unneeded, she was nearly a liability to the mission more than once. The Doctor could have carried out his plan just as easily with only Psi and Saibra, and that's a disservice to the character and the actress.
What is it about Clara that makes people love her so quickly? Psi only knew her for a few hours, but he was willing to die to save her.
Are Clara and Danny fated to endure constant interruptions in their relationship? Calling it now: this, along with the inevitable conflict brewing between Danny and the Doctor, will lead to Clara having to choose between them — and unable to have both.
Psi & Saibra: A
"Team Not-Dead" was an interesting group. Psi and Saibra, were of course, hand-picked by the Doctor for their unique abilities that made them ideal for robbing the bank. And what else would the Doctor pay them with for their time, but the one thing they both want most in all the universe?
This group had an interesting dynamic, and watching these two go from confusion with the Doctor to grudging respect and finally friendship with him was fun to watch.
Speaking of the whole friendship thing... The Doctor keeps running into people interested in helping him again in the future this season. He's racking up quite the list of potential allies. Is there a big battle coming?
The Villain: C-
Ms. Delphox was a cookie-cutter villain, the kind we've seen many times before. Madame Karabraxos was a little more interesting. She wasn't just wicked, she was callous. She used her own clones to ensure bank security, and then had them incinerated when they displeased her. She thinks she's got the perfect setup for the most secure bank ever, which of course is exactly the kind of challenge the Doctor loves.
It was nice to see her try to make things right in the end, but she was still a fairly uninteresting villain.
The name "Delphox" could be a play on the word "delta." If true, that would make Delphox the fourth clone of Karabraxos.
The Teller, who wasn't really bad in the end, turned out to be cast in the same mold as other alien creatures we've seen being used by the nefarious. Such as the space whale in "The Beast Below." Can you think of others?
"Time Heist": B+
This season has seen several plots that feel like Moffat put a call out for "cool stories to insert the Doctor into." You can almost hear the pitches he got back: "The Doctor gets shrunk down and put inside a Dalek!" "The Doctor meets Robin Hood!" "The Doctor has to rob a bank!" The results have been mixed, but you can't accuse the show of not having enough imagination.
How awesome were those stylish scene transitions in the first act? The slow-motion bank entry, the James Bond-y music, the jump-cuts... Wouldn't have minded if that stuff had lasted throughout the whole episode. It had a strong Ocean's 11 vibe, which was intentional.
The brain-melting scene was pretty shocking and hard to look at. It's rare that Doctor Who goes so grotesque with its visuals. And the kicker was: the poor guy wasn't actually guilty! The Teller was picking up guilt from Team Not-Dead. Sucks to be that guy.
That thing with the hypos that transported people to safety when they appear to die... Why does that sound so familiar? Oh right, Missy, the season's big bad! Is what she's been doing similar to the transporter deal used in "Time Heist"?
The moment when Psi sacrifices himself rather cleverly to save Clara by filling his thoughts with thieves and villains from throughout history had plenty of nods and winks at past storylines. Did you catch them all? I spotted the Gunslinger from "A Town Called Mercy," Captain John Hart from Torchwood, an Ice Warrior, and Christopher Eccleston villain the Slitheen. What did I miss?