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Heaven Sent

ShowDoctor Who / Series IX / Episode 11
First Broadcast2015/11/29 - 19:40 (Link: ABC Details)
Related LinksDoctor Who Wiki Wikipedia
Previous EpisodeFace The Raven
Next EpisodeHell Bent

We begin with the Doctor apparently arriving via teleport at the unknown destination hinted at in the previous episode. This is the start of a long, slow puzzle that the Doctor seeks to understand. Where is he? What is this place? Who is the Veil? What is the underlying purpose?

There are a couple of hints along the way (the drying clothes, the stars) but the premise that the Doctor is the only prisoner here, repeating his search over and over, dying each time and starting again, is only realised towards the end. Our minds are blown as we realise the skulls all belong to the Doctor. The insanity of the solution - the only escape - punching his way through metres of impossibly hard material, life by life is horrifying. That it takes two billion years is awful.

And then the big reveal: the Doctor has been trapped in his confession dial the whole time and his jailers are the Time Lords themselves - absolutely brilliant.

This episode draws together a couple of threads present in the series. The introduction of the idea of a confession dial comes to fruition. The obscure references to hybrids were hints of what was to come. And finally, after a massive hint in the The Day of the Doctor that the 12th Doctor's raison d'être was to search for Gallifrey and then to have virtually no follow-up - Gallifrey is found. What were the Time Lords trying to do? Punish the Doctor? What exactly is the Hybrid? We shall see very soon.

This was one of the best episodes in a long time - definitely in the top five of the new series. It is also, possibly, Capaldi's best. The format - essentially the Doctor was the only character in the entire story apart from a few moments - certainly helped, but this was top class all round.