Sarah Dollard’s first episode of Doctor Who is surely going to be a contender for best episode of the season, beautifully constructed and scripted, providing both the regular cast and the guest actors with rich dialogue, as well as humour deriving from character and situation, alongside some of the most dramatic moments we’ve had in Doctor Who in many years. Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman are given scenes that go to the heart of their characters, both individually and as a pair, with the audience – who are one step ahead of them for much of the time – seeing what they can’t, in terms of plot and characterisation.
The Virgin New Adventures seem to have been more of an influence on this series than during the Matt Smith era (quite possibly subconsciously), and some elements of the set-up may seem eerily familiar for those with long memories, but like the Black Archive deriving from similar concepts developed in the spin-off fiction, it’s treated in a different way here because of the characters involved.
Director Justin Molotnikov handles the assorted styles of the piece and its deliberately jarring juxtapositions well, and if there isn’t a major part of the Series 9 soundtrack devoted to Murray Gold’s beautiful score for the second half of the episode, something has gone seriously wrong!
Verdict: It’s been rare to get two unmissable episodes in a season but not this year. Go into it unspoiled if possible and don’t miss this! 9/10