This is one of those stories with so many twists (and so many questions raised) that you want to go in with the minimum knowledge so that the quirkily-structured tale can have full effect. There are some highly comic moments, set alongside some serious soul-searching by the Doctor, with links back to the very start of Peter Capaldi’s tenure in the role (and before in terms of the Doctor’s talents). Those who have not been convinced by the sonic sunglasses may see them in a new light!
Maisie Williams is, of course, where all the attention is focused in the lead-up to the episode, and she’s given plenty to do, playing to her strengths. She and Jenna Coleman make an interesting combination – their characters opposites in many ways in terms of outlook on life.
As co-writer Jamie Matheson has said in various publicity interviews, there’s a Dad’s Army element to this, with Capaldi almost but not quite going into Malcolm Tucker mode in his dealings with the locals; you can find links to a number of other classic screen stories as well without searching too deeply – but as with the best Doctor Who tales, it’s how these influences are used that make it work or otherwise in the Who universe. For my money, this one does…
Verdict: Shifting from comedy to high drama on a sixpence, in what feels at times like a throwback to the RTD era, this continues to showcase Capaldi’s talents in the role. 8/10