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The Teller in 'Time Heist' (Pic: BBC)
The Teller in 'Time Heist' (Pic: BBC)
The Teller in ‘Time Heist’ (Pic: BBC)

Once again, the Doctor seems unsure of what to do with himself when Clara is off on a date with Danny. In fact he seems unsure as to what this ‘date’ business is all about. But just as she’s about to leave, the phone rings in the TARDIS door. Who could it be? Only one way to find out.

Except that in the act of answering the phone, the Doctor and Clara suddenly find themselves on the other side of a nasty encounter with a memory worm. They’re sitting around a table with two new people. An augmented human called Psi, and a mutant-human called Saibre. We know this because an attache case on the table has a recording of them agreeing to have their memories wiped.

Suddenly the case opens and a hooded figure with an American accent announces he is the Architect. He then issues a briefing: the foursome have to break into the central vault of Karabraxos, the most secure bank in the universe. If they fail, they will die. Oh and by the way, bank security is hammering on the door.

Seconds later, a strict-looking madam called Miss Delphox, the head of bank security, checks up on her guards, only to find they’ve been holding the memory worms. So she calls for the Teller while our heroes make their escape.

Having acquainted themselves, the team gather around Saibre, who has taken on the form of a customer of the bank. But as they try to gain entrance, this forbidding figure emerges:

That beastie with the elephant’s trunk eyestalks is the Teller, a psychic creature with the ability to sense guilt, and destroy brains. And he gives an horrific exhibition of this to a poor man nearby, who ends up with a concave skull. That’s why the bank-jobbers’ memories were wiped. Thankfully the Teller didn’t spot them, and they gain entry to a safety deposit box above a service corridor. And they suddenly have a bomb, in another attache case from the Architect. They’re just not sure whether it will blow a hole in the floor or blow them all up. The Doctor points out they would not have agreed to wipe their own memories unless they really wanted to, so they should just trust their own bomb. Which turns out to be a dimensional shift bomb. There’s now a big hole in the floor (which seals as soon as they’re through it), and they’re inside the bank.

Oh and there’s another attache case, this time containing six little devices that the Doctor says he’s never seen before, although he later admits they’re an “exit strategy, of sorts.” Psi needs to recharge his batteries, so Clara sits with him while the Doctor and Saibre go an investigate an alarm. Psi tells Clara he had to delete his memories while under interrogation in prison, in order to protect his friends and family.

While Clara reels at this sacrifice, Saibre and the Doctor discover the man with the skull from earlier. still alive and in a cell. There’s another alarm, and the foursome hide in a nearby cell, entering via a grid marked “No Entry Under Any Circumstances’ and the reason for this becomes clear once they’re inside. It’s the forced coccoon in which the Teller is kept. Only their presence is waking him up and he’s fixating on Clara’s thoughts. They try and escape, but Saibre becomes trapped inside, with the Teller raking though her brain. The only way to avoid the concave skull is to use the exit strategy, an atomic shredder, and she is instantly dissolved.

Back in the corridor, after a tense exchange between the remaining three, there’s another case containing hacking information for Psi to break into the central vault, and a business card with some numbers and codes. The Doctor hands Psi an atomic shredder and the three split up, because the Teller is on the prowl and locking into their thoughts. He finds Clara first. And her job now is to not think. She nearly manages it to, but when she tries to make a run for it, the Teller catches her, forcing her to stop. In order to save her, Psi channels a history of bad guys, a mountain of guilt. And just as the Teller homes in on him, Psi triggers the atomic shredder.

But the vault he tried to open remains locked. There’s one lock left and nothing that can open it. Nothing except a solar storm. Suddenly there’s a solar storm.

Because the Architect didn’t just send the Doctor and Clara into the bank, he sent them in a specific point in time, from the future. It’s not just a bank heist, it’s a time-travel heist. The storm opens the vault, and the information on Clara’s card leads them to a safety deposit box which contains a neophyte circuit, to replace Psi’s lost memories. There’s another box, with a gene suppressant to fix Saibre. Sadly they can’t find out why they’re there, because the Teller has arrived.

In Miss Dephox’s office, she explains that the Teller is the last of its kind, a prisoner forced to obey her will in order to secure the bank for her boss, Director Karabraxos. She orders them to be executed, but the two guards that take them away turn out to be Saibre and Psi! They weren’t shredded! They were teleported to an escape ship (which is, incidentally, where the TARDIS is). Having handed over their relative payments, the Doctor leads the team back to the private vault to see why he and Clara are there. it’s full of all sorts of ancient relics, and Director Karabraxos. Who looks exactly like Miss Delphox. And that’s because Miss Delphox is a clone. One of many clones that run various parts of the bank until they let her down, then they’re fed to the furnace.

This then leads the Doctor to an important revelation. He is the Architect! Oh and those solar storms are about to burn the bank to bits. He hands Director Karabraxos his phone number, and tells her to call him when she has regrets later in life. She runs away, and the Doctor, left facing the Teller, instructs it to scour his brain for those lost memories. He finds out that he set the whole thing up, on the instructions of the future, old Madame Karabraxos. But why?

There is one door left unopened. A cell containing… another Teller! There are two left, and enough shredders (well, teleports) to take them back to the TARDIS and off to a future on a quiet planet with no other life forms to scan. Madame Karabraxos’s death-bed wish is to set them free. And that’s what they do.

Later, the Doctor drops Psi and Saibre off, and she gives him a hug (which he palpably does not enjoy) and Clara goes off for her long-delated date.

Next time: “The Caretaker”

See more:
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‘Doctor Who’ Recap: ‘Robot of Sherwood’
‘Doctor Who’ Recap: ‘Into The Dalek’
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By Fraser McAlpine