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By Joseph Cirilo, Senior Staff Writer

Following the spectacular and thrilling fourth episode in Series 8, “Listen” is a feat in and of itself. The aforementioned episode was arguably Steven Moffat’s best show to date, and heralded the return of Douglas Mackinnon in the director’s chair, who we haven’t seen since “Cold War”; another episode that was arguably a high point in the otherwise disappointing Series 7 with Matt Smith.

(Get the Series Pass on iTunes here).

Peter Capaldi has been running circles as successor in the last few episodes and Jenna Louise-Coleman has been given a much needed second chance to impress the audiences as an actress of intrigue. So far, she’s done all of that and more. The pairing is certainly the most entertaining Doctor-Companion relationship, since the days of the classic series with Elisabeth Sladen as Sarah Jane Smith.

Needless to say, “Time Heist,” had a huge act to follow, featuring Mackinnon back in the chair for his second of three shows this series, and a screenplay by the tag team of Moffat and Stephen Thompson whose CV includes “The Curse of the Black Spot” and “Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS.”

In contrast to the former, “Time Heist” starts out jabbing away with the humor early, and gets the audience setup for some laughs only to completely detour from that idea entirely. The first 10 minutes of this show is a rollercoaster in that regard. It all begins with some fun and entertainment, a few light-hearted laughs, and before you know it, a bank heist is being setup, and a man’s brain is being turned into “soup” by an alien creature we’ve never seen before.

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(Kudo points to Moffat for creativity).

In true Time Lord fashion, the heist itself is planned out as the team moves through an “impossible bank” with pre-wiped memories concerning the details of what it is they’re stealing, to protect themselves. There is very much an “Ocean’s 11” sort of feel to this one, as well as a little more than obvious remark at bankers being “evil”, but without throwing politics in anyone’s face, so it’s excusable.

With Jonathan Bailey and Pippa Bennett-Warner queuing up for a memorable, though short-lived role in the Whoniverse, the episode turns into a real romp. Although, that may not have the heart-pounding suspense and thrill that “Listen” gave, it gets the little anxiety bugs shivering as each commercial cuts off another crucial detail that leads to another exciting bit. Additionally, Keeley Hawes, who has an impressive and extensive resume on her own, gave a spectacular performance as the irreverent banker with the most redeeming conclusion by the episode’s end.

“Time Heist” managed to pull off a two-for-one deal, presenting itself as a rather fun joyride, and a complex head scratcher that obviously makes more sense when you view it the second time. Ultimately, you probably won’t, because it’s much less fun knowing. This makes for just the right amount of wrong, and gives “Time Heist” a memorable spot in Series 8.

Being one shy of mid-season is nerve-racking because this has been a powerhouse of a Series so far. You almost don’t want it to end. Knowing Coleman won’t be back for the second half–or any future series’ for that matter–doesn’t help that thought. For now, at least, Series 8 has not disappointed with each episode simultaneously catering to great fan service and experimenting in ways that we’ve seldom seen in previous renditions of the show.


In a phrase: Capaldi is on fire.