Doctor Who: Reflections on Season 9: “Heaven Sent”

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With “Heaven Sent” we have a unique occurrence in the history of Doctor Who — an episode featuring the Doctor and no other character. We’ve had other similarly unusual situations in the past: “Ark in Space” part 1 includes only the Doctor, Sarah Jane and Harry, with no guest characters. Same with “The Mind Robber” part 1 with the Doctor, Jamie and Zoe. The Season One 2-parter “The Edge of Destruction” features only the main cast for the entire story. The one-episode adventure “Mission to the Unknown” does the opposite trick, featuring only supporting characters with no involvement by the Doctor or his companions. But we’ve never had a story to feature the Doctor — or any single character — exclusively. That premise alone is an enticing one that immediately brings a million exciting possibilities to mind. But what we’re given here is a mostly quiet narrative on loss mixed with some new revelations about the Doctor, the reintroduction of some of the threads from earlier in the season, and a set up for the season finale. That’s quite a lot of material to deliver with only one actor on hand (that must have made for quite an interesting table read!)

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