Face The Raven, being mostly set in a Middle Ages-decorated street, felt more like a level in one of the Thief games than an episode of Doctor Who.
It began with Clara’s student Rigsy, last seen in last year’s best episode – Flatline, telling her about his tattoo… but it wasn’t just any ordinary tattoo, since this one was counting down to zero. Known as a chronolock, when it hits zero, you die. And you have to face a raven – hence the title – which chases after you and kills you.
But what could he have done to deserve this? Inadvertently commited murder against a woman called Anah, it seems, yet his memory of the past 24 hours was missing. With the help of The Doctor and Clara, they figured out the place he was in was a “trap street”. It’s when London streets start disappearing out of view. Clara thought it was like a fake street on a map, invited by a cartographer, where they’ve named it after, say, their child, so if anyone copies their map then they’ll nkow it’s been stolen. However, in Who-land, it’s not an issue for Google Maps, it’s something brought about by a misdirection circuit. It also makes baddies look like humans, or something like that. To be honest, at that point the episode was starting to tie itself in knots unnecessarily.
After far too much faffing about, they eventually found it and there, the trap street’s floor lights up like a futuristic version of the Vortex segment from The Adventure Game . However, it soon returned to its Middle Ages-style roots. And once they entered, they found that Ashildr (Cyberbully‘s Maisie Williams, returning far too soon to this show) is the Mayor of London. That would’ve been an interesting vote between her, Boris Johnson and Ken Livingstone.
Rigsy was sentenced to death, yet they know that he didn’t do it, they just wanted a patsy because otherwise fingers will point within the community, and so they’re just trying to save their own skin.
And if you’re wondering about the time she appearing in the background of a photo, a few episodes ago, it was apparently her way of letting the Doctor know she was okay.
Some random thoughts about this episode:
- I’m not a fan of tattoos at the best of times, but when it comes to the chronolock tattoo ending your life, that’s probably a bit too far… then again, I would reserve the chronolock effect for thigh tattoos. Ewwww, they’re gross!
- And on that subject, Ashildr’s daft swirly neck tattoo coming out towards anyone about to die was referred to as the Quantum Shade. At least it’s not the Quantum Of Solace Shade!
- On bringing Rigsy on board the TARDIS at the start, when the Doctor said: “Bring the new human… no, *don’t* bring the new human. I might get distracted”… what the hell did he mean?
- There was an amusing moment when he brought out the cards “in an effort to be nice” (Clara’s words), but the mood darkened when the Doctor declared, “There’s no way of saying you’re about to die.”
- I’m warming to The Doctor using the sunglasses as a sonic screwdriver. It’s brave to try something different, but despite all that Steven Moffat has done which *doesn’t* work, this one is seeming to.
- The trap street was another place where The Doctor enters and everyone seems to sense what he’s all about. Just what is THAT all about??
- I was quite impressed by the charcters known as The Janus – one face looks into the future, and one to the past – so they literally have two faces! Just like your ex.
- The number of times I’ve typed “Rigsby” instead of “Rigsy” while writing this review: Counless!
- Ashildr says she has an infinite live but a finite memory, hence why she couldn’t remember her own name. But she has her diaries, So why does she forget her own name?
- And so much for her attempt at placating him, given what was to follow:
Ashildr: “You’re perfectly safe here”
The Doctor: “Yes, that’s usually followed by lots of running and screaming and bleeding.”
Go to page 2 for more thoughts and conclusions about the episode.
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.