After that last episode I’m not sure how much I want to keep going, but I guess I will. Spoilers as usual but lets hope this one doesn’t make me cry…
We start basically where we left off. A voiceover of the Doctor talking about death and then he appears from his teleport. He’s in a giant glass tube… and he looks afraid. He steps out, remembers Clara and then looks sad. He finds some sand on the floor, then gets angry. He’s out for revenge, no matter what he was told. He starts wandering around and talking to the person he assumes is there. He seems to be in a castle, and finds a shovel with dirt on it. But we don’t know if he’s still on Earth (I’m assuming he is) or who brought him there.
Eventually a TV on the wall activates and shows the Doctor looking out the window. A figure from another window across the castle is wearing a hooded cape and watching him. I think it’s Clara. Or maybe that’s just wishful thinking. We see a bunch of flies buzzing around and a hooded figure (the same one?) advances on the Doctor, who runs. He finds himself at the end of a corridor with a locked door. He forms a telepathic link with the door and it opens. He then catches himself saying “See Clara…”. Oh there’s going to be a lot of sad… The doors open to a brick wall.
He says he’s scared of dying then everything stops in front of him. The figure, the flies, all frozen. The entire building shifts around like some sort of puzzle. The entire levels shift around going different directions, along with an enclosed bridge that crosses a courtyard. The door behind him opens and he runs through. Now in a bedroom with fresh Lillys, a TV and a big (not to mention very old) painting of Clara. I wonder if the figure is the Doctor, who’s been locked in the caste for centuries and is responsible for bringing himself there? Or maybe it’s Ashildr.
Speaking of the figure, he appears again. The Doctor says that someone’s been stealing his nightmares. He jumps out the window and next we see him in the TARDIS, He’s talking to the back of Clara (why not her front?) and telling her he thought quickly so that everything around him slowed down. That he’s actually falling right now and thinking about how he’ll be in the TARDIS telling her how he escaped. He worked out that the castle is next to salt water and the gravity and such works into a likely survival scenario. Then he hits the water. Underneath, he sees the entire bottom covered in skulls, no actual land in sight. After crawling out he finds he’s in the middle of the “courtyard” (which is just the water with a small shore) and the only place to go is back inside.
He finds a fire with his own clothes drying by it. He changes out of his wet clothes into the dry ones (the exact same ones he’s wearing) and hangs his wet ones where the dry ones were. A time loop of some kind? Maybe during the whole time he’s in this castle only minutes will pass. He moves to another room with another TV along with a missing tile in the floor with sand where it should be, and a bunch of arrows pointing to it. In his mind, he keeps talking to Clara and she keeps asking questions on a chalk board. We only see the chalk board, which is kind of sad. I suspect Jenna Coleman wasn’t actually contracted to be in this episode, since the back of the head we saw didn’t look like her hair and we’ve never seen her face.
The Doctor now believes he’s in a fully automatic haunted house, maze-style. He believes the idea is to trap him inside and scare him to death. He goes outside into another courtyard, one with actual grass. We keep seeing a circular pattern with a hole (up until now sand) in the middle and this is no exception. This time it’s dirt, and I think he’s supposed to dig based on the dirty shovel we saw earlier. Sure enough, we see another shovel and he does exactly that. Although once I get a better look at it, it almost looks like he’s digging his own grave. It’s the right shape for it.
He digs for a while and then we see the flies again. The figure tries to come out through the door but the Doctor jams it closed with the shovel. The figure heads to the room with the missing tile. I feel like that’s a way outside. In the meantime the Doctor resumes shoveling. Eventually he finds a large stone that says “I am in 12”. Then the flies are back and the figure grabs him from the pile of dirt.
Now we’re back talking to Clara’s chalkboard in the TARDIS. He realizes that he’s being interrogated and the only way to stop it is to tell truths he’s never told before. Wait, is this to go on the confession dial? Missy had it at the beginning of the season but I can’t remember ever being told details on how she received it or what was actually on it. Could Missy be behind this or is it still Ashildr? Maybe something else? No, I can’t see that. Anyway he says there are truths he can never tell but admits to being alone and afraid. It’s a sad side of the Doctor that I don’t enjoy visiting but is necessary to see. It’s like seeing a good friend or family member in pain, and you just want to make it stop.
He tells the figure that he left Gallifrey because he was afraid and it goes away. Then the maze shuffles itself around again. We then see the castle is basically a self contained island in the middle of nothing. Just water in all directions. And the Doctor sees it too.
We then see (or are told) how he spends his time. If he draws the creature to one end of the castle then runs to the other, he can get a maximum of 82 minutes before it reaches him again. He uses that time to eat (but where is the food?), sleep and look for room 12. If he leaves a room long enough it will revert to the exact condition it was in when he arrived, which means he can’t set anything up to return to it later.
“Or maybe I’m in hell. That’s okay. I’m not scared of hell, it’s just heaven for bad people.” – The Doctor
The Doctor goes to the room where he first arrived, picks up a skull and sees the word “BIRD” written in the sand. Then a wall moves and reveals a set of steps. He follows them and finds himself at the top of the tower in the center of the castle. He’s surrounded by water far below. He leaves the skull there and I can’t help but wonder if we’ll see it still there later. Heading down, we find room 12. He opens the doors to find a blank wall. He goes back up and the figure joins him again. He tells it that the Hybrid moved the starts before the time war and that’s why they’re out of place. It’s half Dalek and half Time Lord, and he knows where it is.
The figure moves away and the walls move again. Room 12 is open. Beyond the doors lies a long corridor with a bright wall at the end. The word “Home” flashes on it for a moment. The Doctor realizes he’s one confession away from his TARDIS and they want to know about the Hybrid. He sinks back into his mind where he can talk to Clara but you can see the despair on his face when he knows that no matter what happens she’ll still be gone. But we finally hear her and see her and she tells him to win. And I find myself misty again… I think she’s actually gone.
The Doctor snaps out of it and tells the figure he won’t say anything about the Hybrid. Then he starts hitting the wall and starts to tell a story. The figure wraps its hands (claws?) around his face, he falls to the floor and then the figure appears to teleport away.
Back in the TARDIS of the mind, the Doctor explains how dying can take days for a Time Lord if they’re too injured to regenerate. His plan is to drag himself to the top of the tower before he dies. This place was his own personal torture chamber all along, and there were never any other prisoners. So while he’s talking we see him drag himself to the tower, to the room where he first arrived, the one with the teleporter. There should be a copy of him on the hard drive, exactly as he was when he arrived… 7000 years ago. He knows from the stars.
In the room, he burns up his own body as energy to start the teleporter. He is the skull he found in the room, and a new copy of himself appears in the teleporter… one without all of these memories. Before he dies he writes “Bird” in the sand. Then the room resets again with the new arrival.
Then we see he does the same cycle over and over. But every time he does it he chips away at the wall in room 12. For some reason that room doesn’t reset. 2 billion years at last count before he broke through that wall, before the light hit the figure and it collapsed into a shroud and a pile of gears. He walked through and found himself in a desert. His castle collapsed into what looked like his confession dial. He sees a boy and tells him to go find someone important and say that he’s back. We see him run toward the city. Toward Gallifrey.
The Doctor tells the dial that the Hybrid is not half Dalek. That it is destined conquer and then to stand in the ruins of Gallifrey. That it is him.
Guess we’re back to the home planet sooner than expected.