EPISODE PREVIEW: Doctor Who Series 9, Ep 10, Face The Raven [Spoiler-free]

Peter Capaldi in Face The Raven (C) BBC

Face The Raven
by Sarah Dollard

Starring Peter Capaldi, Jenna Coleman and Maisie Williams

Airs Nov 21

Review by Cameron K McEwan

As we hurtle towards this year's Doctor Who finale (hold on, didn't this season just start???), things are getting a tad more complicated and troublesome for our favourite Gallifreyan. A simple enough sequel for Rigsy (who debuted in last year's two-dimensional cracker Flatline) has unforseen repercussions for some and the return of someone The Doctor would rather not see.

Especially by the end of the episode.

As you may have already discovered, Ashildr is back too and the slippery slope of malevolence that was hinted at previously, seems to be in full flow. But, we'll come back to this in a moment.

Rigsy has been sentenced to a crime he didn't commit (or didn't remember doing, at least), and has called Clara for help. And that's one of the fun things about their relationship - if you recall Flatline (and it was only a year ago, so get with it!), you'll note that his relationship with Clara and The Doctor is quite different to most. When he met her, she was the Doctor in that ep, and the Time Lord is just some cranky old Scottish bloke with a neat suit.

Letitia Wright and Joivan Wade in Face The Raven (C) BBC

Granted, the neat suit is still there (albeit a now more velvety) but his initial grump (still refers to Rigsy as "local knowledge") is gone when The Doctor realises he has to help out. And this takes us to the fantastic conceit of the story - trapped streets.

Incredibly a real thing (and Clara goes all teachery on us to drop some facts on us regarding this phenomenon), these streets exist on maps alone - but what if such invisible streets actually existed.  What if there were streets we didn't know about, just around the corner? Leading us to a street filled to the brim with aliens (familiar and unfamiliar) hiding from humanity in human form. 

And in charge of this odd collection - some friendly, others sinister - is Maisie Williams, back as Ashildr. Her journey from The Woman Who Lived does not appear to have been a particularly positive one for the youngster/massively old lady, as she has become quite the villainess in many ways.

Maisie Williams in Face The Raven (C) BBC

And that, I'm afraid, is pretty much all I can say. This is a big episode with big things happening, so in terms of plot that's it. Wouldn't like to even hint at what unfolds for you.

What I can say is that Joivan Wade (Rigsy) brings all his charm and affability to the role that needs trust and guest actress Letitia Wright (who was divine in Russell T Davies' Cucumber and Banana) is also a treat in a great sympathetic and key role. Jenna Coleman is in Doctor mode once and her confidence and tricksyness makes for a fascinating watch though this bravado is somewhat diminished by the events of the ep.

But it's Peter Capaldi, once more, who gives yet another striking and shocking speech. Certainly not in the same vein as The Zygon Inversion, but it's every bit as good and even more effective. This is one angry Time Lord. Properly angry and scaring more than any Dalek or Cyberman, it's sensational, spite-filled and deeply unsettling; even disavowing himself of his own name.

It's another defining moment for Peter Capaldi's Twelfth Doctor - I cannot imagine any other actor performing this moment in quite the same way or as brutal and raw.

Jenna Coleman in Face The Raven (C) BBC

Matching the heights of the talents of the cast is composer Murray Gold who reminds us once more why he's THE music man for Doctor Who. Most definitely, once of his finest pieces of music is in store for fans.

Face The Raven is a remarkably assured and confident episode by anyone's standards. But given its Sarah Dollard's first Who entry (and I cannot imagine it will be her last), this is to be admired greatly. There's not a mis-step to be found, again a mean feat given the retuning characters, and you'll be completely absorbed by the initial mystery immediately with Dollard's terrific idea and then rewarded with her beautiful script (and it is beautiful) and performances.

And I will politely add, this is not an episode to wait for. Or to iPlayer later, or to catch up elsewhere. Do yourself a favour and watch it on Saturday. You won't regret it.

Or will you?

Doctor Who, Face The Raven airs 8.10pm, Nov 21 on BBC One

Thanks to the BBC

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