See, this is where user reviews can't quite cope. People tend to love things or hate things, with very little nuance in the middle.
But this episode wasn't bad, was it? Certainly not hate-worthy. And it wasn't perfect, either, I'll get into why in a minute. So we're bound to uncomfortably parse through the positives and negatives here and present an overall appraisal.
So why wasn't the episode perfect? Well, it wasa bit visually overloaded with camera tricks, crooked angles and creepy quick montages. Nothing wrong with using those resources, really, and I was actually enjoying them, finding a touch of "Castrovalva" here and there with the nonlinear layout of the hotel, but there's can be too much of a good thing, and this episode did cross that line.
The acting was also not all there, with some of the younger supporting actors not quite delivering in their multifaceted roles. They weren't... bad, but there was room to impress, and impressed I wasn't. See how this is a hard one to dial in for a review?
Anyway, on to the good. For the second of three episodes in a row, the overarching plot is out, and classic Doctor Who storytelling is in. I just love that. I love that we were thrown a bunch of interesting side characters, that some died, some survived, some got to be brave, some got to do bad things without actually being evil. Those shades of grey and the fact that death is a frequent outcome are what has always made Doctor Who one of the least patronizing shows for kids and young adults out there.
Oh, and the core concept of the episode wasn't too bad, although I do hate it when sci-fi clichés like "your worst fears realized" or "monsters that feed on specific emotions" are thrown in. For all the clever metaphors and striking imagery, the inner mechanics of the plot were a bit lazy.
I did like to see some of the drama that fueled the early seasons of the reboot come back, too. While I'll admit that the Doctor's moral conundrum of whether to risk the lives of his companions or to live on as a sad, lone old man was a run to the ground a bit during the last part of Tennant's run, I was not comfortable with how radically it had been abandoned these two seasons. It's one of those background noise touches that keep long-standing characters in pop culture going, and I do appreciate a nod to it here that has actual repercussions on the plot.
So, overall, not a clear cut episode, but one that was more than worth the watch. This season has been so much better than the previous one so far, and the second half of it has been better than the first. I really hope they can wrap it up in a satisfying way without falling into the pitfalls of the first season finale, but it's been a good run regardless.