Doctor Who Hell Bent Series 9 Episode 12 Review

E11-Hell Bent

The Doctor, brandishing his guitar enters a diner in Nevada, which seems to indicate that this scene takes place after tonight’s adventure.  The waitress behind the counter is Clara?  Well it’s at least Jenna Coleman.  The Doctor sits down, saying he has no money but taps his guitar and says that he can play in exchange for food and he begins to play Clara’s theme.  The waitress asks the name of the song, and if it’s sad.  He tells her it’s called “Clara”, and he says that nothing is sad until it’s over.  The waitress asks him to tell her about Clara…

At the end of the last episode (Heaven Sent) the Doctor escaped his confession dial after being trapped in it for several billion years and emerged on Gallifrey.  His home planet, saved from the Time War, has apparently not been put in another dimension but shoved to the end of time where the rest of the universe won’t be able to catch up to it.  As clumsy as that sounds, I kind of like the concept, even though many fans could probably pick a billion holes in that idea in the blink of an eye.  On Gallifrey the cloister bells are ringing all across the capital as the Doctor has returned.  In quiet contemplation the Doctor goes to the barn that we saw in the Day of the Doctor anniversary special (as well as Listen last season) where a woman enters and starts to angrily tell him to get out until she recognizes him.  Could it be his mother?  Or someone who raised him?  A nanny type figure perhaps?  After the Doctor changes his coat from that dashing red velvet jacket to a black coat more reminiscent of the first Doctor’s wardrobe, the woman brings him some soup, and he’s about to eat, when a group of outsiders (Shobogans perhaps?) surrounded his table, in a very “last supper”-ish feel as a battleship flies up to the table with its weapon targeting the Doctor.  The pilot is delivering a message that the President wants the Doctor to go to the capital.  Drawing a line in the sand with his boot heel, the Doctor returns to his soup.  More soldiers are sent to retrieve the Doctor, the General from Day of the Doctor is sent to retrieve the Doctor, but he will not go.  In the capital the leader of the Sisterhood of Karn tells the President that the Doctor doesn’t blame Gallifrey for the Time War, he just blames the president.  The President finally goes to the Doctor, with the General and with his soldiers and orders them to shoot him.  All the soldiers miss.  Insubordination, because the Doctor is an honoured war hero.  The Doctor proceeds to tell Rassilon to “get off my planet”, and we see the ex-Lord President banished into space, though he really has nowhere to go.

Now we (kind of) learn the whole reason the Time Lords put the Doctor in the confession dial, they’re afraid of the Hybrid and need to know what the Doctor knows about it.  The Doctor tells them what he knows, but uses an extraction chamber to pull Clara Oswald out of time at the instant of her death on Earth billions of years ago, because he says she knows what the Hybrid is.  Now the race is on as the Doctor hides from the Time Lords in an attempt to break through to the Matrix sub levels and find an old TARDIS (since his own is still on Earth) and rescue Clara.  His plan succeeds and somewhat makes sense, he will take them to the end of time to escape and restart Clara’s time stream, saving her life.  Only thing is that her heart does not restart, and she is not really “alive” again.  At the end of time he finds “Me” or Ashildr with whom he argues about who the Hybrid is.  She teases the Doctor that he himself is the Hybrid, he accuses her of being the Hybrid, but Ashildr tells him that the Hybrid is not one person, but two people, the Doctor and Clara being together and being so similar.  The Doctor fought through billions of years of torture to get her back, so it’s not really a stretch to think he would destroy everything, to abandon every code he ever lived by, to leave Gallifrey in ashes to save her.

Left with only one alternative to keep her safe, the Doctor is set to wipe Clara’s memory of him, but instead, ends up wiping his own memory of her.  To him now, she’s only visible by the holes she’s left in his life (and memory).  He kind of does the reverse to what he did to Donna in series 4, which is probably for the best.  If he had to deal with Clara’s death a second time it would be difficult to forge a relationship between him and whoever the incoming companion is, not only for the character but for the audience too.  A lot of people really didn’t like Martha just because she came in after Rose.  As I’ve said before Clara became a very divisive character to the fans.  Hopefully now everyone can move on, those who love Clara can go forward imagining that she’s still “alive” and probably having adventures, those who don’t love her can imagine that she’s returned to the trap street and her destiny.

Great acting, and a great story that had me until the very end, but I think the ending left me a little disappointed because it didn’t offer much resolution to Clara, Me, the Hybrid, or Gallifrey.  It felt like lazy writing to take the easy way out and give everyone the “happy” ending where no one died, and there was really no monster to defeat.

The Good:

  • As if it needs to be said, Capaldi.  His performance was great.  Again.  And Coleman herself was quite good too, 100% emotion when she says goodbye to him.
  • I absolutely loved the classic control room in that TARDIS.  Oh, do I love it.  I would decorate a room in my house that way.
  • Screwdrivers are cool.  The screwdriver is back.  Great another sonic to add to my collection.  If you were smart BBC you’d already have these toys in production for me to buy for Christmas…

The Bad:

  • The sound editing.  Really, I had a hard time picking up the dialogue from the background music and other sounds.  That frustration made the episode less enjoyable.
  • Too bad they couldn’t get Timothy Dalton back as Rassilon, plus everything on Gallifrey seemed rather rushed.  Rassilon was banished too easily and the Doctor seemed to become Lord President in a mater of moments?

The Ugly:

  • Having the General regenerate from a bald white male into a bald(ish) black female seemed a little preachy to me.  Also, I liked the first actor (Ken Bones).  Also also, the Doctor just murdered him.  After fighting until the end of time to save someone, he cavalierly kills him, because he knows he’ll regenerate?  I didn’t really like that idea.  And he used a gun, this character, this legend who is famed for never carrying a weapon grabs the first gun he can find and shoots down the General in cold blood.
  • Steven Moffat really doesn’t seem to be able to let go of Clara, or is it Jenna?  Last Christmas she could have had what I’d consider a classy and touching send off if she woke up from the dream crabs an elderly woman.  Instead that was a dream too and she was young and ready for more adventures.  This year she had a touching and moving death that was incredibly well done, but now she’s been pulled out of time and that dignified send off has effectively been denied to the audience.  I know the show is supposed to be a family show, and possibly the fault lies with me that I’ve grown up and grown impatient that the show hasn’t aged with my own viewing tastes.  I think this “resurrection”, no matter how temporary it is supposed to be (since Clara did say that she will return to Gallifrey to accept her fate and return to her proper time stream and die) kind of lessens the impact of Face the Raven and my enjoyment and appreciation of that episode.
  • Are the only TARDISes left on Gallifrey antiques hidden beneath the Matrix? Seriously?  None of their temporal engineers could construct or grow more for some of them to return to the universe?  That thought never crossed anyone’s mind?
  • I wanted more resolution to Gallifrey.  Bring it back once and for all, have the good Time Lords running it and just move forward, or have it sealed away still and continue to have the Doctor trying to rescue it as he kind of lost track of that goal pretty quickly in this regeneration.  And again, the Gallifreyan segments of the story all seemed quite rushed.
  • For all the importance they were putting on the Doctor not being able to recognize Clara and having to forget her to keep her safe, uhm, the Doctor now knows what Clara looks like again because she was painted on the side of the TARDIS.  At least the paint disappeared when the ship dematerialized.
  • Great now there’s a diner travelling around in space, and , I feel that having Clara and Ashildr’s TARDIS look like a diner forever is just an excuse to make “restaurant at the end of the universe” jokes.
  • Does anyone else feel like Clara’s “death” is rather meaningless now, which is actually more sad than her actual death?

I rarely look forward to Christmas, it’s a humbug of a day to me, but I do usually look forward to the Doctor Who Christmas special.  I’m not too sure how this one’s going to work out….at least a week later we have Sherlock and the Abominable Bride


Posted on 15-12-06, in Doctor Who and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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