Doctor Who: Hell Bent Review

Hell Bent

The 9th (since it was revived) series of Doctor Who closes out with a story that’s equal parts a touching character piece and insane Moffat timey run-around…

Official Synopsis:

If you took everything from him, betrayed him, trapped him, and broke both his hearts…how far might the Doctor go?
Returning to Gallifrey, the Doctor faces the Time Lords in a struggle that will take him to the end of time itself. Who is the Hybrid? And what is the Doctor’s confession?

Note: Full Spoilers From Here On Out!

The Good:

HB 2

“Didn’t I used to be intimidating?” “Yes, mighty Rassilon…”

Like it or not, Clara has been written as arguably the most important person in The Doctor’s life… ever, so it makes sense how far he went to try and rescue her here. The scenes between the two are often well acted and touching, and the farewell at the end was good, though a tad annoying (I’ll get to why below). The idea of a “reverse Donna”, where The Doctor’s memory of her was erased rather than the other way round was a good touch.

So, the Hybrid that a lot of people have been going on about is not a single creature, but The Doctor and Clara together? Then again, The Doctor pretty much confirms he made the whole thing up, or at least that the legends actually meant anything. Why have I brought this up here? Because it means the Doctor saying he didn’t leave Gallifrey because he was bored, he did it because he was scared of the Hybrid now comes out as a lie, and thank god for that. It made no sense given how often The Doctor returned to his home planet after his self-imposed exile…

Even though he’s played here as quite frail and powerless, I did like the interaction between Rassilon and The Doctor. The reveal that Rassilon put the Doctor through those billions of years of hell makes sense given their history (especially if you follow the Eighth Doctor audios!) and the idea that once the Doctor arrived the soldiers grew the courage to over throw him at long last because it was The Doctor who ended the Time War and saved Gallifrey. Given that Rassilon was instead trying to destroy the universe to save the Time Lord elite, makes sense!

When he stole a new TARDIS and the interior was almost a scene-for-scene recreation of the First Doctor’s TARDIS interior from the early 60s… it was just beautiful.

The Bad:

HB 3

“What are doing, Clara?” “Trying to look 60s in order to blend in!”

In my Face the Raven post, I said I was worried that Clara’s death would be undone, and although thankfully it isn’t, it still has less impact. When the episode ends Clara is in an immortal state due to being extracted during the moment between her final heart beats using Time Lord technology, and goes off in a TARDIS shaped like a old diner with Ashildr, vowing that eventually she’ll go back to Gallifrey and resume her death in order to preserve the web of time. Given that the universe isn’t destroyed, we can assumed that she does indeed eventually do just that, so the death we saw two episodes ago is her actual death, but she still got a lovely “her adventures continue” ending as well… it kind of cheapens it a tad.

The Doctor shoots one of the few non-grunt Time Lords that are on his side in order to get Clara out of Gallifrey…. I don’t care that he asked him what regeneration he was on before he did it, surely he could have just knocked him out?

Ashildr is alive at the very end of the universe… hmmm… all she had was a Mire healing chip in her head, I don’t see how it could have lasted until the year several trillion or whatever it actually is (see below!) and how Captain Jack, who was actually pulled out of his death and was therefore an anomaly rather than technology based, wasn’t there…

The Continuity:

HB 4

It’s funny how this barn has become such an important landmark so quickly…

Rassilon appears, having last been seen in The End of Time (and played by Timothy Dalton, so I guess he regenerated at some point!), and it is revealed that Gallifrey, when it was saved in a pocket dimension, now lays at the end of the universe (“give or take a star system or two”).

Given that The Doctor was in contemporary Earth and then was in the Confession Dial for four and a half billion years, the universe shouldn’t be nearing its end. In Utopia, which also takes place at the end of the universe, the date is given as the year 100,000,000,000,000 AD. Still, I guess there is nothing to say that the confession dial on Earth in 2015 was the date The Doctor arrived in it…

Rassilon, when threatening The Doctor, asks “how many regenerations did we give you?” meaning The Doctor doesn’t necessarily have 12 more lives after this one, it could be less, or even more!

Yes, Ashildr does infer that The Doctor is half human, and The Doctor gives no firm answer. The TV Movie strikes again!

As seen in the image above, The Doctor once again revisits the barn that he visited when he was a child and when he was about to destroy his whole people…

The Time Lord Matrix appears, a digital word where the consciousness of dead Time Lords are loaded (as well as general knowledge stored), which first appeared in the Tom Baker classic “The Deadly Assassin”. A Dalek is found trapped in there, which could be a reference to the Big Finish Audio story “Gallifrey: Ascension”, where The Daleks invaded the Matrix. Also trapped are a Cyberman and some Weeping Angels.

Overall Thoughts:

Doctor Who S9 Ep12 Hell Bent

Remember when he was a grumpy sod and didn’t play the electric guitar? Those were the days…

Overall I liked more than I disliked. It has some good moments using Time Lord lore and then a good send off for Clara that nearly negates her great send off two episodes ago. Still, a good end off and a nice clean slate for next year.*

3 Star Watch

*Or two years, as it apparently is now…

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