Doctor Who Review by John Keegan

Doctor Who 9.12: Hell Bent

Doctor Who 9.12: Hell Bent

Written By:
Steven Moffat
Directed By:
Rachel Talalay

I was a bit concerned that after spending so much time on exploring how Clara was acting more and more like The Doctor, and what losing her meant to The Doctor as a result, that shifting gears to “the hybrid” would be a drawback.  Little did I realize how they were the same thing, and seeing that play out in the finale was a wonder to behold.  This is easily the best story arc Moffat has produced in ages, and that’s because it was all about the characters. 

Some will be upset that the return to Gallifrey was ultimately not so much about returning to Gallifrey, but The Doctor was on a mission, and that mission required getting access to technology that was only available back home and under the right circumstances.  Dealing with tossing the leadership of the Time Lords on its head can come later, since he’s going to have to be accountable for his actions eventually.  But the whole gambit came down to saving Clara from her fate in “Face the Raven”, and in the best possible way.

I think some will balk at just how far The Doctor is willing to go on Clara’s behalf; he is literally willing to risk all of time and space for the sake of a friend.  A lot of people wouldn’t be willing to do this for the love of their life, let alone a friend, but let’s face it: The Doctor is pretty much a textbook introverted personality.  He clings to his Companions and loves them fiercely, but it’s not so much romantic than just intense loyalty and a dash of possessiveness.  This is his dear friend Clara, and the hell if he’s going to sit back and let her die if he can save her.  In that regard, the eighth series feels like a prologue to this journey, as we got to see his complicated reactions to Danny Pink.  He’s not going to stand in the way of his Companions’ relationships, but he’s also going to be a jealous nit about it.  

It’s that level of dedication that drives The Doctor towards fulfilling the “prophecy”, or more correctly, The Matrix’s prediction of what will happen given the copious amounts of data regarding The Doctor on hand.  Yes, The Doctor will literally work to his own self-destruction again and again for the sake of Clara Oswald, and the only person who is going to get him off that path is Clara herself.  Which adds a level of tragedy to the entire finale, because while we as the audience get Clara back amongst the living, the cost is knowing that The Doctor loses someone important to him.  Even if he doesn’t remember her, per se, don’t think for a second that won’t haunt and hurt him for the rest of his days.

I have little confidence that the future will bring us the Adventures of Clara and Me, but the fact that the door is left wide open for it is brilliant.  For one thing, it’s entirely possible for either one of those characters to show up in some future series without the other and still have it work, and there’s also countless other media spinoff potentials, be it novels or Big Finish audio productions.  It’s really the best possible scenario for fans of Clara and Ashildr.  

The episode does leave The Doctor in an interesting place, however. Spending that enormous amount of relative time alone was horrible, but it was also laced with the fixation of survival and personal crusade.  Now he’s alone without that influence, but also without the questions about his intentions that have plagued him since regeneration.  There’s a feeling of a “new day dawning”, with The Doctor’s status quo going into Series Ten being a complete mystery.  Wouldn’t that be a nice change of pace?

Our Grade:
The Good:
  • Series Nine comes to a close with a story fitting for its character-centric focus
  • The final status of Clara and Ashildr is just about perfect
The Bad:
  • I just feel terribly sad for The Doctor!

John Keegan aka "criticalmyth", is one of the hosts of the "Critical Myth" podcast heard here on VOG Network's radio feed Monday, Wednesday & Friday. You can follow him on twitter at @criticalmyth

Doctor Who by - 12/7/2015 11:07 AM181 views

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