Doctor Who Series 9 Gracefully Comes to An End in 'Hell Bent'

Sunday, 06 December 2015 - 5:05PM
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Doctor Who
Sunday, 06 December 2015 - 5:05PM
Doctor Who Series 9 Gracefully Comes to An End in 'Hell Bent'
Last week's episode could definitely be called an instant classic, spanning a period of 4.5 billion years in the Whoniverse. The reveal at the end was huge, as everyone's favorite Time Lord finally found his home planet after the 50th anniversary special revealed its inevitable return two years ago. Now series 9 has officially come to an end (not counting the Christmas special), and it certainly went out with a bang.

This episode detailed how the Doctor was able to briefly become ruler of Gallifrey after his 4.5 billion year imprisonment in the confession dial last week. Using Time Lord technology, the Doctor is able to freeze Clara's timeline at the very moment right before her death. The other Time Lords believe that she's needed for some sort of consultation, but the Doctor has another plan: saving his companion.

The two are able to make an escape by stealing a TARDIS, but as Clara was taken from her own timeline between one heartbeat and the next, she has no pulse. The Doctor hopes that taking her to the end of time will fix things, but the only thing waiting for him there is Ashildr (or Me).

The two have a heated conversation conquering the hybrid, but it becomes clear that neither of them really have a definite conclusion. The Doctor suggests it's Ashildr - a human merged with Mire technology. Ashildr implies that it's the Doctor, as she seems to think that the reason he visits Earth so often is because he's half human. However, it's also suggested that maybe the hybrid is composed of two people - the Doctor and Clara, two people who push each other so far that they become a danger to the universe.

In the end, it's decided that any memory of the Doctor must be erased from Clara's mind in order for her to have a normal, decent life from that point forward. However, Clara refuses and says that she'd rather return to her time stream and die than have the best memories of her life erased. She claims to have reversed the polarity in the device that actually erases memories, so she and the Doctor activate the device together, knowing that one or the other will lose all memories of the other. In a big twist, it turns out that the Doctor is actually the one to lose his memories of Clara.

Over the course of the entire episode, the Doctor has been telling this story to Clara, who's supposedly a waitress at a diner the Doctor visited earlier with Amy and Rory. He describes how he knows about Clara but can't remember her, and so he's been searching for his lost companion for some time. Clara doesn't reveal who she is, but rather leaves teary eyed into the back room. It's then revealed that the diner is the newly stolen TARDIS as it disapparates around him. He then sees his old TARDIS in the distance, left for him by Clara, and realizes who the waitress was, as the portrait left by Rigsy is still painted on the front. Clara and Ashildr also take off in the newly stolen TARDIS, discussing their decision to take the long way round, implying the two will head off on a new set of adventures before eventually returning to Gallifrey so Clara can face the raven one last time.

'Hell Bent' was a very fitting end to series 9, which quite aptly lived up to the standard it's predecessors set and even exceeded many runs of the show in years past. It presented a very human Doctor, who made many mistakes and broke all of his own rules trying to protect someone he loved. It also featured cameos of all the fan favorite villains during the episode; Weeping Angels, Daleks, Cybermen - they were all there. Likewise, the ending to the Doctor and Clara's time together was almost perfect, and it did well in packing the intentional emotional punch.

Of course, there were a couple of issues with the episode as well. No final and conclusive answer was ever really given to who the hybrid really was, and though it may be the subject of future story arcs, it was very anticlimactic to see it turn out this way. Likewise, having one of the Time Lords regenerate into a Time Lady seemed more like Moffat beating fans over the head with the fact that there'll one day be a female Doctor than anything else. Several other references to the possibility have been made over the course of the past three seasons, and though there's nothing wrong with this inevitable event, at this point everyone's got the hint. Capaldi is a brilliant Doctor, and instead of continuously reminding fans of what's to come, the writers should be focusing on the amazing actor they currently have in the role. Admittedly, the creative team has gotten better about this lately - they're just not quite there yet.

In the end, series 9 was a great run of the show, and 'Hell Bent' was a bit of an emotional rollercoaster. The ride may not be over just yet, however. The Doctor just received a new sonic screwdriver, and he's meeting up with his wife, River Song, for the Christmas special. Could this be when he finally gives her one of his sonics and sends her off to the library for her final meeting with the 10th Doctor?
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