This weekend saw the close of series 9 of new Doctor Who with Hell Bent, the first time that a curse word has appeared in the title of this family drama. This is the third part of the continuing story since Face the Raven and picks up where Heaven Sent left off, sort of, not really.
Starring Peter Capaldi as the Doctor, Jenna Coleman as Clara and guest appearances by Donald Sumpter as a thankfully non spitting Rassilon this Steven Moffat penned story will set you back 60 minutes. (Spoliers after the leap!)
Synopsis (the spoilers of Rassilon are after this point)
In a Nevadan desert café the Doctor meets up with a vintage dressed Clara who wants to serve him pie. The setting should look familiar as it is the same café set that was used in The Impossible Astronaut. The Doctor appears to be confused and searching for something. He begins to tell waitress Clara a story.
On Gallifrey the Doctor stumbles upon his childhood barn, and apparently the woman who raised the young man we now know as the hero. She plays the pronoun game and states “they” will kill him, and he is soon greeted by a war ship, which does not shoot and he goes back to eating his soup. Escalation happens including armed soldiers, the council and finally President Rassilon. Rassilon does what Time Lords do best, which is try to dick the Doctor over by killing him. Unfortunately for Rassilon the Doctor is seen as a war hero, the man who won the Time War and saved Gallifrey, as such Rassilon is exiled and the Doctor becomes Lord President again.
Trickery happens, Clara is brought back into the picture in the last moment before her death and the Doctor threatens to rip the universe a new one by saving his friend. He shoots Ken Bones, but only after confirming his regeneration number, and runs into the cloisters with his companion in hand.
Stealing another TARDIS the Doctor goes to the end of universe to try to get Clara’s heart to start beating again, but sadly it does not. What he finds is Lady Me (Maisie Williams) who helps him understand the prophecy the Cloister Wraiths told him about the Hybrid, a terrible creature that is meant to destroy Gallifrey. Clara, hearing that the Doctor plans on erasing her memory to save her, reverses the tables on the Doctor who knows that since he has broken all of his rules he needs to forget her to be the man she wants him to be.
We are left with the Doctor having sorted out everything about Clara except what she looks like. He steps out of the diner and it dematerializes as Clara and Me take the new stolen TARDIS on the long route back to Gallifrey for Clara’s appointment with death.
What to like
- This story is a beautiful farewell to Clara, and while it cheapens her “death” a little, it allows her to die the way we know she did.
- Gallifrey looks glorious, it really does look spectacular and not at all like a dental waiting office or airport lounge.
- “The Time Lords have got a big computer made of ghosts in a crypt guarded by more ghosts,” “The man who won the time war,sir.” and “Stories are… where memories go when they are forgotten.” are lines that remind us just how good a writer the Mof is.
- You get a very real sense that the Doctor is a very well loved Myth, even among his own people. From the heartfelt look of the old woman to the respect of the soldiers the Time Lord we love is loved by his own people. He is also deeply feared by them, as is evident by a fucking warship backing away from an unarmed man.
- The Doctor is seriously dark, and then he is not. This story provides a nice new beginning for a Doctor who has spent a lot of time wondering who he was. The Doctor is seriously a hard ass at the beginning of the story. He doesn’t even think twice about facing off against the father of all of Gallifrey, the man who understands the importance of branding and a man who isn’t against turning someone into stone for wanting to wear his ring.
- “We’re on Gallifrey! Death is Time Lord for man flu” may possibly be the funniest effing line ever although “I think he is finishing his soup.” May be up there as well.
- Foxes cover of “Don’t Stop Me Now” is playing on the radio as the Doctor enters the Diner, its this sort of little shit that makes us happy.
- There is something beautiful about an immortal Clara and an immortal Me cruising around the universe in a stolen TARDIS that looks like Hartnell’s control room. We like this idea and maybe want to see the spin off…just a little bit.
- The Sonic is back!
What not to like
- Due to its running time our DVR missed the first 10 minutes of the story, which is OK because we did watch it on second showing (date night with wife took precedence) and stayed up until 12:30 Sat night, but when we wanted to re-watch on Sunday morning we were missing the first 10 minutes.
- Series 9 is over, it makes us sad.
- There is a much more interesting Doctor Who Spinoff with Maisie Williams and Jenna Coleman that we will not get to see.
Hell Bent gets a solid 5 out of 5 for being fucking awesome, sufficiently meaningful and just plain good. We cannot wait to see what they are up to next season.