Who Reviews: Hell Bent
By Steven Moffat
Reviewed by Jeffrey Zyra
“You said memories become stories when we forget them. Maybe some of them become songs.”
The Clara Who series finale er, wait a minute, The Doctor Who series finale Hell Bent has to go down as one of the better Moffat finales, but far from great, since the show came back onto our TV screens back in 2005. One of the faults and there are many of Steven Moffat is his inability to give us a properly written series finale without going for the big production of bringing back tons of characters including the kitchen sink. This time he bridges the series finale along through three stories to give us a story that wraps up the Clara era pretty well which we all thought was done two weeks ago in Face the Raven.
The thing about the new series is that a companion just cannot leave the show. They either leave and come back or get killed and get resurrected and fly around time and space with an immortal in a TARDIS in the shape of an American Diner. This is also a trend in most Sci-Fi shows and done all the time in comic books. When a character dies just wait a moment they will come back alive. At some point no one will believe them anymore and it will just be looked at as a ratings grab as it will be a massive publicity event to get people to watch. Now with Clara I thought she should have stayed dead. Her death in Face the Raven was heart-breaking and a shocking end. Now we have a story where she comes back and apparently cannot die somewhat like Owen Harper from Torchwood which is too bad as I preferred that send off and I just wish companions could just leave and not come back or stay dead. At least Adric stayed dead.
I found it hard that the all-powerful Rassilon just got up and left Gallifrey without giving up much of a fight. Really the guy with a power glove that kills Time Lords just leaves with his tail between his legs. Really found this hard to take that he would leave because The Doctor says too. This is minor and not that big of a deal but it wasn't really needed in this episode. It seemed more like pandering and a filler as this first part of the story wasn’t needed as the story ended up being about saving Clara and not about stopping the Time Lords at all for what they did to him and Clara. In my mind Gallifrey was wasted. Here was a golden chance to have a story set on Gallifrey having Rassilon as the main baddie and then bringing Gallifrey back. You still could have the Hybrid in it as The Doctor was protecting ME since he made her The Hybrid.
With the revelation that this three-part arc was about saving Clara really cheapened Heaven Sent as we saw The Doctor being tortured about who or what the Hybrid was when in fact it turned out to be The Doctor and Clara or was it, we never really did get that answer even when The Doctor confessed to being it but then why would he run away from himself. To me it felt like we did not need the events in Heaven Sent because if he wanted to save Clara he would have just said some fake lie about the Hybrid and ended up on Gallifrey instead of being in there for 4 and a half Billion years. That’s a long time to wait to save someone and just doesn’t make much sense to me why The Doctor would torture himself like that when he could have just lied to get out of the Confessional Dial.
This story was a quandary for me as I did not overly enjoy it but nor did I hate it. There were bits that I did like for example The Doctor staring down the Time Lords outside the cottage and the final farewell between The Doctor and Clara. I thought most of the story from where The Doctor meets up with ME again was pretty good and it gave you a good sense of what was going to happen and if you didn’t guess from the beginning of Hell Bent that The Doctor would be the one losing his memory of Clara well then it would be even sadder moment for you.
I also really liked the old school TARDIS console room. I really liked that they recreated the old Hartnell era design and it looked really good. I would actually welcome seeing that one used again and since they have a set for it maybe they will.
Like I said above I wasn’t all that crazy about Clara more or less becoming a time traveler and hybrid immortal or Doctor like which was the complaint a lot of fans had about her character. Sometimes it felt like the Clara show with her companion The Doctor. It did feel like that and Steven Moffat most likely gave those fans a slap with her and ME going off in their own TARDIS. Whatever that was for one thing that’s for certain Clara will be gone now and the show looks to be rebooting with a new companion and let’s hope the show becomes more Doctor centric in Series 10. Hell Bent closes a really great Series 9 as every story was pretty strong with a few exceptions and they tried different things some good and some bad but that is to be expected but at least they tried going in a different direction as we saw with the finale.