I have mixed feelings about the series finale of Doctor Who, ‘Hell Bent’. Visually, it’s stunning, and it’s a real fan-pleaser in terms of returning to Gallifrey, the return of Rassilon, and countless nods to the past. But it’s also an unnecessary ending to Clara’s story, and the ambiguity around the hybrid arc is leaving many scratching their heads.
I guess, fundamentally, it’s just not what I was expecting.
Clara died two episodes ago, and yet Steven Moffat managed to do what I REALLY hoped he wouldn’t. He brought Clara back to life. Yes, I know she’ll ultimately have to die when she returns to Gallifrey, but in ‘taking the long way around’ he’s essentially spared her so that he doesn’t have to kill her off again.
It’s the same sort of cop-out as Amy and Rory’s exit in 2012. Moffat was bold enough to kill off a companion, but he couldn’t stand by his actions, and had to resort to a more happy, or bittersweet, ending.
Clara died. Her brief appearance last week, whilst not needed, nicely helped to finish her arc. She simply couldn’t continue behaving the way she was, and I thought it was a brave move for Doctor Who to deal with these ramifications. Get too close to the Doctor, and you’re gonna die.
What I wanted from ‘Hell Bent’ was the Doctor, angry, taking on the Time Lords. I wanted to see the War Doctor emerging from Twelve, and I wanted to see the Doctor going for broke in his determination to avenge Clara’s death.
Because the hybrid arc just doesn’t make sense. Apparently there have been prophecies about a hybrid who is destined to conquer Gallifrey and stand in its ruins, but why has it taken the Time Lords 52 years to finally address it? Why now? Why not when the Fifth Doctor was around, or even the First? Narratively, it just doesn’t work.
I know that Moffat is trying to shake up the very mythology of Doctor Who – and bravo for attempting that – but this arc just doesn’t work. The Time Lords simply let the Doctor leave, so surely there is going to be some form of sequel in the future?
The hybrid, it transpires after a brief exchange between the Doctor and Ashildr (for a moment there I thought Moffat was finally canonising the Eighth Doctor’s movie – damn you for trolling us!) is not one being, but two. The combination of the Doctor and Clara, both of whom are toxic together.
Which is fair enough. But a hybrid, by its very definition, is the combination of two different components resulting in a new creation. NOT TWO DIFFERENT PEOPLE. It just doesn’t logically make sense, and once more it feels like Moffat tried and failed to shake things up. It’s the whole name of the Doctor arc once more. He’s backed himself into a corner, and doesn’t know how to get out of it.
But not everything was bad.
I love the fact that it’s the Doctor who has partially forgotten Clara. This will hopefully mean he’ll be able to get right back on top of things next series, without lamenting her loss. He knows enough about her, and thanks to her final exchange in the diner, he knows what she looks like, so he’ll be able to briefly reference her should he please.
I do, however, wish that Clara in the diner had been another time splinter, another one of her lives. I really hate Moffat for resurrecting Clara.
Fans have waited over 10 years for the Doctor to return to Gallifrey, and after he does he sulks in his old bedroom and eats soup. Seriously? I mean, come on. It feels like a cop out all over again.
That said, things are nicely set up for a future return. The visual of Gallifrey was sublime – in particular the sweeping shot through the city and into the citadel – and it was brilliant to see Rassilon return. I think it’s safe to assume that both he and the Master defeated one another after their battle in ‘The End of Time’, and both regenerated as a result? Either way, Donald Sumpter was criminally underused here. He’ll be back next year, I’m sure. Hopefully he’ll have more to do.
And speaking of regeneration? Wow. The General is gunned down by the Doctor and regenerates from a middle-aged white man into a young black woman. This was the best moment of the episode for me. Moffat is once more playing with established lore and testing the waters for a female Doctor. I wouldn’t at all be surprised if we got a female Doctor next time… but beware those overnights. I can predict them tumbling even further if this is the case, unfortunately.
Fundamentally I guess I just wanted more. I wanted more action, more Time Lords. I wanted less Clara. But at least the Doctor has his mojo back. It’s going to be a long wait until series 10, I think. But join Vada at Christmas as we review the Christmas special, ‘The Husbands of River Song.’ I don’t expect much from it, though. It looks like a Russell T Davies Christmas special – camp, and way over the top.