Review: Doctor Who, Series 9, Episode 12: Hell Bent (On Irritating Me!)

doctor who 8

(SPOILERS AHEAD)

“Nothing’s sad ‘til it’s over…then it is”

Is it just me, or does Steven Moffat have little consistency in the realm of quality? Last week’s ‘Heaven Sent’ was superlative and left scope for a great finale to a very good Series 9. The Doctor had found Gallifrey…what was going to happen next? What actually happened only concerned Gallifrey for the first quarter of the episode, and even then as something of an afterthought. It was secondary to the main thrust of the episode (SPOILER ALERT!): a farewell to Clara! Wait, haven’t we already said farewell to her? Yes, we have, and a fitting farewell at that. But her second farewell came at the expense of a finale. As the credits rolled, I shrugged my shoulders and thought the whole charade was pointless.

That the episode starts off with The Doctor going into a Nevadan Diner to see Clara as a waitress set my Spider-Sense tingling. It was the same diner as the one in ‘The Impossible Astronaut’…for no particular reason! Even when we do find out that the diner isn’t what it appears to be (SPOILER ALERT: It’s a TARDIS!), there’s still no reason for it to be the exact same diner as we’ve seen before. Seeing Clara for the second episode since she ‘died’ was also off-putting. Killing Clara was a brave move for Doctor Who, so I should have expected them to reverse it sooner or later. But seeing Clara instantly took me out of the episode and made me irritable.

We didn't really need Gallifrey in this episode, did we?
We didn’t really need Gallifrey in this episode, did we?

“Get off my planet!”

Seeing Gallifrey in all it’s glory was a nice touch, especially with the theatrical TimeLords walking and talking, doing their TimeLord-y things. We’ve been waiting for The Doctor to find Gallifrey since the events of ‘The Day of the Doctor.’ And, presumably, so has The Doctor. In the finale of Series 8, he followed Missy’s co-ordinates to Gallifrey (which were fake). It must have been playing on his mind, the fact that his people are out there, somewhere in the universe. If you think about it, the search for Gallifrey could have made a great series arc. It would have increased the emotional impact of the end of Heaven Sent, and glued together Series 9. Series 9 has lacked an overall theme (apart from Clara Knows Everything!) or arc. But The Doctor coming across Gallifrey by accident felt a bit of a cheat.

However, Gallifrey was not the main element of ‘Hell Bent.’ It was Clara. As soon as The Doctor told the Commander that he needed someone to help locate the hybrid, I guessed it would be Clara. Unfortunately, I was right! She’s snatched from time just as the raven was about to kill her. The rest of the episode was about The Doctor trying to stop Clara from dying. He even shot The Commander (who regenerated into a black woman from a white man, in one of my favourite moments!) in a totally out-of-character moment to escape with Clara. The Doctor has always been against shooting. Yes, we’ve seen him shoot Daleks in the Time War, but this shooting was under completely different circumstances. Yes, the Commander had two regenerations left, but The Doctor still took a life, in a manner of speaking!

“I can’t be The Doctor All The Time”

doctor who hell bent 2
Good to see an original TARDIS!

From the point of Clara’s rescue, my interest in ‘Hell Bent’ dropped dramatically. I wanted The Doctor against the Timelords, or working with the Timelords to fight the Hybrid! The Hybrid is a classic Moffat MacGuffin: something that will either never be explained or explained in thirty seconds of nonsense words and then forgotten. I’ve just re-watched ‘The Big Bang’ and some of the questions raised in that episode don’t get answered until Matt Smith’s final episode! Some don’t even get answered at all! I’m sure there are some questions from Series 8 that are still in need of an answer. Moffat is adept at posing questions and creating intrigue, but awful at resolving them. The only story arc of Series 9, the Hybrid, was talking about without resolution or revelation. So what was the point?

It may not have been the worst finale of nu-Who, or even the worst finale of Moffat’s reign (that title goes to ‘Death In Heaven), and there were enjoyable bits here and there. But Clara’s return sapped all suspense and intrigue out of ‘Hell Bent.’ I didn’t care much for Clara’s first farewell, so a second farewell seemed very excessive. The Doctor acted irrationally and out-of-character, even shooting someone who had helped him at one point. For an episode that promised to be about The Doctor reuniting with his own people, it was a massive letdown. Gallifrey was a mere backdrop to bringing Clara back to say goodbye again. There was really no reason to do that, at all! Overall, Series 9 has been high quality, but it ended on a low point.

VERDICT: 4/10. Dull, pointless, and relying on the same tricks as every finale, ‘Hell Bent’ offered no reason for its existence other than to give Clara a second send-off. But that was no reason at all…

Leave your thoughts/comments below!

(Click here for my review of Doctor Who, Series 9, Episode 9: Sleep No More)

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12 thoughts on “Review: Doctor Who, Series 9, Episode 12: Hell Bent (On Irritating Me!)

  1. erinthedreamer December 6, 2015 / 7:54 pm

    Great review. Personally, I was disappointed with this season as a whole and I’m not a fan of Clara so dragging out her death was incredibly annoying

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hammy Reviews December 6, 2015 / 8:07 pm

      There were some really good episodes this series, but the finale left a bitter taste in the mouth. Just kill Clara off already!!!

      Like

  2. Prawn Master 5000 December 6, 2015 / 10:09 pm

    Dross. The episode was so dissapointing. This was Moffat’s End of Time for me, self indulgent stretching of the character of the doctor- when Tennant didn’t want to go (RTD didn’t want to go and so the Doctor out of character gets all emo despite having had longer regens go out with dignity knowing it is the same man aftervall is done). So Clara, such a disjointed, poorly characterised and inexplicably elevated by him) was given an over rought, over indulgent goodbye spanning a quarter of a series! Thst it happened with this particular Doctor made it worse. He cared for Clara deeply, but he’s not Tennant or Smith, he’s more stoical, more hardened. But yhat went out of the airlock.

    And Galifrey’s loss and return has been the thread through all of nuwho. Ten years! And it was a big deal. And so poorly done, the Doctor may hsve had famiky there! Or did he not care? Was a dead human worth more than reunionbwith his species? Or… was it worth abandoning his hone to Rassilon? Why would he risk letting space and time fracture gor Clara… hes seen whst yhst shit does!

    So poor.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Prawn Master 5000 December 6, 2015 / 10:11 pm

      Btw my cat nudging me whilst typing on my tablet is largely responsible for the above typos!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hammy Reviews December 6, 2015 / 10:12 pm

        I thought that maybe Hell Bent had stunned you so greatly that you couldn’t type properly

        Like

    • Hammy Reviews December 6, 2015 / 10:12 pm

      And The Doctor shot someone! To save Clara…it goes against everything The Doctor stands for!!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Prawn Master 5000 December 6, 2015 / 10:38 pm

        Yes the Doctor:

        Shot someone
        Broke time
        Left his people to be retaken by a despot
        Decided running away with a dead woman was more important than spending time with people in need (his own species) that he’d spent about 1000 years searching for or waiting for (since Smith’s last ep?)

        This isn’t his character. This is bad writing.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Hammy Reviews December 6, 2015 / 10:44 pm

          So very infuriating! It’s time for Moffat to leave…RTD knew he couldn’t go on, and did the honourable thing. Moffat should do the same thing

          Like

          • Prawn Master 5000 December 6, 2015 / 10:55 pm

            The problem is there’s no respect for how we get from A > B its all a screaming A! Or B! With a big “look how clever I am!” And I say this having really liked his first series. His episodes are the second worst after the ridiculous excrement produced regularly by Gatis. The show could do so much better if it stopped trying to pull hybrids and impossible girls and fake heavens and mystery names.

            Now Galifrey is there and Clara is gone… will the Doctor go home (his great hope at the end of the 50th?) I am guessing no. There is nobody to “bring back” now. They’ll have to try something else….

            Or maybe the Rani! Bertie Basset and the liqourish death? If there are unsubtle hints such as “life is sweet” or “it takes allsorts!” Or “made from glucose and hydrogenated fats Doctor!” We will know what Moffats up to!

            Like

      • Dave December 6, 2015 / 11:58 pm

        This Doctor is expanding his dimension. This Doctor was never meant to be Chris Eccleston, David Tennant or, Matt Smith. This Doctor is being challenged, and exploring other arenas of his existence. Perhaps the Doctor is more human than a Gallifreyen Time Lord.

        It is possible that is a series (notice, I said series) ender we find Missy to be virtuous, and the Doctor as evil.

        Hopefully the series has many years to run.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Dave December 6, 2015 / 11:44 pm

    I actually liked the twists & turns through this season.

    I did like the evolved Clara not, the pushy Clara. She became less pushy as the character evolved. She served time on the straight, and narrow when the Doctor would think of going beyond the rules.

    It seems, and I might be mistaken but, I thought this was a similar story with Donna as well.

    As for Clara’s story ending here, I was surprised but, certainly they might have focused less time on this final departure, and more time with the Doctor at home, again.

    What I find with Moffat is, his story content is always good but, the screen play can give too much of a good thing, and when it does, it becomes negative.

    Tell the story, and get on with it.

    As for this episode, I’d give it a 4 out of 5. Season: 4/5

    Liked by 2 people

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