‘Doctor Who’ Series 9, Episode 12 – Emotional But Frustrating | TV Review
The previous episode, Heaven Sent, was an accessible, brave and gripping piece of TV. In comparison the finale, Hell Bent, is frustrating and full of nerdy references but offers moments of emotional brilliance. This episode cannot be discussed efficiently without spoilers so please watch before reading.
So after spending billions of years keeping the secret of the hybrid to break out of the confession dial The Doctor has arrived on his home planet of Gallifrey. The Time Lords are unfortunately underserved making them one of the episodes weaker elements. The Doctor does re-visit the barn seen in the 50th anniversary episode and in a nice stand-off no soilders want to shoot:
“The man who won the time war’.
The finale is more interested in the emotional element and challenging our perception of this incarnation of the Doctor. The Doctor breaks his own moral code and he coldly shoots the General who had been helping him.
“At this point I’m answerable to no-one”
He does this so he can escape with the returning Clara, who is back thanks to some fancy time lord technology. Having the Doctor shoot the General is a brave gamble by writer and show runner Steven Moffatt. It is a little jarring to see the doctor acting so coldly but it does justify the episode’s conclusion.
“You’re on Gallifrey. Death is Time Lord for manflu”
This episode is Jenna Coleman‘s swansong. The majority of Doctor Who fans are ready for Clara to move on and indeed we thought she had died permanently but the modern era frustratingly refuses to kill-off any companions. Clara’s character seemed to change each series and has been criticised for actually fulfilling the doctor’s role in too many episodes. So in answer to this Moffatt ends the series with her having stolen a TARDIS from Gallifrey on the run from the Time Lords.
The episodes main strength is Clara’s realisation the Doctor has compromised himself for her and in a great switch on Donna Noble’s fate The Doctor forgets Clara. There are glimpses of a number of classic monsters but in another bold move for the series the finale’s climax is the emotional resolution.
“I can’t be the doctor all the time”
“Tell me what they did to you- what happened to the doctor?”
Capaldi and Coleman are both superb in the quiet moments between them but the extended episode lacks an overall coherence. The finale is about the Doctor becoming the doctor again by forgetting his friend Clara who he would risk all of time and space for. A strong emotional finish to the series accompanied by a great Murray Gold score but overall a frustrating and nerdy episode.
Doctor Who will return on Christmas Day.
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