Doctor Who Recap Series 9, Episode 12 – “Hell Bent”

In Nevada, the Doctor enters a diner and encounters a waitress physically identical to Clara. He begins to tell her a “story” about Clara; neither appears to recognise the other. The episode then   flashes back to Gallifrey, where the Doctor has escaped from his Confession Dial. The Doctor learns that he had been trapped in the Confession Dial for over 4 billion years by Rassilon, for fear that the Doctor was the Hybrid of the Gallifreyan prophecy that would conquer Gallifrey and stand in its ruins. The General and Ohila attempt to learn more about the Hybrid from the Doctor, but the Doctor asserts that they must ask Clara Oswald about it. The Doctor attempts to take Clara far enough away from Gallifrey that she will break away from the time loop and regain her heartbeat, with the Doctor hoping that he can escape having to return her to the moment of her death, despite potentially damaging time itself in the process. When it becomes apparent that Clara’s timeline isn’t readjusting, the Doctor pilots the stolen TARDIS to the extreme end of the Universe, minutes before it is due to totally collapse. Having travelled only in time, not space, the TARDIS has materialised in the ruins of Gallifrey. The Doctor answers a knock at the door and finds Ashildr waiting for him, having lived through the whole lifetime of the universe and becoming the last immortal being left. After dismissing the idea that the hybrid may instead be half-Time Lord and half-human, Ashildr presents her own theory on the Hybrid’s identity: that the Doctor and Clara together are the Hybrid, since they are so alike, each pushing the other to potentially catastrophic actions. The Doctor then reveals his intention to erase Clara’s memories of him, hoping that if she is left on Earth without memory of the Doctor the Time Lords won’t be able to find her.The device affects the Doctor, who says his goodbyes to Clara before passing out. The Doctor wakes in the Nevada desert with no idea how he had arrived or any idea who Clara is. In the present, managing to piece together everything about Clara except what she looks like, the Doctor finishes telling his story to the waitress, who encourages him to keep going. She then goes to a back room, revealing Ashildr and the TARDIS console; the diner is in fact the new TARDIS the Doctor stole, and the waitress is indeed Clara herself. The TARDIS departs, leaving the Doctor behind and revealing his own TARDIS, still covered with Rigsy’s painted tribute to Clara. Ashildr reports that the chameleon circuit isn’t working, so their TARDIS is stuck in the form of an American diner. Clara declares her intent to return to Gallifrey to die and restore the timeline, as her death is a fixed point in time. But since she is now ageless, she decides to “take the long way around”, and sets off with Ashildr to travel the universe. (Wikipedia)


Bayana’s Take:


I thought this was a good end to the season even if it isn’t my favorite episode. It tied the overall theme together — which at first seemed to be about the fine line between friend and enemy but really became more about the Doctor getting further and further away from himself because of his love for Clara. A part of his inability to cope with her death, I think, had to do with the fact that he’s lost A LOT of companions and maybe he was sick of it. At the same time, I know it was also about Clara herself. He really did love her (though platonically) and being the only Time Lord (other than Missy) has made him much more dismissive about the rules of the universe. One of the things I loved about this episode, and this season as whole, were the parallels to the Tenth Doctor and his relationship with Donna. While the parallels between 10 and 12 have been clear throughout this season, the ones between Donna and Clara are really interesting as well. While Donna was the companion who best kept the Doctor in check, this season Clara has been too preoccupied with becoming like the Doctor that she’s mostly just gone along for the ride, allowing him a lot of room to do whatever he wants (which is different from her role in previous seasons, especially seeing as she was the one who stopped the Doctor from destroying Gallifrey). What I also thought was interesting was the initial painting of the Time Lords as the bad guys. Obviously, the Doctor has always been in opposition to them, which is a part of the reason why he ran away, but here he pretty much stages a coup in order to save Clara’s life. The Time Lords are rightly worried about what the Doctor will do; in a way the villain of this episode is the Doctor himself — even though Missy is actually the one who orchestrated it, as she introduced him to Clara. Clara even notices this, when she discovers that the Doctor tried for four and a half billion years to save her; she realizes how far he has gotten from himself. While initially, I was a bit disappointed that Clara’s initial death wasn’t the end, I realized in the end that this ending made more sense. The Doctor would have never stopped trying to bring her back from the dead, and time itself would fracture. I actually loved that they turned what happened to Donna on it’s head. Instead of Clara’s memory being wiped, it was the Doctor’s, which was better because that way, she could die in peace.

Some random thoughts:

  • “Where are you from? Glasgow?” “Space Glasgow”

  • “Stories are where memories go when they’re forgotten.”

  • It’s a testament to how far gone the Doctor is when he kills the General. Of course, “on Gallifrey, dead is Time Lord for ‘man flu’,” and the General regenerates into a black woman!

  • WEEPING ANGELS! I know they were only there for like two seconds, but I love the Angels and hope they have another episode soon.

  • “It took him [The Doctor] four and a half billion years to get back on Gallifrey. What do you think he’s gonna do now? Why he’s stealing a TARDIS and running away.”

  • “As of this moment I am answerable to no one!” = “The laws of time are mine, and they will obey me!” (I really love the Tennant/Capaldi similarities, if you didn’t notice)

  • Four knocks!!! Thanks for making me sad all over again Moffat 🙁

  • “Let’s do it how we do everything else, together” *jumps off Astronomy Tower and weirdly and unnecessarily merges faces*

  • “Smile for me…one last time” AND WE’RE GONNA TEACH EM HOW TO SAY GOODBYE

  • “Never eat pears, they’re quite squishy and they always make your chin wet”

  • I like how the Hybrid is really the Doctor and Clara – two warrior races and not necessarily half-Time Lord/Dalek. Also, in the last episode when the Doctor said the Hybrid was “me,” he really meant Me/Ashildr (though it turned out not to be her).

  • It would be interesting if the Clara and Ashildr team-up became a problem, since time is still breaking and Clara can’t travel around forever. Also, maybe Ashildr will just keep the diner-TARDIS and then she can come back for series 10!

  • “Run you clever boy…and be a Doctor.”

  • THE SCREWDRIVER IS BACK THIS IS THE BEST PART ABOUT THIS EPISODE. I understand now the point of the sunglasses, though: it was clearly a way to show how far the Doctor was getting away from himself. It always felt off to me that he didn’t have the screwdriver, since it felt so much like a part of him, but now it makes sense why he didn’t have it this season, and I’m glad it’s back (and looks kind of cool).

Robyn’s Take:

So you may have noticed I wasn’t around to give my take on episode 11 “Heaven Sent” as I was still enjoying the holiday with my family (apologies, Amani!). However, this seemed to be a blessing in disguise because I was able to watch the episodes back-to-back. Though I was unable to really follow Heaven Sent, I loved the feel and pace of the episode. I avoided reading Bayana’s recap until after I watched but her (freakish) ability to remember and follow all of the moving parts in that story cleared up a lot of the questions I had. Though this was billed as a two-parter the tone shifted dramatically at the start of “Hell Bent”. The Doctor comes to Gallifrey and though The General and Ohilia trapped him there to learn about the Hybrid who is prophesied to conquer Gallifrey, The Doctor has his own plans for the Time Lords. To see the Doctor deal with grief in this way is new and also very eye opening. As Bayana alluded to, we have seen The Doctor deal with losing companions before but never have we seen his actions directly after the loss. The Doctor is definitely in stage one: denial. He has been known to go rogue before, especially to save a friend but I can’t ever remember him risking all the universe, which is exactly what he does in an effort to save Clara. I found their devotion to each other really touching and also a bit scary considering what they’re capable of. I loved the retelling of his story to Clara in the diner, I also loved the callbacks to past seasons and companions: Donna Noble, Amy and Rory. I thought this was a good way to end the season. As sad as I was when the Doctor wiped all of Donna’s memory, I felt that it was fitting for the Doctor to lose the memory of Clara. Seeing the lengths that he was willing to go in order to bring back Clara and his inability to let her go it seems best that he’s the one who forgets her. I was so excited to see the return of the sonic screwdriver! I was fine without the screwdriver, but the sunglasses were too much. I would love some radio dramas, a book or anything following the adventures of Clara and Ashildr/Me taking the long way back to Gallifrey. The only thing left now is the Christmas special with River Song and I’m super here for it!

It was a great season, maybe one of the best, I cannot wait to see what else the show has in store for us!