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This is the official blog of Phoenix Roleplaying, a multi-genre simming site, created in August 2010.

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Wednesday, 9 December 2015

57 fanfic writers just punched the air (Review: 'Doctor Who' 35.12, "Hell Bent")

This contains major spoilers.

The third and final part of this season finale sees the Doctor back on his home planet of Gallifrey, where he is very, very cross at what has happened to Clara. So he intends to do something about this. Unfortunately, this is going to cause problems for the universe, because he her death is a fixed point in time.

This is very much an episode where we see the Doctor really lose it. He basically 'kills' someone without provocation (OK, he's a Time Lord and he's going to regenerate, but still), banishes Rassilon despite the fact there's not really anywhere in the universe for him to go and is fully prepared to destroy the web of time to save Clara. This is all superbly played by Capaldi, who convincingly portrays someone who really doesn't like having you interrupting his tomato soup, especially after you've trapped him in a castle for 4.5 billion years. It's also a nice change to have the Time Lord lose his memories of travelling with someone.

Clara appears in this more than I'd expected - in fact, she's very much the focal point of this, plucked out of a time a moment before she gets a raven in her chest. She demonstrates why the 'Impossible Girl' is one of my favourite companions; she's witty, intelligent and willing to sacrifice herself, knowing when the Doctor has gone too far, as he most certainly has here. She realises that she needs to go back at some point to Trap Street and 'face the raven', but there's not exactly a rush. The next companion will have a lot to live up... I'd say big shoes to fill, but Jenna Coleman is only 5'2; at any rate, I look forward to seeing her play Queen Victoria.

Me/Ashildr return in this episode and she has become a lot calmer after living for several billion years. Her scenes with Capaldi are great and while this is effectively the end of her time on the show, it's made me look forward to the next season of Game of Thrones more.

Each season of Doctor Who has a central mystery, and in this one it revolved around the identity of 'The Hybrid', a creature that is supposedly the combination of two warrior races. Moffat has some excellent fun teasing the reveal and stringing the fans along over the whole 'half-human Doctor' thing (cf the 1996 TV movie). His actual reveal is quite genius, drawing up a nice link between Clara's first episode and her last. The showrunner has a knack for setting things in motion that take years to play out; we also get a return of his own contribution to the Monster A-List, the Weeping Angels, which remain very frightening creatures. Seriously, the only people I know with more warped minds than this on television are in the writers' room of The Blacklist.

As mentioned this occurs mostly on Gallifrey, being rather heavy on the Time Lord lore - indeed, the Sisterhood of Karn turn up again. Rassilon (Donald Sumpter in his fourth appearance in the franchise) is a bit of a busted flush who seems to have lost most of his power - it would have nicer to have Timothy Dalton back, but the other Time Lords are very good, most notably the General that the Doctor shoots - leading to our first on-screen sex change regeneration. I've become a lot more accepting recently of the idea of a female Doctor in fact, with the great job done with the Master/Missy. The planet is back, but out of the way enough that it won't impact things too much.

The ending is a triumph. Clara and Me get to go off and have their own adventures in a TARDIS stuck as an American diner (the same one from "The Impossible Astronaut" in fact, with the console room a replica of the original, complete with some features that were only in the first episode in 1963 then dropped for budget reasons) - there will be fanfic. Meanwhile, the Doctor returns to his own TARDIS, where to the triumphant strains of "A Good Man", Twelve's own leitmotif, he gets a new sonic screwdriver and heads for new adventures. The former is going to inspire a lot of fan fiction, while the latter allows the BBC to sell yet another toy - I've got two sonic screwdrivers myself; namely the RTD era version (which was a present from the Anglican Chaplaincy at my university when I turned 21) and the version now lying on Skaro.

I will say one further thing about the music here; we get a return for "The Doctor's Theme" (as known as the "Bad Wolf" theme) that dates back to the RTD era as well and it's very nice to hear it in some scenes.

Drawbacks? The episode does drag a bit and some aspects, namely Clara's actions, are a bit predictable; also, as mentioned, Rassilon isn't very good.

Conclusion

While a bit dragging at points, this is an episode that managed to have its cake and eat it. Clara both survives and dies; the Doctor goes off the rails and returns to them before totally destroying himself, while we also get the return of Gallifrey without it being a problem.

9/10

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