Sunday, December 6, 2015

Review: "Hell Bent"

And we come to the conclusion of Series Nine of the new Doctor Who series.

Spoilers follow.

Still there? You were warned.

The episode starts off with the Doctor, sporting an electric guitar, going into a Nevada diner. Clara is working there as a waitress. She doesn't appear to know who the Doctor is. The Doctor settles in to tell a story about a woman named Clara.

Then we have our scene readjusted. The Doctor is now back on Gallifrey after a few billion years punching his way through diamond. He walks to an old farmhouse in the middle of the Gallifreyan desert (aren't there any plants on this planet?) and chills out. Some matronly woman comes in blathering and stops to gape at the Doctor. It seems this is the farmhouse the Doctor used to chill out in as a kid.


So the High Council of Time Lords knows the Doctor's about and the Sisterhood of Karn has somehow dropped in for a visit (because they apparently both know how to find Gallifrey and can travel in time and space but conveniently never told the Doctor where Gallifrey was 'cause... okay moving on). The Lord President Rassilon (now regenerated into a crusty old guy) sends forces to retrieve the Doctor. First it's troopers in hover vehicles. Then it's other Time Lords. Then it's Rassilon himself.

Rassilon and the Doctor have a bit of "whose is bigger" posing. Then Rassilon tells his troops to kill the Doctor. They all refuse and drop their weapons. The Doctor then performs a coup and banishes Rassilon from Gallifrey at the end of the universe (as that's where Gallifrey is hiding because... um... reasons).

The Doctor then starts doing a bit of housecleaning on Gallifrey. Rassilon and his lot were after the Doctor for information on the Hybrid and the Doctor just refused to give away that tidbit (and we never really get a definitive answer as to what the Hybrid is).

The Doctor uses Gallifrey's resources to snatch Clara out of time from the moment before she dies. She's frozen in a moment, with no heartbeat, but can still talk, walk, breathe, etc. Because reasons.

The Doctor then snags a gun, shoots one of the senior Time Lords, and flees with Clara.

It seems if they don't put Clara back into her timeline to die, the universe will unravel.

The Doctor flees into the Cloisters, where there's these cool "Cloister Wraiths" hanging about. He talks to Clara about how he was a young Time Lord and snuck in to the Cloisters where he learned about the Hybrid, then went a bit mad and fled Gallifrey.

The Time Lords and the Sisterhood pursue the Doctor and Clara into the Cloister. There's a bit of nonsensical posturing (with the Time Lords and Sisterhood essentially calling the Doctor an irresponsible fool) then the Doctor sneaks away, steals another TARDIS, grabs Clara, and flees.

There's a cool moment in which we see a re-done version of the First Doctor's classic TARDIS, complete with a working Chameleon Circuit.

The Doctor voices his plan to Clara to hide her and use a device to help her. The TARDIS stops and there's four knocks at the door at the hidden point at the end of the universe (where the Doctor seems to like to hang out a lot). Ashildr/Me is there, of course. She lectures the Doctor a bit, implying the Doctor is the Hybrid and may be half-human (a concept first introduced in the horrible 1996 Fox TV movie). Nevermind that the Doctor said at the end of Heaven Sent that he was the Hybrid. Whatever.

So the Doctor explains he intends to wipe Clara's memories of him so he can hide her. Clara, in the meantime, has turned on the TARDIS monitor and heard the whole thing.

Cue the three of them in this new TARDIS. Clara claims to have re-adjusted the mind-wiping device so it will wipe the Doctor's memories and that her past is her own.

The Doctor and Clara then cue the device together and the Doctor's memories of Clara are wiped.

Cue back to the diner. The diner is actually the stolen TARDIS. Clara and Ashildr have swiped it to jaunt across the Universe. The Doctor is returned to his TARDIS, gets a new coat, a new sonic screwdriver, and is off.

Yeah. So an entertaining story with a lot of nonsense and unanswered questions, such as:
  • The Doctor apparently fled Gallifrey when he was very young, but he had a granddaughter. So... um... how does that jibe with the being "young" thing? Just a teen pregnancy thing?
  • How the hell is the Sisterhood of Karn bopping about?
  • Why were the Sisterhood able to give orders at the end? Hell, why were they there at all?
  • Why the the neural-brain-zapper thing work on the Doctor when they made a big deal about it being "calibrated for humans"? The Doctor is not human, as the series has claimed endlessly.
  • WTF was up with all that Hybrid nonsense?
  • The Time Lords can manipulate time and space. Why were they hiding at the end of the Universe? Why were they hiding at all?
  • Seriously, why are the Time Lords the loathed bad guys from the Time War but the Daleks are popping about and nobody seems to care?
  • How were Ashildr and Clara able to read the TARDIS manual instructions if they were in Gallifreyan? The show has actually stated that one cannot properly run a TARDIS unless one is a Time Lord. There's a whole genetic thing. So how are they operating it at all?
I'm ready for Moffatt to stop running this show. I'm also hoping that one day they'll get coherent writers back.

EDIT: So I've had more time to ponder. Some things stick out in my mind.
  • Classic TARDIS.
  • Resolution to Rassilon.
  • We have the Time Lords back.
  • Cloister Wraiths.
  • New sonic screwdriver (I'm a sucker for toy-fodder).
  • Diner TARDIS.
  • The Dickensian Gallifreyans at the old farm. WTF?
  • Ashildr/Me. She was an unnecessary afterthought in this episode and, honestly, didn't have much of a part to play a couple of eps back when Clara died.
  • The resolution of Clara. Why? Just... why? I mean, if her existence is threatening to tear the universe apart, it's clearly not happening so... um... why?
  • The Doctor shooting the General, forcing a regeneration. That felt unnecessary and more than a lot stupid.
  • The entire "Hybrid" thing. Like the entirety of Clara, the Hybrid story was incoherent and never really made any sense.

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