Hell Bent began with The Doctor entering a ’60 diner, with a cover of Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now playing on the jukebox, and Clara seemingly behind the counter. This made me think, “Oh come on, bringing Clara in a lot, after she died, is just taking the proverbial!” I was expecting her to return at some point, but last week’s brief cameo was enough.
He seemingly didn’t recognise her, while she wanted him to tell her all about Clara, as if it’s new to her. Huh? Is this Jenna Coleman character one of “Clara”‘s many lives?
After the opening credits, we were back in Gallifrey, and this is the point where the episode really dwindled in the dark for a hell of a long time, we had Donald Sumpter rather wasted as The President of Gallifrey, who turned out to be a camp, bloodthirsty loony wanting to assassinate the Doctor, and when he trained his army on the Time Lord, they all missed on purpose, although at first it felt rather like Pulp Fiction and the 'hand cannon' incident .
Just before all this, the inhabitants treated The Doctor like a refugee and gave him some food. Then the President’s spaceship came, ushered everyone away from the Doctor, who stood up, drew a line in the sand… and went back to his soup. When asked “What’s his plan?”, Ohila, from the Sisterhood of Karn replied, “I think he’s finishing his soup(!)”
And then after it took forever before he finally went out to meet up with The President, he didn’t shake hands, but threw down his confession dial down to the ground and bemoaned, “Get off my planet”.
And inbetween the soldiers shooting at the Doctor and us seeing the outcome, it cuts back to him and Clara in the cafe, with her telling him, “You like a cliffhanger, don’t you?”
But, why did they miss? Because he was unarmed. Aside from a couple of quips, this was mostly terrible scriptwriting with Steven Moffat trying to make the episode last as long as possible. I really can’t imagine what he was thinking of.
Some other quips came with Ken Bones returning as The General, following 2013’s 50th anniversary episode, The Day Of The Doctor, and the Christmas episode, The Time Of The Doctor. After a brief exchange between him and the Doctor which culiminated in establishing their position in time: “We’re at the end of the Universe, give or take a star system”, they got down to business, questioning the Doctor – “What is the Hybrid?”
The Doctor countered their thoughts on what they knew, “What colour is it?” (they didn’t know), to which he replied, “Prophecies never tell you anything useful, do they?”
Ohila told him, “This is no time to play the fool”. He replied, “It’s the end of the universe, it’s the only time I’ve got.”
More improbable situations continued as they travelled back to when Clara was hit by the raven in the trap street. He saved her from that scene, and took her to Gallifrey, with the intention of get info about the Hybrid which they think she has… or so he told the powers that be so he could rescue her – that was his sole endgame. But there was a catch – she wasn’t dead, but she wasn’t quite alive, either.
He told her, there’s a sound she’s been living with every day of her life but has chosen not to hear – her heartbeat. Her phyiscal processes have been timelooped. Basically, she’s frozen in time. Technically, they only have a short amount of time, and after they’ve finished, she’ll be returned to her scene to die. And that’s where he played his hand in trying to save Clara, except it was stupid how he pulled a gun… just like he never does!
At the halfway point, it was established that the cafe scenes were flashforwards, and he was telling Clara that he had to wipe some of her memory – memory of him.
But then more timewasting ensued as they escaped through the Cloisters, trying to get out and avoid the Sliders (who only attack if you try to leave – yet provided no threat!). A Dalek was shown to have broken in at some point – it was a leftover from the Cloister Wars, crying “Exterminate me”. Also present were some Weeping Angels and one of the Cybermen. This had suddenly turned into a “best of Doctor Who”, rather like Spectre was a ‘best of’ for all of Daniel Craig’s Bond films and, as such, it showed just how few ideas they had as they’d run out of them all!
We learned that all that time in the maze last week – trapped in the confession dial (really?) – was actually four-and-a-half-billion years. He did that to save Clara. Awww…. that was quite a nice moment.
Clara told him: “Between one heartbeat and the last is all that we have. We should say things to one another” (the conversation not taking place onscreen – oh well, I thought, it’s Moffat’s writing so it’d probably be terrible…) But then she revealed what she said in their conversation as she talked to the powers that be: “Don’t worry Doctor, they’ll all be looking at me”, and he ran off while she gave that misdirection, so he could get to the workshop and find another TARDIS… and this one was a cylindrical shape, and the internals were like the First Doctor’s TARDIS, so those were neat references back to itself.
The Doctor: “What do you think of the new wheels?”
Go to page 2 for more thoughts and conclusions on the episode.
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.