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Hell Bent

ShowDoctor Who / Series IX / Episode 12
First Broadcast2015/12/06 - 19:40 (Link: ABC Details)
Related LinksDoctor Who Wiki Wikipedia
Previous EpisodeHeaven Sent
Next EpisodeThe Husbands Of River Song

The episode is told in flashback. We begin in the Nevada desert, apparently in the diner from The Impossible Astronaut, except, for some reason, Clara (or someone who looks like her, another echo?) is the waitress and the Doctor does not seem to recognise her.

The Doctor tells her the story of what happened on Gallifrey. The Doctor heads to the barn where he spent some time in his childhood and later with the Moment. He faces off with the President of the Time Lords - apparently Rassilon re-born? - and tells him to get off the planet and forces him to do so. He journeys into the city and using Time Lord technology extracts Clara from her timeline just prior to her facing the raven.

The Doctor seems determined to save her. However Clara does not seem to want this. She is also horrified at the cost, ie. the Doctor spending billions of years in his confession dial. Clara and the Doctor head down into the Cloisters wherein lies the Matrix. There's some cool new ideas here: it's guarded by the Wraiths; many beings are trapped there, eg. a Dalek that wishes to be exterminated.

The Doctor captures a TARDIS and takes Clara away from Gallifrey. The trouble with extraction is that you're not really alive, eg. no heart-beat. When Clara's heart-beat does not start, the Doctor takes them to the very end of the Universe. Even this does not help Clara. Waiting there for the Doctor is Ashildr. They discuss who or what is the Hybrid. Could it be Ashildr herself? Or could it be the Doctor and Clara together? This seems possible. The Doctor's "duty of care" for Clara has driven him to turn his back on his ideals, eg. shooting and killing a Time Lord.

To end the impasse the Doctor wants to wipe Clara's memory of him. Clara - overhearing on the scanner - meddles with the neuro blocker. There's now a 50/50 chance as to whose memory of who will be wiped. In a surprising twist, it is the Doctor. And now the scenes in the diner make sense. The Doctor is looking for Clara but does not know who to look for.

Clara exits the diner and we discover that it is the TARDIS the Doctor stole earlier. She leaves with Ashildr, leaving behind the Doctor's TARDIS. He goes inside, puts on his jacket, snaps his fingers to close the doors and catches a new sonic screw-driver launched from the console. Clara has also left him a message. We get a sense of returning to normal. The Doctor dematerialises destroying all memory of Clara from the exterior. Clara, meanwhile, will return to Gallifrey so that she can be re-inserted into her timestream. At the last minute, she decide to go the long way round. The two TARDISes cross paths in the vortex.

All up, it was a good, solid episode. However it was disappointing that Clara is effectively alive. I think this was a poor choice. Her departure through facing the raven should have been left undisturbed. The exact nature of the Hybrid was also left unclear.

PS: There were many, many references to past episodes - too many to list here - the Doctor Who Wiki has a good list. A couple worth mentioning: Me knocked four times; and we saw a Time Lord regenerating and change sex and skin colour. This is the first time we've seen a Time Lord change sex, although it has been clear it is possible, eg. Missy. You could argue that Melody Pond regenerating into River Song was a previous example of skin colour changing.