"You like a cliffhanger" – Clara
So we have the finale of the current series of Doctor Who which has, overall, seemed to have gone down rather well indeed. But than I always think that. So how does Hell Bent hold up?
1. Fall Of The Theories
Episodes out of order? No. The Doctor mourning the death of Clara? No. The return of the Master for the final episode? No… not quite. There in spirit… but no. All we got was questioning the supposed identity of the hybrid at the very end of last week. Everything else was merely foreshadowing…
2. The Silent Doctor
The Doctor fights with words, those are his weapons. That's what we were told by the President of Gallifrey. Yet for the first fifteen minutes on Gallifrey, and for a good chunk of the ending, he doesn't say a word. As a sequel to an episode where he spoke to himself when surrounded by no one, here is surrounded by a planet and says nothing. And it is silence that sees him win, and his one phrase "get off my planet" become the only weapon he needs. A rather bloodless coup. And a rather bloodless soup.
3. The Boys
"It's for the boys, if any of them want to come." The Doctor has returned to his family home. So does this mean that this is his mother? Very little is said… as for "the boys", as the Doctor once said when asked if he had a brother, "not any more…" Wasn't it his future self, The Curator who told him that he would be revisiting one or two older faces? Could that have meant his home village? Who not only make him Heinz soup, but surround him Indiana Jones style against the Gallifreyan guards…
4. The Men
As this episode begins however, this Doctor Who is all about the men. The Doctor, the council of Gallifrey, the guards, the President – and yes, it's Rassilon The Ressurected, regenerated from James Bond into Maester Luwin. This is in direct opposition to The Zygon Invasion where every significant character was female. However, that's all about to change. Regenerate as it were.
5. And The Women
"How do you cope with the ego?"
The Sisterhood of Karn arrive. Clara is in the Diner and then rescued from her death. The General regenerates into a woman – a black woman when it comes to that, a useful point for the show to make when they start debating as to who will follow Capaldi. As is the idea that this particular Time Lord is usually female, the last regeneration being an aberration. Though it's interesting to see a newly regenerated female Time Lord somehow manages to generate makeup onto her face in the process. And we meet Me again – as the Doctor said last week, "the hybrid is Me." And Missy cited as the woman behind the Doctor and Clara's woes. And the show manages to shift completely on its gender axis one more time.
6. When The Doctor Holds A Gun Something Is Very Wrong
And when he shoots it things are even worse. He does what he has talked against, saving one life and risking destroying the universe, because that is the Doctor he is and that is why he wears the face he does. Even if he has to pick up a gun, and shoot a General. Well, he never did like soldiers. And now he is one.
We also hear tell of another Doctor he used to be, one that ran off with Rassilon's daughter, who was eccentric, a bit mad and rude to people. That naughty naughty First Doctor… so does that mean that Susan isn't just the granddaughter of The Doctor but of Rassilon as well?
I tell you what though, if I was Adric I'd be really annoyed by this episode.
7. Half Human Hybrid
The Eight Doctor declared himself to be half human on his mother's side, something the show has studiously avoided since, But here it is raised once more and not dismissed. In fact the whole hybrid-ness is still up in the air, he could be the Doctor and Clara, it could be Me, it could be anything else, we haven't seen the ruins of Gallifrey, it is still possibly that this is all still to come.
8. The References
Oh well where do we start? The Cloister Bell that sounds for warning in the TARDIS extrapolated cross Gallifrey and the Cloister Wraiths. The classic roundels, terminal and columns of the Found TARDIS. The four knocks – those that Wilf sealed the Tenth Doctor's fate with, as well as the heartbeat of a Time Lord, and the beat of the theme tune.. Da Da Da Dum. Daleks, Weeping Angels, Cybermen all in the Matrix which, yes, Doctor Who did first, the living memory of Gallifrey – foreshadowed by the sewers of Skaro perhaps? The family barn, the wiping of companions minds to protect them (though Clara stood up to what Donna could not) and the toss of a coin, the fifty fifty chance between the Doctor and Clara, rather mirroring the Zygon Inversion as well. That very familiar Diner, which they nicely hid the angle of. It's a real diner in Cardiff and those doors that lead to a console room here, in reality lead to police box doors (oh and has a very UK-based emergency exit sign – another deliberate TARDIS mistake?). It's going to be even more of a tourist attraction now. Oh and was that a Pulp Fiction reference with the bullets that all missed? There will be many more…
9. The Sonic Lightsaber
10. Maybe Clara, Me And The Doctor's Daughter Could All Team Up
We now have an immortal and her companion racing around Time And Space in a TARDIS that may possibly be stuck in the shape of an American Diner. They are taking the Flash solution from Crisis Of Infinite Earths – a comic in which the scarlet speedster died. However it as later revealed that he ran through all of time and space before his death, allowing other stories to be told – but knowing that a very specific death still awaits. And so it is with Clara, trapped in a heartbeat, falling towards her death with.. All she has to do is keep running
A bit like us all I suppose. Just we don't have a TARDIS to help slow our descent.
You don't suppose Clara and Me could make a guest appearance in the upcoming Class instead of The Doctor, do you? I suppose there are some part of South London that an American Diner would fit wonderfully.
River! Greg Davies' Head! A sonic trowel!!!