Wow, the Doctor Who Season 9 finale was quite a whirlwind! Ending the season with another two-parter, Heaven Sent and Hell Bent were two very different parts to one larger story. Read on, but know that below the cut there are Spoilers, Sweetie.
I really loved Heaven Sent. I loved seeing the Doctor grieve while he figured out how to escape, I was put immediately on edge when I realized that he didn’t have his TARDIS, and it was truly a joy to watch Capaldi try to make friends with a door. After what I thought was a great episode, at first I really hated Hell Bent. But, given some thought, I decided that I’m okay with it. Let me go over the entire Doctor Who finale and I’ll tell you why!
As already mentioned, I loved seeing the Doctor grieve. Every time he came back into his bespoke torture castle he had just lost Clara all over again. I also loved how he is constantly talking to Clara or to the people that are keeping him there, he’s never really just talking to himself. It’s interesting because the Doctor is refusing to admit that he is alone. This point was driven home with the wide shot of him in the TARDIS when he finally admits out loud that he is scared to end up alone. It is a beautiful shot and a beautiful moment.
Adding to the lovely bits, I like that we got to see the moment that the Doctor realized he might be stuck in this mysterious castle forever. Although he put on a brave face and acted like he was invincible, he was in fact very lost, confused and afraid.
After observing the Doctor so vulnerable, it was very interesting to see how the people on Gallifrey viewed him in Hell Bent. The man who won the Time War is very different to the man that we know and love.
Even though the Doctor is a war legend on Gallifrey, and we have been seeing him act like a soldier in some episodes this season, I was still extremely upset that he shot someone. The Doctor doesn’t do weapons, and the fact that he used one made me very mad. However, I do love seeing him interact with Clara, and telling her that he had a “duty of care” was very Doctor- like of him.
I loved that red coat already and I love it more now that I saw the buttons on the sleeves are mismatched.
Some good one-liners:
The Doctor really got some good lines in Heaven Sent, mostly because he was constantly having conversations with people who weren’t there. Highlights are;
- “Gardening is dictatorship for the inadequate.”
- “I just watch my best friend died in agony, my day can’t get any worse. Let’s see what we can do about yours.”
Notes on Gallifrey:
I’ve been wondering since the 50th when we would finally come back to Gallifrey, but I was not really expecting the Doctor to end up there via confession dial. The entire season I’ve been wondering what was up with that dang dial, so I’m glad that we finally got the full scoop. The Doctor said that it was supposed to be a “Ritual act of purification intended to make peace” and that “They used it as torture for the living”. This violation somewhat justifies the anger he has towards the High Council, in addition to the anger he was already feeling after Clara’s death and because of their past war crimes. However, I do wonder what the implications of their banishment will be.
Because the Doctor is usually so peaceful, I found it really hard to accept the fact that the Time Lords are a warrior race and have soldiers and armies. Even though I know that the Time War was a thing, it’s still hard to wrap my head around, just because I associate all Time Lords with The Doctor. But then I have to remember that there is a reason he ran away and never came back and that he is an anomaly.
While dealing with the politics of Gallifrey isn’t really my favorite thing, I do want more information on this Time Lord President who calls himself The Redeemer. I suspect that we will run into him again in future seasons and The Doctor will have to face the consequences of his actions.
I get that the Time Lords have The Matrix and the importance of it, however I thought that having all the monsters stuck there was unnecessary and made for a cheap scare. Once I saw the Dalek that was begging to be exterminated, the whole thing left a bad taste in my mouth.
Another embellishment that I didn’t appreciate was the Sisterhood of Karn. Why were they even there? This seemed like something to include because of “why not” instead of thinking that it should be included. The last few seasons of Doctor Who have a tendency to include a lot of fluff, and in my opinion Hell Bent could have definitely used a de-fluffer.
For most of Heaven Sent, I was extremely confused as to why this hybrid was so important, but I am satisfied with the answer we were given in Hell Bent. I’m sure a lot of people aren’t happy with the ultimate answer of what the hybrid is, but I am just so relieved that it is not Clara or the Doctor alone. I wasn’t completely sold on the whole concept of the hybrid in the first place, and I think that the two of them together being the hybrid is really the best outcome.
All About Me:
I like Me. I’ve liked this character throughout the entire season, and I really like that she stood up for Clara and said that the Doctor had no right to change who Clara was.
When she said, “Summer can’t last forever”, all I wanted was for her to then say “winter is coming”…. She did not, which in hindsight definitely a is a good thing.
I also like that Me and Clara end up having at least one adventure together. Neither of those two should be left alone for very long, so it is good that they will have each other at least for a short while.
These two episodes were really all about Clara and how the Doctor is dealing with her death, and a lot of what I thought about the finale as a whole has to do with the treatment of her character.
In Heaven Sent, I thought that Clara was used in a very interesting way. She’s always a teacher, and I loved that we never saw her face until the very end. It reminded me of when the 11th Doctor saw Amy right before he regenerated. As with Amy, Clara is the first face that this face had seen, and so she will forever be extremely important to this regeneration.
Even in death, Clara continued to guide the Doctor and helped him through his grief. When the Doctor asked her what she would do, her answer was “same as you”. It was a truly touching moment when the Doctor admitted to her and to himself “that is what killed you”. It drove home the point that the Doctor isn’t just working through his grief, he is also working through his guilt.
These moments combined with Clara’s death in Face the Raven were so good, it made me very angry when she showed up in the diner in the beginning of Hell Bent. In my mind, she had a perfectly good death and now they were bringing her back to muck it all up!
I didn’t like the diner scenes throughout the episode. It seemed like Clara didn’t remember and it made me so mad because it reminded me of Donna. I think that Donna’s goodbye is sad because she had everything taken from her, and I thought that they were going to do the same to Clara. But then, Clara got to say everything that I wish had been said for Donna.
“These are the best days of my life and they are mine.”
“Tomorrow is promised to no one, but I insist upon my past”
It turns out that the Doctor ended up forgetting instead of Clara. She attempted to reverse the polarity on the device he was going to use on her, and in an act of good faith towards each other they pushed the button together. She says goodbye to her Doctor, and goes to have a few last adventures in her stolen TARDIS in the heartbeat she has left.
It took me some thought before I decided I was okay with Clara getting her time to jaunt around in space. You may remember that in Face the Raven, I thought that her death was a good one. Clara herself was very intent on “dying right” and specifically told the Doctor not to try to save her. After Missy inexplicably returned this season, when it seemed that Clara was back I was furious that no one who died was ever staying dead. However, Clara got to defend herself and she still has to go back to die. She didn’t escape death, she just running for a while, just like the Doctor. She gets to go and be the Doctor in a sense, which really is what she has been trying to do the entire season, but eventually she will go back and face the Raven.
I hope that the Doctor and Clara do not run into each other again. Clara already had a really great goodbye, the fact that she was given two is already excessive.
One last note:
The sonic screwdriver is BACK!