Review by Daniel Schwartz
Contributing Guest Reviewer
(Victor Valley)– The Hybrid, the journey to Gallifrey and Clara’s death were all leading to this moment. In the season 9 finale of Doctor Who, showrunner Stephen Moffat wrapped up some plot threads and left several more wide open for the next season and beyond.
For the first time since the series reboot in 2005, The Doctor returned to his lost home world in order to save his long dead companion Clara. Having spent the better part of 4 billion years breaking through a solid diamond wall, the titular Time Lord returns to Gallifrey to pull Clara from the moment before her death to save her from her fate. Breaking every rule about time that he has upheld to this point, The Doctor finally goes too far to save his companion.
This episode featured The Doctor at his darkest. In using a gun to kill a fellow Time Lord (albeit he did regenerate), he breaks the most sacred rule that he has upheld to this point. Further, instead of re-inserting Clara into her timestream to die (as in order to heal the fracture in time), he steals another TARDIS and flies away with her. The Doctor goes so far away from himself that he must erase his memory of Clara so that he will not act in this way again.
Using the mind-wipe as the tool for Clara’s swan song, Doctor Who is able to separate the dynamic duo without killing one of them in the process. Instead of meeting her death (like Amy and Rory), she is given an ageless body and left to travel the stars in a new TARDIS with Me (Maisie Williams, whose character is also immortal) in a fun and fitting farewell.
Aside from the return to Gallifrey, there were a few other great references to classic Doctor Who. First, the new TARDIS The Doctor steals has the same control room as the First Doctor’s TARDIS. Then, thankfully at the end, we see the return of the sonic screwdriver that has been absent since the season premiere. Have been replaced by the terrible (yet fashionable) sonic shades, it was a welcome sight at the end of the episode.
While the throwbacks to classic Who and The Doctor’s desperation are amazing aspects of the episode, Hell Bent falls short on resolving the over-arching theme of the season. From the 2-part season premiere, the Hybrid is mentioned as being The Doctor’s big secret and the main storyline for the new season. Unfortunately, after several mentions during the season, the riddle of the Hybrid remains just that. It is suggested that The Doctor is the Hybrid (half human as previously mentioned by the 8th Doctor), Me is the Hybrid, and The Doctor and Clara are the Hybrid together, but no answer is given and none of the characters seems overly concerned about it.
Overall, it is a very exciting episode that explores how far The Doctor will go to save the people he loves. Not only does Clara get a fitting finale, she also gets to fly away in a diner-shaped TARDIS that will hopefully be seen again in the future. While the Hybrid mystery is never really resolved, fans are left with a satisfying finale that makes them count down the days until the Christmas special (The Husbands of River Song).