The Doctor Who finale aired and somehow managed to shatter the constant agreement
that had reigned over our discussions. All sense of consensus was gone, replaced by arguing over just about everything related to Doctor Who. With dramatic twists and returns, Hell Bent definitely had a lot to talk about.
Read on to see what we thought of the last story of this series. Be warned, there are SPOILERS ahead.
JC: Tell me you loved it
JA: I have varying thoughts but overall I liked it. It just wasn’t anything like I expected it to be. At all.
JC:Ashildr kind of summed it up for me: “Clara died. It was beautiful. Stop messing with it, you’re making it worse.”
JA: I’m partially convinced that was Moffat being slightly meta with the whole “unable to let go” thing.
Since that’s something Moffat is (kind of rightly) accused of.
JC: Pretty sure you’re right. But yeah, series 9 is gonna *just* miss out on topping series 5
Chibnall wrote two episodes in Season 5.
JC: I know, but series 5 still has the best story arc, and by far the best finale. I’ve never been more satisfied with a season finale for a show not named sherlock
JA: I won’t argue Season 5 has the best final episode.
This might come in second for me. I don’t know. I generally need time to reflect before I can make a fully rational judgment.
JC: I’m still reflecting as well. But I can kinda tell this one is getting pulled to the negative side.
I mean, I liked it in spades, but as a whole work it didn’t really come together for me. It’s a bit all over the place and it retroactively made face the raven worse
JA: I think if Face the Raven was advertised as Part One of the finale, it would have worked better.
JC: Maybe? I’d been thinking of it all as a three parter though.
JA: Then I would have seen the same way I saw, say, Amy’s death in The Pandorica Opens.
JC: I think Face The Raven’s power comes from how simple and anticlimactic her death was though. For Amy, her death was more an intentional cliffhanger.
JA: I actually think I mostly agree. I have really mixed feelings about this episode.
I love it as a story, but it does undermine Face the Raven and doesn’t adequately follow up on the promise of Heaven Sent.
JC: Well, I was already bracing for an episode worse than heaven sent. I don’t know if we’ll EVER get a better one. But I was really, really, REALLY hoping for an episode that wouldn’t retcon anything
That was basically all it needed to do to top series 5.
JA: Overall, I think the season had a higher standard of quality.
And Capaldi is better than Smith.
Though Amy’s better than Clara.
Hmm. It’s actually closer than I thought.
JC: I think Capaldi is better, but Smith is still my favorite if that makes sense
JA: Yeah, I understand.
JC: As for positive things from me, the opening 20-30 minutes was great
JA: I would agree that was the strongest part. Gallifrey is back!
I think that Gallifrey opens up a lot of story opportunities. Especially if they have a somewhat antagonistic relationship with the Doctor.
JC: I think I’d actually prefer Gallifrey dead but I did like the way they handled the first part of the story
JA: Eh. Dead Gallifrey is only good for angst. There’s only so much mileage you can get out of that.
JC: Well I prefer earth stories and gallifrey is one more non earth planet to set episodes in
JA: Whereas I think we have too many Earth stories.
The disagreement boiling under the surface of our previous discussions has been released
JC: I woulda said that six weeks ago if I knew you disagreed lol
I think we have/had too many LONDON stories for the record
JA: That’s definitely true. And too many present-day London companions. (Everyone except Amy. And depending on whether we count where Clara lives or where she was born.)
(And except Rory and Jack. Forgot them somehow.)
JC: You didn’t forget Clara, but the doctor will!
And that’s the other thing though. WE ALREADY HAD A COMPANION GO OuT VIA MEMORY WIPE. REVERSING THE ROLES DOESN’T MAKE IT DIFFERENT MOFFAT
JA: That was bothering me.
I think the Doctor forgetting made it better, but still…
I was expecting Clara in the Diner to be a Clara splinter.
And the Doctor’s saying goodbye because his Clara’s dead forever.
JC: That’s what I thought too. Probably what Moffat wanted us to think
JA: I have to say though that if I ignore Face the Raven and leaving aside the repetitive forgetting thing, Clara’s exit was pretty good: traveling with Ashildr in a TARDIS and eventually having to face her death.
Face the Raven was just better.
Although I guess she is still dead/will die?
JC: That would be erasing a 10/10 episode to turn a 6.5 to a 7. But yes she does die
JA: Speaking of TARDIS: William Hartnell’s TARDIS is still amazing.
I like it more than the current one.
JC: Agreed. I want a season of that tardis
JA: Well, I think there are a few…
I might be slightly biased because I actually saw the version of it they used in this episode in person.
JC: I’m just surprised the “it only looks like this because our budget is five quid and a shoelace” design holds up in the modern era
JA: The Hartnell-era Daleks also held up really well in the opening two-parter.
The original designs were great. They looked a little less great later in the Classic Series when they were ten years old and had the the crap beaten out of them, but still…
JC: Wanna hear my unpopular opinion?
JC: I like the jellybean daleks
JA: When you wrote “unpopular,” you misspelt “heretical.”
Or perhaps “wrong.”
JC: They’re cute!
JA: And that’s why they’re awful.
JC: I mean I like the classic design and the typical bronze ones but I thought the colored ones were nice. YOU’RE just a dalek racist
JA: The outer shell is just armor. So I’m just critiquing their fashion sense.
Nothing racist about that.
JC: Someone will find a way to make it so.
But anyway, I did like the crypt thing with all the other monsters
JA: Yes, that was cool.
Also, mentions of the Matrix.
The sheer quantity of nerdy references was on par with one of my scripts.
JC: sho what
JA: It was one line. It was also one line from the Deadly Assassin. Neither of the times do we have any context other than that they’re a group on Gallifrey. I think other material might say more, but I don’t know it off the top of my head.
JC: Yea that went right by me.
JA: I feel like Moffat has a tendency to have companions overstay their welcome.
Same thing happened with Amy and Rory.
They had a great exit in The God Complex and then got dragged back for another season.
Or half a season.
JC: With Amy/Rory it was only a half season too long at least.
Clara has more endings than Lord of the rings 3
JA: I’m pretty sure the whole “Doctor doesn’t like endings” thing that started with Moffat is Moffat putting his own thoughts into the story.
JC: Hmmm. Maybe. And since this is a writing oriented blog, we should stress that the lesson here is “kill your darlings”
JA: I’m pretty sure you’re using that quote out of context like most people do.
JC: There’s context?
JA: You are. It’s about deleting story elements and sentences that don’t serve the story. Not about characters.
JC: Oh, I knew that. But in this situation its both
Clara’s story continuing past FTR and her one awesome line in the last episode IS something that doesnt serve the show right, as badly as Moffat wanted to write his own ending
JA: I’m not entirely sure it applies, but I think we’d be arguing semantics.
JC: Hey at least its arguing!
JA: But we have real things to argue about!
BTW, I’m convinced this episode BASICALLY says the Doctor is half-human.
JC: LALALALALALALALA I CANT HEAR YOU
JA: I’ll lay out my reasoning so you HAVE to listen, but honestly the Doctor HAS to be (at least temporarily) half-human for the TV movie plot to work, even though people ignore that.
But the ONLY reason that the Doctor would have heard the Hybrid theory and immediately been terrified that it was related to him is if he was a Hybrid. He had no way of knowing he’d create Ashildr or meet Clara at that time.
Also, did you notice both Ashildr and the Doctor were standing in the ruins of Gallifrey, just like the prophecy predicted?
Say what you like about Moffat: he is really clever with stuff like that.
JC: I didnt quite notice that. That’s really clever. So it was basically those two.
But the doctor isnt half human and my reasoning is as follows:
That would be stupid.
JA: I find it really funny that I’m the classic series fan (who mostly hate the idea with a fiery passion) and I’m the one sort-of arguing for it.
Alternatively (and better), he’s a Hybrid because his DNA contains the DNA of the Other, reborn from the Looms.
Me being superman
Me being jaden, not ashildr
JA: It’s a 7th Doctor book/cancelled episode which reveals that the Doctor MIGHT be the genetic reincarnation of the Other, one of the founders of Time Lord society. And also that Susan was actually the Other’s granddaughter, not the Doctor’s.
It’s been contradicted multiple times by the New Series, because Time Lords in that book come from Looms fully-grown and we see the Doctor and the Master as children.
Also Susan leaving with the First Doctor.
JC: This show has more lore to it than some religions
JA: And it’s all contradictory, which is even better!
JC: We have a real talent for straying off topic, you know
JA: It’s a gift.
JC: On the other hand, we might’ve gone through most of what there was to talk about
JA: One more thing I can think of: is it just me, or did Maisie Williams give her best Ashildr performance yet? She seems more natural each time the character appears.
JC: Yea, I agree unfortunately. She really grew into the role. Or perhaps the writers grew into it
JA: I wouldn’t be opposed to occasional reappearances from her. It seems a shame for her to finally have a full grasp of the character right at the end.
JC: Its a shame, yea. I wouldn’t mind her and another resurrected character who referred to the doctor as her old man who ran off into the sunset returning together
JA: If you’re referring to who I think you’re referring to, word of Moffat and RTD is that she flew straight into a moon.
JC: I heard that. I was sad.
JA: I kind of want Jenny to return because she’s a loose end, but honestly I can’t see what can be done with her that couldn’t be done more interestingly with Susan.
JC: She’d be more likely I think simply because shes nuwho
JA: She’s still seven years ago now. And Susan’s been mentioned by Capaldi.
And we just had Gallifrey, a Hartnell TARDIS interior, and Rassilon.
JC: True. But at least I for one would have no stake in a susan return, since I have seen nothing from her. I don’t think I’m much of a minority in that either
Though they did bring back sarah jane
JA: She’s the Doctor’s Granddaughter. That’s enough of a hook. Much better than “she’s his kind-of, sort-of daughter/clone thing he met once and then thought was dead.” That actually takes longer to explain and is far less thematically satisfying.
JC: Maybe. Though for some reason I feel like I wouldn’t want her to return. Like she’s been gone for too long and should be left alone
And yes, I’ll be a hypocrite on this if Jenny is still missing 43 years from now
JA: My only concern would be that I want the Big Finish stuff not to be contradicted.
To get back to the subject of the episode, what do you think of the new Sonic Screwdriver?
JC: Looks sweet
JA: Oh, look, we can agree!
JA: I really liked the scene of him putting on the jacket and then grabbing it. Very “the Doctor is back.”
It makes me hopeful we won’t get a mopey Doctor in the special and the next season.
I was dreading a Rose in Series 3 situation.
JC: Or 11 post Pond tbh
JA: At least that was only one episode.
JC: As opposed to a series, yeah.
So, with this series wrapped up, predicitions for next year?
JA: Definitely more Missy, probably with Daleks. Almost certainly more Gallifrey. I’m really, really hoping for a non-21st-Century Earth companion. Give me someone from a historical time period. Or the future. Or an alien. Just anything for a little variety.
Master and Daleks versus Gallifrey finale?
JC: I’m predicting something totally different.
After a kickass spacey wacey timey wimey opener, we get light hearted earth stuff then an underwhelming finale. The law of averages kicks in with a vengeance after this season’s overall greatness
JA: I don’t like your predictions. At all.
Also, can I point out something slightly ironic?
JC: go ahead
JA: I’m not sure if it was in one of these discussions or not, but you once told me what you really wanted in a finale was a story with just one person’s life at stake rather than the universe.
Which is exactly what we got.
And you didn’t like it.
JC: I have strongly mixed feelings, but you’re right. I’ll defend myself, however, by saying that’s what we got- more or less- with face the raven and I loved it.
And in my vision for that finale, the person they have to save is a new character, not a companion. One of House MD’s finales did this, and it was heartbreaking, which is mainly where the thought came from
JA: Hmm. I’m not sure how well that would work for a finale. Which means I’m now probably going to sit down and try to plot it out. That’s usually my solution to thinking or being told that something wouldn’t work.
JC: Perhaps a christmas special. May work better that way
JA: That might be more fitting.
JC: Okay, so scoretime. Should probably do one for both episode and series. You want first or last word here?
JA: I like the idea of ending up on a more upbeat note, so I think I’ll take last word, since we’ve already established I liked it more.
JA: (On a writing note, that word is still an unholy abomination.)
JC: Episode: I have strongly mixed feelings. What could’ve been an epic episode about the doctor descending into prophecied evil turned into what could’ve been a decent small scale episode about death and letting go. It ended up being neither. A sort of mix of things that did not go together well. It was great in spades but lesser than the sum of its parts AND, fatally, partially undoes one of the best episodes in recent years. 6.5/10
Series: The retconning of Clara’s death, even if she technically has the same fate, ends up knocking the series down to second best of Nuwho, but man was it still great. Consistently dark, consistently good, with great production, writing, acting, all around. It has 2 of the best episodes of the new show and Capaldi is rocketing up my list of doctors. Series gets a 9.5/10
JA: Episode: Well, it did undermine Face the Raven a little. And it didn’t fully follow up on the promise of a Doctor on the warpath against Gallifrey, fulfilling the prophecy of the Hybrid. BUT I did really enjoy it. There was a lot of fan service that admittedly improved my opinion, but I also feel it had some very strong scenes and a strong story, just not the one I was expecting. I liked how far the Doctor went to save Clara, breaking all the rules he once held sacred. The reintroduction of the Time Lords worked very well, although I would have liked more of a focus on them. I loved the scene with the screwdriver and the coat. The Doctor’s confrontation with the guards was also great. Lots of amazing scenes. Overall, I’d give it an 8/10.
Series: My favorite of the New Series. Capaldi’s worked his way up to being tied with McGann for my third favorite Doctor. Heaven Sent was one of the best Doctor Who episodes of all time. Face the Raven was also amazing. Really, the only weak link for me is The Girl Who Died and even that isn’t anywhere near the level of the worst episodes of previous seasons (Forest of the Night, Love and Monsters, Aliens of London, etc.) I’d probably give it a 9/10. Probably the best season not to have Tom Baker or Sylvester McCoy in it.
JC: And if this is the last discussion thread, I’m ending it with a damn disagreement.
you forgot fear her in the worst of list. There.
JA: Well, I was choosing the worst from each season. For Series 2 it was a real struggle. Guess what my LEAST favorite season of the New Series is?
JC: Series 2?
JC: It’s 3 for me. HAH DISAGREEMENT YES
JA: I really like 3. Let’s fight! I mean, it has Blink, Gridlock, and Human Nature. And the only Chibnall episode I actually fully like.
JC: It does have those three, but it also has martha and moody lovesick doctor and jesus doctor.
JA: At least Jesus Doctor is set up, unlike the stupid Doctor Donna. And at least Martha isn’t Donna. Or Rose. I actually LIKE Martha. Which makes her unique amongst RTD companions.
JC: You don’t like Donna OR Rose??
JA: I like Series 1 Rose. Series 2 Rose is irritatingly smug and lovey-docey with Doctor.
(editor’s note- keeping this because it’s hilarious)
JC: And then series 4 rose pushes her over from mixed to dislike I imagine
JA: Oh, Series 4 Rose is the worst. I don’t like much in Journey’s End.
JC: I like Donna’s send off
JA: The Doctor-Donna thing is just awful. And Catherine Tate’s acting is so bad when she’s the Doctor-Donna. Maybe Big Finish can redeem the character for me. If not, I’ll just hold for Martha audios.
JC: Hmm. Shoulda brought this opinion up earlier.
JA: Important Question: How the hell did we manage to agree so much for so long when we clearly have very different opinions on just about everything?
JC: The magic of series 9 I guess
JA: You know when we do this next year we’ll probably be constantly arguing. Which will be much more fun. Or we can get started on that at Christmas.
JC: I have a feeling we will.
JA: So I guess we’re signing off for a few weeks. It feels… strange. Want to spend insane amounts of money to keep this going by reviewing every Big Finish product as it’s released? Please don’t say yes because my wallet won’t deal with it.
JC: Let me think abo- no
JA: Darn it. My utter lack of self-control needed that final nudge to push me into bankruptcy.
JC: You could buy a bunch of books for even more money. OR we could review our fanfics… No no that’s a horrible idea
JA: Well, it would be entertaining.
JC: Eggshells. Eggshells everywhere.
JA: So I guess this really is it. The season is over with only the Christmas Special to tide us over until the next season. And possibly Class, the oddest spin-off of all time. Weirder than the K9 movie where he’s going to fight Omega.
(Editor’s Note: How is this a real thing?)
JC: Which I won’t see anyway
JA: I’ll probably check Class out. And I’ll see the K9 movie if it hits Netflix, TV, or somehow gets insanely good reviews.
JC: I’m pretty sure the reviews will be… Neg-a-tive
JA: I’m almost sure they will be. But who knows? Who knows?
JC: Okay curator
JA: Much like the Doctor and Moffat, I don’t like endings, but I feel like we actually need to end this now. So a thanks to our loyal readers for their support and we will see you again at Christmas!
JC: Later, peeps