Series 9 of Doctor Who comes to an end with "Hell Bent," which might be Moffat's strongest finale yet.
Ever since Steven Moffat has taken the helm, Doctor Who finales are rarely the strongest episode of the season. Even someone who has overall enjoyed Moffat's run as head creator, I must admit that his finales are convoluted. At first, epic finales like the two-parter "The Pandorica Opens" and "The Big Bang" were a ton of fun, but after trying to be more and more convoluted as the series continued, the finales became less interesting compared to the individual episodes. Thankfully, "Hell Bent" fixed that trend with a finale that is one of the highlights of a very consistent season.
If you read my review of the previous episode, "Heaven Sent," you maybe remember that due to a DVR malfunction, I never got to see the final 25 minutes of this episode. Thankfully, after a while, BBC America uploaded the episode for viewing and thus why this review is so late. Also expect the Christmas special review soon too.
Getting back to "Hell Bent," the episode opened where we left off in "Heaven Sent" with the Doctor on Gallifrey after escaping the torturous Confession Dial trap. After essentially making the entire military turn against the Time Lord President, Rassilon, which was an excellent scene, the Doctor uses the Time Lords' technology to bring back Clara from the split second before she died. Typically, this type of move is the thing that has made Moffat's run annoying at times. Thankfully, it was executed well for a change. Clara is extracted and the Doctor runs away with her to a random TARDIS, which features the interior that was used during the first Doctor Who season more than 50 years ago.
After escaping the Time Lords, the Doctor meets "Me" at the end of time. While Maisie Williams as Ashildr/Me has been a disappointment this season, she was much improved this episode as she provided a unique angle on the situation. However, where were the other immortals? And if an alien medpack is all it takes to make a human live forever, you would think someone else would have figured that out already. Seriously, immortality is way too easy, especially if she survives until the end of time! With that aside, the finale leading up to final moments were rather excellent.
"Face the Raven" did not give us a true goodbye to Clara, and thankfully, "Hell Bent" gave us the much needed closure between the characters. Clara and the Doctor's relationship is one of the highlights of the past season and even though the episode made us think that Clara lost her memory, the twist that Doctor forgot was brilliant. At first, it is almost like erasing his character development throughout the last two seasons, but as explained during the episode, the Doctor still remembers many things, just not Clara herself. Near the end, there is a saddening scene at the end in the dinner as the Doctor plays Clara's theme from the soundtrack and Clara asks if the Doctor remembers her, which reveals that the Doctor's memories are lost, not Clara's. Clara then leaves with Me in a TARDIS, which could be the start a spinoff or not; there are always rumor. As a whole, Clara's sendoff is a fitting one, and one that is on par with any of the previous companions from recent years.
Overall: 9.0/10- Still flawed in some ways, "Hell Bent" is an impressive finale with emotional weight, more logic than the typical Moffat finale, and a serious and superbly acted send off to an excellent companion.
- "Under the Lake"
- "The Witch's Familiar"
- "The Magician's Apprentice"
- "Before the Flood"
- "The Girl Who Died"
- "The Woman Who Lived"
- "The Zygon Invasion"
- "The Zygon Inversion"
- "Sleep No More"
- "Face the Raven"
- "Heaven Sent"
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