Doctor Who: Hell Bent
December 5, 2015 1:14 PM - Season 9, Episode 12 - Subscribe

If you took everything from him, betrayed him, trapped him, and broke both his hearts... how far might the Doctor go? Returning to Gallifrey, the Doctor faces the Time Lords in a struggle that will take him to the end of time itself. Who is the Hybrid? And what is the Doctor's confession?
posted by fearfulsymmetry (87 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
Not quite sure how I fell into doing the posts for this season of Who, but it's been a pleasure.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 1:16 PM on December 5, 2015 [13 favorites]


Old skool tardis ftw!
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 1:16 PM on December 5, 2015 [10 favorites]


On second thought, let's not go to Gallifrey. It is a silly place.

(Thanks to fearfulsymmetry!)
posted by sobarel at 1:21 PM on December 5, 2015 [12 favorites]


So clara is now louder angrier and has access to a time machine?

Could there be any more Mary Sue nonsense than instead of just killing her off she's now immortal, unaging and has a Tardis, and the Doctor can't remember her.
I don't like Clara, at all, and this just feels like the reason one. Steven Moffat just seems to impressed with her.

Also Just this wife, y'know had to keep asking to stop shouting "just die already" at Clara and was also very disappointed that the doctor in the Matrix wasn't just about to become the Valeyard.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 2:24 PM on December 5, 2015 [6 favorites]


Don't be trying to bail now ffs, get your arse off the couch on crimbo day to see it out.
posted by biffa at 3:20 PM on December 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


Could there be any more Mary Sue nonsense than instead of just killing her off she's now immortal, unaging and has a Tardis, and the Doctor can't remember her.

Well, boohoo, I liked Clara and Ashildir running of together in a Tardis. And she isn't immortal, she's just taking the long way around to her death, good for her!
posted by Pendragon at 3:28 PM on December 5, 2015 [22 favorites]


Yes, I quite like the idea of open-ended Adventures of Clara And Me in Space and Time. It might make for a Big Finish series (a couple of days' recording with no rehearsal, nice little job for busy actors like Coleman and Williams), but otherwise it's down to people making up their own stories. I hope they do.

And I quite like the idea of the Time Lords being back but at arms length - the 70s and 80s were kind of affectionate about their patrician nonsense (basically an Oxbridge college by other means) and I appreciate the way the 21st century version is much more sceptical.
posted by Grangousier at 3:59 PM on December 5, 2015 [4 favorites]


I'm not sure if I liked this one at all, but at least it wasn't Cyber Brigadier bad.

There's a lot in there to recommend it (fantastic acting, direction, set design and it was nice we didn't get many clear answers to the Doctor's childhood) but in addition to everything else, it really annoys me that it created Super Clara and undid her 'brave' death.

On the plus side, Mad old Rassilon is now banging about the universe.
Sadly, it probably means he'll team up with Omega and the Toclafane for some damned fool crusade.
posted by Mezentian at 4:24 PM on December 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


I feel like part of this is fix-it fic for the nonsensically horrible ending they gave Donna. (That's a compliment, not a complaint.)

I'm up for some Clara/Ashildr BF audio, too.
posted by wintersweet at 4:41 PM on December 5, 2015 [3 favorites]


So...umm... why did anyone's memory have to be wiped? It doesn't seem like it affected anything besides the plots of future episodes.

Also if you notice, the Me in the ally is (likely) the Me of the future, Me mentions the conversations they've had together which Clara has no memory of. I didn't like that, there was never any tension that Clara would actually stay dead.
posted by FallowKing at 5:49 PM on December 5, 2015


Oh, and I thought Capaldi was genuinely terrific in this. And I think that at his best he gives Coleman a way of being terrific back that Smith's barnstorming performance really couldn't. I found when I watched Season 7 after Season 8 that I appreciated more of what Coleman was doing than I had originally.

Another thing that struck me is that Clara and Me are opposites - Me has outlived the universe itself, while Clara literally has no more life left (but the Universe is loath to let her die until she returns to the Time Lords as it would lead to chaos. The simpler thing is to keep her not-dead-yet).
posted by Grangousier at 6:11 PM on December 5, 2015 [3 favorites]


So...umm... why did anyone's memory have to be wiped?

The Doctor needed to forget her or else he would grieve for her forever. He already did that for 4.5 billion years, so enough was enough. And he wanted Clara to live but not to live without him, so he thought wiping her memory would be a good idea - because, you know, he's done it before. And I really liked how this was a pointed commentary on how Donna was treated and how the show was at pains to show he was going to do this differently and Clara got to explicitly state why that was wrong. So she got to keep her memories and gets to live out her last heartbeat however the hell she wants. And because the Doctor doesn't remember her (at least, not much), the pain of her loss is less raw and he can go on running and being the Doctor again - rather than a grieving, angry TimeLord.

There was so much great stuff in this episode. I wished I liked Clara more because this episode could have been amazing, but I think it was a decent way for the character to go - even if I'd like the show to one day kill off a companion without reservation.
posted by crossoverman at 6:34 PM on December 5, 2015 [7 favorites]


the pain of her loss

What loss? She's immortal now.
Would the ending make any less sense if they all rode off in the TARDIS together?
posted by FallowKing at 6:53 PM on December 5, 2015


I did like Foxes' version of "Don't Stop Me Now" playing softly in the background in the opening scene in the TARDIS Cafe.
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:30 PM on December 5, 2015 [3 favorites]


Personally, I like Clara. And, I thought the character really came alive with Capaldi, too. That said, I'm on the fence about zombie-Clara. I like the thought that the Me/Clara duo could reappear in a future episode, though.

I did think the Doctor veered a bit too closely to "creepy old dude" territory with his pining for Clara. I'm glad that's over and done.

Overall, this was a really good episode. The first 2/3 of it was especially good as a solid piece of sci-fi. The final third was predictably filled with Moff's timey-wimey slight of hand, but not enough to kill the fun.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:53 PM on December 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


There was so much great stuff in this episode. I wished I liked Clara more because this episode could have been amazing,

Yes exactly. I would have enjoyed this if I didn't have to feel like I was drowning in corn syrup every time I had to sit through an extreme close up of those giant eyes and listen to another long earnest speech and Clara's Corny Love Theme. I'm also mad for having to know that her death in London wasn't real.

But despite that I thought the final ending was very cute.

Also I think once the Doctor saw her portrait he must have realized who he was just talking to and had his memories returned.
posted by bleep at 7:54 PM on December 5, 2015 [4 favorites]


As a general rule of thumb, if most of the internet hates an episode of Doctor Who, that means I love it. And love it I did. Clara and Ashildr in a TARDIS taking the long way round to Clara's inevitable death was something I didn't know how much I wanted until tonight. I'm so pleased she didn't get the Donna Noble ending. I don't think of her as immortal. She accepts her death. But it is a very human reaction to take advantage of the opportunity given. And mind wiping the Doctor means Missy's plan fails. I'm pleased with this end.
posted by Ruki at 7:54 PM on December 5, 2015 [9 favorites]


Oh, and I'm hoping this doesn't lead to a drawn out Rose story. Leave Clara and Ashildr's adventures to our imaginations, please and thank you.
posted by Ruki at 7:56 PM on December 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


Why do the Mire have such a powerful technology, more powerful than the Time Lords?
posted by Mezentian at 7:57 PM on December 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


So, how did the timelords contact/convince Ashildr to trap the Doctor in the first place?
posted by asra at 8:16 PM on December 5, 2015


I enjoyed it. I liked the parts before they stole the TARDIS the best but the rest of it was fine, including the wacky adventures of Me and Impossible Girl. It would have been sillier if he had somehow given her a set of regenerations which is where I thought the plot might be going.
posted by weretable and the undead chairs at 8:32 PM on December 5, 2015


Alex Kingston and Peter Capaldi. It almost won't matter if the Christmas episode has a decent script.
posted by nathan_teske at 8:50 PM on December 5, 2015 [5 favorites]


Argh, this made me so mad! Ashildr is basically a perfect foil for the Doctor, she is generally good but doesn't hesitate to kill or maim to get what she wants. Clara is a goody two shoes with little life experience of her own and no real stories left to explore. They shouldn't even like each other, much less form their own girl band! And the writers should know by now that if you kill someone off, then bring them back, it just makes everything seem silly and farcical! Argh!

I hope Clara dies for real, soon, and we can see the Doctor meet his match in Ashildr for an entire season or two.
posted by miyabo at 9:00 PM on December 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


I hope Clara dies for real, soon, and we can see the Doctor meet his match in Asildr for an entire season or two.

Clara's effectively immortal. Her actual moment of death in Face the Raven is a fixed point in time -- I imagine someone dying twice would cause problems for the universe. Instead Clara gets to be a clever woman who stole a Tardis and ran away from the Timelords of Gallifrey. She's a madwoman in a red and silver 1950s American Diner.
posted by nathan_teske at 9:15 PM on December 5, 2015 [3 favorites]


Clara and Ashildr in a TARDIS taking the long way round to Clara's inevitable death was something I didn't know how much I wanted until tonight.

Me too, and I've never even particularly liked Clara. But Clara and Ashildr in a vintage TARDIS is another matter entirely.
posted by homunculus at 9:27 PM on December 5, 2015 [5 favorites]


I didn't like this, mainly because I thought the return of Gallifrey was a bit too important to be upstaged by the "oh my goodness, Clara isn't dead yet" non-surprise.

The other reason why I didn't like this is because so many elements have been done before, and IMHO, done much better. The human who couldn't die? Captain Jack provides much more excitement than Ashildr. The manufactured timelord who might get a spin off, but probably not? Well, we had Jenny, and we've got River Song - do we really need another two? And as for the surrogate Doctor for the companion to go off with and live happily ever after - you get the picture.

RTD called - he wants his plots back.
posted by Juso No Thankyou at 9:32 PM on December 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


Rusty was so wishy-washy with the Jack/Face of Boe thing. I think Clara has had enough character development this season that we can be assured that she will face the raven... eventually. Torchwood was such a disappointment for me, but the unspoken idea that Clara gets one more adventure with Jane Austen is delightful.
posted by Ruki at 10:00 PM on December 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


Loved the vintage Tardis. Loved the badass Doctor. Loved how the Gallifreyans in the extraction chamber were wearing the funny headgear of olde. Actually, liked most of the Gallifrey stuff. Except...

I hated, hated, HATED Magical Pause-Button, Not-Dead-Yet, AGAIN Clara. It's not the Doctor that needs to grieve and move on, it's frigging Steven Moffat. And she now has a TARDIS?? Jesus, man, you should have just called her Stephanie so the Mary Sue wish-fulfillment would be clearer. I thought Clara's death by raven was actually a really nice way to go (especially for a character I disliked -- you gotta work hard for me to be sad at her going), and this ... just totally negating it with some selfish ride off into the sunset is maddening. Not to mention Ashildr was totally wasted and basically reduced to Clara's talking dog. No, it's cool, she's immortal and by getting a TARDIS she now gets to go on all those adventures she wanted and stuff but what's really important is that she's there to hang out with Clara. Graar.

I was a big fan of Rose and Donna and heard tell of people who hated various or both of them, which I couldn't really relate to because I liked them so much. But now I understand them, because I just don't get anyone who doesn't want to throw Clara into a giant bonfire, explode it with rocket boosters, and dance around the embers. God, just DIE ALREADY. No takesies-backsies.
posted by sldownard at 12:35 AM on December 6, 2015 [7 favorites]


Clara's effectively immortal. Her actual moment of death in Face the Raven is a fixed point in time

So, effectively immortal:
Rassilon
Omega
Davros
Missy
Captain Jack*
We don't talk about Rex
Clara
Ashildr
All Time Lords
The Mire.


(*dead, assuming he is the Face Of Boe).

Not even the Great Vampires were immortal.
posted by Mezentian at 2:05 AM on December 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


I didn't like this, mainly because I thought the return of Gallifrey was a bit too important to be upstaged by the "oh my goodness, Clara isn't dead yet" non-surprise.

Yeah.The Doctor, having been granted a new string of regenerations by his besty Rassilon kicks Rassilon out into the universe (because that won't end badly).

Rusty was so wishy-washy with the Jack/Face of Boe thing

Was anything as Wishy Washy as The Hybird plot?

Clara's effectively immortal. Her actual moment of death in Face the Raven is a fixed point in time

Yeah, but her heart doesn't beat, so she's drawing power from somewhere (the "Eye of Harmony" or its replacement in the year whatever.

But Clara and Ashildr in a vintage TARDIS is another matter entirely.

And, hey, there are now two Ashildrs!

There was a lot to like in this episode, I can admit that, the fact the Doctor doesn't speak for 10-15 minutes, for example, that soup bowl, "Boy".... but it opens so many more questions than it answered, and they were questions that didn't need to be asked.

The sliders? What ghostly toy from the 1980s did Moffatt have, being one.

OTOH, as much as I hated it, the General regenerating from an old white man into Dayna from Blake's 7 is an amazing bit of fan service for your social justice warrior types and an amazing two-fingers up to the most conservative elements.
posted by Mezentian at 2:14 AM on December 6, 2015 [4 favorites]


And, WTF, Rassilon ices Borusa for seeking immortality but is now immortal?
I mean, how does the Death Zone fit into that narrative?
Why are the Prydonians in charge now?
Why general and not Castilan?
WTF Romana, Leela and K9?

Why does the Doctor straight up pop a cap in the General, ending his 10th ("I don't want to go") regeneration, potentially unravelling the web of time?

So many questions without answers, but each question leads to more questions.

I know.
It's just a show, I really should relax and gaze at the awesome Hartnell control room.
posted by Mezentian at 2:22 AM on December 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


Don't be trying to bail now ffs, get your arse off the couch on crimbo day to see it out.

Tradition has it a new series starts with the Christmas special... (and yeah I do tend to sneak off from the family to watch it on Iplayer in peace at some point over the holidays, so I may be back)
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:38 AM on December 6, 2015


Tradition has it a new series starts with the Christmas special...

But while a 10th series has been confirmed, when it might air is open for speculation. Looks like not til 2017.

Was anything as Wishy Washy as The Hybird plot?

See, this is one of the elements from this season that I liked. It felt like a plot. It felt a lot like a Rusty is going to tease us with word games until the end of the season and then the plot is going to happen. And then it didn't? And I'm pretty okay with that because it turns out it was more a thematic thing than an actual thing. I think if the hybrid had shown up in the finale and they had to battle it, that would have been pretty much expected and boring. And the fact that it's an unanswered question is kinda cool, too. Well, it has three answers - and prophecy is never specific, so that works perfectly well for me.
posted by crossoverman at 2:48 AM on December 6, 2015


Well, it has three answers - and prophecy is never specific, so that works perfectly well for me.

At least four answers:
Doctor (half human on his mother's side, father Ulysses - ugh).
Ashildr
Dr/Clara
Clara/Ashildr - the reckless impossible girl and the immortal dandy highwayperson.
posted by Mezentian at 2:56 AM on December 6, 2015


Do clarify, I broadly enjoyed this episode but Sldownard absolutely nails my annoyance with the Mary-Sue ness of Clara.
I'm being told over and over how special and wonderful she is, and I just don't see it.
Actually just replace any comment I might make with SlDownard's.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 4:02 AM on December 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


You know you watch too much Old Who when the NuWhoCrew run into a wonderful roundels-and-white-console TARDIS and you don't even click for 30 seconds that they don't make 'em like that any more.
posted by comealongpole at 5:27 AM on December 6, 2015 [4 favorites]


Both are copies, but I have a burgundy SG with the big tremolo arm and a black Strat with a white pick guard. If he busts out the roto-toms in the Christmas special I'm going to be perturbed.

This was so nearly satisfying. Leaving The Doctor in the same position as Donna would have been very fine. Letting Clara have her past at the cost of her death would have been fine. Now we don't have either. But nothing has really been written and the programme can move on if it wishes. I like that the Hybrid thing was explicitly unresolved but not brushed off entirely and I liked that the Doctor's lying about it last week was both his escape and torment.
posted by hawthorne at 5:39 AM on December 6, 2015


I didn't find this satisfying beyond how it made some pointed comments about Donna's treatment (the next best thing I liked was that it got rid of the sonic glasses ... after that, I guess that there's more gender-crossing and another of the very few Time Lords/Ladies of color).

I thought Clara's death in Face the Raven was satisfying--particularly in comparison to her apparent death in the first episode of the series, when she ran from the Daleks and they shot her--and I didn't see any reason to undo that. Also, I thought that Ashlidr/Me had been an interesting adversary but that her appearance in this episode was wasted.

I didn't hate it, though, and I liked it a lot more than the CyberBrigadier/CyberBoyfriend episode.

And mind wiping the Doctor means Missy's plan fails.

What was her plan, again?
posted by johnofjack at 5:53 AM on December 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


Oh yes, and slightly daft as it was, exiling The Rassilon* in the body of a solid actor who'll probably be available to turn in further trademark decent performances seems like a good idea.

*all rebel Time Lords take the definite article... except those who don't.

Read a piece online where Moffat said he didn't know when writing the Xmas Ep if he was definitely staying on as showrunner. That might account for the leeway built in as to whether Gallifrey is Back-back. Having the path smoothed for race- and gender-neutral casting of the Doctor would be a serious bonus for any successor too.
posted by comealongpole at 6:08 AM on December 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


He it is who coming after Moffat is preferred before Moffat, whose show's arc Moffat is not swift to unloose
posted by comealongpole at 6:15 AM on December 6, 2015


And mind wiping the Doctor means Missy's plan fails.

What was her plan, again?


That bringing the Doctor and Clara together would result in a duo that fuelled and pushed each other to dangerous excess, either leaving chaos in their wake or bringing the universe to ruin should they be parted from each other. That was Ashildr's theory on Missy's motivations, anyway.
posted by MUD at 6:23 AM on December 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


I want Rassilon to team up with Missy and basically bitch and moan their way around the universe
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 6:29 AM on December 6, 2015 [4 favorites]


The stuff you guys're recriminatin' about is just a localized example of what's kept me from getting into new Who in general, Moffat's era in particular. Not that classic Who wasn't averse to making the Doctor into a superhero when it wanted, but at least his adventures seemed slightly more grounded.
posted by JHarris at 7:23 AM on December 6, 2015


At least four five answers:

THE DOCTOR-DONNA.

Because even with what felt like a scene definitely meant to point out how he robbed her of her past, I'm still not okay with that end, and she still seems to count under these guidelines.
posted by instead of three wishes at 7:25 AM on December 6, 2015 [4 favorites]


I was really, really hoping he wouldn't find his TARDIS at the end, and we'd have gotten a next season of him stuck like he was in the mid 70s.

I didn't like anything about the Lady Me character, or Clara. Let's throw the sunglasses and guitar in there as well. And I've been having to apologize to my wife for wanting to watch the terrible show that Moffat has turned this into. What terrible waste of years of buildup with Gallifrey. No one Mary Sues like Moffat Mary Sues.
posted by Catblack at 7:58 AM on December 6, 2015 [5 favorites]


You know you watch too much Old Who when the NuWhoCrew run into a wonderful roundels-and-white-console TARDIS and you don't even click for 30 seconds that they don't make 'em like that any more.

Not that there's any such thing as too much Classic Who, but the accused stood mute and the judge ordered a plea of nolo contendere entered into the record.

As a Classic Who fan, and one who's still digesting this episode, I'm really sad that the Doctor has become so codependent with his companions in the new series. Not that he wasn't always dependent on A companion, that he needed not to travel alone, but he's really dependent on THIS SPECIFIC companion now, whether it's Rose or Clara or Amy. This was an RTD trick that Moffat really should not have picked up.
posted by immlass at 8:51 AM on December 6, 2015 [12 favorites]


he's really dependent on THIS SPECIFIC companion now

In Clara's case it's been built up to just a ridiculous degree. She was there when the Doctor was a frightened child, helped Doctor #1 steal the Tardis, healed the wound of the Time War, is important enough for the Doctor to spend billions of years in a torture chamber and stage a military coup on Gallifrey for her. And then she gets to have both the brave heroic death ending and the wish-fulfilment becoming-the-Doctor ending. You could make a case that she's the most significant character in the history of Doctor Who other than the Doctor.

Did any of that actually make me feel anything though? Did I believe the Doctor's bond with her like I did with Rose or Donna or Amy? No, not really.
posted by sobarel at 9:53 AM on December 6, 2015 [17 favorites]


So, part of the point of the whole fiftieth anniversary thing was that Clara was fragmented into millions of Claraish people spread out through space and time. Couldn't they have killed off Clara 1, and then softened it by having the doctor hang out with tons of almost-Claras for a bit? But no, they completely forgot about that entire impossible girl thing and now Clara's just a normal person who can be killed.
posted by miyabo at 10:59 AM on December 6, 2015 [4 favorites]


This was a good set of episodes as long as you don't think about them afterwards.
posted by FallowKing at 11:17 AM on December 6, 2015 [6 favorites]


Incidentally, the prophecy came true right there in the episode - at least three possible candidates for the Hybrid stood in the ruins of Gallifrey. The Time Lords were self-involved enough to think that this would involve conquest of some kind or another rather than simply the natural end of the Universe.
posted by Grangousier at 11:35 AM on December 6, 2015 [9 favorites]


This was a good set of episodes as long as you don't think about them afterwards.

That's pretty much the entirety of Who, in a nutshell, really.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:39 AM on December 6, 2015 [7 favorites]


I was sorely disappointed with this one. Like many of you, I was unhappy with Moffat making the Doctor into a broken codependent wreck, not delving into Gallifrey's return even a little and undoing a pretty beautiful moment at the end of Face The Raven.

Past that, watching the Doctor grab a pistol and shoot a guy who was *trying to help him*was... I'm not even sure what that was, but that doesn't belong on Doctor Who. The nuWho tendency to have him brandish them for emphasis is bad enough, but actually using one? Nope. Do not want.
posted by mordax at 11:47 AM on December 6, 2015 [12 favorites]


The Doctor just repeated the same ordeal over half a trillion times in order to break out of the confession dial so I'll give him a break for not acting totally up to his ideals.
posted by plastic_animals at 12:52 PM on December 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Oh, and if he ran away with the President's daughter, that makes the President his son or daughter. Rassilon being entombed at that particular time.
posted by Grangousier at 1:42 PM on December 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


I actually really like the idea that Missy's plan was to pair the Doctor with someone whose personality was such that they'd mutually enable each others' worst tendencies, finally reaching the point where the Doctor bent and eventually broke the rules he set for himself without even realizing it until it went too far. That's clever, that's a great way to get to him because he's always been one step away from being as chaotic as the Master and it seems like something Missy/the Master would do.

Unfortunately, none of this was ever set up other than some minor nods to Clara's newfound recklessness this season. If they'd established that dynamic between Clara and the Doctor ages ago Clara would have clicked a lot more and the relationship would have felt earned. I really like what Coleman did with what she had, and there were times I really liked Clara (this season especially) but on the whole it really felt like they found themselves with a character with potential and an actress who could make sure that potential was reached but no real plan as to what to do with her on the writing side.
posted by jason_steakums at 3:08 PM on December 6, 2015 [7 favorites]


I thought it was great, top to bottom. My favorite doctor is the Waters of Mars/I can do whatever I want oh wait maybe not doctor, so this was right in there (not that this was anywhere in the same league as waters of mars, but still).

An American diner is going to be a bit harder to find parking spaces for than a phone booth though.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 3:57 PM on December 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


I liked the episode and really liked this series as a whole. I wasn't thrilled with Clara's death being undone, but liked the way they handled it. Although, it would have been better to show us some of the ramifications of her cheating death and not just wave their hands about the time stream. At least throw some Reapers their way.

I also like the state of the world when its done. The Doctor is in his Tardis, running from the Time Lords, and has his sonic screwdriver back. There also wasn't some massive planet-wide catastrophe that Earth is going to conveniently forget the next morning.

The Three Doctors opened up Season 10. That wouldn't be a bad idea for Series 10.
posted by Gary at 6:05 PM on December 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


The Doctor just repeated the same ordeal over half a trillion times in order to break out of the confession dial so I'll give him a break for not acting totally up to his ideals.

That argument just emphasizes how problematic the whole thing is: the Doctor was able to hold onto his desire to save Clara for that long, meaning that 'save Clara' is a more important impulse to Moffat's Doctor than 'solve problems without gratuitous violence.'

That is definitely the crown jewel in her Mary Sue tiara. (It's a shame - I actually *like* Clara. I feel like she's a good counterpoint to Donna. Showing us the Companion who wants to be the Doctor, in contrast to the Companion who sees how dangerous the Doctor is, was a fun idea that didn't need all this crappy shilling.)
posted by mordax at 6:52 PM on December 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


The Doctor just repeated the same ordeal over half a trillion times in order to break out of the confession dial so I'll give him a break for not acting totally up to his ideals.

I don't think this is quite true. It was that each iteration of the doctor died and a new doctor at the point he entered the prison was born. There are no memories or experiences beyond the one, triumphant time though he knows intellectually it happened.
posted by humans are superior! at 6:56 PM on December 6, 2015 [6 favorites]


Did any of that actually make me feel anything though? Did I believe the Doctor's bond with her like I did with Rose or Donna or Amy? No, not really.

See, I didn't believe it about any of them more or less than the ones he didn't make such a fuss about leaving. I liked the Doctor better when he was leaving his loved ones in Aberdeen thinking it was Croydon or driving off sadly in Bessie or they were leaving of their own free will because it was time for them to go off and do other things. I don't believe any of them were that special, or perhaps they all were. And as far as beating his way out of the confession dial goes, that was awful, but I have trouble buying that as a consequence of his love for a specific person. It's just part of who he is: a stubborn jackass in pretty much every incarnation.

'save Clara' is a more important impulse to Moffat's Doctor than 'solve problems without gratuitous violence.'

You can argue that Classic Who isn't gratuitously violent but sorry the Doctor is gonna bust a cap in yo ass or just beat the crap out of you. (both have nsfw audio) There's a lot of violence in the classic series. I enjoy the old show, but I don't romanticize it.
posted by immlass at 8:02 PM on December 6, 2015 [4 favorites]


I just watched this on ye olde DVR and I think it's going to take a while to unravel for me. But I will note that I did yell out WHAT loudly at a few points in the episode. Bringing Clara back felt cheap at first but the idea of Clara and Ashildir in a space diner TARDIS is pretty awesome.

And what if it was the same place as Amy met 11?

And River Song is back for the Christmas special!
posted by GuyZero at 9:59 PM on December 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Den of Geek does a pretty good job explaining a lot of the callbacks to stuff from the modern series and the original show... but were we meant to recognize the screaming face of that one slider? The image looked like it could be old video with some filters on it, and made me wonder if it was some doomed time lord from the original series.

I thought this was a pretty good end to a really good season. It did seem like Clara's ending was very much an answer to those who hated Donna's departure. I thought Donna's story was genuinely tragic and worked (although her later return was weird, where she started to remember everything and her mind almost exploded but then somehow didn't and we just kind of left that there). But I liked this much happier ending too. It completes the stories of Clara and Ashildir in a way where they could come back next season, never come back or be spun-off into entire novels and comics and stuff. We know they're up to grand adventures, even if we're not seeing them.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 10:41 PM on December 6, 2015 [6 favorites]


Another point: I think it matters that we didn't change Clara's death. She really did die in Face the Raven. That she had some more time hidden in there doesn't change that, and it's not a big stretch for this show, since the Doctor regularly will pop off in the tardis for extremely long periods of time before returning a short while later.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 11:49 PM on December 6, 2015 [4 favorites]


It's the usual pattern for me and New Who: I like the contained episodes, but not the big end of series story arcs.

I think one problem is that Moffat and the other writers get too immersed in lore, because in any long-running series there's a conflict between the character as written, and the character as revealed in the long term.

Take Rumpole of the Bailey as an example. Rumpole is written as a shabby, not terribly successful hack criminal lawyer. But if you look at his record: he's solved multiple murders; won countless high profile cases; practiced civil, military, foreign and ecclesiastical law and won every time.

So John Mortimer could plausibly have written stories where Rumpole walks into the courtroom and the prosecution lawyers go pale and tremble at the trouncing they are about to receive from the legendary superlawyer Rumpole.

But he didn't write that, because it would make for a very boring story if a superlawyer has yet another victory. To be interesting, Rumpole has to be presented as an underdog. When Rumpole talks about past cases, he boasts of the decades-old Penge Bungalow Murders which he won "alone and without a leader". He's actually won many such murder cases over the series, but it would ruin the dramatic tension to point out that Rumpole does that sort of thing all the time.

The same goes for every long running character. Look at the whole history of John McClane and he's an invincible warrior. Look at the whole history of Homer Simpson and he's a devoted family man who's undertaken immense labours for the sake of his family. But these characters are only interesting if you can suspend disbelief and take the characters as written per episode: a tough but ordinary New York copy, a lazy self-interested slob.

So, these stories where the Doctor turns up and everyone quakes in fear because of his whole history are a problem because it reduces the drama to have him written as an invincible superhero. Yes he is if you're immersed in fannish lore, but as a writer you have to pretend he isn't and let the audience suspend their disbelief.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 2:20 AM on December 7, 2015 [10 favorites]


You may be wondering, if he went through all that trouble for Clara, why didn't he save Adric?

posted by Catblack at 8:33 AM on December 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


Adric's dress sense? Did he ever change his pants? Who would want to go anywhere with that?
posted by biffa at 9:46 AM on December 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Meanwhile, Katarina's frozen corpse is still drifting through space...
posted by sobarel at 10:29 AM on December 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


Just got to finish the episode, and I have some jumbled and unrelated thoughts ...

Perhaps this has been discussed before, and perhaps it's either stupid or a total "duh," but Clara is an attractive, kinda round-faced girl with short dark hair. Is the whole 12/Clara relationship about First Doctor/Susan issues? Nothing romantic at all, but a grandfatherly affection?

Clara had a line that should be the new slogan of this show: "Was I supposed to understand any of that?"

I wonder how many terabytes of Me/Clara slash fanfic have been written so far. And I echo earlier sentiments that a Me/Clara Big Finish would be awesome, in the same way that Jago & Litefoot has been.

Also, "let's build a supercomputer that our society will depend upon, and let's design it so that it will try to kill us if we need to do maintenance work on it" is maybe the dumbest idea ever had by a supposedly advanced culture.
posted by jbickers at 10:48 AM on December 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


One could hypothesize that the Doctor is growing weary of all these companions dying on him and is getting a little crazy about it, thus he starts going to more and more desperate lengths to save them. Aldric gets sort of waved away, he screws up with Donna, he almost manages to wrap it up with Amy & Rory and although they get taken away, at least they're not killed and get to live out their lives in peace although it's kind of arbitrary why he can't use the TARDIS to visit them. So when Clara gets herself killed he takes it pretty hard and then gets to stew in his own juices for a few billion years thinking about it (well, for a day, but a few billion times over) and it makes him pretty crazy about the whole thing. So he goes to lengths he's never gone to before.
posted by GuyZero at 11:04 AM on December 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


Although the disappearance of Clara as "The Impossible Girl" sort of bugs me - she had these weird nearly magic powers before but now she's just another companion because they got tired of writing about them.
posted by GuyZero at 11:49 AM on December 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


I liked the Doctor better when he was leaving his loved ones in Aberdeen thinking it was Croydon or driving off sadly in Bessie or they were leaving of their own free will because it was time for them to go off and do other things. I don't believe any of them were that special, or perhaps they all were.

Oh god, me too. I loved the old series' idea that companions were just random people who got picked up and joined the adventure for a while, and then they found new love or got tired of things or just said, "Time to go home, now!" Every damned thing in this new series is SUCH FANFARE!!! Just have companions be...you know, companions once in a while.
posted by xingcat at 12:02 PM on December 7, 2015 [8 favorites]


Every damned thing in this new series is SUCH FANFARE!!!

It's the music.

Don't you notice it getting louder and louder each season? It's begun to drown out the dialogue! Any competent mixing would normally take care of that. No, it's not that they don't want to turn it down. It's that they can't.

The music is in control now, and it is forcing the Doctor to undergo greater and greater swings of emotion in order to match it. The peaks must be higher, the lows lower. That's how it feeds.

Why do you think they killed a companion (sort of) for the first time in forever? Why do you think we're burning through re-generations faster now? The emotional toll is just too much.

It won't be too long now before Doctor Who is nothing more than hysterical laughter and fetal sobbing, both completely inaudible behind the deafening score.
posted by leotrotsky at 1:59 PM on December 7, 2015 [14 favorites]


Although the disappearance of Clara as "The Impossible Girl" sort of bugs me - she had these weird nearly magic powers before but now she's just another companion because they got tired of writing about them.

I would buy that as a reason the Doctor went over the edge about the prospect of her dying, and why Missy selected her to go with him (and part of what she's doing in her TARDIS). But I would like a more explicit nod to the idea than we got.

As for Adric, it's nice to think he's learned something in the last seven incarnations. Or perhaps he had more wisdom in the old days about not messing with fixed points in time. I get where TheophileEscargot is coming from but it's also the scale of the stories. We always had big "change the world/universe" stories, but it seems like Who in general operates on a much larger scale in the new series. I was hoping we'd get a smaller lot of stories with Twelve, and for the most part we have (the season finale being pretty small for all that it involved the return of the Time Lords) but there's still too much puffery. Possibly one of the problems is that Moffat is not just reluctant to jettison old lore, but also the lore of the new series. (It's called the Discontinuity Guide for a reason, guys.) I think there is too much pomposity, not that all of them can't be pompous asses, but it seems like the delusions of grandeur have gone from "I walk in eternity" to some variation on how the Doctor is going to [threats omitted here] and that kind of violence has increased more than the actual shooting and hitting and sword fighting.
posted by immlass at 3:54 PM on December 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Don't you notice it getting louder and louder each season? It's begun to drown out the dialogue!

I keep hearing this, and it's weird because I thought that was definitely true of the RTD era but then they got it under control. But a couple of episodes ago my girlfriend commented that the music seemed rather loud and pushy and I've noticed it since then too. So, I don't know, maybe the BBC has been leaning on Moffat to up the music so it's more like RTD era?
posted by Ursula Hitler at 9:24 PM on December 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm just happy the sonic sunglasses are gone and we're back to a screwdriver. Until the Christmas special where there's suddenly a sonic santa hat or something and I weep forever
posted by the uncomplicated soups of my childhood at 10:27 AM on December 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


They really missed a trick not having a sonic fez.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:10 PM on December 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


Wait, how many billions of years was he in there for? I thought it was "just" two.
posted by lucidium at 4:43 PM on December 8, 2015


He said 2 billion in the episode but the montage continued and this episode confirmed it was 4.5 billion.
posted by crossoverman at 5:57 PM on December 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think the final number that they settled on was 4.5 billion, but I'm not 100% on that.
posted by Saxon Kane at 6:01 PM on December 8, 2015


So galifrey is currently at present time+4.5 billion years? That's not anywhere near the end of the universe, now that I think about it. Earth's uninhabitable, but the Sun isn't a red giant yet. Still plenty of negentropy to go around.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 8:33 PM on December 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


So galifrey is currently at present time+4.5 billion years? No, that's just how long the Doctor was in the Disc. The he popped out on Gallifrey which was near the end of the universe. Me and the Doctor's chat was really near the end.

Clara now has a time head, so it's not like Amy's concerns were foolish.
posted by hawthorne at 4:47 AM on December 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


How does that reconcile with the Doctor's insistence that he hadn't time traveled? That seemed to imply that he started the 4.5 billion just after Face the Raven, and we saw him end it. Either:

a) he's wrong and he did time travel
b) he's wrong about the amount of time spent
c) The galifrey scenes took place 4.5 billion years in the future
d) Galifrey is further in the future, time lords kept the doctor on ice for a while before dumping him in the confession disk for some reason
posted by vibratory manner of working at 6:45 AM on December 9, 2015


Each actual incarnation didn't time travel, it just started out slightly later on than the previous one and it took 4.5 billion years of incarnations to escape.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 7:17 AM on December 9, 2015


How many times has the Doctor been to the End of Time in the New Series now? I think this may be his 3rd journey?
posted by Saxon Kane at 2:14 PM on December 9, 2015


I want Rassilon to team up with Missy and basically bitch and moan their way around the universe

Person, have you listened to Parliament (of any nation, ever)?
posted by Mezentian at 4:48 AM on December 10, 2015


How many times has the Doctor been to the End of Time in the New Series now?

Utopia was trillions of years in the future, wasn't it?

The one with the last great Master,
posted by Mezentian at 4:55 AM on December 10, 2015


Thinking about it some more, one thing that mitigates against Clara and Me: The Continuation as an official thing (or semi-official, like Big Finish), is that the way the situation now stands, anything that anyone makes up about them can be canon, as long as it keeps a respectful distance from Who continuity. The problem with people making up their own stories is that they come into conflict with the "official" narrative; but the ending of this season is a gateway to a parallel narrative where anything goes which is still connected to the primary continuity.

I could have put that better, I think, but it's an interesting idea.
posted by Grangousier at 9:43 AM on December 21, 2015


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