Second Opinion – Season 9, Episode 12 “Hell Bent”

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Brent: Welcome back to the season finale for Second Opinion, our weekly look at the ninth season of Doctor Who.

Jerry: And there was much rejoicing – hip hip hooray!

doctor_who_hell_bentB:  So Jerry, what did you think of “Hell Bent”?

J: It was an interesting episode. I think this was the one episode that could have really benefitted by having more time to tell this story. It felt a little rushed and compacted, especially the last half hour of the episode. I feel like we were cheated by this finale. Episode 10 had this noble death scene for Clara, and by the end of this episode, things are back where we first started. Clara’s alive, but the Doctor is missing some of his memories.

B: I thought that was an interesting switch because we’ve had several instances – such as the Tenth Doctor and Donna Noble where she had her memory wiped to maintain her humanity and to allow her to go back home safely. I thought it was neat that the tables were flipped on the Doctor this time.

I really honestly feel like with a companion such as Clara, who had attained the heights that Clara had attained over the course of her run spanning two Doctors (Matt Smith & Peter Capaldi), that they painted themselves into a corner. You have this companion that is almost as close to the Doctor’s character you can get with a human being, I believe. I think if this had taken place in the classic series, the Doctor would have probably dropped her off on Gallifrey to be trained as a Time Lord. Clara hauled his bacon out of the fire multiple times. She saved the galaxy multiple times. There are a lot of times in the previous Capaldi season that it almost felt like it was the Clara show. So I think there was no easy way out. The only way out was to either kill one of them dead, or separate them permanently. It seems like Steven Moffat has a reluctance to kill off strong characters, especially ones that he created as opposed to ones that he inherited from previous production teams. I don’t know that I was 100% happy with the resolution, but I don’t see how it would have happened any other way. Since they killed Clara off when they did, it seemed like a resurrection was very likely because we still had two episodes to go and a really pissed off Doctor.

I know that was long and rambling. I’m sorry.

J:  You’ve got more invested in this than I do. If you need to ramble, I can be your therapist and take some notes.

anglo_1920x1080_hellbent2B: For me, I found the most interesting part of the episode to be the Gallifrey thread. You know, the Doctor returning to Gallifrey; it coming out of hiding, where it was placed in the pocket dimension in the 50th Anniversary special. I thought that whole political landscape bit of the story was more developed than the last rushed attempt to save Clara.

J: I really liked the way this episode started. The Doctor was very silent; finding a place to stay. I love the his first words were, “Get off my planet!” You could feel the anger building up. But then…. it just seemed to meander before finding its focus again at the end.

B: I also thought they missed a real opportunity because the last time we saw Rassilon, he was president of the Time Lords, as he still was at the beginning of this episode, until the Doctor deposed him, making for the third time the Doctor has been the president of Gallifrey for a short time. So, this last time we saw Rassilon, he was played by Timothy Dalton in “The End of Time,” which was David Tennant’s swan-song as the Tenth Doctor. They really missed a chance by not casting Pierce Brosnan or Daniel Craig as Rassilon for this episode. (And all of that would just give credence to the theory that James Bond is actually a Time Lord and just re-generates from body to body.)

Hell-Bent-Clara-and-Me-onJ: I got to say, I was a little disappointed at the end of this episode. Because I want to watch the show that has Clara and Me traveling around in the TARDIS, and not necessarily the Capaldi adventures.

B: I think that would be a perfect title for the show but you would have to spell it Clara ’n Me. Just sounds like a 1970s sitcom.

One thing I wanted to mention that I thought was really neat was when the Doctor is trying to save Clara, getting ready to make their big escape. He looks at the bald white Time Lord that’s been helping him out, and asks him what his regeneration is. The guy says, “Ten.” The Doctor knows he has a few more regenerations, so he proceeds to shoot the Time Lord. In a moment I can tell was written by Steven Moffat to rile the most traditionalist fans, the actor falls to the ground and starts to regenerate. The effect lifts, and you see a black woman stand up. So we get the first cross-racial and cross-gender regeneration onscreen. It was a great double whammy, because I know out there somewhere, there were those Doctor Who fans who feel like the Doctor must always remain an English white man. Just so unexpected and so cool.

As was the reveal of the classic First Doctor TARDIS control room, when the Doctor stole the TARDIS from Gallifrey that was on the default settings. It was beautiful… I kind of teared up for a minute. Haven’t seen that particular set for a very long time within the narrative.

So at the end of the season, Jerry, what is your opinion of Peter Capaldi as the Doctor? Has he engaged you at all?

J: I’m looking at this as an outsider. Thinking back over this season, our conversations, and what I’ve picked up here and there along the way. I think the show has lost its direction. Numerous times this season, you’ve made mention that Doctor Who is a kid’s show. And I think prior to 2005, it probably was. But this is now more of an an adult show. I think to call this a kid’s show discredits it to a point.

B: It does.

J: I also think that while Capaldi has been very good, and has embraced this role, I don’t know that he is the best person for this role. The running joke for the longest time that each regeneration of the Doctor came back with a younger person. In this run over the last 10 years, you went from Eccleston to Tennant to Smith – you never saw Matt Smith have a need to shave. He may not have hit puberty yet. But then you jump to Peter Capaldi, with the white hair and the lines on his face. I just don’t know that he is the face to hold the audience in place. You will always get your loyal Doctor Who audience that’s going to follow you no matter who you cast as the Doctor. But I don’t know if you’re growing your fandom or viewers at this point.

B: I often wonder that myself. I also wonder about the differences in viewing patterns between the American audience and the British audience. I wonder what their perception of him as the Doctor is, because he has had a lot of character roles on television over there. He’s had a few starring roles, he’s been on television a lot in the U.K. But in America, we really haven’t seen very much of him until he became the Doctor. I wonder how that plays into it as well.

maxresdefaultI tend to like him because I think, having been one of the only actors to play the Doctor to have watched the show from the first episode forward, I can see pretty much every single one of the previous Doctors peek through in Capaldi’s performances over the course of the last two seasons. I think that’s a very clever way to play the Doctor, to further enforce the fact that he is one man who has just had many faces. This is the first time in the new show’s history where they’ve been embracing the past to the point that they have in these last two seasons.

J: So we’ve got the Christmas episode coming out in two weeks. But after that…. Have they announced a season 10 yet?

B: They have officially announced season 10. For a brief time, there were rumors that it might go more the route of Sherlock with three or four feature length movies for television. But they have confirmed a full season of regular episodes for the next season. I believe Moffat has been confirmed to be the executive producer/producer/head writer/janitor or whatever role he’s filling that week. Capaldi has announced his return as the Doctor. So we need to have at least a little bit more of this era to enjoy.

J: Have there been any rumors regarding a new companion?

B: I know the only things I’ve read is that they feel like this is a kind of relaunch of Doctor Who. They haven’t said anything about if it’s going to be a male or female, or someone from the past, present, or future. But with keeping with tradition, I’m sure it’ll be a young female. I, for one, would love just a straight “back to basics” companion. It seems like in the new series we’ve had a history of all of the companions somehow attaining some level of godhood. Rose became the bad wolf; Martha walked the Earth for 365 days proselytizing the Doctor; Donna had her memories taken away; Clara kind of became the Doctor, so to speak. Everybody’s become this big galactic person of importance, like the way Captain Jack became immortal. But I think just a regular person who is amazed at everything that’s going on and has a simple non-romantic, non-idolizing viewpoint of the Doctor.

It’s been fun doing this this season with you. It has guaranteed at least one conversation a week!

J: Twelve more conversations than I would have normally had about Doctor Who.

We will come back in two weeks with our thoughts on the Christmas special. In the meantime, what can people expect over at That Time on Doctor Who?

B: Oh, just more fun poking fun at Doctor Who in the style of Mystery Science Theater 3000, one frame at a time. I don’t want to really reveal too much right now (I say that, because I need to actually work on finishing a few) so we’ll see where it goes.

J: Well, for Brent and myself, thank you for reading Second Opinion, and please stick around and see all of the other fun stuff happening at the Worst. Comic. Podcast. EVER!

#ThatTimeOnDrWho is created mostly weekly by Brent Kincade for Word of the Nerd Online!

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