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Hell Bent was one of those stories that remain in people’s mind for a long, long time. Either people love it or people hate it, and for most people, the latter is law.
Hell Bent had so much potential. The Next Time trailer at the end of Heaven Sent promised Gallifrey, Time Lords, Rassilon, the Doctor taking back Gallifrey in a storm of contempt. To be honest, if the Next Time trailer was considered a story in itself, it would have gotten 10/10 universally.
Yet what we got changed the way people look at the show. It made people hate what had happened, hate the characters, and hate Steven Moffat.
I think what must be emphasised here is Steven Moffat. As a writer, what he did to Doctor Who was childish. Yes, he was a good writer, but as a show runner, well, he shouldn’t have gotten the job.
I want to describe the plot, I really do. But this story has no discernible plot. I’m trying really hard to condense it, but there’s nothing to condense. Oh well, I’ll have a crack at it. The story is literally this: The Doctor arrives on Gallifrey and eats soup in a barn with randoms watching him. He is then found by the Counsel of Time Lords and it is revealed that the Doctor sent for their reinforcements, or summat like that. Then the Doctor talks of the Time War and then breaks his character immediately, taking Clara from time and killing a Time Lord General who was on his side. The Doctor and Clara steal a TARDIS and go to the end of the universe, where they meet Ashildr (not going to called her Me) and the Doctor realises the silly git he is and removes all his memory of Clara. It sounds even worse written down!
The story has a few main gripes that makes people angry, I’ll just go through them briefly:
1. The Doctor’s character. I love Peter Capaldi as the Doctor and I feel sorry that his era is marred with this crap. The Doctor goes way out of character here, breaking the laws of time for no reason and then killing one of his own kind.
2. The Politically Correct Regeneration. I for one have no problem with cross-gender regeneration, but it’s terrible here. The only reason it is here is to show that a white male can turn into a black female. After regenerating, the now female General makes some terrible sexist statement: “Back to normal, am I?”, “How do you cope with all that ego?”. Worst thing is, it’s written by a man!
3. Half Human Spiel. In 1996, the Doctor teased he was half-human, but that was later retconned. Yet, Moffat digs the grave up and brings the nonsense back to light. “Why do you spend so much time on Earth, Doctor?”, “Couldn’t the hybrid be half-human, half-Time Lord?” Ooh it’s infuriating watching this!
4. The Hybrid Arc. Series 9’s arc has to be the worst arc ever. The best arcs are simple and explain it all for you. If you want to do a subtle arc that is important later in the Series, then explain it and have it understandable. Yet, the arc here is terribly done. Basically, there’s a prophecy that says that the Hybrid, an amalgamation of two warrior species will stand in the ruins of Gallifrey. The Doctor goes all really angsty about it and thinks he’s gonna die for some reason. We’re supposed to be like “Oooh, could it be the Doctor? Could it be the Time Lord Daleks? Could it be Ashildr (still not calling her Me)? Could it be Clara? We never even get an actual answer to who the Hybrid is, but I’m just going to explain it how I think of it. The Time Lords know that the Doctor cares for Clara so much, that when she’s gone, he will come to Gallifrey and try to get her back from time. They agree with Ashildr to separate the Doctor and Clara. When Clara does go, the Doctor gets mad and goes to Gallifrey anyway. The Hybrid is the friendship between them, a friendship between a Time Lord and a Human. Yet, even this arc has hole. Neither the Time Lords nor Humans are classified as warrior races, so it doesn’t make sense. It’s just so convoluted and nonsensical that it’s just the worst arc ever.
5. Clara. So basically, this story is Steven Moffat’s way of saying “If you don’t like Clara, my creation, f*** you!” Not many people love Clara, but this episode infuriates me. Why is Clara suddenly so powerful and in control of the Doctor? Why is she so important to the Doctor? To spite everyone who hates Clara, we get the Doctor breaking character to save her. And then, she gets her own TARDIS and companion, and Capaldi utters the words “Clara who?” as if we’re supposed to go SPINOFF ALERT!!!
My only positive for this story is that I love the look of the sets, but that’s not enough to save it. The worst New Who story. 1/10.