Doctor Who Review: Hell Bent

The Doctor has returned to Gallifrey. There may be fireworks.

Cast and Crew

Peter Capaldi as the Doctor
Jenna Coleman as Clara
Donald Sumpter as the President
Ken Bones as the General
Maisie Williams as Ashildr
T’Nia Miller as Female General
Malachi Kirby as Gastron
Clare Higgins as Ohila
Linda Broughton as the Woman
Martin T Sherman as Man
Jami Reid-Quarrell, Nick Ash and Ross Mullan as Wraiths
Nicholas Briggs as the voice of the Dalek

Written by Stephen Moffat
Produced by Nikki Wilson
Directed by Rachel Talalay


The Doctor has returned to Gallifrey.

High Points

So very many quotable moments.

Our first on-screen gender-changing regeneration.


Low Points

Why does Gallifrey appear to only consist of one shiny city and one shed in the middle of nowhere (where the people presumably live in a hole conveniently out of view)?

The Scores

Originality: We really haven’t done this before in Who. People have objected to the Doctor’s actions before, but they don’t usually end up getting what they want. Clara’s final actions are both very suitable and very unexpected within the show’s history. 5/6.

Effects: Exceedingly minimal for a season finale. This is about story, not about looking at shiny things on screen, and the effects support that very well. The Time Lord citadel is a bit texturally unconvincing, but it’s also the only obviously computer-modelled structure visible. Everything else looks like practical set construction, so it either is or the effects work there was far superior. 5/6.

Story:  This is Clara’s last outing, and she gets a good one. One could write a lot about the themes of free will and self-determination and whether the Doctor has the right to make the decisions he’s been making for people in the past, but really none of this is subtle and doesn’t need to be spelled out. It’s all laid bare at last, in the way it needed to be at the end of an era. 5/6.

Acting: Some of the Time Lords are a bit hammy, but we have a superb core cast as usual and they carry most of the episode anyway. 5/6.

Emotional response: it’s the end of an era, it’s all very emotional and yes I felt a little tear in the corner of my eye. 5/6.

Production: Honestly not sure about the set design here. We have a familiar-looking barn in the middle of nowhere yet people turn up casually from somewhere. We have a fairly generic futuristic city, and we also have some unconvincing old crypt-like areas. Oh and some rather jarring and unnecessary camera transitions. This is a shame. 3/6.

Overall: Unexpected and apt, this is a great way to see off a companion. 6/6.

In total, Hell Bent receives 34/42.

11 replies on “Doctor Who Review: Hell Bent”

  1. I loved it. This episode makes up for a lot of crap from this season… and, frankly, for the whole Donna thing.

    Now, yes, there are quite a few plot-holes and things that don’t make sense, but I’ll forgive them for actually not deus-ex-machinaing the ending. I fully expected the neural blocker thing to Just Not Work, or Clara to just somehow shrug it off. You know, the easy way out. But they didn’t.

    Plus, The Doctor has a sonic screwdriver again.

    • I was disappointed he had a screwdriver again. It looks pretty and all, but I liked the fact that he’d moved away from it and upgrade to something he couldn’t wave around and point like a water pistol.

      • He was still waving the sunglasses around, and even plugging them into things. They were absolutely no different from the sonic screwdriver except in appearance.

        • He didn’t really wave them, he would put them on and stare at things, but the glasses came off way more like a tricorder than a phaser. At no point did it look like he (or the audience) was expecting a phaser beam or stream of water to shoot out of the glasses.

  2. In my opinion, he seemed oddly unsurprised when the Diner TARDIS disappeared around him and his TARDIS was in front of him.
    Faking memory loss?

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