“I can’t be the Doctor all the time“
Clara, my Clara.
Hell Bend opens with Clara working in the Diner from The Impossible Astronaut. A Clara, who we know is dead, when the Doctor walks in. A Doctor who seemingly does not know who she is, who is lost, dust covered and searching.
At this stage I was very confused, is Clara really dead? Is this another Doctor internal mind projection, or has time been rewritten? The Anticipation.
Right, roll title sequence and the Doctor is back on Gallifrey, hunting down those who have trapped and tormented him for so long. There is a lot of power in these opening scenes, not a power of words or action, but inaction, contrasted by an authority of silence.
TV minutes pass and the Doctor doesn’t speak, he waits, biding his time until the Lord President finally turns arrives. I really enjoyed how this was handled, there was no bouncing about, no rushing towards danger. It has been just the quiet of an angry man, a man who endured four and a half billion years of slow time to come to Gallifrey the long way, seeking vengeance for Clara.
This interaction was also interesting in a second way, while not really pertinent to the plot, but it shows a large disparity between the Time Lords in their City of glass and wonder and the ordinary Gallifreyan’s, ragged clothed and downcast surviving on a dead and barren world at the end of the universe.
Moving on, The Doctor is not the Doctor today, he is simply an older, darker and unleashed version of himself. This is best expressed by a line towards the end of the episode,
“As of this moment I’m answerable to no one”
and we know we have been here before. Tennant before the end reached this point supremeness. It shows that the Doctor is really only one final push away to becoming much more than Master ever could be, but it’s the people who he keeps around him that keep him centered. It’s actually quite a nice cyclical reference which becomes evident in the final minutes, of endings and new beginnings.
So now Lord President (after banishing Rassilon) the Doctor tricks Gallifrey in returning Clara. Caught in a moment between one heart beat and the next and the Doctor will do anything, endure anything to save her. She is the best of him, his guardian and companion and his greatest weakness.
The surprise entry of Clara was perfect. She dies, pops up in the Doctor’s mind like a final farewell and Bam she’s back, bold as brass and twice as fearsome. Everything the Doctor has gone through and plans to go through is about her. The ousting of Rassilon and the biggest shock, the murder (they resurrect, so that’s ok right?) of the Lord Presents guard, The General.
Somewhat annoyed which his actions the pair do a runner to the end of time and run into an old friend.
And how best to counter a Man who lives through all of time, with a girl who is out of it, Ashildr the ultimate immortal. The self style caretaker of those the Doctor leaves behind. She adds a welcome counter to his madness, tethering him back to reality, and in the final moment allows for the Doctor and Clara to come to a final bitter agreement.
You really can ask for more in a Doctor Who finally. Twists, turns, death, life and a now near immortal mad women, stealing a TARDIS and running away. Sound familiar? Loved the ridiculous nature of an American Diner flying through space and time.
The Doctor returns and is reborn in the death and life of Clara’s departure. The puzzle and weigh of her passing yet another hand supporting him, driving him forward.
Clara, my Clara, you live in the moment between life and death. One beats breathe can be an eternity, unchanging and ephemeral.
There are still a few unanswered questions or at least a few worms which they are hoping to hook us with. You’ll have to watch for yourself, but keep an eye out for them. **Major spoilers**
- Do they really not know how many lives they have given him?
- Hasn’t the doctor always been a hybrid. Isn’t it already known his mother was human?
- Will we really see Clara again in the future? Or have we fallen into the Jenna trap? In my heart, I hope we do see her again.
- What did Clara whisper to the Doctor?