Quite often, opinions change. Focus shifts. Things becoming clearer, and on further viewings, answers are more forthcoming. It’s been well over 6 months since the Series 9 finale, bringing with it the answers to some questions we’ve been pondering since The Magician’s Apprentice/ The Witch’s Familiar, and some questions that have been bothering us for a Hell of a lot longer, but we won’t get Bent out of shape worrying about the questions that still aren’t answered or totally new questions that have cropped up – or will we…?
Reactions to Hell Bent have been somewhat mixed, I’d say. Definitely mixed in my own head, at least, and the various heads that are laying around the DWC (for readers familiar with Kasterborous, DWC HQ is a bit like K Towers, but with fewer billboards, and the ones we do have are all incredibly
tasteless classy). Some of those heads are even still attached to bodies, which is a plus.
I, for one, enjoyed the episode. It was fun. It made me laugh and (almost) cry. There were some fantastic set pieces with great acting from Peter Capaldi. The Gallifreyan landscapes were gorgeous, especially the wide shots. I loved seeing the classic white TARDIS interior and learning more about the Matrix and the wraiths –
(And please don’t get me wrong. I did really enjoy it.)
But there were quite a few inconsistencies and pointless plot threads that niggle at me, somewhat. We’ve had a bit of a chat here at HQ (those of us that still have heads attached, anyway) and here, in no particular order are some thoughts we have on those unanswered questions.
The big question for me is, why were the Sisterhood of Karn on Gallifrey and how did they get there? I like Ohila, she’s a great character, but was her presence in the story merely a tick in the box? How would the story have played out any differently if she hadn’t been there? Mind you, she was a useful foil for the equally redundant Rassilon to argue with and complain at.
There were some nice new dangling plot strands left in the barn, though. Who was that woman – a former nursemaid or maybe even a relative? And why did she say something about “keeping things here in case the boys…”? She was probably referring to the Doctor and… a mysterious other? Is this ‘other’ a brother? Or a brother from another mother? I like this little story: it doesn’t mess up any continuity and could tie into another dangling thread from waaaaay back in the Peter Davison story, Planet of Fire. You’ll no doubt recall when the Master is burning up and cries out something along the lines of, “Won’t you show mercy to your own– AAARGH!” I think it is widely believed that the AAARGH could be substituted for “brother”. Anyway, that’s just me speculating wildly!
The Hybrid. Did we really get a satisfactory conclusion to this season-long plot thread and subject of Time Lord prophecy? I don’t think so. The Hybrid is supposed to threaten the whole of time and space – I didn’t feel much threat from either of the prime candidates (the Doctor and Ashildr – I won’t call her Me, as that is the most contrived name I have ever heard purely so the Doctor can be vague, enigmatic, and ambiguous, stating that “the Hybrid is Me”) although I do get that The Moff probably intended the Hybrid to be both the Doctor and Clara, that it’s their obsession with each other that puts the universe in dire peril. I just don’t get where the peril comes from; their recklessness?
Mind you, one of the talking heads there did point out that this is A Moffat Thing – at the end of the day, the questions we thought were important and wanted answers to didn’t really matter. It’s all about the characters and their interactions; it’s this that keeps us coming back. Probably!
One other comment I have – more like a question, really – is all about the regeneration of the General from a man (back) into a woman. I know this is a divisive issue, but this is the first time we’ve seen it happen and it certainly seems to me as though Steven Moffat did this just to bait the fans who are against “this sort of thing”. Fair play, says I! And here comes another but…
… It just didn’t seem to serve any purpose in the story, and for that reason, it just felt crammed in and awkward and shouldn’t have been there. I liked the General as he seemed like a nice, fairly honourable chap, so why change the character part midway through the story when it doesn’t serve the narrative? Also, with all the hoo-hah about the gender-bending regeneration, did anyone notice that s/he changed colour? It occurs to me that this may have been a clever way of sneaking a colour changing regeneration into our psyches while we were all focused on a different aspect. Well played!
So, with Series 9 disappearing in the wing-mirror, how do you feel about the Doctor’s return trip to Gallifrey?
(Adapted from an article published on Kasterborous in December 2015.)