Hell Bent

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    ichabod @ichabod

    @kharis  (of Clara)  It must be a horrible temptation to stay in his life and watch over him like a guardian angel.

    I hadn’t thought of their parting from this angle; maybe because she, I think, had already made the decisive cut when she said goodbye in Raven.  For me, what she’s wanted most in S9 isn’t to be with the Doctor, but to be her own Doctor and do that traveling she always fancied; she’s more dependent on him in S9, after Danny’s death, but she’s not the one who’s obsessed; he is.  He’s the one who would shadow her forever, out of a compulsive need to keep her safe, once they’ve gone their separate ways (that’s why he *has* to lose the emotional component of his memories of her — to become a free agent again).

    On the other hand, look at the immediate transformation in Clara once she’s said goodbye in the diner and she goes back into her Tardis to join Ashildr.  Yes, there was a backward glance — but then, wham, she’s all sparkling anticipation, eagerness to be off, pleasure in her own cleverness in spotting “the long way round”.

    I think she will think of him later, of course, pick up rumors of his adventures here and there, wonder what he’s been up to.  She might even look in on him in some way at some points.  But I don’t think she’d have any of that high-pressure “duty of care” that he felt with regard to her (and no longer feels).

    Kharis @kharis

    @ichabod Good observations of emotion and tone, as usual.

    I wonder though, on the day of his “death” the Doctor was watched over by an almost identical diner, it facilitated the meeting of the people who he trusts the most.  Maybe just watching over? Plus the Doctor is someone she risked her life to save in the Name of the Doctor, she went back for him on Skaro, once again at risk to her own life, plus she strikes me as a character that will look over Danny and the Doctor as long as they live.  She loves rather intensely and she seems the type to just watch over, check on and help, and my guess is throughout his life.

    Her mom taught her that you don’t leave, you always go back for the people you care for.  So, maybe?


    So just watched this again for the first time since new year.

    Bugger me it’s a masterpiece.

    “Tomorrow is promised to no-one, Doctor, but I insist upon my past”

    “Every story ever told really happened.”

    ichabod @ichabod

    @kharis  Her mom taught her that you don’t leave, you always go back for the people you care for. So, maybe?

    Hey, it’s Doctor Who; of course, “maybe”.

    @pedant   “Tomorrow is promised to no-one, Doctor, but I insist upon my past”

    Oh, yeah.  What are we, without our memories?  Blank slates, with the childish impulses of the ego-bound infant as our fuel and our GPS.  What would Clara be, if the Doctor *had* wiped not all her memories, but, as he planned, her memories of himself and their travels together?

    My speculation: a restless, angry, confused young woman, her self-confidence crippled by doubts she can’t even see the causes of, her courage wasted on disappointing tangles of extreme actions that she hopes might somehow reveal her whole self instead of this stunted remainder.  Sleep without dreams, relationships without satisfaction (there’s always something more out there, but where, and what is it?), goals without connection (“Why do I keep staring at the stars?”), nagging impatience for something unimaginable to happen, because isn’t it supposed to?  Sort of?  So she can be special, because she always wanted to be special, she’s sure she could be.

    And, because he can’t stop himself from doing it, the Doctor drops by from time to time, maybe just as she’s about to finally turn her back on the shades of non-memory and make some kind of real life for herself; and something dimly sparks for her — and then he’s gone again (whoever the hell he was, she can’t seem to even recall that guy’s face now, or his voice, or — ).  She’s cast back into the spiral of despond.

    You could write that story, but you’d have to keep it short and at the bottom of the drawer, because who’d even want to read it?

    winston @winston

    This episode will always be one that is painful for me to watch because of the scene in the diner. When Clara looks into the Doctors eyes and understands that he truly does not know her , she turns away from him with tears in her eyes and has to compose herself. I think (from personal experience ) that she does it to protect him , so he doesn’t get confused or even upset.

    A few years back when my Mum was in the hospital she was given a drug that interacted badly with other medications. One day she was fine. The next day when we went to see her she looked at me in a strange way and then asked my husband  “where is Winston?” “Right there” But she had no idea who I was, I saw it in her eyes and she was anxious and confused. I turned around with tears in my eyes and composed myself before turning back with a smile on my face.  My Mum was OK again within days of changing medicine but my heart cracked a little that day.

    That is how good Jenna’s acting is and how genius the writing is.

    Missy @missy


    I’ll drink to that.



    Missy @missy

    @puroandson Point taken.

    @kharis Never had the tissue box been needed more. Superb acting.

    Missy @missy


    One wonders whether clara wishes that she’d been the one to forget after all – just for a moment. The grief must have been overwhelming, she looked bereft.



    Anonymous @

    @pedant @missy @winston

    Yes, it’s a beautiful story and however many idiotic commenters on yourube rave on about how they hate Hell Bent or Heaven Sent they are master-classes in both writing and acting for everyone.

    I agree: “…but I insist upon my past” is a gut wrencher, a poignant expose of Clara’s personality and her development to date with the dignity, defiance and composure she can muster.

    I like it.


    Anonymous @

    also @kharis (lovely analysis, btw) I wonder how and why the “fancy omelette” made an appearance. Clara always spoke about her mother and the recipe. I did want to know, specifically, what that was about. For me it wasn’t explicit  -and Moffat’s usually that.

    Kindest, Puro

    PS: @missy glad that you liked the series; enjoyed your descriptions as you went along

    ichabod @ichabod

    @winston  Yes; I know that moment and that place, too, from visits to a dementia facility.  So much of the feeling involved is determination to *not* make it any worse for the person who can’t recall who you are.

    @missy   One wonders whether clara wishes that she’d been the one to forget after all – just for a moment.

    Even as he collapses, she says, “I never wanted this!” which to me means, “I refused to lose my memories, but I didn’t want you to lose yours!”  So she really hoped it wouldn’t do anything to either of them.  Instead, she gets that piercing scene in the diner — but while she prolongs that a little (“she could be me — ?”) to get the full impact, not to skip or slight what he’s lost and what she’s giving up, then she enters her own Tardis with dry eyes, a spring in her step, and an bright, brisk eagerness to get on with her new life as a wanderer of time and space in her own right.

    She’s done her apprenticeship, and is more than ready to move on.  I can imagine her, out on her own when Ashildr has stopped off someplace: Clara looks back on her time with the Doctor with a somewhat detached fondness — it was a while ago, so much has happened since, so many new people, etc. — wondering where he is and what he’s up to, and what kind of companionship he’s found for himself now.  In fact, her state of mind as I imagine it would be not all that different from his, when thoughts of that same past surface in his own consciousness, and he wonders what Clara was like and how it felt to travel with her, and where she is now . . . Not equals, but standing apart from each other on a uniquely rich and convoluted plane of that most difficult of states to maintain — parity.

    It’s the most deliciously melancholic perfection.  And a positively brilliant solution: there’s only room in the Tardis for one Doctor; but if you add another Tardis . . . ?

    @puroandson  Hell Bent or Heaven Sent they are master-classes in both writing and acting for everyone.

    Agreed!  Astonishing stuff.

    Missy @missy


    Of course Clara did – for a moment. She’s losing her best friend, someone she never, ever lied to.
    It’s a shame she had to die, but at least she will have some fun before the inevitable, by going the long way round.

    I watched Face the Raven, Heaven Sent and Hell Bent yesterday afternoon – one after the other – whilst my OH was palying Lawn Bowls. Needless to say I cried like a baby.

    As puro stated: Hell Bent or Heaven Sent they are master-classes in both writing and acting for everyone.

    I’ll drink to that.



    ichabod @ichabod

    @missy  Well, she did lie to him, a teensy bit: . . . “Danny and I are fine!”  “He says it’s perfectly all right, me traveling with you!”  Etc.  But she thinks of him as The Person she would never, ever lie to, because she wishes that were true, and excuses her lies to him as “white” ones that don’t count.  As people tend to do . . . it’s part of the realism of her  character.

    Her biggest lie, of course, being the entire diner scene, including “I could be her.”  That’s a proper masterpiece of a lie, curlicues and everything.  She just can’t resist — because she does wish, at some level, that his love for her was so strong that it could even overcome the neural blocker.  Only . . . she’s learned to be a more sensible, caring  person: so she doesn’t push it, but goes away satisfied that at least she doesn’t have to think of him desperate with worry about her safety, and hugging the cactus of his loss of her, in the future.

    Missy @missy

    I’m going to be annoying now – sorry in advance – but this has been eating at me.

    When the Hybrid was first mentioned, at first I thought Time Lord plus Dalek, then dismissed the idea. As CapDoc says, “the Daleks would never allow it.”

    Then I decided that The Doctor was the Hybrid, because he is so fond of the Human Race, and at the end of Heaven Sent, he actually says that he IS the Hybrid. Plus, (and I can’t remember where I heard this) it was said says that the Doctor was told something about the Hybrid when he was a boy, which terrified him.

    Why is it, that the General wants to know who it is, when CapDoc already admittted it to his Will and Testament?

    Someone on this forum said, that SM wouldn’t lie to us, he’s always fair. This leaves me assuming that The Doctor IS the Hybrid, as he’s fracturing time in his quest to save Clara.

    My point is: Who do you think is the Hybrid – Missy?



    Missy @missy


    Good points.



    Missy @missy


    Ta muchly. *thumbs up*





    No, he said the “Hybrid is Me” (and was outside the Dial when he said that), not “I am the hybrid”. He thought it was Ashildr.

    And even the ‘ghost-computer-so-powerful-it-is-indistinguishable-from-magic’ can’t always be precise in its accuracy.

    Missy @missy


    Of coruse! I always forget Ashildr, she is very forgettable – I know, I’m cruel.

    So, we still don’t know who the Hybrid is then? Missy or the Doctor, or someone we’ve forgotten.

    How about his Daughter? I keep waiting for her to reappear.

    Wasn’t it a treat, when the Doctor entered the cafe, the radio was playing “Don’t stop me now.” I was waiting

    for the Doctor to mention it, although he did mention Mummy on the Orient Express.





    So, we still don’t know who the Hybrid is then?

    Go back and watch again (as if you need an excuse!).

    Missy @missy


    Thank you fellow Whovian, that’s a great help! Perfectly valid excuse though. *winks*



    DoctorDani @doctordani

    I was mulling over the presence of the Matrix in this episode the other day, and it occurred to me that it just serves to underline the fact Ten essentially gave River about the closest thing to a Time Lord funeral by uploading her to the Library as he possibly could given the circumstances. I have no idea if that was intentional on Moffat’s part before he wrote THoRS, but it’s little details like this that have made me love his tenure.

    Richard Klaus @rlklaus

    So Clara takes off with a Tardis that is stuck looking like a diner.  Fussy chameleon circuit it seems.  Sort of the same as the Doctors Tardis.

    Clara can drive a Tardis, also she reads Gallifreyan. Clara can close the Tardis doors with a snap of her fingers.

    Kind of beginning to think, there’s only the one Tardis.  In The Name of the Doctor, Clara points the first Doctor to the Tardis.  I’m thinking that, that is the original Clara, after taking “The long way round”.

    Also thinking that the Tardis, resisted Clara in the early days, because the Tardis knew what was ahead for Clara, and breaking every rule, was trying to re-write the future.

    FLesz @flesz

    In Rings of Akhaten when 11th Doctor was talking about his memories he said “I saw the birth of the universe and I watched as time ran out, moment by moment, until nothing remained. No time. No space. Just me…”. I was wondering if he meant ‘me’ or ‘Me’. In Hell Bent Doctor travel to the end of the universe and there was no time no space but there was Ashildr also known as Me.  What do you think about it?

    Anonymous @


    Hi there and welcome to you. Yes, I love that speech from Akhaten too.

    I think, as others have commented before, when Moffat writes in an arc he makes it deliberately explicit.

    In this case, whilst Lady Me could have been a thought ‘engineered’ in the Moff’s mind, it was a different writer of that particular two parter this season (as far as I can recall). In essence, I think the Doctor was referring to himself.

    Hope that helps. It’s an interesting idea. The Tardis, looking into the future and the past simultaneously could have communicated something to the Doctor, which, at the moment when the Doctor gave away his memories, could have asserted itself through him thus leading to the emotive words of the speech -his agonal moments.

    This was an episode as much about the future of Clara as our Doctor: how her leaf, glued into the scrap book of goals and aspirations contained residual memories and potential thoughts during the ‘now’ and beyond into the future. For her, a world with potential, one without end. It was another example where she would save the Doctor -without Clara present he may have thrust all his potential energy and memories into the ‘god’ ultimately dying to protect the planet so enslaved.

    It’s intriguing really, when on Gallifrey, the Doctor knows he may have gone too far to protect Clara -particularly when he shot the sheriff 🙂 He has asked himself and others, “am I a good man?” – in fact this question has plagued this particular regeneration.

    At the end, before the memory wipe is integrated, he speaks to Clara about the importance of honesty, kindness and finally the significance of making amends. To me, the Doctor’s actions have saved countless billions across universes just as River exclaimed during The Wedding of River Song. The man has followed through on all his promises convincingly. If there’s some benevolent deity in the Whoniverse I would think the Doctor would be known as one who had sufficiently atoned or made amends for past misdeeds. In Hell Bent I think that is settled: he is a good man.


    Puro and Son

    FLesz @flesz


    You’re probably right that Doctor was referring to himself. However it’s a nice coincidence and I love it that I can come up with my own version of Doctor’s speech. The idea, that the Doctor met Lady Me at the end of the universe even before he became 12th doctor and saved Ashildr, suits me perfectly. Yes it’s inconsistent with the understanding of time as progression of cause and effect but it gives me an impression that I know nothing about “big ball of wibbly wobbly timey wimey stuff”. 😀

    Also I agree with you that it’s settled that Doctor is a good man. We’ve seen in The Name of the Doctor that without him and his protection there would be no stars in the night sky. He saved countless lives and worlds.

    winston @winston

    @flesz    Welcome!  I like your idea , it is very timey-wimey.

    @puroandson   I always had faith in  the Doctor’s goodness but I understand his self doubt. I hope he  believes he is a good man some day.

    Anonymous @

    @winston @flesz

    yes, I agree flesz with your creative theories: it is a huge universe of inverse timey whimey ‘stuff’.

    I think it’s not only a particular human trait to be plagued by self-doubts and critique. Clearly some TLs experience this too 🙂 And I suppose a man living into his second millennia would have so much mental baggage that it would need an ever-expanding Tardis to carry it all!

    FLesz @flesz


    I understand his doubt too. Being a TL isn’t easy, but being the Doctor is even harder. I also believe in him. Good thing that he surrounds himself with companions all the time. They can always remind him that he’s a good guy.


    I agree. Doctor has quite a mental baggage. List of worries long like Amy’s legs 😀

    Missy @missy


    I think he just meant me – himself.



    Missy @missy


    I couldn’t agree more about “Me” As for going to the future, he did know about River’s death in the Library and acted accordingly.

    …and yes, of course he’s a good man – the best.



    MarsBarsMiranda @marsbarsmiranda

    No offense to anyone who liked/loved this episode but for me it was a bit of a disappointment. I think that if they never brought Clara back, they could’ve gone way deeper with the hybrid and the confession dial, and even with Ashildr/Me. I think Clara’s send off was perfect, and that it was better before she came back, because to be honest, if she never came back the doctor could keep all of his memories with her rather than having, maybe i dont know an extra hour but forgetting everything. The story took a twist that I did not expect it to. Putting that aside, I didn’t mind the episode, it was pretty good, and the ending was ok. I definitely liked Heaven Sent way better than this though.

    FLesz @flesz


    Clara’s death from the raven was very sad and I think writers wanted to end her story happier. They brought Clara back because she already suffered enough. She lost her mother then she lost Danny. On top of that she was shredded into pieces while entering Doctors timestream. Because of that she lived countless lives and in some of those lives she died so maybe thats why they let her live. Also Amy and Rory’s ending was very tragic so it’s nice that Clara’s wasn’t. 🙂

    But I agree with you that they could’ve gone way deeper with the hybrid and the dial.


    @marsbarsmiranda @flesz

    Outside the most hard core of geeky fans, nobody really gives much of a stuff about how the confession dial works, the ins-and-outs of Time Lord society nor the literal meaning of hybrid. The wider fanbase and casual watchers care about the people, the challenges they face and the way they face them.

    Anyone who was paying attention at the end of Face the Raven could see that Clara’s story was far from over. The number of people, especially over on the Guardian, who complained that they hadn’t used the “run you clever boy” grace note, while totally failing to spot that they were being hit with a massive clue stick was epic. Moffat is a master craftsman and it was simply inconceivable that he would omit that. The next two episodes were in the can well before FTR aired. She wasn’t “bought back”; her story wasn’t finished.

    The story was of Clara was of her hubris – buying blindly into her part of the hybrid gestalt – leading to her nemesis, facing it with calm and courage and compassion and then being rewarded by a most secular riff on karma.

    And judging by the reaction to the episode (and the season as a whole) that is pretty much what delighted the wider viewership.

    The Maltese Falcon was a fake…

    (There’s an alternative take, which I like a lot, in this Amazon review)


    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip


    The story was of Clara was of her hubris

    Yeah, you keep saying. And I keep disagreeing: it’s not really a story about hubris if the person who thinks they can be the Doctor ends the final act with their very own TARDIS, on the run from the Time Lords and accompanied by an assistant. 😉

    Personally, I’d say the pointer that we all missed was the Clara-Danny relationship in Series 8; two people who love each other very much – and are very bad for each other. Clara-Danny mirrored Clara-Doctor.

    Anonymous @

    @pedant @bluesqueakpip aaand the others…

    I think it can be more than one story.

    Hubris and <insert other appropriate concept>

    I think pedant you spoke earlier of Clara’s vainglory (a word that’s arcane nowadays) but works nonetheless. Still, think, like the ‘early Greeks’ it was a comedic ending. Most people would assume it’s not -but I think Pip you pointed out that it is.

    Halloo from Son -school break today.

    Son of Puro


    @bluesqueakpip @puroandson

    And I am sure you will both note that the point in the story I was referring to, FtR, was not the end of the story.

    Much like Sloan Sabbith, “I’m able to hold as many as two thoughts in my head at once.”

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip


    Since my point was that the story you were referring to wasn’t the end of the story; yes, I had noticed that it wasn’t the end of the story.

    The fact that Face the Raven came two episodes before the finale was also a bit of a clue. 😉 I think I mentioned that there were another two episodes at the time, when I said how much I didn’t like it?

    Face the Raven is never going to be one of my favourite stories; it currently lives in my memory as the moment when Doctor Who stopped being ‘must watch’ TV for me. From what I’ve read, it was originally pitched as a mid series story where both regular characters (as usual) survive – and I don’t think the author ever did get round that. The twists and turns that script had to take to get Clara killed were incredible (and not in a good way). It isn’t a story that ends in a death; it’s a story that feels as if it’s meant to end in a last-minute escape – only it didn’t. An action-adventure that found itself having to become a tragedy; and the genre switch didn’t work.

    As a stand-alone, it makes me feel extremely uncomfortable; what you read as ‘fatal flaw= hubris’, I read as ‘fatal flaw=Clara should not have aspired to be the Doctor’. Which doesn’t work either, because Clara had already shown she could be the Doctor if she had to be – and in fact, dying to save an innocent is exactly what the Doctor would do.

    By the end of the series, they’d sorted it out, but it still doesn’t work for me. Face the Raven isn’t there because Clara’s death was inevitable. Face the Raven is there because they needed Clara to be dead for the finale.

    Anonymous @




    ironically, FtR became ‘must watch’ TV for me 🙂 I adored it. Clara’s human -she can  be the doctor all she likes, or she can practise being the Doctor but she’s not. She’s not  a TL. She’s clever and knowing and unencompassed by fear and need. She’s reckless though and vainglorious. I don’t think her death suggests that women somehow cannot be ‘like a Doctor’ . Much like Buffy having sex which causes Angelus to appear isn’t her ‘fault’ -at all, Clara dying isn’t subtext for ‘don’t try to reach the heavens because you’ll just die doing it’.

    There’s a reason she has one heart -one has to take better care. And that’s not the Doctor’s problem (his so-called duty of care for which she never asked), it’s Clara’s.

    But it’s not sensible to then opine “better care” means Clara shouldn’t try like the Doctor, or flee if it’s necessary , or be reckless. She can be and do all these things time and again but must understand the consequences -which she does very bravely in the end (I’d like to be as brave as Clara when that time comes). It’s the Doctor who has the most trouble accepting that which is why the story is rounded out in the 3 parter concluding with Hell Bent.

    And Clara gets her karmic but “secular” ending (pedant). And the Doctor is responsible but in equal measure with Clara. They’re partners. I think Doctor Who has come a long way since inception. We have a doctor who’s partner is just that -who creates her own rules, who has her own demands, who solves problems and knows him better than he knows himself.

    For humanity it’s still small steps. Perhaps Clara shouldn’t have died: perhaps the procession to her ‘necessary’ death was a bit rickety but I think the injection of life in the Trap Street (the realisation that the Doctor lives his future, present and past at once when he recognises Clara’s supposition of the “Trap Street, isn’t it?”), those fleeing from terror across the universe and finding refuge on earth, the fantastical young girl who sees the past and the future and the Mayor’s power itself -as well as Rigsy’s humour and confused interjection made for an exciting ride but every episode prior pointed out Clara’s ancient mistake -she never checked behind her when she entered a room. Never triple checked ahead -her behaviour wasn’t so much reckless as risky and at times foolish. That’s not “reckless woman” it’s just “the vanity of Clara.” It’s not every woman. It’s a story of one woman.




    ichabod @ichabod

    @puroandson  she never checked behind her when she entered a room. Never triple checked ahead -her behaviour wasn’t so much reckless as risky

    But she did have a good plan.  Her risky behavior had led him to be more and more protective and worried, and as much as she protested that she never asked for his protection, she still accepted it and came to depend on it without even thinking about it any more: “We always fix it!”  She came up with a clever strategemn and it would have worked — IF she had gone that one further step, and told the Doctor or Ashildr first what she meant to do.  But she’d learned that from him, too: don’t tell anyone your plan (so they can’t interfere).

    I just don’t see hubris or vanity or some subconscious desire to die (though she herself suggests that).  I see, in fact, that Clara’s humanity is underlined by the fact that she dies *because of a mistake* made on the assumption that the Doctor’s cleverness and protection will always prevail.  She dies a human sort of death, like Danny’s mistake of stepping into a busy street while talking on his phone instead of checking the traffic.

    It’s out of that rut of our common humanity — the accidental, senseless death by happenstance that so often strikes people down — that the retrieval from Trap Street lifts her.  The price is that she becomes no longer human — a person with no heartbeat — until her return for her *last* heartbeat before death.  She’ll have a form of non-human life as long as she can sustain it, but in the end she’ll return to being just a human being again, moving inexorably from her penultimate heartbeat to her final heartbeat and her human death.

    She falls to what catches us all — the collision of our plans with all the stubborn details of plain old physical reality, most particularly the details that we don’t know in advance.  It’s the way of the world, the laws of chance, and the undoing of human will, not, IMO, a failing of hers.  So to me her death *is* the story of women, and of men — the stroke that kills you while you’re planning your anniversary, the black ice lying invisible on the road ahead of you, the bomb that some fanatic sets off in a shopping mall you just stopped in for some coffee . . . But she’s Clara; she has the Doctor in her corner, and though he can’t save her this time he can win her a reprieve, at great cost to both of them.

    That’s my story and I’m sticking to it — though I’d be the last to argue that my word, or anyone’s is final.  Unless — the Doctor is, ultimately, the one at fault?  He indulged her craving for danger, but he also protected her and rescued her, like any over-protective parent whose loving care lulls a venturesome child into a false sense of security.  There is no security.  And she is “more breakable”.  I agree on that point: a human is not a TL; a TL is not a human.  Parity is not equality.  *He* thinks it’s his fault, so he makes amends as best he can . . . Sad and terrible, but for me, a richly satisfying and inevitable end to their story.

    Anonymous @

    @ichabod @bluesqueakpip @pedant

    Ichi,  you said it yourself: “made on the assumption

    Which is a mistake by another word. To be presumptuous? To fail to check? To deliberately not tell Rigsby that “the chronolock could never be cheated.” Even her realisation -when it dawned – was  shock. Seems to me that the Doctor knew a heck of a lot more about Quantum Shades than Clara and yet it was Clara who attempted to  play Doctor “101 and Doctor 102″and push Rigsby into that silent deal which would cause guilt for him -that was a significant fault too; again of Clara’s. Not ‘of woman.’

    I’m not knocking Clara. She’s brave, inconsolable, thrilled, addicted to life and adventure. She’s compassionate and thinks ahead but she’s flawed. And that’s the nature of all: as the Doctor is as flawed as any other.

    And I agree -it’s parity not equality as you’ve said. Was the Doctor overprotective? I’m not sure. She certainly took him in hand and demanded he break the ‘laws’ of time occasionally -which I think she may have learned from SmithDoc. I think they fed off each other in this regard -hence the hybrid part of this season’s’ focus: a cautionary tale? But it’s all OK, we can disagree about these minor ‘readings’ and we’re all the better for it. 🙂


    Anonymous @

    @ichabod @pedant

    At the risk of bringing back Mr Dictionary, I think we ought to revisit the meanings of vanity, hubris and vainglory.  Michael Chambon has some dolorous statements to make in his romantic epics about the presence of vainglory.

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip


    Face the Raven is in many ways an excellently written story: the thing I object to is that Clara’s death isn’t an inevitable outcome of the plot.

    I agree with @ichabod when she says that Clara’s death is very like Danny’s. It’s an accident. A random, everyday accident, that happens when something you do safely every day of the year suddenly bites back – because it involved a risk you also take everyday. Like a child who rushes down some steep stairs when she’s been told not to, and one day does fall and break her ankle; there’s some carelessness from the child, but basically it’s sheer bad luck. This time, the risk didn’t come off.

    However, this is drama. There are no random everyday accidents in drama because the writer (and showrunner) have to plan every action, every line. So when I say that Clara’s death feels like an accident, I’m not being complimentary. Dramatically, Danny’s death doesn’t feel like an accident-through-carelessness (even though it is one) because Danny’s death is properly set up as the inciting incident for the finale. We know why, in that episode, Danny was not paying attention when he stepped into the road and the reason for his inattention had been developed throughout the previous episodes.

    Clara’s death isn’t properly set up. Clara is doing stuff that she does every episode: every episode the Doctor gets her out of it. This time he doesn’t? Why? She does something a bit reckless in almost every episode of Series 9 (she does something a bit reckless in the first part of Face the Raven) – this time it bites her back. Why? Because they need to kill her off in this episode.

    And they knew they hadn’t set it up properly. We didn’t need an after the event speech about how Danny’s inattention was caused by his and Clara’s series long argument over lying; because she was now offering to tell him the truth and that was so important he didn’t think about checking for cars.All the audience had to worry about was whether the car had been primed to hit him or was truly accidental.

    But we did need an after-the-discovery speech from Clara.

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip

    Face the Raven is in many ways an excellently written story

    And I should probably hasten to add that I doubt I could write a better story myself if I had an entire year, all the other scripts and my choice of cast: I’m critiquing the story, not the ability of the writer.

    Riko30 @riko30

    Does anyone else feel like Clara’s “ending” allows for the impossible girl storyline to begin? I understand that it creates a boot strap paradox (so uncharacteristic for new who) but it makes sense to me.

    -Clara and Me’s vast knowledge of time and the Doctor would allow them to travel to the fixed points in the Doctor’s life where has Clara “intervened”

    – Clara mentioned she would go back to galafrey “the long way around” .. Technically The first moment we know of where Clara interacts with the Doctor is seen in the impossible girl where she tells the 1st Doctor (on galafrey) to choose a different Tardis

    All this being said, I might be missing something big, but I feel like it may have been moffats way of tying off the end of one of his best written characters subtly (but probably unlikely because let’s be serious, moffat dosn’t know how to spell subtle)

    ichabod @ichabod

    @puroandson  Puro Solo —  Sure; there are points where these finer points work well with different interpretations.  That’s one of the qualities that makes DW so good for viewers who like to mull things over and look at them from different angles.  More openness to interpretation is one way to give a story a chance to resonance forward in time.  I think I just give the flawed nature of physical existence (and its interaction with and obstacles to our impulses and desires, no matter how kindly meant) more weight here than the flawed nature of Clara in this instance.  And who here has never come up against, of all things, a misperception or ignorance of a legal matter?!  We started S9 with the Doctor breaking the laws of the terms of death, defiantly and (as we’ve seen subsequently) both successfully and with a “tidal wave” of unintended consequences, so it’s ultimately him and his ability and willingness to blow restrictive laws out of his way that she makes her assumption on — not, IMO, unreasonably.

    There’s no denying, though, that there’s another Doctor-y element to her action: he likes to show off for her, and tell her stories of his exploits, and that’s what she’s headed for in the Rigsy stratagem.  Why not?  He’s told her she’s like him many times and in many ways before, and it’s true: like.  But not identical.  Showing off for Ashildr too, I think, and for Rigsy, and anybody else who’s watching — so maybe the charge of “vainglory” sticks.  She insists that she’s “special”, his perfect team-mate and match (that hybrid status again, as a positive rather than a negative state).  Those things are true, but within limits she doesn’t care to recognize — parity, not equality, and that’s the gap she falls into.  She can’t regenerate if it goes wrong.  He can; he can even regenerate *her*, in a highly conditional state.  Her assumption (or presumption) isn’t that far wrong.  But the cost of doing so is far higher than she could have foreseen, with her impulsive and confident nature . . . and must be paid by both of them, each in their own way.


    ichabod @ichabod

    @bluesqueakpip  She does something a bit reckless in almost every episode of Series 9 (she does something a bit reckless in the first part of Face the Raven) – this time it bites her back. Why? Because they need to kill her off in this episode.

    I disagree on the inevitability issue.  *At some point*, an impulsive and not fully thought through action of hers was going to bite back in a way that couldn’t be “fixed”: that event, in some lethally threatening form, was shown to be inevitable (we had her floating in space with a deadly creature inside her suit early on, to help prepare us).  We were also made to focus on that inevitability because the Doctor was so focused on it: “what if something happens to you?”  “She might meet someone she couldn’t bear to lose — ”  That look, that somber gaze that she she didn’t seem to notice after she said, “I’m not going anywhere, old man!”

    That was the set up right the way through, and it worked beautifully for me — brilliantly ironic, in fact.  His warnings about his own fears for her only encouraged her impetuousness, her assumptions of being able to carry on challenging the fate he was warning her about — the inevitable broken ankle — so that she kept pushing the limits of his ability to rescue her.  Talk about a closed loop, not in time but in causation (that hybrid nature of them together, again)!  It *was* going to happen, and FtR is the story of how it did, indeed, finally happen, because dramtically, that promise had to pay off where we could see it.  S9 was about consequences; closure was the whole point, and doing it in a way that harkened back to Danny’s death was quietly splendid, IMO, and fully satisfying.

    I do agree, though, that further focused comment on the crux of the matter in the story itself would have been better for people who came away *not* that satisfied.  I lean, myself, toward the degree of ambiguity that provokes conversations like this one.  And I find the agility of their solution to the Clara Problem (“ordinary” death on Death’s casually inhuman terms, or grandiose and up-beat and classically “comedy”, as in “the happy escape after all”?  Both!) just brilliant.  It makes me sad; but I have to smile, too.  I’ll take it.

    But, like Clara, like the Doctor himself — not flawless.


    ichabod @ichabod

    @riko30  Does anyone else feel like Clara’s “ending” allows for the impossible girl storyline to begin? I understand that it creates a boot strap paradox (so uncharacteristic for new who) but it makes sense to me.

    Neat idea — makes my head spin a bit.  But these loops always do, so I tend to side-step them if I can.

    moffat dosn’t know how to spell subtle

    Oh, I think he does “subtle” very well, considering that he’s supposed to be keeping things plain enough for young kids to make sense of them as well as grown-ups.  Of course, with actors like these, it’s hard to know where the subtler shades of meaning are there in the script, or are picked up and highlighted by the work of actors who very well know how to spell subtle.  A lot of our discussions here (and elsewhere) hinge on subtleties of interpretation, so *somebody* foregrounded those moments for us to notice and comment on.

    Anonymous @

    @riko30 @ichabod  @bluesqueakpip

    We would think as ichi has correctly demonstrated that Moffat is one subtle writer. After repeated viewings, years apart, we pick up on finely calibrated clues that point implicitly to an overall arc.

    Certainly I would add that Moffat’s ending to the series tied up the Impossible Girl Arc and provided for, as you suggest, Riko, its ‘beginning’ -the arrival of Dr Hartnell under the muttering cloister wraiths in the repair room for the Tardis’ whereupon he meets a young, anonymous (Impossible) girl who suggests he take “this Tardis instead.” It’s a neat ending and one which exemplifies Moffat’s long game -a 6-0; 6-0; 6-0 a tennis match – -the ‘zero’ being the so-called metacritics 🙂 -who, as far as I can read, have enjoyed this series more than any other. Heaven Sent gained an 83% RT score -not bad at all for RT (actually @pedant, you mentioned Spotless the movie which was rated as 90% by RT)

    @ichabod“I disagree on the inevitability issue.  *At some point*, an impulsive and not fully thought through action of hers was going to bite back in a way that couldn’t be “fixed”: that event… was shown to be inevitable (we had her floating in space with a deadly creature inside her suit early on, to help prepare us).  We were also made to focus on that inevitability because the Doctor was so focused on it: “what if something happens to you?….”


    “Clara’s death isn’t properly set up. Clara is doing stuff that she does every episode: every episode the Doctor gets her out of it. This time he doesn’t? Why? She does something a bit reckless in almost every episode of Series 9 (she does something a bit reckless in the first part of Face the Raven) – this time it bites her back. Why? Because they need to kill her off in this episode. And they knew they hadn’t set it up properly…”

    Interesting Pip: we hadn’t viewed it this way.


    Son for Puro





    The “Today’s lesson is that A Woman Should Not Aspire To Be A Doctor” relies so much on decontextualising that it is absurd.

    Clara does something ‘a bit reckless’ in every episode? She faced down a God, fer crying out loud (God, from the PoV of the Vikings), only for Ashildr to be the reckless one.

    Every time she did something ‘a bit reckless’ something else happened to alert us to just how dangerous this is for those with just the one heart, from the Doc first stating his duty of care in Under The Lake, through Ashildr t0 the Zygons. It was a train coming down a track to the thundering roar of a thousand clue sticks. Not “a woman” but this specific woman, with all the wagon trains of baggage behind her, the grief, the rage, the unspoken pain, driving her to a moment when she misses that one little detail…

    And then she faced it like a boss.

    And then gets regenerated.

    Stories get reordered in Who all the time – the key beats don’t.


    Anonymous @

    @pedant @bluesqueakpip @riko30 @ichibod and also referring to points by @flesz and @marsbarsmiranda (welcome to you by the way & great to hear your views)

    indeed every time this specific woman (Clara) does something bordering on reckless -or is indisputably reckless, there is an obvious consequence. The Doctor’s aware of this -his comment to Rigsy when Clara “is enjoying this a bit too much” is considered by Twelve when he mutters “that’s an ongoing problem here.”

    What I find lacking in some arguments (not here but other fora) is that Clara is tempered near the end of Face the Raven (and again in Hell Bent) but also brave in death -her ability to face this with nobility and quiet dignity: “this is as brave as I know how to be” is an unequivocal grace note unspoiled by some twenty-something’s simpering petulance and grandiose egocentricity. That she is then forgotten by the Doctor adds this triptych to the absurdist philosophy which sometimes drives Moffat’s train -other than Whedon I can’t think off hand of another creator/co-writer who cultivates absurdist theatre with such carefully revealed sophistication and, as you put it @pedant, “with a thousand clue sticks” first noticed by the absence of Clara’s motif: “run you clever boy.”

    Miss Miranda, I do feel that there was no need to expand further on ‘edgy’ issues like the Doctor’s dial (it was clearly discussed that it had been desecrated by the Council for the purpose of locating the prophecy) and the Hybrid  -that it had been signposted by Missy in the Witches Familiar, lit like a footy stadium in Under the Lake and  -in keeping with blazing lights -lit like the Eiffel Tower in The Zygon Inversion allows us, as audience, to ‘work’ the interpretation and run with the clues; as long as our deduction’s based on available evidence. 🙂

    Thus we knew, or would come to acknowledge, that the Hybrid, a foretellable, calculated forecast would stand on the ruins of Gallifrey alongside a handful of immortals. The knowledge of this alone was inducement enough for the Doctor to run; (and) for the Master to turn into a 24 carat ‘madster’. As for focussing on Gallifrey itself (and I’ve read numerous reviews complaining about how “there was such a build up to Gallifrey but no real analysis of its state”), the situation was never opaque.

    With the sociopathic, impotent and imperious Rassilon and a line drawn in the sand between the Council and the so-called wastelands (beautifully straddled by the bustling ‘mother of the boys’ and her prophetic “they’ll kill you”) we had sufficient insight into where Gallifrey was, how the Council was faring and how the people themselves (as well as the companion soldiers on Skull Moon) respected their new ‘president’. Gallifreyans have a long memory and whilst the War Council now prefers a shootout to a dialogue it is the General who persists with: “when did words stop being our weapon?”

    Any eccentricities of the Confession Dial were dealt with in Heaven Sent so further exposition’s redundant and importunate. Better to dwell on the mysterious Sisters of Karn – “so loving the fireworks” which tied up the narrative nicely than be distracted by the speechifying and comic book chest thumping of the Council. In dispensing with that predictable ‘thrill’ we understand that the key elements of the Doctor’s personality have remained similar from one iteration to the next and any exposition about war councils might have perforated the characters delicate and lingering attachment to each other distracting from the cautionary tale. Hell Bent was drama and space opera buffa (comedy) as its best: genuine, poetic and bathetic.

    G’night all 🙂

    PuroSolo (burning some midnight oil -oh, and listening to Midnight Oil too, @whisht

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