The series finale of Doctor Who is one of the highlights of the year but so often fails to match the hype, could ‘Hell Bent’ buck the trend? Sadly not. After the superb effort of last week’s episode the viewer is brought down with a crushing bump. In ‘Heaven Sent’ the Doctor struggles to deal with the loss of Clara, angry, alone and afraid. But it’s okay because this week he has found her again, almost immediately, in an American diner of all places. So what was the point I hear you cry? Who knows! The companion is a crucial part of Doctor Who and why it is successful. They are the human, more often than not, that the viewer can connect with and journey with vicariously. By contrast the Doctor is an alien and so difficult for us to relate with. This has been the case since the beginning when the old man in a junkyard was a complete mystery and two school teachers provided audience connection. However, when the show becomes all about the companion it sidelines the Doctor, your leading man, belittling the programme to the level of generic serial drama (soap opera).
Clara Oswald is the absolute worst culprit for this. She became the impossible girl, splintered along the Doctor’s timeline to save him over and over again. She triggered the Doctors’ change of plan and the ultimate rescue of Gallifrey. In ‘Listen’ (2014) she cements herself as the reason why a young Timelord had a fear of the dark. A year ago the series finale became the story of heartbreaking loss of boyfriend Danny, suffocating an exciting Master/Cyberman storyline into an irrelevant sideshow. History has repeated itself with that one. She has been the villain through Zygon doppelganger Bonnie and has become the Doctor, Jenna Coleman’s face even appeared in the title sequence for Death in Heaven, as sacrilegious as you can get. Now the character even has herself a TARDIS! The lunacy of a woman who apparently couldn’t work iplayer or wifi now being able to pilot a time machine is unfathomable. Friends are those who leave footprints on our lives, Clara Oswald has left a steaming turd.
At times she is not even a likeable character, an egotistical control freak who dies because of her reckless stupidity. Fortunately this is Doctor Who where death is meaningless. And you thought Rory Williams was bad? He doesn’t hold a candle to Clara. I was one who didn’t get emotional about ‘Face the Raven’ because I anticipated a Clara return and sure enough the whole of ‘Hell Bent’ became about her.
As has been the trend with the whole series there was no big action set pieces just dialogue heavy acting lessons. Last we knew of Gallifrey it had been placed in a parallel pocket universe, however at the end of all things it magically reappears in it’s original universe so the Sisterhood of Karn can pop by. Explaining that away is conveniently passed over. However, Gallifrey looked incredible and there was even a new old TARDIS to get gooey eyed about. Rassilon was overthrown. There were nice cameos from a Dalek, Cyberman and Weeping Angel, just because. We even had a returning Maisie Williams, again just because. Who even knows what the hybrid was, apart from a plot point, so sadly no new fantastically brought to life creature. Just a prophecy that delivers only more words. The elements were all there including Peter Capaldi at the absolute height of his acting skills but sadly nothing but a flat aftertaste is delivered. At least he finally has his own sonic screwdriver, only taken 2 years!
With Clara gone, hopefully, please Rassilon let her be gone, how can you possibly follow her? River Song is perfect because of her back story and should be great during the Christmas special. But long term what can be done with a new companion? Perhaps now is the time that some fresh ideas are brought in with Moffat stepping down from Executive Producer but still writing brilliant material like ‘The Magician’s Apprentice’ and ‘Heaven Sent’. Saying that if anyone can think up a brilliant new companion Steven Moffat is the man!