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An undead companion gets a shot at a spinoff and all life in the universe may or may not pay the price for it

An amnesiac Doctor rocks up in a familiar-looking diner on the wrong side of a hill in the middle of the Nevada desert and busks his way to a lemonade on the house. But the woman serving him is not your average Nevadan diner waitress. Nope, she’s the Impossible Girl, once again seemingly resurrected.

Flash back to billions of years later and Doc is staging a silent coup on Gallifrey, kicking out rascally Rassilon the resident president and planning to save his friend for whom he apparently remained incarcerated, although this was never truly established, and although surely this could not be done.

Unlike UNIT, the Time Lords are actually capable of performing an extraction, so the Doctor went the long way round to pluck Clara from the end of her timestream and try to kickstart her heart. But between the universe dying, all of time possibly fracturing, and the Hybrid being revealed, can everyone possibly have a happy ending?

Here's what we think of N129 Hell Bent

We rate Doctor Who stories on a scale from 0.0 to 5.0. For context, very few are excellent enough to merit a 5.0 in our minds, and we'd take a 0.0 Doctor Who story over a lot of other, non-Whovian stuff out there.

Leon | @ponken


Drew | @drewbackwhen


Marie | @hammashandjelly


Here's what we think of N129 Hell Bent

We rate Doctor Who stories on a scale from 0.0 to 5.0. For context, very few are excellent enough to merit a 5.0 in our minds, and we'd take a 0.0 Doctor Who story over a lot of other, non-Whovian stuff out there.

Leon | @ponken


Drew | @drewbackwhen


Marie | @hammashandjelly


Here's what you think 7 Responses to “N129 Hell Bent”
  1. Awesome Alfie

    It was cool to see rassalon, I’m not sure I spelt that correctly, but he’s from the end of time. I wonder if he regenerated or is just older. This episode was also a bit boring.

    It has to be a 3

  2. Kieren Evans | @kjevans2

    Urgh, after last time’s crowning achievement, I just can’t get behind this one. The main plot starts off decently enough with the Doctor back on Gallifrey and him confronting the timelords. It’s when he begins his plot to save Clara that I feel this one goes off the rails. He hasn’t learnt anything, he hasn’t come to terms with her loss, he can’t admit that he was wrong.


    And then we get Me turning up and some ruminating on who/what the ‘Hybrid’ is, which I just find a bit pointless and flat. After the mind wipe (which I’m not against), we get the explanation for the diner scenes and Me and Clara going off in an American Diner in Space. My issue with this all is 1) I never really got on with Clara and 2) it cheapens death. The former arises from how I feel that Clara was very inconsistently written over her time which put me off her. The latter is just how the new series writers have shied away from the ultimate consequences of travelling with the Doctor, only Danny dying (if you can count him as a companion) up to this point, whereas classic who had 1 or 3 if you count Katarina and Sara Kingdom. Things seem not to have grown up which feels odd.

    The ending is just a little too silly for me and it all betrays the greatness of the previous ep.

    So much wasted potential…


  3. Andy Parkinson | @caffreys71

    Hi Gang.

    I’ve popped over from my usual comfort zone of Classic Who to chuck in my tuppence with a review of Hell Bent.


    My New Who experience is much more limited, for although I watched all of the Eccleston era, I largely got bored of New Who sometime in the Tennant era and only dipped in from time to time. The Capaldi era is where I rediscovered New Who, so I apologise if I’ve missed anything glaringly obvious!

    The acting in this is superb. Capaldi is on top form, playing the Doctor wracked with guilt over Clara’s death and seething with vengeance for what Rassilon and the Timelords have done. He knocks it out of the park combining the rage with some lovely funny lines. Jenna Coleman too is fabulous (and omg is she HOT!! Sorry!!). She gives Clara loads of heart, especially when she’s telling everyone off for feeling sorry for her, but she also gives her the emotional side when she realises she’s losing the Doc or rather he’s forgetting her. The two actors riff off each other wonderfully. It’s so sad to see her time with the Doctor come to an end, although I love that she’s off travelling with Me and getting to see and do more adventuring.


    • OMG it’s a classic TARDIS! Please New Who bring this interior back again!
    • “on pain of death no-one take a selfie!”
    • The General’s regeneration – not only changing sex but skin colour too.


    • Ok why did the Timelords go to all that trouble of getting Me to trap the Doctor, then put him in the confession dial? Why not summon him to Gallifrey and mind meld his ass or something – they’ve done it before in Classic Who. Their method resulted in the death of Clara and a very pissed off Doctor. Timelords are dicks!
    • Also, the Doctor is shooting guns now? Is this a common thing in New Who? I don’t like it even if the General was going to regenerate.

    Overall though it’s a good episode with Capaldi and Coleman on great form and some great dialogue. Also, it certainly got very dusty in my living room when they said their goodbyes!

    I award this 4.3 Extraction Chambers out of 5

    And remember, never eat pears. They’re too squishy and they always make your chin wet. That one’s quite important. Write it down.

    Andy Parkinson

  4. Eddie Rock | @TheEddieRock

    Hey there WhoBackWhen, it’s your second favorite Rock here (after sedimentary of course) to sing the praises of this epic finale. The whole first half managed to convey the degree of how badass the doctor is. He’s so revered by pretty much the whole frakin planet that he gets the president overthrown without saying a word (where was he the last 4 years here in the states?)

    The second half was a lot more complicated, to the point where huge portions didn’t even make sense, but it didn’t matter to me because the emotional resonance was so genuine and came through in the performances of both Capaldi and Coleman. There’s so much to enjoy about this episode, like the fun moments of the Angels cameo or their comedic escape from the Cloisters that helped balance all the heaviness and tension.

    Yes the diner tardis is pretty dumb and all the hybrid talk still comes off as forced and repetitive. Plus, as great as Donald Sumpter is, I still would have preferred if Rassilion was again played by Timothy Dalton, but I still feel like this is a perfect example of what I want from Doctor Who: Outrageous stories, top notch acting and a whole lot of fun

    I give this episode a rating of 4.5 Daleks desperately seeking death. With that, I’ve gotta run. I’m dropping off a DVD of this episode at Chibnall’s house. Hopefully you’ll all be thanking me after season 13. Till then, Rock on!

    -Eddie Rock

  5. Michael Ridgway | @bad_movie_club


    • Grouchy old Rassilon. He buggered off too, so presumably escaped the Master’s trashing of Gallifrey.
    • The resurrection of Clara is kind of interesting, and I’m mellowing slightly on Face the Pigeon not being an absolute bag of snot (slightly!). But why hasn’t the Doc tried this with other dead companions? Favouritism! That’s why!


    • ‘Me’ is the last being alive at the end of everything? Fucking really? At least we don’t have the ten minute ‘who are you? Who am I?’ spiel. But if she couldn’t remember anything after only a couple hundred years, how has she remembered anything billions of years at the end of time? Oh why oh why wasn’t she made the series big bad. Massive let down.
    • Endless pointless wittering about the ‘hybrid’ (‘maybe it’s half Sontaran and half-badger’…).
    • Who let the Sisters of Khaaaaaan in? How did they even get there? Security – you’re fired!
    • What were the Time Lord shade things? It feels like we missed scenes with them.
    • Missed opportunity for two Tardis’s to crash into each other at the end. Kaboom!

    Summary: I wanted Kill Bill with the Doctor slaughtering a tonne of Time Lords and then sitting on the Gallifreyan throne, like Conan, drinking mead from a cup made from Rassilon’s face. It was not to be.

    Rating: 2.3/5 recycled baddies trapped in the bargain basement Matrix. Cheap skates!

  6. Michael French

    HEY OH PODCAST PEOPLE! I may have missed most of Capaldi, including my favorite episode Heaven Sent but I will try to keep up with series Ten, that being said I don’t really have much to say, I just thought this episode was fine, not terrible by any means, just fine. After how great Heaven sent was how could the quality not drop just a little.

    I enjoyed being on gallifrey again, I thought The Doctor becoming president of yet another planet was pretty cool, The Dalek demanding that they “exterminate him” was the first time I felt sympathetic to a Dalek, and seeing the original TARDIS gave me a giant smile and then the doctors goodbye was definitely pulling at the heartstrings a little bit.

    The only piece of real criticism I have is that the character of “me“ never really seems to serve much purpose other than the “immortality is a curse“ storyline we’ve seen done before in this very show, see Captain Jack. Also I guess Clara and “me” are having their own adventures, I almost think that the only reason they did that was so that in a few years they could get some audio adventures for themselves.

    Overall, as a finale for series nine I think it does the job, nothing too outstanding, does what it’s supposed to and goes. I give this one, three confession dials out of five.

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