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YMMV / Doctor Who S35 E12 "Hell Bent"

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  • Accidental Aesop: Given how the Doctor's treated in this story for his actions and Me's ultimate fate, it's easy to get the message "Truly good people never punish those who hurt them or their loved ones — even if the culprit is a tyrannical dictator with many other crimes they haven't been held accountable for — and should let them be better off than they were before if possible. But a good person who's lashing out as a direct result of their dirty deeds should be shown No Sympathy, accept their punishment, and accept it with a smile."
  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
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    • Is the Doctor just being Time Lord Victorious 2.0 in trying to save Clara? He's coming off of not only her Senseless Sacrifice but hideous betrayal and Cold-Blooded Torture; might he have avoided becoming The Unfettered if he had been allowed to process his grief instead of immediately being forced to survive the confession dial? Could anyone have sustained their sanity in his situation? With the deck stacked so high against the Doctor, he's less a hero gone bad who must be brought back to his best self and more a mentally damaged man denied the help he needs by people so coldhearted that they don't realize/acknowledge there's a problem, and thus moved to dangerous, desperate acts in hopes of healing himself, and suffers even more for it in the end. Every major character aside from Clara ends up as a villain in this reading, and most of them thus qualify as Karma Houdinis to boot.
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    • Is the Doctor's choice to exile Rassilon and the High Council as cruel and cowardly as the General and Ohila claim, or is it better than they deserve considering the sum of their crimes, which would make the act a merciful one on his part and thus in line with his previous actions in Series 9 towards young Davros, Bonnie, etc.? Is it even possible he was sparing them from a worse fate at his hands, getting them out of range of his possible vengeance before he really lost his temper with the lot of them?
    • Does Ohila condemn the Doctor over his exiling Rassilon and the High Council because she thinks he's being too hard on them, just trying to save his own skin from further grief at their hands (and given his ultimate plan to save Clara, which they certainly would have tried to stop...) Or does she think he's being too soft and trying to avoid being punished by others by giving the villains what they really deserve, given that she clearly has no love for Rassilon?
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    • Does Ashildr earn her happy ending of finally exploring the universe as Clara's companion after millennia of taking The Slow Path, perhaps fearing crossing the Doctor's path again all along, or is she a Karma Houdini who hasn't properly atoned for what she did to him (taking into account that Clara forgives her actions), or both? And since she suffers from The Fog of Ages, it's suspicious that her memory of the events of "Face the Raven" is still clear and she knows all about the Hybrid prophecy and why the Doctor comes to the end of time in the first place. She either really hung onto the relevant journals and learned the right things...or she may not have actually taken The Slow Path.
    • Is Clara actually willing to return to her painful demise at some point, or is she lying and going back to Gallifrey the long way 'round is just her way of delaying the inevitable until she has no other choice?
    • For that matter, does she lie to the Doctor about him having to accept her death so she can get a TARDIS of her own without having to worry about him holding her back? She is addicted to adventure and a Control Freak, after all, and in Series 8 lied to both Danny and the Doctor over this. She's been using the Doctor for a long time, never truly appreciating the depth of his emotions for her (but often manipulating/taking advantage of them) and how he really will go to Hell for her — and now she doesn't even need him anymore, she can just dump him in the desert.
    • Did the Doctor really not know which way the neural block would fire, or did he know it would target him and just pretend it was a matter of chance? If so, did he do so because he felt so guilty about having slipped into "Time Lord Victorious" mode again that he felt he deserved it, or was it because he wanted to spare Clara from having to knowingly rob him of the very memories she'd just declared were too precious to ever forfeit? Or was he subconsciously relieved to be able to shed four-and-a-half billion years of remembered grief?
    • Did the Doctor really lose his key memories of Clara or is he just faking it to make sure both of them can move on with no regrets? "Twice Upon a Time" put the kibosh on this; his memories are definitively restored in its denouement.
    • Since the mind wipe wasn't as thorough on the Doctor's memories of Clara as it was on Donna's memories of the Doctor, might it wear off on him eventually? The ending of the following season's finale, "The Doctor Falls", suggests that it has when Clara appears in his mind's eye montage of past companions, but in the end the Testimony completely restores them in "Twice Upon a Time".
  • Angst? What Angst?: This three-parter reconstructs the trope for both the Doctor and Clara when all is said and done.
    • The Doctor's descent into madness is explicitly the result of him being unable both physically and mentally to move on (or run) from his anguish as he usually does. In the end, his choice to finally accept and move on from what he's gone through — and will go through in the future — and just keep running and helping others is presented as the best thing he can do, and the lessons he learns from this experience will allow him to finally earn a happy ending in "The Husbands of River Song".
    • Clara's tenure was a deconstruction of this trope as she became an increasingly reckless thrill-seeker in the wake of all the crises and tragedies in her life. But when her mistake meant she had to die in "Face the Raven", she realized what she became and why, accepted her fate, and faced death with dignity and courage. She later accepts that her mistake was part of what led to the Doctor's Sanity Slippage, and convinces him to come back across the Despair Event Horizon. Now more self-aware, she's free to have new adventures as a sadder, wiser, and hopefully more cautious woman.
  • Author's Saving Throw:
    • The Tenth Doctor's mind-wipe of Donna is commonly believed to be his worst moment, ignoring her consent to die and the show concentrating on his pain afterwards. The Twelfth Doctor tries to do the same to Clara, even telling her he's done it before, but she calls him out, saying she has the right to remember her past. And then the Doctor finally comes to terms with and accepts the idea of his OWN memories of Clara being wiped, in a roundabout way calling it penance for how he treated Donna.
    • Treated oddly with the "half-human" theory, which is often treated as borderline-heresy and has been the butt of several jokes. Here, however, it's played as a legitimate possibility, although the Doctor doesn't confirm or deny anything.
    • The resolution of the story arc required Moffat to provide Clara with a happy (if bittersweet) ending, while not undoing the tragedy of her death in "Face the Raven"; the solution is to give her the chance to have further adventures within the last moment of her life provided she goes back to it eventually. At the same time, he had to erase the Doctor's memory of her so he wouldn't be consumed by grief and anguish that would undermine any future relationships — yet still establish that all the character-development moments of the past three seasons (most specifically those of "The Day of the Doctor", as well as the Twelfth Doctor's own emotional and social evolution) are maintained. The solution: The mind wipe does cause him to lose his memories of how Clara looked, talked, etc., (thus, for those who subscribe to the romantic aspect of the story, this also would include related feelings for her) but his memories of the adventures he had with with her, and thus the impact they had on his character, turn out to remain substantially intact. This is supported by the fact that the Doctor's warmer personality, which evolved over two seasons thanks to his interaction with Clara, remained such into "The Husbands of River Song" and Series 10, rather than reverting to the colder, harsher Twelfth Doctor of old. However, this was ultimately a Saving Throw that needed another Saving Throw: Twelve's Grand Finale "Twice Upon a Time" had his memories completely restored shortly before he regenerated, as Moffat felt bad about his fate.
  • Badass Decay: In his last appearance, Rassilon was the iron-fisted Big Bad of Time Lord society who casually vaporised people for disagreeing with him. Even the Doctor clearly feared him on some level, going as far as picking up a gun in a desperate attempt to ward him off the last time he came face to face with him. Here, he's a rather ineffectual old man who gets kicked off Gallifrey without even a real fight by a Doctor, who is calmly in control all the time. Possibly explained: He was brought back to rule in a time of extreme crisis, and his tyrannical methods were no longer palatable in peacetime. He's being played by a different actor again, so this current regeneration may just not be as forceful or effective as the last one. Plus, the military sided with the Doctor and were pointing gunships at him by the time he actually stood down, effectively demonstrating that he'd already lost control of Gallifrey even if he had put up a fight. But those are thin excuses when one factors in how Classic Who portrayed Rassilon as being so powerful that he could turn people into statues with his mind while comatose.
  • Broken Aesop: Two major themes of Series 9 are badly mangled in the denouement.
    • The entire Season Finale makes a big point of the Doctor being dangerous without a Morality Chain, and that Clara is no longer workable as one because she was too similar to him...and then the denouement leaves him completely alone instead of giving him SOMEONE new to care about and look after him. Great job!
    • Immortals shouldn't travel together because they'll become jaded, unable to appreciate the beauty of fleeting life, and subject to Immortality Immorality, as the Doctor explains to the disappointed Me in "The Woman Who Lived". But Clara and Me's Happy Ending is their traveling the universe as functional immortals with no mortal companions. So was the Doctor wrong or not?
  • Broken Base:
    • Clara's fate: She must return to the moment of her death at some point to keep the universe together, but until then is immortal and free to roam the universe in her own TARDIS, with Ashildr as a companion. Opinions vary greatly as to its effectiveness. In short, it is either the perfect end to her character arc or the total desecration of the perfectly good ending of "Face the Raven" that further supports a common complaint about Moffat's era — that recurring character deaths are not permanent. Whether you liked Clara or her exit in "Face The Raven" to begin with also plays a role in what you think of the ending.
    • Clara's "The Reason You Suck" Speech to the Time Lords is either justified in calling out the leadership of the Time Lords for unspeakable cruelty, or flat out blaming an entire race for the Doctor's four billion year hell when half of the race was thanking him for saving them. That said, the scene itself makes it clear that she was addressing the leadership. Multiple episodes of the Modern Era and even some of the Classic Era had well-established that the Time Lords were hated by many, such as the Racnoss. Also, as far as the viewer can tell the characters she's addressing (including Ohila) apparently have No Sympathy for the suffering of someone they owe their lives to, seeing his Cold-Blooded Torture as a case of the ends justifying the means, and this in itself can be seen as absolutely wicked. It's possible they have to put their sympathy aside for the moment to stop his universe-risking scheme, but since the Doctor doesn't try mending fences with them after he returns to his right mind, the audience doesn't know for sure.
    • The resolution of the Story Arc of the Hybrid's identity — via The Un-Reveal — was either a wonderful subversion of expectations or deeply frustrating. Subverted, however, by Word of God, when Steven Moffat confirmed the Doctor and Clara as the true Hybrid of the series. There was frustration over that explanation, mostly because it made Clara the Most Important Woman EVER once again, but even so.
    • Are the Doctor's efforts to save Clara, which include shooting the General only after knowing he'd regenerate and risking tampering with a fixed point with an ultimately successful plan for not causing a Reality-Breaking Paradox, that much more extreme than the lengths he's gone to for other companions and even strangers in other episodes and the Expanded Universe (Exhibit A: Charley Pollard, whom Eight was willing to risk the universe for after their first encounternote ) — or is everyone unjustly picking on a grieving, mentally-damaged man who earned a happy ending and needs to be shown a better way? And if they are more extreme, why does Clara warrant them but not other beloved companions — is she that much of a special snowflake? (The answer to that question by some fans is yes — from his actions, the Doctor seems to have loved her more than anyone else. "The Husbands of River Song" reveals he was apparently prepared to go to his final death in "The Time of the Doctor" without having said goodbye to his wife River, thus risking a catastrophic paradox. This would make his behaviour towards Clara consistent. In other words, while the Doctor is willing to risk a lot for pretty much anybody, he will go the extra mile for individuals he is actually in love with.)
    • Did the story waste the momentous event of the Doctor returning to Gallifrey for the first time in the new series by making it, ultimately, secondary to his efforts to save Clara, or is this actually in keeping with both his personality and how his homeworld and people were portrayed in the classic series?
  • Esoteric Bittersweet Ending: The ending leaves a lot of troublingly unanswered questions, many of which went unanswered by the time the Twelfth Doctor's tenure ended two years later.
    • The Doctor's aversion to travelling with other functional immortals like Ashildr was because they would grow detached from mortals and even heartless — a problem she was already struggling with on her own for centuries. Thus some fans aren't sure that one-heartbeat-from-death Clara and Ashildr/Me will make an ideal team for jaunting through time and space unless they pick up mortal companions. Series 9 hammered home the point that Clara considered the Doctor "essential" to her; it's uncertain whether travelling with Ashildr, who's almost an anti-Doctor, will be everything it's cracked up to be. It goes double with the idea that the Doctor and Clara together are a force for chaos that risks the universe: The Doctor is a hero who even in this episode is breaking the rules to save someone. Now Clara is traveling with Ashildr, an Anti-Villain already on the wrong side of the detachment from humanity the Doctor talked about, who backstabbed him with no remorse. That is not a step up.
    • Will Clara's mind be able to handle immortality, or will she end up like Ashildr and forget both her original personality and that she needs to go back to her death lest time be destroyed? The good news here is that Clara's had exposure to the Time Vortex, and the Expanded Universe novel The Crawling Terror and Doctor Who Maggazine comic "The Highgate Horror" both make a plot point out of the idea that her mind became "bigger" than most humans' as a result...
    • What will be the catalyst for Clara going back to her extremely painful death? Will she screw up so badly on her adventures she is Driven to Suicide, or be caught by the Time Lords and forced to go back?
    • The women got their newfound freedom on the back of the Doctor's suffering and anguish, though this can be interpreted as the Doctor unintentionally atoning for putting them in unhappy situations (immortality in Ashildr's case, not honoring her death in Clara's). Softened by the ending of "Twice Upon a Time" seeing his memories of Clara restored at last.
    • For all his trouble, the Doctor is the big loser: He lost Clara and his memories of her (he gets better shortly before he regenerates, though), and he's now a fugitive from his people and homeworld — again — for his actions during his Sanity Slippage. And will he ever mend his fences with his people and Ohila? While the Expanded Universe audio stories of 2017 suggested he does with the latter (more or less), the premise of the 2016 Doctor Who (Titan) miniseries Supremacy of the Cybermen is the Doctor having to Set Right What Once Went Wrong when Rassilon decides to team up with the Cybermen. Oops.
    • Is the Hybrid prophecy still an issue or not? Steven Moffat confirmed that it was the Doctor and Clara together, so if they ever meet again, will they be able to find happiness despite it all? "Twice Upon a Time" suggests the answer is "Probably", as he will be in a different incarnation if/when that happens onscreen.
    • And finally, the Doctor doesn't fare well alone...yet he's left alone at the end of this story. Worse, since "The Husbands of River Song" doesn't take place immediately after this story, who knows how long he travels without a Morality Chain, possibly leading to "Waters of Mars"/"Hell Bent"-style incidents or even worse?
  • Fanfic Fuel:
    • Clara "taking the long way round" to Gallifrey with Ashildr as her companion and a diner TARDIS. And then there's the question of what will eventually convince her to finally return to her death. Major fanfic websites like Archive of Our Own had the first Clara/Ashildr stories posted within a few hours of the episode airing.
    • We also have the question of how many regenerations the Doctor currently has. Rassilon himself doesn't seem to know how many they gave the Doctor, but implies that it was quite a few, because he says he can take "all night" killing the Doctor to get the information about the Hybrid out of him.
    • Exactly what Clara says to the Doctor in their private time in the Cloisters is intentionally left unrevealed, opening the door to all manner of speculation. Within days of broadcast fans were already posting their ideas ranging from the humorous to the romantic.
    • Since the Doctor's now companion-less, this opens up a lot of avenues for short-term Original Character companions or straight-up solo adventures (as indeed was followed through by the Expanded Universe, specifically the comics). There is no indication given as to the length of the interval between this episode and "The Husbands of River Song", allowing further speculation.
    • The Doctor's unwillingness to confirm Ashildr's questions about whether he's a pure-blood Time Lord allows for more speculation about his past, as do still-shrouded in mystery incidents such as the Cloister Wars, what happened to him in the Cloisters the first time round, and how he borrowed the moon and stole the President's daughter afterward.
    • Who is the woman at the barn who seems to know the Doctor well? Who are "the boys" who never visit that she mentions? What about Gallifreyan society in general, given that this episode further establishes the planet has a caste system?
    • The now-female General and Ohila seemed to make a good team, leading to the potential for Gallifrey-based stories involving the two.
    • Just as many fanfic authors came up with ways for Donna Noble to safely reclaim her wiped memories and Character Development, stories in which the Doctor somehow regained his wiped memories and crossed paths with Clara again — the order of said events could be reversed — sprang up in the wake of this finale. Many writers came up with their own scenarios detailing how Clara eventually returns to face the raven; most of said stories involve the Doctor, of course. The Series 10 finale "The Doctor Falls" subsequently implying that the mind wipe wore off added more fuel to the fire, with the complication that said episode led directly into Twelve's final adventure. "Twice Upon a Time" saw his memories completely restored in its denouement, but he regenerated into Thirteen shortly afterward, shutting the door on this specific pairing and associated storylines for good except as Alternate Continuity.
    • The above Alternative Character Interpretation that the Doctor either did not actually lose his memories of Clara or managed to successfully reconstruct all of them and simply hid this from her in the diner was also the basis for fanfics, though again "Twice Upon a Time" rendered them Alternate Continuity.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: When the Doctor visits the last planet in the universe in "Listen", he comments on a marooned time traveller, "The last man standing in the universe. I always thought that would be me." Fast forward to "Hell Bent" and we reach the very last little fragment of the universe, only five minutes to go, and what do you know, the last one standing in the universe is... Me, as in, Ashildr. (Sadly for the Doctor, when he and Ashildr enter the TARDIS, Ashildr follows him in, so he can't win on a technicality unless "man" is taken to specify male.)
  • "Holy Shit!" Quotient: After the previous episode suggested the Doctor was in the confession dial for more than 2 billion years, viewers — along with Clara — are taken aback by the revelation he was actually in there for 4.5 billion years (which, incidentally, is also the estimated age of the Earth)... punching a wall harder than diamond. With his fists. For Clara. Clara's facial expression upon learning this reflects the trope name without her having to say anything.
  • Just Here for Godzilla: Some fans were more entertained over the fact the Doctor got a new sonic screwdriver at the end than anything else in the episode. Others were just there for Gallifrey and were extremely frustrated by the story's final third as a result.
  • Les Yay: In previous episodes, Clara had told 12 that she'll fight him for Ashildr, and Me tells her she's as beautiful as her pictures, so when it was revealed they're traveling together, fans got instantly excited. They're commonly named Space Girlfriends.
  • Memetic Mutation: In the weeks after broadcast, a meme emerged where fans tried to guess what Clara said to the Doctor in the Cloisters. Ideas ranged from the silly to the deadly serious.
  • Moral Event Horizon:
    • Rassilon, who made the poor Doctor, the man who saved Gallifrey, go through more than 4 billion of years of Mind Rape in his confession dial in "Heaven Sent" — possibly solely to extract information about the Hybrid from him — has definitely crossed this if he hadn't before. Rassilon gets off easy by being exiled — and Supremacy of the Cybermen just makes matters worse because he's still able to cause trouble!
    • The Doctor comes as close as he ever has to crossing this line by becoming The Unfettered to save Clara since it risks destroying the universe, to say nothing of their friendship. Everything comes down to whether he'll force Mind Rape on her. In the end, he can't bring himself to do that and accepts losing both her and his memories of her (on top of wounding his prickly friendship with Ohila and now being a fugitive from his homeworld once more) by way of atoning for violating his own principles; it's even possible that he intentionally mind-wipes himself, given that the audience and other characters only have his word to go on that he doesn't know what will happen when they activate the device. (An alternate theory is that Clara actually broke the device with her meddling and as such the Doctor actually faked his memory loss in order to set her free, but it doesn't reconcile very well with the diner scenes and the sequence where the Doctor is alone after Clara leaves, to say nothing of any of the stories that followed culminating in "Twice Upon a Time", which saw the memories restored in the denouement.)
  • Padding: Arguably the journey to the literal end of Time and the Doctor's encounter with Me. Me's "The Reason You Suck" Speech is thematically the same as the one Ohila gives the Doctor just minutes before. The discussion of the Hybrid prophecy could have been between the Doctor and Clara once they fled in the TARDIS (after all, either way the time loop isn't broken), with her sussing out an alternative reading of it, climaxing with the Doctor admitting to his Mind Rape scheme. (For that matter, Ohila could just as easily have been the last immortal waiting on him.) However, bringing back Me not only allows the Ambiguous Syntax of the final line in "Heaven Sent" but ties off her Story Arc by resolving the issue of the Doctor's grudge against her, which otherwise would have been a major loose end that later seasons might not have been able to tie off given Maisie Williams' other commitments and the fact that her appearance might look noticeably older by then, which would contradict the character being unable to physically age. Since the Doctor not getting over Me's betrayal of him would be a bad look for a character who traditionally tries to see the good in everyone, it's for the best that it becomes a moot point here.
  • Romantic Plot Tumor: A justified case applying to this and the previous two episodes. While many fans argue that the Doctor and Clara's relationship wound up devouring the momentous event of his returning to Gallifrey for the first time since the Last Great Time War in this adventure, if one were to remove the love story, this three-parter would not have a substantial plot. In addition, this storyline furthers the Character Development of the Doctor, as he finally accepts (for now) the inevitability of losing everyone he loves.
  • Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: Beyond the Doctor becoming able, if in a very painful way, to move beyond loss, he learns here (as does the audience) that he must not blame himself for the poor choices of others — nor try to take away their ability to choose. He must focus on his own choices and their consequences.
    • It remains to be seen if he (and the show) remembers this lesson in the long run, but the events of the final three episodes — and indeed the entire Hybrid background arc, coupled with the Doctor's growing concern for Clara's safety throughout Series 9 culminating in the nightmare scenario of "Face the Raven" — vividly illustrates why the Doctor should never allow himself to fall in love with anyone. He's simply too powerful and too willing to risk everything. However, the very next episode goes on to show that it is possible — under special circumstances — for him to romantically love someone and make it work; because he realized the limits of his abilities in this story and forced himself to accept that nothing lasts forever, he is finally able to return River Song's love.
      • It's really not about romance, despite Word of God saying the feelings are there, we don't get romantic gestures onscreen and the last person he broke the rules to save — specifically, Ashildr — was someone he'd known for hours., and it brings us to the Unfortunate Implications of the episode. If the moral of the story is really going to be that his feeling responsible for someone who followed him into danger and going the distance to save someone who is important to him — and all his companions have been very important to him — are Bad Things to the point that he must forget Clara for the sake of the universe, then the whole premise of the show becomes a bad thing, because he'll always have companions, always come to care about them very deeply, and always go the distance to protect them, and everyone. And we wouldn't have him any other way... would we?
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: Probably the most consistent complaint leveled at this episode: Namely that the Doctor's return to Gallifrey after nine series of taking the long way 'round, and his confronting Rassilon and the other Time Lords, should have been the center of the plot rather than splitting the focus with saving Clara and wrapping up the Doctor/Clara storyline. Trailers Always Lie and focused on the return to Gallifrey and the prophecy of the Hybrid. An alternate viewpoint is that the idea that the Doctor would handwave away centuries of searching for Gallifrey, especially after a stark reminder of how his homeworld was never a shining city on a hill, simply to save a loved one is perfectly in keeping with the character (and Gallifrey for that matter) as established in the modern era.
  • Tough Act to Follow
    • Taken as a three-part single story, the finale of Series 9, for some fans, created this with regards to the much lighter-toned — not to mention overtly romantic — 2015 Christmas special that followed.
    • "Heaven Sent" was the most popular episode of Series 9 with the fanbase and professional critics and set an extremely high bar for "Hell Bent" to live up to. While critics were by and large happy with the results, fans were divided, especially over the They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot issue.
  • Unintentionally Sympathetic: The viewer is supposed to be horrified by the Doctor's Sanity Slippage and resultant Villain Protagonist behavior, but who can blame him?
    • Dude, Where's My Reward?: He's suffered horrifically thanks to the bad and/or misguided choices of other characters: Ashildr/Me making a deal with the Time Lords, the Time Lords wanting to know about the Hybrid and seeing that as justifying Cold-Blooded Torture, and Clara trying too hard to be a hero. All of them owe him their lives to varying extents, and only Clara returned the favor unselfishly; the Time Lords granting him a new regeneration cycle may have only been because he was key to their continued existence. When he asks if he's owed the chance to save Clara, between all the amazing, universe-saving feats he's pulled off and his recent trials, all of which the audience has been privy to, it's hard to argue that he hasn't earned his happy ending...and if Clara just had a little more faith in him when they fled, he'd have pulled it off in a way that left everyone happy, given how he comes up with plans on the fly.
    • Insanity defense: Having been Driven to Madness, he needs a tranquilizer dart and help, not "The Reason You Suck" and "What the Hell, Hero?" lectures.
    • Whom has he hurt?: In the end, his actions, save for the shooting of the General — and even then the episode implies the Doctor did him/her a favor — apparently do no actual damage to anyone but himself. Usually when a character disrupts time and space as drastically as he does here, the catastrophic effects are seen/felt immediately. But there are no Reapers, no time collapsing in on itself. Clara's got "wiggle room". Is her death really a fixed point in time, or is everyone just saying it is for whatever reason?
    • No Sympathy for the suffering: Almost ALL of the major characters come off as smug, ungrateful jerks who take no heed of his suffering but sure are concerned about the fate of poor old Rassilon, the sadistic tyrant and torturer. Clara, perhaps appropriately, is the only one who actually cares about what's been done to the Doctor, and even she has to forcefully make her opinion known when the Mind Rape approaches.
    • Ten's sins, Twelve's punishments: The Doctor loses his memories of Clara, possibly by choice. The Tenth Doctor's mind wipe of Donna Noble over her objections, despite being done due to prevent her imminent death, continues to divide the fandom in part because he suffered no consequences. With regards to nearly crossing the Moral Event Horizon, Ten doesn't atone/accept punishment in "The Waters of Mars", in which he did more damage to others' lives...and Twelve was the one Driven to Madness! Does Twelve deserve to suffer for Ten's actions and lose his right to grieve Clara as an Author's Saving Throw? That said, while restoring Donna's memories would kill her no such danger exists for Twelve and he retained substantial memories of Clara, just not personal details, giving plenty of outs for undoing the memory wipe later if the plot demanded. After "Hell Bent" aired in December 2015 there were literally hundreds of fan fiction stories published online that have hypothesized ways in which it could be undone. Very notably, Steven Moffat came to regret this aspect of the ending, and undid it himself: shortly before his regeneration in his Grand Finale "Twice Upon a Time" the Testimony restores all of his memories of Clara Oswald and allows him to bid farewell to an avatar of her.
    • Double standard ending: His choice to return to the side of good leaves him with less than what he started with. To his credit, he regards this as Laser-Guided Karma in action. But Ashildr/Me gets to be a Karma Houdini re: her relationship with him — she avoids the end of the universe, fulfills her goal of getting a TARDIS, and runs away with the Doctor's beautiful (her description!) companion to boot. Clara chooses to bop around the universe instead of returning to her death immediately — after convincing the Doctor that he has to accept she's gone and move on, and after an episode whose whole premise was that bending the rules of time in giving her this second chance makes the Doctor the villain of the piece. She gets to choose to benefit from it and ride into the sunset anyway; shouldn't he get more than a new screwdriver? Suffice to say, this further encouraged complaints that both women are Steven Moffat's Mary Sues and Creators Pets.
    • Victim Blaming: The Doctor doesn't deserve the Hell he goes through in this three-parter. It is repeatedly pointed out that it is NOT his fault that Clara died, though he believes that to be the case because he didn't rein in her more reckless tendencies and/or turn her out of the TARDIS sooner. He's betrayed by two sets of people — Ashildr/Me and the Time Lords — who owe their continued, if highly imperfect, existences to him (in her case, he also saved her people despite being tempted to abandon them to certain doom) but decide their needs are more important than his. The Time Lords blame him for his millennia of suffering in the confession dial, but they knew he was emotionally and mentally fragile when they captured him, and just kept torturing him anyway, driving him to the point that he decided his continued suffering was the better option (because he would "win" and have a chance to save Clara). Even the reading that he "deserves" to lose Clara and suffer for making Ashildr/Me immortal and unhappy is flawed because, although he was partially motivated to save her out of grief and self-pity over all the losses he's endured, he was also motivated by both his moral code to save whomever he can when he can and his unintentional hand in her death.
    • Written into a corner: What options did the Doctor have besides trying to save Clara that would have led him, even in a roundabout way, back to his best self? There Are No Therapists on Gallifrey. Drylanders and soldiers won't be much for providing grief counseling after what he's been through. Ohila and the Time Lords have No Sympathy. He doesn't have his TARDIS and can't start running again. Even if he could, who would he meet who could live up to his Distaff Counterpart Clara Oswald quickly enough for him to let her drift off into memory? Poor Martha Jones wasn't able to live up to the memory of Rose Tyler, who didn't even die. The Doctor would have been suffering the way he said he would in "The Girl Who Died", forever haunted by loss, possibly not taking on other companions — which would, if Ten and Eleven's examples are anything to go by, render him corrupt or useless. He could wipe himself of his memories of her immediately, but it's doubtful he would give them up willingly — and with a "professional" wipe instead of a tampered-with neural block, would his Character Development survive or would he be a near-Blank Slate?
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic: The remaining Time Lords, Ohila, and Ashildr, thanks to their show of No Sympathy for the Doctor. Ashildr has a smidgen of compassion for the Doctor's trials but still mocks his sorrow and grief, and all this is more her fault than anyone's. The General and Ohila's opinion of what was done to him in the dial is "Well, Rassilon had his reasons; that's the way it goes and the Doctor should have let it slide." Add to that the facts that apparently no Time Lord aware of what was going on was brave and/or compassionate enough to try and free the Doctor, no one even considered what his grief over Clara's demise might do to him mentally on top of Cold-Blooded Torture (no matter how tough he was in the Time War, that doesn't mean he's immune to trauma), and the General and Ohila wring their hands over Rassilon being exiled for his monstrous deeds, and they not only look stupid in handing him the keys to the kingdom, but their accusations of the Doctor being cruel, cowardly, and selfish come off as hollow.

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