Hell Bent
Episode / March 7, 2016

Aired 5 December 2015 Following the huge surge of momentum at the end of ‘Heaven Sent,’ Steven Moffat decides to slow proceedings down at the beginning of ‘Hell Bent.’ However, he still manages to accomplish a lot in those initial few minutes, first and most importantly revealing that Clara has returned. On top of that, a visit to a familiar locale from ‘The Impossible Astronaut’ as well as a very in-depth look at Gallifrey are attained, all of this before the credits roll. Given the lengthy buildup of the return of Gallifrey and last episode’s cliffhanger of the Doctor finally returning to cause some mayhem, Rassilon and the Time Lords actually end up being one of the more inconsequential parts of ‘Hell Bent,’ instead just setting further plot developments in motion. It’s not entirely surprising that the confession dial is Rassilon’s doing, and even though the Doctor’s reasons for leaving Gallifrey may have slightly changed given recent revelations, Rassilon still wants him dead. He thus duly orders the Doctor be shot outside of the Gallifreyan barn that has featured so prevalently as of late, though it should come as no surprise that these orders are not carried out. What follows…

Face the Raven
Episode / March 7, 2016

Aired 21 November 2015 This has been a strange series for the Doctor since he’s spent so much of it without a true companion. Sure, Clara has been there for the adventures proper, but it’s not been uncommon to see him travelling alone at the beginnings of episodes and picking her up at a later point. Even when Clara is around, there’s been a sense that the writers haven’t quite known what to do with her this year following Danny’s heartbreaking farewell(s). She certainly has had her standout moments, and it’s clear that she’s been assuming more of the Doctor’s traits and personality as time has progressed, but now the confidence that she’s never lacked has apparently backfired on her as she finally reached too far, resulting in what seems to be her death. Only time will tell if this death is final, as recent Doctor Who has made a habit of bringing characters back from seeming death, but as of now that is the case. Doctor Who has proven increasingly adept at toying with the typical structure of episodes and, instead of offering a cacophony of explosions at the climax, isn’t afraid to instead slow things down and allow…

The Woman Who Lived
Episode / March 4, 2016

Aired 24 October 2015 ‘The Woman Who Lived’ comes as something as a surprise; even though it is presented as a second part to ‘The Girl Who Died,’ the tone and story it offers is radically different in almost every sense. Maisie Williams returns but has long forsaken her name Ashildr, here playing a highwayman who has little memory of her earlier life. What follows is a relatively sombre affair, a study on just what immortality means to the girl living forever. No moment is more touching than when Maisie explains that, although her body may be immortal, her mind is not, and the vast number of books that she has written in order to keep some semblance of recollection of herself is a haunting visual of just how much- both good and bad- she has been through and lost. Interestingly, Clara is largely absent from the episode until the end, and in the process Ashildr becomes a sort of mirror for the Doctor himself. The Ashildr here is often cruel and harsh with her humanity only showing up at the last possible moment to save her tortured soul, a reflection of this incarnation of the Time Lord, and it’s…

The Girl Who Died
Episode / March 3, 2016

Aired 17 October 2015 ‘The Girl Who Died’ finally brings Maisie Williams’s heavily publicized guest role to fruition, and although the story offered in the first thirty-five minutes featuring a Viking village battling against the robotic Mire is a solid one, it’s the last ten minutes or so that will surely be remembered in the long run. From the start, it’s clear that the Doctor knows something about Ashildr, and those suspicions are confirmed as she comes back to life just moments after dying from heart failure. Casting a big name in Williams means that this turn of events will certainly have bigger ramifications in the long run- or at the very least in the next episode to close out the two parts. But her return to life brings with it several questions as well. First, Capaldi mentions that his face is a reminder, undoubtedly hearkening back to ‘The Fires of Pompeii,’ but what is it reminding him of exactly? Maybe more importantly, though, is the question of what the Doctor means when he calls her a hybrid. There has been a lot of talk about hybrids since Doctor Who returned to screens in 2005, but just a couple of…