After the mystery and excitement of Heaven Sent it is fair to say I was very excited for this episode going in. Not to boast but I actually predicted in my review of Face the Raven that the people Ashildr is working with were the Time Lords. We of course saw in the conclusion of last episode that I was right. What an incredible moment that was, everyone has been waiting for the return of Gallifrey ever since it was saved in the 50th anniversary special. Steven Moffat has the bravery to undo things that were in place before his tenure to give the fans what they want.
Before we dive back into the fascinating location of Gallifrey we see an environment with quite a similar climate: Nevada, USA. The Doctor looks to be having a rough old time of it but at least he has his guitar with him. Seeing Clara working in the classic diner when he walks in was quite a shock. It was stranger still that the Doctor didn’t react. This was an incredible scene, pure fan service. It was an amazing, heartstrings tugging idea to have the Doctor play the notes of Clara’s theme from the soundtrack on his guitar. The writers basically broke the fourth wall with that. The visuals of this episode were absolutely delectable. Who would have thought we would get to sweep around a fully realised Gallifrey in delicious high definition? This episode alone may be reason enough to buy the blu-ray of this season. This episode threw fans right into the show’s mythos, once again we got to see The Time Lord High Council and The Sisterhood of Kahn. Every Doctor Who fan loves these opportunities to learn about Gallifrey, what I found fascinating was that the city itself has a Cloister Bell heralding danger just like the Tardis.
The Twelfth Doctor’s walk through the desert back to the old hut mirrored that of The War Doctor in the 50th anniversary episode. At the end of his walk we finally got to see that old hut again where so many important moments have taken place. We first got to see it in the landmark anniversary episode and learned more about it when it featured in ‘Listen’. I had quite a warm reaction to seeing that place again. It was beautiful moment when the woman in the barn saw the Doctor’s face and became emotional. He gave her a nod to confirm he was who she thought he was. She is obviously a relative of his, but who? In this moment the older theme played, the music would play in Tennant and Eccelstone’s era when they spoke of their past.
To be honest I am unsure as to why the Time Lords would want to kill the Doctor when he saved them from destruction. I love that the Doctor is a hero to the common folk and an enemy to the empire. There are so many nuances and fascinating details in this episode that it is impossible to write about them all. Also, an excellent detail was that the new Rassilon wore the metal gauntlet. It was a dramatic moment when the Doctor asked the general which regeneration he was on and then shot him. In previous seasons the Doctor would never have used a gun let alone actually killed somebody but of course the rules aren’t quite the same when you’re dealing with Time Lords. A big moment in the show’s history ensued when a Gallifreyan regenerated into a different gender. That has never happened on-screen before. The Cloister Wraiths were extremely creepy. I must admit I did not expect an appearance from The Cybermen and The Weeping Angels but it was very clever that the Time Lords would use captured enemies as a way to defend the database.
It is really interesting to hear the Doctor talk about his childhood on Gallifrey. The fans get such little information about the enigmatic character. Also, it is cool to see a Tardis in it’s regular form. There was something strange about the Doctor using a regular version of the iconic time machine. Hell Bent showed a darker side to the Doctor that we all know exists. It was also good to see Ashildr return, she has been a really well written character in this series and well acted by Maisie Williams. In her discussion with the Doctor at the end of time the writers acknowledged a popular fan theory that the Doctor is part human. They even included the evidence most proponents of the theory give, which is that he spends a lot of time on Earth. I was shocked to see that it would be the Doctor’s side of the technology that worked. I really did not expect them to erase part of the main character’s memory. The final scene was quite heartbreaking knowing that the Doctor didn’t know he was talking to Clara. However, the diner disappeared around him so surely now he knows it was her. This final episode of the series was a little bit nuts. We have two Tardis’, the Doctor in one of them, Ashildr and Clara in the other. One of them is shaped like an american diner, this is insanity. What a way to end a season of Doctor Who.