WARNING: Contains spoilers for basically all of Series 9 and Hell Bent. If you are still playing catch up, come back later!
Has everyone recovered from Hell Bent yet? No? Neither have I. But I think it’s safe to say now that Series 9 was a hell of a ride and gave us a lot of great moments. Everyone has their own favorites (and least favorites!) and now we can take a step back and look at the series as a whole and revisit them.
I will freely admit up front that most of the highlights for me this series came from moments directly concerning the relationship between the Doctor and Clara. Mostly because I feel like that was what this entire series was really about, especially knowing in advance that we would definitely be saying goodbye to the Impossible Girl this time.
Erin and I started out trying to narrow our lists down to five each with little or no overlap. That turned out to be basically impossible and I see now that she at least was more successful than I was at narrowing down her choices. Oops.
Anyway, in no particular order, here are my favorite moments from Series 9.
When do I not see you?
Yes, I am a total sucker for the friendship between the Doctor and Clara. And though many have mixed feelings about the Doctor’s new preferred instrument (it’s no recorder, I’ll grant you), and I admit that I wasn’t completely convinced it would work before the series began. But this was the moment I fell in love with it.
Keeping in that same vein, at the opening of Before the Flood, the Doctor explains the Bootstrap Paradox using Beethoven and a guitar and leads us into the episode with a rock and roll version of the opening theme.
I don’t care what anyone says, the fact that that is Peter Capaldi himself playing over the opening credits is awesome and no one will convince me otherwise.
AND THE BAFTA GOES TO…
Who knew Davros had it in him? I don’t care if we saw it was a trap or not, I think that Julian Bleech’s portrayal of Davros this time around was masterful. We’ve always known that Davros is brilliant and cold and ruthless and everything else you want in an arch enemy, but this almost, dare I say humanization of him went above and beyond anything I ever saw coming. This is, hands down, one of the most incredible moments of series 9 for me.
HOW DO YOU COPE WITH ALL THAT EGO?
Score one for Steven Moffat! As often as he has been slaughtered by angry press and fandom for misogyny and other crimes, I thought this was a superb way of taking on the haters. Everything about Hell Bent was astonishingly good for women. My particular favorite was when the General, last seen in Day of the Doctor, regenerated into a woman after apparently having previously been female for every incarnation except the one we met during the 50th Anniversary. She’s obviously very pleased to be female again, and her best line is the criticism of the male ego. Beautiful.
On a similar note, I should give honorable mention to the awesomeness of Ohila and the Sisterhood of Karn for just strolling back onto Gallifrey and into the chamber of the High Council like they own the place. Fantastic.
GET OFF MY PLANET
Oh, Rassilon. What is there to say about you, really? Other than the fact that you’ve always been absolutely insane, and not in the charming “madman in a box” sort of way. Your history is a dark one, filled with absurd legends and more “various inane objects of Rassilon” than you can shake a sonic at. You’re an insane, evil, greedy, pompous, selfish, horrible git and we hate you. You may be one of the most important bits of Time Lord history (I say “one of” because I actually feel quite bad for Omega and he deserves more credit), but you’re a jerk. Even strictly New Who fans have figured out enough about you to know that you’re trouble. Big Finish fans even more so (Zagreus—am I right?). Even the stuffy old Time Lords eventually realized that resurrecting you was a huge mistake. So what did you really expect?
Of course they were going to turn on you as soon as the Doctor returned home. Of course the Doctor was going to kick you off the planet. At least maybe you’ll have some of your nearly-as-guilty FORMER High Council for company. Maybe. I also think this is probably the most non-intimidating incarnation Rassilon has ever had. I’m sorry, but I wasn’t impressed. And apparently neither was anyone else since all the Doctor hd to do was turn up and tell him to GTFO.
Seeing the Doctor return to the role of Lord President was great because he’s obviously as uninterested in the all the pomp and circumstance of it as he ever was. Watching him sit in that chamber was like taking a toddler to a nice restaurant. They have their own ends to accomplish and they’re not really interested in decorum or procedure or anything you actually want them to do. Brilliant.
THROWBACKS TO THREE
Jon Pertwee was my first Doctor and the years he was stranded on Earth with UNIT hold a very special place in my heart for that reason. And between some great lines and Peter Capaldi’s gorgeous new jacket, I swooned hard this season for some of the callbacks to the Classic Series.
I have to admit, I’ve had some issues with the writing for Kate Stewart this series. A lot of it seemed to fly directly in the face of the woman we met in The Power of Three, Day of the Doctor, and Death in Heaven. That was extremely disappointing to me because I think she’s a fantastic addition to the show. I am and always will be a Brigadier fangirl, so I want to see the Lethbridge Stewart legacy treated with the respect it deserves. This extends to his daughter and the way she’s meant to sort of uphold that legacy. I’m not, howver, saying she shouldn’t be a flawed character. Every character needs flaws to be believable. So it’s okay for her to feel hopeless or desperate sometimes. But not incompetent, which is what I felt she came off as multiple times in this series.
That said, they did give her one excellent moment that I literally jumped up and squeed at. It might’ve been cheesy to throw it in there, but when the words “Five rounds rapid” fell from Kate’s lips with that little Brigadier-esque smirk, I burst into happy tears. And I’d like to believe that somewhere, Nicholas Courtney was smiling.
My other favorite callback moment came from Clara in Hell Bent. She may have been reckless in her journey to becoming her own version of the Doctor, but she wasn’t stupid. She was paying attention. And what would the Doctor do? He’ll do what he always does, which is trick whoever is going to do something bad to him. Clara is an expert at this by now, so it’s not really surprising. And in a tribute to Jon Pertwee’s most famous expression, Clara does the one thing that was the Third Doctor’s answer to LITERALLY EVERYTHING.
What do you think I did? I reversed the polarity.
The best part is that she even surprises the Doctor with this one. Not because she thought to do it, but because she did it successfully. The end result is heartbreaking but necessary.
All of it. The overwhelming response has been that it’s a masterpiece and is already on the shelf with the best Doctor Who stories of all time. And I have to agree. Everything about it is perfection. It is a triumph for everyone involved. I will even go so far as to say that it may be one of the most perfect pieces of television ever made.
There, I said it.
THE DOCTOR’S SPEECH AT THE END OF THE ZYGON INVERSION
Doctor Who has a history of playing with current events. The Zygon two-parter was no exception. There’s not much that needs to be said in defense of its awesomeness. It speaks for itself.
THE RETURN OF SKARO AND GALLIFREY
I really thought the set and world design this series were phenomenal, but full marks have to go to the updates to the two worlds we’ve been missing the longest. The returns of not only Gallifrey, but Skaro, were something fans have been crying out for since the series came back in 2005. When the Dalek city is revealed at the end of The Magician’s Apprentice, I actually had chills. It was beautiful and updated, while still staying so true to the original design. Mind Blown.
And then just when I thought they couldn’t do any better, we get the return of Gallifrey. Properly this time. We’re not just seeing the chaos of the Time War. This is Gallifrey at peace (more or less) and we’re seeing more of the city than we’ve seen in decades. The overhead shots where they dive down inside the citadel are breathtaking if you really stop to look at them. And my favorite area in particular is the Cloisters. The set dressing is incredible. The Weeping Angels and the Dalek and the Cyberman were great touches, and if you look carefully you can see other monsters props as well, including a Mire helmet and a Silurian mask. And then when you add in the Wraiths (or Sliders), the creepiness factor jumps off the scales. I really hope we get to see it again (and more).
I also want to give quick honorable mention to Karn as well, even though it sort of made its comeback in Night of the Doctor two years ago. But this series we saw a little more of it. Amazing what they can do with a quarry.
THE CLASSIC TARDIS
DOCTOR: What do you think of the new wheels?
DOCTOR: Classic! Look at the colour scheme.
CLARA: It’s all white.
Can we all take a moment to really study and appreciate what they managed to recreate here? I would live in that TARDIS. It’s the most beautiful thing I have ever seen and I really want to see it again. The Doctor’s said time and time again that he misses the round things. Can we have them back now? Please? There’s no reason the Doctor’s TARDIS couldn’t go back to something similar (or, you know, exactly the same thing but with a chalk board). Make it so.
Looking back at the evolution of Clara Oswald, that ending maybe shouldn’t have come as the huge surprise it was. But it did. I always felt very certain that the only way Clara could ever leave the Doctor was by dying. And she did, which, despite the fact that it broke my heart, felt right to me (though the way it happened was a little less than what I’d hoped for). And the events of Hell Bent don’t change that for me. In fact it makes even more sense for that character and I have no problem with it. Even though the fact that the Doctor forgets Clara is, frankly, soul shattering for me. The moment when he knows he’s forgetting her and he tells her how to be the Doctor basically destroyed me. Though they did give us one thing that I thought sure we weren’t going to get and helped me make my peace.
And with the way they left things, now I have an ending that enables me to live in denial that we’ve really seen the last of the Impossible Girl.