It was the final regular appearance of Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald. Although Clara met her demise in Face the Raven, the Doctor arranged for time to be frozen around her, yet Clara would remain conscious of everything happening around her, which left her alive but no longer affected by physical qualities such as breathing, heartbeat or even ageing.
It featured the return of the Time Lords for the first time since The Time of the Doctor. Among them was Rassilon, now in a new incarnation after his previous one was last seen being attacked by the Master in The End of Time, who was banished from Gallifrey along with the High Council after losing the allegiance of his race for his cruelty to the Doctor and his role as one of the driving forces of the Last Great Time War and deposed as Lord President, with the Doctor briefly assuming it in his place. Also returning was the General, who regenerated and was revealed to be a naturally female Time Lady who had assumed a male incarnation, marking the first instance of an on-screen regeneration where a Time Lord changed genders, as well as being a rare on-screen instance of a Time Lord also changing skin colour.
Ohila and the Sisterhood of Karn also reappeared, wherein Ohila was hinted to have a greater personal history with the Doctor that may have gone back to his earlier days. Ashildr made another appearance as well, this time having persisted to the final moments of time. She eventually ended up in possession of a TARDIS which the Doctor stole, and began travelling with Clara, who was not ready to return to Gallifrey and face her end.
Hell Bent ended up being full circle for both the Doctor and Clara. For the Doctor, he was once again running away in his TARDIS. For Clara, she was now time-travelling again, but with Ashildr, another long-lived being. Moreover, the chameleon circuit on this TARDIS, which had the original control room layout of the one which the First Doctor stole, was not working properly and left it stuck in the form of an American diner which the Doctor had visited in The Impossible Astronaut.
This story witnessed the Doctor reach his limit, seeing him break his own moral codes, step away from being the Doctor and unleash his fury on the Time Lords in an attempt to save his companion's life, which came with the price of losing his memories of Clara as atonement for what he had done. Additionally, several facts about his past before fleeing Gallifrey and prophecies of the Hybrid were revealed, though who or what the Hybrid was remained uncertain.
After being tortured for billions of years within his own confession dial, the Doctor has been pushed to the brink of madness. Returning to Gallifrey, he must face his own people, the Time Lords, but how far will he go in his quest for vengeance? Does he have another confession?
The Doctor walks into a diner, and is greeted by a waitress, Clara. Having no money, tells her he can play his electric guitar. As he starts to play her a song, he begins his story.
Walking through the desert-like plains of Gallifrey, the Doctor arrives at an old barn, and climbs up into its loft. A woman walks in on him and, upon realising his identity, warns him that "they" will kill him.
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- The Doctor - Peter Capaldi
- Clara - Jenna Coleman
- Ashildr - Maisie Williams
- The President - Donald Sumpter
- The General - Ken Bones
- Female General - T'Nia Miller
- Gastron - Malachi Kirby
- Ohila - Clare Higgins
- The Woman - Linda Broughton
- Man - Martin T. Sherman
- Wraiths - Jami Reid-Quarrell, Nick Ash, Ross Mullan
- Voice of the Dalek - Nicholas Briggs
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- When he was a student at the Time Lord Academy, the Doctor entered the Cloisters and encountered their Wraiths, but managed to escape from them.
- Gastron fought under the War Doctor at Skull Moon.
- This is the first Doctor Who television story to feature a regeneration from a male body to a female. There have been references to this happening with the Corsair in The Doctor's Wife and the Master in Dark Water and Death in Heaven, and it was one of the options the Eighth Doctor received in The Night of the Doctor but it has never been featured on a televised story until now, in this case the General from his eleventh to her twelfth incarnation.
- This marks the first time a Doctor Who television episode has had the minor expletive "hell" in the title. The word previously appeared in the titles of the comic stories A Cold Day in Hell! and The Road to Hell as well as the audio story Minuet in Hell.
- This episode marks the first televised appearance of an interior shot of a TARDIS other than the Doctor's since Time and the Rani, the latter being the Rani's. It is only the second TARDIS control console seen other than the Doctor's since Time and the Rani, after the Junk TARDIS in The Doctor's Wife.
- The Doctor plays the first note of the theme song on his guitar, leading into the title sequence.
- The tune played by the Doctor when he was sitting in the diner is a simplified version of Clara Oswald's theme from the Series 7-9 soundtracks. It is a rare example of a piece of incidental music composed for Doctor Who becoming part of its in-universe narrative.
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- When taking off in the getaway TARDIS, Clara's hair changes from combed, to messy, to combed again, in a series of jump cuts.
- A Dalek invasion of the Matrix occurred in AUDIO: Ascension.
- Before the Doctor shoots the General, he asks "Regeneration?". He replies "Tenth" , as did the First Doctor when meeting his fifth incarnation. (TV: The Five Doctors)
- Charlotte Pollard had previously wiped the Sixth Doctor's memory so that he forgot travelling with him and went on other adventures afterwards with in her case the Viyrans. (AUDIO: Blue Forgotten Planet)
- The Doctor's TARDIS provides him with a new sonic screwdriver. (TV: The Eleventh Hour)
- Clara and Ashildr have not been able to get their TARDIS' chameleon circuit working, leaving its outer shell stuck in one shape just like the Doctor's. (TV: An Unearthly Child, et al) It stays in the form of an American diner that the Doctor recalls visiting with Amy Pond and Rory Williams. (TV: The Impossible Astronaut)
- The Doctor's TARDIS still has Rigsy's Clara memorial graffiti on it. (TV: Face the Raven)
- When the Doctor first walks into the diner, Don't Stop Me Now as performed by Foxes can be heard in the background. (TV: Mummy on the Orient Express)
- The Doctor yet again plays his guitar. (TV: The Magician's Apprentice)
- The Doctor returns to the barn where he nearly detonated the Moment, (TV: The Day of the Doctor) and briefly lies on the bed where Clara spoke to his first incarnation in a "dream" during his childhood. (TV: Listen)
- The Doctor still has his confession dial. (TV: The Magician's Apprentice)
- The Doctor once again states that he came to Gallifrey "the long way around." (TV: The Day of the Doctor, Heaven Sent)
- The Doctor finds himself once more at the end of the universe. (TV: Utopia, Forest of the Dead, Listen)
- When threatening to kill the Doctor, Rassilon inquires into the number of regenerations granted to the Doctor as part of his new cycle, but no answer is given. (TV: The Time of the Doctor) Indeed, it is uncertain if even the Doctor knows the answer to this question, as he has previously speculated that he may be able to regenerate indefinitely. (TV: Kill the Moon)
- The Doctor refers to the Cloister Wars and the night he apparently stole the moon and the President's wife, (TV: The Magician's Apprentice) although he credits the latter as being a rumour spread by the Shobogans. (TV: The Deadly Assassin)
- A Time Lord soldier refers to the "Doctor of War", while the General refers to the Doctor as the man who won the Time War. (TV: The Day of the Doctor)
- When Gastron tells the Doctor to drop all weapons, the Doctor drops his spoon. The Doctor once successfully dueled a sword-wielding Robin Hood with a spoon. (TV: Robot of Sherwood)
- The General changes gender (PROSE: Interference - Book One, Interference - Book Two, Harvest of Time, TV: Deep Breath, The Doctor's Wife) and skin tone (TV: Planet of the Spiders, Let's Kill Hitler, Death of the Doctor) through his regeneration.
- The Doctor assumes the title of Lord President of Gallifrey once more. (TV: The Invasion of Time, The Five Doctors) As with his fifth incarnation, he vacates the position by running away from Gallifrey. (TV: The Five Doctors)
- The Doctor's promise that he made to himself "Never cruel or cowardly" is alluded to several times in the episode. Ohila asks if the Doctor was being "cruel or cowardly", and just before the Doctor passes out he says the phrase to Clara.
- The Doctor is able to close the TARDIS doors with a snap of his fingers once more. (TV: Forest of the Dead, The Eleventh Hour. Day of the Moon, The Caretaker)
- Clara's affinity for TARDIS controls is yet again demonstrated, (TV: Listen, The Woman Who Lived et al) being being able to fly her TARDIS without guidance from the Doctor like she had previously required or a TARDIS Instruction Manual like Ashildr.
- Clara states that she is going to return to Gallifrey "the long way around," the same way the Doctor described his own journey home. (TV: The Day of the Doctor, Heaven Sent)
- It's revealed that the Doctor was referring to Ashildr when he stated that the Hybrid was "Me". (TV: Heaven Sent)
- Ashildr theorises that the Doctor could be the Hybrid, suggesting that he is half Time Lord and half human. (TV: Doctor Who)
- The Doctor once more displays his ability to defeat enemies by standing his ground and not resorting to force. River Song once mentioned how "her Doctor" could do things like this when talking about him. (TV: Forest of the Dead)
- Clara and Ashildr's TARDIS has a similar desktop theme to the First Doctor's TARDIS, and its original exterior is the same as the original exterior of the Doctor's TARDIS when he first stole it. (TV: The Name of the Doctor)
- The Doctor remembers that he encountered an Ice Warrior on a submarine (TV: Cold War) and a Mummy on the Orient Express (TV: Mummy on the Orient Express) while travelling with Clara.
- Preparing to wipe Clara's memory of him with a neural block, the Doctor notes that he has done this before using telepathy. The Tenth Doctor previously wiped Donna Noble's memory of him to prevent her mind from burning up after she was given his Time Lord knowledge after interacting with the Meta-Crisis Tenth Doctor. (TV: Journey's End) The Time Lords wiped Jamie and Zoe's memories of The Doctor (aside from their first adventure with him) (TV: The War Games) but it's unknown if this was done using telepathy or a neural block.
- When there is a knock on the TARDIS door, the Doctor mentions that it is "always four times". (TV: The End of Time)
- Ashildr points out that the Doctor doesn't like endings. (TV: The Angels Take Manhattan)
Home video releases
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