First, “Face the Raven.” It was a bit rushed, but they pulled off the death scene, which seems to have been the only real significance of this episode. (“Lady Me is selling you to some aliens” would’ve fit in an opening scene.) The death scene, though. I’m not gonna lie, I cried, and I resent it because I’ve been so looking forward to Clara leaving. But still — the Doctor’s face. The fact that for once, she really does know him and what he’s feeling, and the fact that this whole season has been showing her as a risk-seeking person. I appreciate the fact that she brought the death on herself, accident though it was, and that she chose to meet it herself. She didn’t deserve to die — but one of the hundreds of scrapes they got into finally got one over on her. It was an appropriate, fitting, and dignified death.
Then, oh gods, “Heaven Sent.” This one will stand as my favorite episode of the season — maybe of New Who altogether. I’ve said before I could watch Peter Capaldi’s face for hours, and here’s the proof. That, and the pacing. I could cry the pacing is so good. It’s like the perfect short story — obviously it’s crucial to the rest of the arc, but it could be watched alone, and you’d get all the information you need. The Doctor’s best friend is dead, and he’s come home an avenging angel. Just gah, so good. The mystery, the reveals, Capaldi’s face…
And finally, “Hell Bent.” Wow. If “Heaven Sent” is my favorite episode, and it is, “Hell Bent” may be my favorite season finale. I mean, I hate to jump the gun on that, because frequently I love the season finales in the moment but later realize they were terrible and full of holes. I don’t know. Right now I love it. This was a better sendoff for Clara than I ever expected. I didn’t want to see the Doctor spiral again, have the same reaction to a death he always has… This was such a heartbreaking way to finally make an end and a new beginning all at the same time. To tease a “timestream falls apart” finale, but actually give us something very different and new. The reveals peeked out in all the right places, and for once we were shown the meaningful moments instead of told. Mesmerizing.
This wasn’t a perfect season by any means, but it was a very good one. The experiment with two-part episodes worked magnificently. While there were a few episodes that fell down, the writing was overall much stronger and more coherent than it has been in years. Capaldi and Coleman, both splendid actors, were given good material and made it great, delivering the kind of intensity and commitment we were always told the Doctor and Clara had but never had a chance to see. I look forward to the Christmas special, and what I hope will be another excellent run next season.