5 Teasers Steven Moffat Shared About the ‘Doctor Who’ Season Finale

Doctor Who S9 Ep12 Hell Bent

The Doctor’s had a rough couple of episodes as the ninth season of Doctor Who comes to a close. After watching his companion and best friend Clara Oswald (Jenna Coleman) bravely face the raven and die, he found himself teleported to—and trapped—in a prison made of his worst fears. Not to be dissuaded, the Doctor continuously tried to escape, until more than a billion years later, he finally did—only to find himself back home on Gallifrey.

Ahead of tonight’s episode, we spoke to the man behind this season’s two-part ending—last week’s “Hell Bent” and tonight’s “Heaven Sent”—current showrunner Steven Moffat about the Doctor’s return to Gallifrey, how he’s coping with the loss of Clara and what exatly was under the blanket in last season’s “Listen” episode. Here are the five things we learned about what you can expect.

After seeing Gallifrey teased in previous eps, it was finally time for the Doctor to head home.
“Once we pulled [Gallifrey] back into existence, I figured at some point we had to go there,” explains Moffat of last episode’s reveal that the Doctor is now on his home planet. “We haven’t really had a decent look at it in the modern series.” Over it’s nine seasons, the show has offered some glimpses of the Doctor’s time on the formerly frozen planet, most notably in “The Day of the Doctor” which saw the War Doctor grapple with his involvement in the Time War. “The last time we saw him [on Gallifrey], he was in a barn, in a bit of farmland,” says Moffat. “He wasn’t near a big city. So he wasn’t really delivering what we would want to see him deliver in a way. We’d want to see him in the citadel and doing all the stuff he used to do back in the day.”

Despite his long search for Gallifrey, the Doctor won’t be all that excited to be back.
“He’s got a very odd, tormented relationship with [the planet],” says Moffat. “He mourned his loss. In the days he thought it was gone forever, he became sentimental about something he’d never much liked.” But Moffat says that a lot of that has to do with the Doctor never actually feeling at home there. “I’m not sure the Doctor fits in anywhere. He’s always keen to get on his way somewhere else… Home is something he runs away from.” Part of the reason: he doesn’t see himself as a Time Lord, but as a “man of the people.”

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The people of Gallifrey might not be too thrilled to see the Doctor’s return either.
“You’ve got to keep in mind who he was. He was the renegade who became a major player in the Time War,” points out Moffat. “We know the War Doctor was a figure of awesome power when he comes back into town. It’s basically coming home from the War; he’s a sort of hero, but he’s also kind of scary.” And expect getting a very different perspective of how others see the Doctor; not so much a savior but a destroyer. “From our point of view, we all think of the Doctor as this lovely children’s hero,” shared Moffat. “But if you look at him from the point of view of those who opposed him, or battled him, he’s awesome and frightening. He’s the man who would stop at nothing to win the war.” Also, everyone on Gallifrey knows the Doctor saved their planet—not just the High Council.

Clara’s death will continue to weigh on the Doctor’s mind.
“The Doctor just doesn’t do the final stage of grief. He doesn’t do acceptance. This is a man who chose to steal a time machine,” says Moffat of the Doctor’s emotional state. “He doesn’t accept that anything is ever over. So he’s in a state of grief and anger at what happened to Clara.” But, Moffat also points out, the Doctor isn’t thinking about avenging Clara. “He’s not thinking about that. He wants to put right by what he regards as a desperate unfairness. He is quite furious.” Adding to the already stormy emotional mix is the Doctor’s memories of the war. “He’s still tormented by what he got up to [during the War].”

The Doctor’s childhood fear of the veiled creature in “Hell Bent” is not related to what was under the blanket in last season’s “Listen.”
While the Doctor was afraid of “other aspects in ‘Listen’,” he wasn’t actually afraid of the shape under the blanket. “He was looking after a child. The Doctor is never afraid if he’s got a child to look after,” revealed Moffat. “For all we know, that shape under the blanket could be a child in a mask. We never find out. The whole point is we never know if there was anything there at all, or if it was just fear itself.”

The Doctor Who season finale airs tonight at 9/8c on BBC America.