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Sunday, November 22, 2015

Doctor Who: Remembering the Impossible Girl

Spoilers, possibly from the title onwards...

Very rarely do we lose someone to death on Doctor Who. They can be banished to another dimension, decide that they need to live their own life, be stranded in the past, or simply forget everything. But death? That's in the far past, with the Adrics and the Sarah Kingdoms of old. Clara Oswald, once the Impossible Girl with the whimsical Disney Princess-esque musical theme, is no longer with us; and yet will always be with us, splintered throughout the Doctor's timeline, a painful reminder of one of the rare few who fell in the line of duty saving worlds.

Many of us did not really get to know Clara, did not give her a chance after she spent a year as a literal walking plot device, and wrote her off (paradoxically) as yet another misogynistic Stephen Moffat creation (I still say his women are stronger characters than Davies' ever were). But in truth, The Bells of St. John was not the first appearance of Clara Oswald. Nor was it Asylum of the Daleks, or even The Snowmen.

No, the first actual, proper appearance of Clara Oswald was The Day of the Doctor, where she convinced the Doctor to change his history (or to take the action that he had always previously taken, and will always have taken -- wibbly wobbly, timey-wimey), and she didn't come into her own as a character until partly through Deep Breath.

Over the course of two seasons,we saw Clara change from a purposeful Mary Sue of a companion into someone with a life outside the TARDIS and fall in love. Clara was reckless. Clara was impulsive. Clara had control issues. Clara loved, lost, got angry, made mistakes, and saved people.

Clara was a friend, and she'll be missed.

Good soldier. You went out on your feet.
We'll run, Clara. We'll be clever. And we'll remember you.

Oh, right. The episode.

Face the Raven was quite good; the juxtaposition of the quaint, almost stage-like air of the not-Diagon Ally with the urban normality of London worked quite well. I enjoyed seeing Local Knowl- I mean Riggsy again. He was quite good as Clara's sidekick (or Companion's companion, if you like).

The quantum shade and the raven were nice touches, and remind me heavily of the Faction Paradox spinoff universe, where agents of House Paradox use their shadows as weapons.It also worked as the culmination of all the little character hints that we've gotten about Clara becoming, as I mentioned, reckless and impulsive, as she was too clever for her own good in this episode, and it came back to bite her, hard. She did, however, face the consequences of that decision, and sacrificed herself to save the life of someone that she believed in.

The Doctor's reaction requires special mention, as well. Capaldi's quiet rage easily dwarfs that of both Tennant and Smith, reminding me heavily of Smith's “Colonel Run-Away” moment at Demon's Run and Tennant's punishment of the Family of Blood. I'm still unsure whether he meant what he promised Clara, or if he simply told her that so that she could go peacefully. 

The only major problem I have with this episode is that they telegraphed the stasis pod so hard that I kept waiting for him to throw Clara into it and switch it on so the raven couldn't get her.
I'm looking forward to solo Capaldi's episodes next week, but at the same time I still can't help but be miffed that Sleep No More's many, MANY questions still go unanswered. I certainly hope they plan on re-visiting that episode before long. It didn't have to be this week, due to the non-linear nature of time-travel plots, but there's more to that story that needs to be explored.

[mad author's edit] NON LINEAR NATURE

His hair's all wrong. Where's his jumper? Who was he explaining the bootstrap paradox and Beethoven to? How did Missy get his disk in episode one and why did Mayor Me take it in this episode? We're out of chronological order again and that would mean Clara's been dead for... what, ten episodes? Oh dear, I've gone cross-eyed. 

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