Saturday marked the end of what I think is the best series of Doctor Who since series 4. Throughout this series we’ve seen a strong growth in both the character of 12 and the character of Clara Oswald. As a whole I feel like this episode did wonders for the characterisation of the Doctor but on the flip side destroyed the perfect ending that Face the Raven gave to Clara.
I’m going to get the things that I didn’t like about the episode out of the way first so I can then focus on everything that I loved. For me the biggest problem with the episode was giving Clara a TARDIS at the end. For me, Face the Raven was such a beautiful and fitting ending for the character of Clara Oswald and bringing her back was problematic in itself but had it ended with her being back in that moment and dying then I could’ve forgiven it. As it happens I feel like Clara’s character was messed with in giving her a TARDIS and a companion.
Throughout the series we have seen Clara becoming more and more like the Doctor and I believe that it is a step too far to literally give her her own time machine. Clara isn’t the Doctor, Clara is a human girl who was inspired and influenced by this amazing man. She became a lot like him because she thought that was for the best, and he became terrified of that growth in her. In the end though, Clara was ready to die, she was standing in front of the raven whispering “Let me be brave” because she knew this was better than a baby losing their father. She was human in her death and that was taken away from her by giving her this non-breathing-no-pulse life that can go on for as long as she likes. We were told the time would rip apart if Clara remained in this world, yet it seems fine for her to be travelling around for x amount of time.
I adore Clara as a character and as a person and for me this ending for her took away from her rather than giving to her. I also have issues with the TARDIS that she has being stuck in that image, it’s obviously playing on Clara being the Doctor but that was already obvious throughout the series, it didn’t need to be added to with a diner shaped TARDIS. Because if it wasn’t going to change shape how did she create it as a Diner in the first place.
Okay I used a lot of words there but really Clara’s ending was my only real problem with the episode. As I said in the beginning I think the episode was bad for Clara but great for the Doctor. With the Doctor we saw a man who had been through so much and the pain and suffering has pretty much never stopped for him. We see a man who longed for his planet back but also didn’t because he knew what the planet was and what it’s people were capable of. Once back on Gallifrey the Doctor is still focused on Clara and at first I thought this was a bit dismissive but the more I thought about it the more I agreed with it.
Gallifrey’s return was such a huge thing for the Doctor who believed it to be gone forever for so long. But he has lost so much since Gallifrey and he blames Gallifrey for so much of what has happened. Now that Gallifrey is back the Doctor has hit his breaking point. The Doctor breaking all the rules, the Doctor spending billions of years fighting through a substance harder than diamond has less to do with Clara than to do with the Doctor himself I think. Although he’s fighting to get to her, to get her back alive, it’s more a fight to deny losing, to deny that everyone he gets close to ends up leaving or dying or forgetting.
I do feel like Gallifrey was underplayed and I do want to see more of it, especially in relation to the Doctor’s feelings after the Time War and the fact that he’s considered a War Hero. However, I can completely see the Doctor not wanting to focus on Gallifrey at this point. He believes that it’s his time to get something. He has lost so much because of Gallifrey so it’s time Gallifrey gave him something back. It’s as simple as that.
I really loved the scene where one out of Clara and the Doctor had to lose their memory. The fact that they were both aware it was going to happen but neither knew which way around it would happen made for intense watching and was completely heartbreaking. The Doctor’s words to Clara before he forgot were so important as well.
Run like hell because you’ll always need to
Laugh at everything because it’s always funny
Never be cruel and never be cowardly
and if you ever are, always make amends
All in all this episode was beautiful and it was sad. For me the most heartbreaking part wasn’t the Doctor forgetting Clara and her crying because she couldn’t accept it. It was the Doctor saying – to Clara – that he would know her when he saw her.