In the tenth episode of the ninth series of Doctor Who, a familiar face is accused of murder. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Doctor Who.
Trigger Warning: For nonconsensual drugging.
Goddamn it, Doctor Who.
I think most of us have complicated feelings towards Clara Oswald. It was hard to define who she was as a character when she had such a weird story back when she was first introduced. Truly, this is not the first time that Clara has died, and I still wonder if it’s the last time. Series eight helped to solidify her as a character separate of the Doctor to some extent, but she’s always existed in relation to the people around her. She lost Danny last series, but joined the Doctor again during “Last Christmas” with the two of them on equal footing. I say that because there have been moments this series where Clara and the Doctor were very close to being like the same person. Hell, the Doctor even warned Clara that there was only room enough for one Doctor in the TARDIS.
Which I now see as foreshadowing. Clara tried to come up with a solution to Rigsy’s death sentence by using Doctor logic. It’s the easiest way for me to understand this. But what’s the greater meaning of it? That’s hard to tell because this episode is only part of the story. I’d like to analyze it and discuss Clara’s death, but what if she comes back in the next episode or in the finale? Will that dilute what I’ve seen here?
I don’t know! But “Face the Raven” does have a lot of interesting ideas, as well as the return of Rigsy, one of the best parts of series 8. Rigsy is now a parent, and I can see how that change made it even more stressful to learn that the tattoo on his neck was a countdown to his execution. The dude has a newborn daughter! It’s agonizing to watch him in this scenario. Jovain Wade plays Rigsy as being in a state of perpetual concern, though, and my heart swelled at the idea that despite that Rigsy is the sweetest guy ever, HE STILL WANTED TO TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR HIS ACTIONS. He obviously didn’t want to die, but he never let his ego cloud his judgment. If he had actually killed Anah, he wanted to be accountable for his actions.
RIGSY FOR PRESIDENT or PRIME MINISTER or SOMETHING.
I am also intrigued by Me, who reappears here as the mayor of a town of alien refugees, which is one of the COOLEST ideas this whole show has ever given us. I WANT MORE OF THIS NEIGHBORHOOD. SO MUCH MORE. I love that we see villains like the Cybermen being helped by the Ood. There’s the Judoon and a Sontaran and an Ice Warrior, and they’re all living separate from their own people. Together.
That doesn’t mean that everything is perfect. Even though Me wants the best possible existence for these forgotten and lost beings, she institutes a system of rule that is cruel. Yes, she knows that she’s dealing with a number of species who are “prone” to aggression, and there needs to be an enforceable rubric so that this place can continue to exist safely. But when someone is executed by the Raven for stealing medical supplies, it doesn’t feel like justice. It feels like hell.
Which makes me wonder what sort of deal she made. We learn only some of the particulars – that the mystery was faked to lure in the Doctor so that Me could get a guarantee of safety for her refugee camp – but we don’t know who she made it with. We don’t know where the Doctor is being transported to, nor do we know why she needed the Confession Dial. So I want to examine Me as a character further, but I don’t know what role she might play in the next episode or two. She was desperate to protect her camp, but why pay this cost? Why was it worth it for her to hand over the Doctor?
This brings me back to Clara. Oh, Clara. You know, even if I’m unsure where this story is headed, I can certainly appreciate the performance we are given by Jenna Coleman in this episode. Clara is portrayed so nobly here. She accepts her death, and she urges the Doctor to eschew the revenge he will inevitably try to get on her behalf. It’s an emotional sequence because we all know she’s right. We know for certain that the Doctor doesn’t fair well alone. We know that when he is angry, he becomes inconsolable. Uncontrollable. A force not to be reckoned with, but one you survive by getting the hell out of his way.
Clara dies so she can be brave, so she can give bravery to the Doctor before he faces whatever is next. It’s not my favorite departure, if this is indeed Clara’s last appearance. I still feel like the major flaw in how her character’s written is that she’s a reflection of everyone around her, not of herself. But I know I’ll miss Jenna Coleman, whose comic timing, beaming smile, and immense talent were absolutely what made Doctor Who enjoyable these past two series.
The video for “Face the Raven” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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