Our man in Los Angeles, ROBERT CAVE, takes a look at the latest episode of the new series of Doctor Who
Face the Raven
Doctor Who Series 9/ Season 35 Episode 10
Hello everyone, welcome to the trap street, from this point on there are spoilers for episode ten of series nine of Doctor Who.
Well, that was very… mechanical. We arrive at Clara’s death, something that has been heavily foreshadowed throughout this season and as it was finally presented here. Like our own deaths, we know it is coming eventually, but only seldom know exactly what how it will happen until it is too late.
My initial reaction was that Clara’s death was not a heroic or meaningful, just a function of a plot that is required to write an exit for a departing actress. But, thinking more about it, if you’ll forgive the litotes, her death was not unheroic, nor lacking in meaning either.
Clara’s final moments were not as mundane as Danny Pink’s, run over by a car. Or as spectacular as his either – post-death Danny managed to save the child he failed to save in life.
She acted in self-sacrifice thinking, as we all often do, that she wasn’t really in danger, just as earlier in the episode she dangled herself out of the TARDIS, taking unnecessary risks thinking she would always be safe, that she wouldn’t actually die. And then, she realised that she was going to die after all. Of course, she tried to fight it, but she also talked to those around who were important to her, told them not to feel guilt or seek revenge and then she faced her death, as we all do eventually. In those last moments she was not the impossible girl who died and yet somehow kept returning. She was someone who knew that she would die and wanted to make sure her death didn’t cause more hurt to those around her, and I can definitely view that as heroic.
And the Doctor who witnessed it all, could do nothing. He didn’t have any foreknowledge of what was happening, which leaves me more convinced than ever that, as Rich over at Bleeding Cool has long suspected, sometimes of the Doctor we have seen earlier this season seems to have foreknowledge of Clara’s fate. The Doctor from after this episode visited Clara before she Faced the Raven. On the plus side, that means we know that whatever it is that he faces next week, he will survive, but, in our heart of hearts, we already knew that anyway.
I also loved the beautiful post-credits coda of Rigsy painting a memorial to Clara onto the TARDIS. It didn’t really fit anywhere in the episode, I struggled to find an appropriate place to mention it in this review, but I’m glad it was made, and filmed, unlike the equally touching coda P.S., a scene scripted, but never filmed to show how Rory’s dad learned of the fates of his son and daughter-in-law. But, hang on a second, Rigsy was told his mind would be wiped when he left the street, but he had left the street to get to the TARDIS and creating a memorial shows that he does indeed remember.
There was more going on in this episode than Clara’s death, of course, not least the much of it seemed Torchwood-related, from the old favourite Torchwood drug retcon, to the hexagonal designs that kept cropping up in the trap street and on Rigsy’s phone. Will there be more than a touch of Torchwood to come?
And then there is the Mayor, the latest identity for the woman who was once Ashildr. She wanted the Doctor’s confession dial, and seemed to be acting on behalf of someone else. My money is still on her being in the service of Missy.
Not willingly, but I think we will see Missy again before the season is out. And most-likely the daleks too, if the human/dalek hybrid stuff is going to come to fruition.
Part of me kind of likes the idea that this device is not in synch with the Doctor, that it is maybe new and empty rather than old and full of things that the Doctor now dare not look at, but that would probably be a bit of a one-note joke.
I’m pretty sure we haven’t seen the last of the Mayor this season, and I’ve heard rumours of even bigger things returning too, but that is way too spoiler for even this review. Will Clara be featured somehow? It seems likely, but I kind of hope she will not. She’s died so many times before, I’d kind of like for her death to finally mean something.
See you next week.