A bold follow up to the rather weak previous episode, “Face the Raven” keeps Doctor Who fans on their toes in what appears to be Clara’s last hurrah. This episode was definitely a surprise after the one-two punch combo of the Invasion/Inversion and the feint of “Sleep No More.” “Face the Raven” had all of the makings to be a light-hearted return to the cheerier side of the Whoverse. Obviously the writer, Sarah Dollard, knew that and had other ideas.
The set-up was perfect: another seemingly fun episode filled with laughs as Clara and the Doctor returned from some escapade in the opening scene, until our old friend Rigsy calls up with a somewhat ominous situation. It’s a little downplayed at first, but then we quickly find out that the situation is far more dire than expected. A mysterious tattoo that is counting down on Rigsy’s neck is actually tied to a Chronolock that is tied to a Quantum Shade. The shade is in the form of a raven and is being used to keep order in a hidden intergalactic refugee camp that is being run by none other than Lady Me/Ashildr.
As much as Lady Me’s development has been exciting and fun to watch, I sincerely hope they don’t only use her to deliver bad news to the Doctor. Their relationship has been written so well and is so complicated it would be a shame to pigeon hole her into a certain plot point and not utilize that further. Lady Me continues to develop in this episode as she’s managed to rule as mayor over the trap street where more than just the street is shrouded in secrecy. Lady Me has purposefully set Rigsy up for murder, hence his Chronolock sentence but what she doesn’t account for is Clara’s reckless behavior.
Clara, true to the foreshadowing we’ve been seeing since Danny Pink’s demise, convinces Rigsy to give her his Chronolock while they investigate the murder and buy more time. What didn’t make sense through this whole endeavor was how Clara was planning on actually getting more time with a set clock counting down. That was the line that went from reckless to just plain stupid decision making. It wasn’t entirely surprising, but it just seemed a touch too staged. Once the final reveal was out, that Clara couldn’t escape the shade, her speech was heart-wrenching but seemingly long. The cuts back to the raven and back to her really took away from the emotions and dramatic climax.
Nonetheless, this was a far better written ending for The Impossible Girl than many of the previous points where she was rumored to have been written out (“Death in Heaven”). The Impossible Girl story arc was horribly under used throughout Clara’s tenure with the Eleventh and Twelfth Doctors and Clara’s involvement went from companion to almost overtaking the focus of the show. She’s been far more influential than the previous companions in the rebooted series and arguably throughout the entire series. Loved by some, loathed by others, Whovians can’t seem to agree on a companion and Clara was no exception. Personally, I didn’t mind Clara. She was versatile enough to fill the various needs and whims of the writers which ranged greatly over the course of the seasons. The versatility speaks to Jenna Coleman’s ability to bring depth to her character. Unfortunately she suffered from the inconsistencies of acting under multiple writers without a clear story arc. It was unfortunate but not wholly detrimental to Clara or Doctor Who on the whole.
Peter Capaldi, on the other hand, was magical and brilliant throughout the entire episode. Perhaps it’s because I’ve gone too long without watching Nine, Ten, or Eleven in an episode, but I daresay that Twelve might do the best job of depicting the rage that the Doctor carries with him. If nothing else, Twelve is as much the oncoming storm as his predecessors and it was exhilarating to see him rise to the occasion. I continue to be excited to see what Capaldi will bring to the table especially now that Clara isn’t around to be his emotional personal assistant. Twelve and Lady Me are definitely going to meet again and it won’t be on her terms again. Ever.
Overall, a nice episode to send Clara off on, assuming she really is off. Obviously anyone that has heard of Steven Moffat knows as much as he tends to kill off characters, he is just as likely to bring them back on a whim because it suits his story. Technically speaking we’re in the first part of the first three part story Twelve has been in, and considering the opening of the storyline the next two are sure to be the knockout punches of season 9. It’s all been a crazy whirlwind with Lady Me and Clara, we’ll see how it all turns out at the end.
What did you think about “Face the Raven’? What are your thoughts on Clara as a companion? Tell us all your thoughts in the comments!