When I open my eyes, I squint into the bright light Doctor Who is shining into them.
“Are you with me, Nicola? Can you see me? How many fingers am I – ”
They yelp when I seize them by the front and drag them down to my eye level.
“Oh, I see you, all right.” I hiss. “I see everything.”
It was common knowledge that Jenna Coleman was exiting this season, and we all assumed it would be the big Christmas finale. A popular moral is to be careful what you wish for, and what have I wished for consistently the entirety of this season? Clara, as her own agent. And the only time I get is when she willingly embraces her own death. Come ON. Do you hear that? It’s me banging my fists on the table in DESPAIR. The one time we see Clara (who is meant to be somewhat bright) take matters into her own hands, she makes a phenomenally poor decision and ends up paying the price. The one and only time she has some agency, and that’s what she gets. Honestly, if you threw everyone into period costumes and put a black and white filter over it, you could have a narrator commentate: “THE HAPLESS GIRL-COMPANION HAS MADE A GRIEVOUS ERROR. NOW HER DEATH DRIVES HER CARETAKER INTO DESPAIR AND VENGEANCE.”
Look, I’m trying hard not to be bitter about it, I really am. The actual death scene was really great. But when you consider Clara’s origins and how we first met her, it feels like her presence in this show has been nothing but another factor of the Doctor’s personality. Especially when her solid six-minute death speech was “Be good without me, try not to kill anyone!” (Thank bejeebus they didn’t kiss, though. I was deathly afraid for one moment that they might.) And then, because it’s been repeated several times during this season whenever Clara has been even mildly threatened, the Doctor got all angry and purposeful afterward. It was a weak end to an unfortunately weak character. But props forever and always to Jenna Coleman, whose acting has never failed me. I’m pretty sure we’ll see some more of her in the next few episodes in some kind of resurrection (please no) or as a ghost to spur the Doctor on in his Noble Quest to Find Another Outlet for His Personality (even worse) but otherwise, even though the writing did the character an injustice, Coleman’s performance has always been great.
But concerning this episode alone, though, it’s even more of a pity because it started out fairly strong. A nice mystery, a returning character, beautiful set up of the idea of trap streets in London as a refuge for aliens – great, loving it. But who should stroll into view during this weird Harry Potter/ Fallout crossover? Me. What? No, not me, the character Me. Ashildr, remember her? She was only from a few weeks back, but this season had a shiny new woman/plot device and it was just dying to show her off. The noise I made when she appeared was really something else. Do you know how much disdain you can get in one deep groan and eye roll? Neither did I, until then.
And then the episode pretty much spiralled from there. Went off a cliff face and sailed off into the distance, like the phrase YOU CAN’T CHEAT over Clara’s head. And after she’d taken on Rigsy’s death, did she think to tell the Doctor? Update him on this game-changing decision? No, of course not – but why? And it wasn’t a noble act of self-sacrifice. It was Clara blindly assuming that the Doctor would sort it out and that they were being super sneaky using a space get-out-of-jail-free card. I know Clara never had much going on, in terms of character, but really. Really. That was a bit of a stretch.
With only a few episodes left of this season, I can only tell you this (after the huge list of why I didn’t like this season) is that the entirety of it has felt like a stretch. For what? The quickest result. Whatever’s cheapest. The laziest option. There were a few episodes that stood out, but they were very few. And it all comes down to these last two episodes, and it’s either going to fall on its face or limp out with what’s left of its dignity intact.
“You hear me?” I tell Doctor Who, scrambling to my feet and brushing myself off forcefully. “I’m bloody furious with you. Don’t call me.”
Doctor Who lets me have the satisfaction of stomping off decisively before speaking.
“But you’ll be there for the finale. Because a little bit of you has enjoyed this, hasn’t it? You’ve loved hanging out again.”
“I know you have. You’ve loved it despite the bad ones this season because it made the great episodes all the sweeter, didn’t it? And you stopped thinking about how much I’d changed when you realised just how much you changed too.”
There’s only silence.
“Was it for the better or for worse?”
“Shut your mouth and roll the inevitable three-part finale.”
Image courtesy of BBC
Nicola is a creative writing student based in London. When she’s not very hard at work on all the writing business, she’s playing video games, reading about video games, writing about video games and making videos about video games with her pals at Clever Girl Gaming. She also procrastinates on an Olympic level, and is sure you’ve got something you should be doing too.