Doctor Who Series 9, or 35 if counting from the beginning, has now reached its conclusion. I’d planned to get this up before Hell Bent was broadcast but… oops.
There will be spoilers here for: Face the Raven, Heaven Sent, and Hell Bent.
Face the Raven
This episode saw the death of Clara.
I liked Clara but I feel that killing a companion now and again is a good idea.
Doctor Who has a fairly high body count so, from a writing point of view, it makes sense that sometimes they die. However in this instance I feel it was mishandled.
Face the Rave seems contrived to make sure Clara dies. Mayor Me says, at the end, that she never had any intention of letting Rigsy die. This begs the question: Why she gave him the real tattoo?
All that was needed was to set a trap for the Doctor. I would have thought that a tattoo counting down would be enough of a mystery. Put another way you can rob a shop with an unloaded gun – you only need for the other person to believe it is loaded. Yet Me, saying she meant no harm, gave Rigsy a real death mark.
Also when It came to the end of the episode I don’t feel like it was adequately explained why she couldn’t remove the mark from Clara. It sounded like it was a contract – i.e it was rules preventing it rather than it being impossible. Jenna Coleman was leaving I felt fairly sure Clara would die. Clara has been traveling with the Doctor on a part time bases. She frequently went back to her life. The only reason that would end was that she died.
I did however think that Clara starting to think of herself as being the Doctor was a good development for the character. When I first heard that
When I first saw the opening of the episode I knew she was dead. I may even have said to myself ‘She is so dead.’ Clara and the Doctor were so happy in that opening scene. That seems to be a common thing in episodes where a character dies. I can think of three other examples where, in the episode where they die, a character is very happy about something. I’m sure you can think of some as well. I don’t want to give spoilers beyond Doctor Who.
The real problems with this episode is only visible in hindsight. We find out in Heaven Sent that it was the Time Lords that set the trap. However it all seems rather badly thought out. The Time Lords could’ve trapped the Doctor anywhere and any when – all they seem to have needed was to get a transport bracelet on him. Couldn’t they have just hired a couple of goons to restrain him?
Clara’s final words to the Doctor were very effective. However it was rather contrived that she died in such a way as to allow for final words in this manner.
Overall the ideas in this story could’ve worked but it was lacking in what actually happened. Clara was far too accepting of her death – she did take the tattoo believing she was invulnerable after all. Any normal person would have been swearing and angry – obviously there is a limit to what they can do in this regard on a family show.
(This episode was also a little funny for someone from Cardiff. At the beginning of the episode it’s very important to find a trap street in London. All I could think was ‘It might help if you actually went to London.’ I know Cardiff like the back of my hand. [Walks into low beam.])
This was a much better episode than its predecessor. I’ve long been interested in bottle shows and more broadly shows that do something different with the expected format. A clip show is the scourge of television drama and shows like Heaven Sent show what can be do with a good production team and an extremely capable actor – Capaldi is wonderful in this episode.
My one tiny nitpick is this: ‘Why doesn’t the wall reset?’ Also, in case you were wondering, breaking through a wall like that is possible. Give enough time you could probably destroy a small mountain.
One other problem is the question of the Hybrid. Maybe I’ve just not been paying enough attention but the question of the hybrid seems to have been so far in the background that I’ve almost not noticed it.
This is a difficult episode to judge. This post is getting rather long so I’ll try and be succinct.
As I said above I don’t have a problem killing characters, although killing my own can be difficult, it seems though that Moffat does have a problem killing them.
Now Clara has ‘died’ before but, if I understood that story correctly, it was more a case of Clara fulfilling her mission to save the Doctor, in each incarnation, and the moving on. Maybe…
Wibbly wobbly timey wimey and all that.
This to me is certainly the case with Rory and why I feel that that story worked. Also I really liked the relationship between him and Amy but I’m getting off topic.
This episode didn’t say that Clara was brought through time the instant before her death it said that she was dead. Which doesn’t really work for me.
When I saw Clara plucked through time it made me even more annoyed by Face the Raven. I believe Clara’s death would’ve worked better with instant death. She was given a death sentence, by the writers I mean, so that she could have a last good by.
Imagine this though. Clara dies. It is sudden and heartbreaking. Then, in Hell Bent, she is plucked through time. This causes an imbalance in the time line and she the returns to that moment to save the universe. That way you get to have it both ways. You get the shocking death and the final goodbye.
Obviously that would only work the first time round but that’s always going to be the case. You can’t experience again, for instance, Darth Vader’s Bespin revelation.
However as it stands Clara is dead, or at least pulse-less, and is now traveling. So why was she killed anyway? (Again from a writing point of view) Why not just have it that she chooses to travel with Me instead of the Doctor? I’m sure there are many ways that that could work.
I liked the closing image of the diner and the police box heading away from each other. Although I do wonder at the designer of the chameleon circuit – another one broken. I think people are going to notice a diner a lot more than a police box.
Was it really necessary to shoot the General?
The Doctor has used guns before but not in this way. And yes he says that it doesn’t really count as murder but surely the General is still loosing several years of life – perhaps decades.
I think that Moffat wanted to show that ideas of race and gender are irrelevant where Time Lords are concerned. That is a good idea but maybe not by having the Doctor shoot someone.
I wonder will the next Doctor will be a woman?
Why was it necessary to wipe the Doctor’s mind?
Maybe I need to watch the episode again but I really don’t understand the need, or benefit, of him forgetting Clara’s face.
These three episodes had their problems certainly but over all I enjoyed them. I saw one review that was very angry with Hell Bent in particular. While I can’t depute what is being said I don’t think it detracts from enjoyment. When it comes to stuff like Star Trek I’ve very interested in continuity but in Doctor Who not so much. It jumps about all over the place it would be nearly impossible to keep it all straight so I tend to view the episodes on their own merits.
Season 9 has been a very solid season over all. Sleep No More was my least favorite episode. It could have been great but sleep monsters were a little too far for me.
What did you think of season 9?
I just wanted to say that I have checked this post. I really have. Unfortunately my particular combination of dyslexia and dyspraxia makes it really hard for me to spot typos. Please enjoy and I’ll try not to make too many errors.