Tag: Clara Oswald

Doctor Who Review: The Girl Who Died/The Woman Who Lived

Doctor Who Review: The Girl Who Died/The Woman Who Lived

Jamie Mathieson! Maisie Williams! Female Who writer! Moniker name titles! Must be a new Moffat style Doctor Who two parter. I enjoyed the first half better than the second half, just as I did last two parter, but there was a lot of interesting stuff…

Doctor Who Review: Under The Lake/Before the Flood

Doctor Who Review: Under The Lake/Before the Flood

Do you know what I like about this series? Two parters all series because I can review episodes back to back. Otherwise I get too behind with my reviews like last year. But gimme a break guys. This is what happens when I re-write 27…

Doctor Who Review: The Witch’s Familiar

Doctor Who Review: The Witch’s Familiar

Wow, two episodes into the new series, and I’m already a blog post behind… AGAIN. This is what happens when I go to Conflux. Anyway, the follow up to The Magician’s Apprentice is even better than its first act. Who doesn’t love a Clara/Missy double act, Skaro, Davros and tricksy moments between The Doctor and one of his more long running enemies?

Missy and Clara

I cannot emphasise enough how much I enjoy Michelle Gomez as Missy and would pay good money to see her in her own spin-off show. I quite liked seeing how Missy interacted with Clara as a ‘makeshift’ companion: from ‘make your own pointy stick’ to a lecture of respect, to making Clara climb into a Dalek, what a firecracker this character is.

I couldn’t help but wonder if The Doctor had signed Clara’s almost death warrant when he demanded that the Daleks produce Clara alive and never mentioned Missy once. The Master is jealous and cruel and doesn’t like to share. Moffat also did some nice foreshadowing by having Clara climb inside a Dalek early on necessary for both Clara and Missy to rescue The Doctor from Davros. It is horrifying when Clara tries to parrot Missy’s phrases (I love you, You are different to me, exterminate), yet Missy’s plan to infiltrate Davros ship makes sense.

It makes the final stages of the episode all the more powerful when Clara is trying to tell The Doctor that she is Clara Oswald and alive. if people thought that Moffat was allowing The Master to become too likable, this moment should have re-assured. For one frightening moment, I thought that the show was actually going to have The Doctor kill Clara thinking she was a Dalek and manipulated by Missy. Of course, the show could never really have gone there. Murder of his own companion is something that I don’t think The Doctor would ever recover from, but for one powerful moment, it seemed possible…

What’s In A Name?

The Doctor Who Watchalong group I frequent got caught up on the episode titles. I see them as allegory. The Magician’s Apprentice referred to The Doctor as magician teacher of Davros. In the first part, we thought he made Davros the villain he becomes in adulthood. The Witch’s Familiar flips that concept on its head. Instead, The Doctor teaches Davros compassion. The Witch’s Familar then, refers to Missy as The Witch and Clara as The Familiar, which makes me wonder very much how Clara will exit the show and whether she will leave it enemy or friend.

Gallifrey, Missy and The Doctor

This plot twist on why The Doctor left Gallifrey from the beginning seems to have split the fandom. I’m withholding judgement until more unfolds, but like The Wedding of River Song, there is scope for Moffat to get it very wrong. Still, I quite enjoyed Missy accusing The Doctor of being the one who had always run away before she ran off down a corridor and her un-nerving declaration that she had chosen Clara for The Doctor to show “In a way, this is why I gave her to you in the first place; to make you see. A friend inside the enemy, the enemy inside the friend. Everyone’s a bit of both. Everyone’s a hybrid.” was quite brilliant. Part Dalek, park Time Lord, though? And what exactly is The Doctor’s confession? Not sure if this is a terrible idea or genius?

Redemption or deception?

The quiet heart of this episode was definitely The Doctor’s dialogue with a dying Davros. Davros in The Stolen Earth/Journey’s End lacked conviction or power for me. This episode, he raises the ‘am I good man?’ theme which The Doctor faced from series 8;

Davros: Did I do right Doctor? Tell me, was I right? I need to know before the end. Am I a good man?

Davros even appears happy when The Doctor reveals that Gallifrey has been saved from the Time War.

Davros: If you have redeemed the Time Lords from the fire, do not lose them again. Take the darkest path into the deepest hell, but protect your own … as I have sought to protect mine.

Bizarrely, The Doctor and Davros even share a laugh together over Davros’ death bed:

Doctor: You really are dying, aren’t you?
Davros: Look at me. Did you doubt it?
Doctor: Yes.
Davros: Then we have established one thing only.
Doctor: What?
Davros: You are not a good doctor.

Such banter couldn’t help but feel tinged with unreality. The Doctor/Davros truce couldn’t last. I doubt many were all that surprised when Davros back-stabbed The Doctor, trying to use The Doctor’s regenerative energy to trap him. More surprising was The Doctor’s second guessing of Davros’ plan and his use of regeneration energy to contaminate the Dalek’s, causing ‘the sewers to revolt.’

Compassion, Doctor

We all knew that The Doctor wouldn’t really harm a small boy, regardless of who he grew up to hurt and what he later created. Does this mean the look on The Doctor’s face which Clara interpreted as shame, wasn’t shame after all?

The Doctor: I didn’t come here because I’m ashamed – a bit of shame never hurt anyone. I came because you’re sick, and you asked.

The lines in this section of the episode are simple and beautiful. At a Doctor Who panel at Conflux on the weekend, myself and other panelists discussed the fundamentals of the show and all of us agreed that the fundamentals of the show are what fellow pannelist John Blum termed ‘the adjectives’ – things like ‘never cowardly, never unkind, never give up and never give in,’ and now ‘compassion.’

Davros: It is so good of you to help me.
Doctor: I’m not helping you. I’m helping a little boy I abandoned on a battlefield. I think I owe him a sunrise.

The ending of this two parter was so simple and yet so beautiful. The Doctor destroys the hand mines and rescues a young Davros, contaminating him, and through him, his Daleks’ by showing young Davros compassion.

Doctor: I’m not sure any of that matters. Friends, enemies. So long as there’s mercy. Always mercy.

A strong episode because of its willingness to focus on character moments, quiet drama and relationships and made more interesting than its first part because of a clever spin on the true morality of The Doctor, The Witch’s Apprentice is a classic.

The Witch’s Apprentice: 11/10 inky stars

Doctor Who: The Magician’s Apprentice Review

Doctor Who: The Magician’s Apprentice Review

Wow! I can’t believe it’s already time to be back blogging to schedule! I promise to review Last Christmas in the near future, but in the mean time it is so glorious to have new episodes of Doctor Who back and at Series 9 and…

Doctor Who Re-Watch: In The Forest of the Night Review

Doctor Who Re-Watch: In The Forest of the Night Review

This review is very delayed, largely because I thought this episode was the worst of the season by far and I was putting off having to re-watch and partly because my family and I recently discovered the excellent (if depressing) crime drama, Line of Duty. I couldn’t…

Doctor Who Rewatch: Flatline Review

Doctor Who Rewatch: Flatline Review

This is Jamie Mathieson’s second episode, and it is also enormously fun, adventurous and inventive. Flatline sees the TARDIS, with The Doctor trapped inside, shrink and Clara take up The Doctor mantle. There are some suitably nasty aliens, and one suitable nasty human, and some great throwbacks to classic Who style stories and other popular culture references. The episode asks us what happens when the 2D tries to infiltrate the land of the 3D – read on to find out…

Alien of the week presence

This is one of the few Series 8 episodes which deals with a proper alien invasion. The episode opens in creepy classic Who style with a man sucked into a house wall. It is also very Eleventh Hour with the cracks in the wall. I liked the clever touch of the people on The Estate disappearing and re-appearing as wall mural art. I also liked that the episode entertained the notion of friendly or naïve aliens for all of five seconds with The Doctor saying, “Maybe the aliens don’t know we need to live in 3D… innocent aliens a first?” Later he amends his wishful thinking. “I tried to reach out… to understand you… but you don’t want to understand, you don’t care.”

The Doctor

The Doctor takes a back seat this episode, though he has a few good moments, from his Addam’s Family spoof moment as his hand made like Thing to get The TARDIS off the rail line, (“I’m on a train line and there’s a train coming, of course”) to his mean comments about the episode’s companion who never was, ‘pudding face’ Brigsy.

I also enjoyed his comment to Clara early on as she muses about the shrunk TARDIS:

The Doctor: Could you not just let me enjoy this moment of not knowing something? It happens so rarely.

Twelve fights back with a vengeance at episode’s end when he tells the aliens that “this planet is protected” (Hello Matt Smith reference) and he introduces himself as “the man who stops the monsters.” His sombre statement that, “a lot of people died and maybe the wrong people survived,” (like Ashes to Ashes guest star douche bag) is poignant and sad and reminds the audience that this is a much darker Doctor.

Danny and Clara

It doesn’t matter how many times I re-watch Series 8, I don’t care about Danny until Dark Water, especially in the middle of the series when he acts like he owns Clara. Why is Danny so insecure that he can’t have Clara leave her personal things on the TARDIS? Why does Clara feel that she has to lie to Danny about having adventures with The Doctor? (though the contrast between Clara’s phone conversation and the events unfolding around her was quite entertaining). I just find Danny/Clara a little uncomfortable, especially when compared to Rory/Amy.

Clara Who?

This episode is perhaps most important for its exploration of Clara Who? This series has been all about companions becoming The Doctor and the human cost that entails. With The Doctor out of action in Flatline, it falls to Clara to ‘act’ the role which makes for interesting viewing.

“I’m The Doctor. Doctor Oswald. You can call me Clara… I think I call myself The Doctor because it makes me sound important.”

Not only does Clara perform The Doctor role, she also questions it and his relationship to companions. I liked the implication that companions were either people in the wrong place at the right time or the right place at the wrong time and how that linked to Clara’s lies to Danny.

The Doctor: Excellent lying, Doctor Oswald… lying is a vital survival skill and a terrible habit.

Clara: Does it count as lying if it’s for someone’s own good?

The Doctor: What’s next, Doctor Clara?

Clara: Lie to them… give them hope.

Lying is depicted as a key part of The Doctor’s role to people, as is wild, last minute ideas. When Clara uses a hair band to keep the train gear on it was both as mad and as clever and as simple as the best laid Doctor plans.

This episode, too, Clara is truly alone in her decision-making.

Clara: Doctor, what would you do now? No, what would I do now?

Clara has never been my favourite companion, but in series 8 her level of agency has increased threefold and her place of power in the story could become very interesting.

Missy

Who doesn’t love Missy? Who? I actually got shivers down my spine at the denouement to this episode when this exchange happened:

Clara: Just say it. Why can’t you just say it? Why can’t you just say I did good?
The Doctor: Talk to soldier-boy.
Clara: It’s not him. Come on, why can’t you say it? I was the Doctor and I was good.
The Doctor: You were an exceptional Doctor, Clara…
Clara: Thank you!
The Doctor:  ..goodness had nothing to do with it.

That exchange of dialogue followed by Missy’s, “Clara, my Clara, I’ve chosen you well” is chilling and horrifying. The Twelfth Doctor is darker and more cynical. He reminds us that there is a dangerous side to The Doctor, the one that is good at making split second decisions to save the majority, even as he buries his guilt over the fallen minority. This is much more Le Carre territory than fairy story, even if Eleven did have similar ‘darker’ moments, they never felt this brutal. As a continuation of Rory’s comment about fearing what The Doctor does to people, how he changes them, this is a very interesting place to go. More next series thanks!

Flatline: 9/10 inky stars

Next week: In the Forest of the Night

Doctor Who Re-Watch: Mummy on the Orient Express

Doctor Who Re-Watch: Mummy on the Orient Express

This episode sees the debut of newcomer writer, Jamie Mathieson, who wrote two of the most fun and most original episodes of Series 8. Mummy on the Orient Express sees The Doctor and Clara on board Christie’s famous train in space, even down to the…

Doctor Who Re-Watch: Kill The Moon Review

Doctor Who Re-Watch: Kill The Moon Review

Disclaimer: In 2013 I reviewed the second half of Series 7 for The Hairy Housewife and fully intended to do the same for Series 8 last year. Unfortunately, it proved impossible. Life and work and caring responsibilities called and at my lowest point, I was…

Doctor Who Re-watch: The Caretaker Review

Doctor Who Re-watch: The Caretaker Review

Disclaimer: In 2013 I reviewed the second half of Series 7 for The Hairy Housewife and fully intended to do the same for Series 8 last year. Unfortunately, it proved impossible. Life and work and caring responsibilities called and at my lowest point, I was about five episodes behind everyone else. After speaking recently with Gemma, she thought it would be cool for me to do a re-tread of Series 8 to tide blog readers over until Series 9 airs. So that’s what’s happening. Every week I’ll re-watch and review an episode for this blog. Feel free to join me! Oh, and there will be spoilers.

The Caretaker reminded me an awful lot of Chris Chibnell’s The Power of Three. In many respects it achieves the same thing that that episode did with Amy and Rory’s relationship with Eleven explored in that episode just as Clara and Twelve’s is in The Caretaker. The difference is that Danny is an outsider whereas Rory is a companion at that point in Series 7. The Caretaker also features one of the common threads of Moffat era Who: interesting thematic ideas and character development with a lousy alien of the week. The alien is a vehicle for character exploration. Nothing more.

The Caretaker sees Twelve go undercover at Clara’s school to face down an alien force. Comedy ensues as The Doctor antagonises Danny and his relationship with Clara, trolls Clara trying to teach, is a bad influence on the children and generally makes a fool of himself. There are also some nice shout out moments to previous episodes with The Doctor referencing his relationship with River, a re-visit of the John Smith pseudonym, a police officer death similar to The Eleventh Hour, an Eleventh Doctor reference and the return of unimaginative and irritating children (Clara’s earlier charges in series 7 I’m looking at you).


Companions who Never Were

There’s a pattern here, Series 8. Young Courtney fills the role this week, though her response to the TARDIS (vomiting and running away) leaves a lot to be desired. I can’t help but feel that her staying far away from the TARDIS is a good thing.

Dan the Soldier Man

One of the strongest points of Series 8 has been its willingness to follow a theme through to the end and give character’s space to develop. The Doctor’s hatred of soldiers continues in The Caretaker. This time The Doctor equates sport (PE teachers) with soldiers as he puts Danny down again and again.

Doctor: Some military idiot will attack it… the world is full of PE teachers.

Clara protests: He’s a maths teacher. Not a soldier.
The Doctor: Interesting.

It is implied later in the episode that The Doctor is testing Danny as a person and Clara’s ability to choose a partner well. In one of the more interesting ideas of the episode, Danny tells The Doctor that he is the officer who lights the flame which draws soldiers into conflicts. Death In Heaven follows this through so more on this theme later.

The Danny and Clara Relationship

I didn’t actually like Danny as a character until Dark Water. Samuel Anderson feels a bit too forced to me and his character was no Rory. It didn’t help that he was inconsistently written. One second he was a second Rory, the next he was a controlling tosser. Like Amy, Clara cannot admit to her lover that she leads a double life (despite the lessons of Listen). Unlike Amy, she tries to have her cake and eat it too by living both lives at once. Understandably Danny is upset, but that doesn’t make it OK when he says the below:

Danny: Do you love him?
Clara: No, not in that way.
Danny: What other way is there?

Wow Danny? Have you never heard of a little thing called friendship. Douche. Admittedly The Doctor is no better when he says:

You’ve explained me to him [Danny]. You haven’t explained him to me.

Why on earth does Clara need to justify herself to either of them? She is a grown woman who can make her own decisions and choices. This is one of the few Moffat era Who episodes which I genuinely feel is sexist. On the plus side, Danny rushes in to protect Clara from evil aliens. Unfortunately, unlike Rory, he doesn’t do it because he genuinely loves Clara and wants to understand her choices. He does it to prove himself worthy to the person he perceives controls Clara ie The Doctor. I genuinely wanted to throw something at the screen when he said the following:

Danny: I was behind you every step of the way… I had to know you were safe. I had to be good enough for you… that’s why he’s angry. Just in case I’m not.

Everything about this plot thread annoyed me and I’m glad they abandoned it down the track.

Understanding Twelve

Twelve continues his trend of failing to differentiate between human faces, getting confused by Clara’s appearance and expressions and assuming that Clara’s lover is an Eleventh Doctor look-a-like teacher down to the bow tie. His habit of putting down others continues to jar. However, this episode reveals more of the true Twelve, the one fully developed by the series finale, the one who is simply an old man with a box travelling and learning.

Though I don’t much enjoy the child actors they get on New Who, I did enjoy Twelve’s exchange with Courtney:

Courtney: I’m a disruptive influence!
The Doctor: Pleased to meet you.

Here, The Doctor’s cluelessness is endearing.

As is his banter with Clara (also Clara the teacher is much more interesting than Clara the walking plot device). I love it when he leans into the classroom and argues about literature, when he winks at her upon being announced as the new caretaker, when he says ‘sing Hosanna’ at Clara doing what she’s told for once and when he equates acting like an idiot with the care-taking job. I also like Clara’s quip to The Doctor and reminder to the audience that she is The Doctor’s teacher as much as her students teacher.

Clara’s Addiction

Like The Power of Three, this episode highlights what happens to companions when they grow addicted to running with The Doctor. The opening of The Caretaker sees Clara exhausting herself managing two lives at once. Something has to give and that thing is her relationship with Danny. She even gives up a night of ‘canoodling’ to run with The Doctor.

She has ‘learnt’ The Doctor’s role, this time telling Danny the TARDIS story herself (as he looks inside to Amy’s Theme). The show continue to show us how she has adopted the role as the series progresses. However,Danny warns her (and us) about the dangers of finding running with people like The Doctor normal.

Danny: They make you stronger, do things you never thought you could do. You weren’t scared. You should have been.

It will be interesting to see how Moffat et.al. develop this in Series 9.

A Glimpse of Heaven

We get another reminder of Missy this week and get our first glimpse of the officious Seb to some great work from Murray Gold as we hear the first proper run of Missy’s Theme. We also get a better look at The Neversphere/Promised Land. When Seb says ‘So… any questions?’ It’s a deliberate meta question to the fans who have so many.

The Caretaker: 6/10 inky stars

Doctor Who Re-Watch: Time Heist Review

Doctor Who Re-Watch: Time Heist Review

Disclaimer: In 2013 I reviewed the second half of Series 7 for The Hairy Housewife and fully intended to do the same for Series 8 last year. Unfortunately, it proved impossible. Life and work and caring responsibilities called and at my lowest point, I was…