What an incredible hour.
With Doctor Who Season 8 Episode 4 it could have been just a bump in the night ghost story that came of The Doctor's many musings. Instead it was so much more.
I'm going to postulate something strange at the end of this review and you can all tell me if I'm off my rocker. What good is The Doctor if there isn't a little theorizing going on, right?
Clara's very awkward date with Danny Pink causes her evening to take an interesting turn when it abruptly ends. The Doctor wants her for a "thing." That's a nice name for what they do together. Not too scientific, not any label at all. Just that thing that they do.
The Doctor has been spending a lot of time alone in his new skin, and that may be causing him to delve deeper into his psyche than usual. Something was bothering him -- the idea that you're never truly alone, thus why most people talk to themselves and have the same dream; that dream of being in bed, in the dark, and tossing your foot over the edge only to have something grab it.
Question -- why do we talk out loud even when we know we're alone. Conjecture -- because we know we're not.The Doctor
In his quest to get to the bottom of it, he wants Clara to take control of the TARDIS and whisk them back in time to a night she experienced the dream. Because she was thinking of Danny, the TARDIS went where he mind sent it -- to Danny's group home in Gloucester when he was a boy. Whoops!
That set in motion a set of events that lead back and forth in time and to and from the ends of the universe. The scene with the living lump in the middle of Danny's (Rupert's) bed was chilling. It was just scary enough to make you pleased you were watching with the lights on, and perhaps to reconsider the protection served by staying under your covers to avoid nighttime haunts.
One hundred years into the future we meet Orson Pink, alone at the end of the universe. He wants to go home. He understands a thing or two about time travel from his ancestor. I wonder who that could be? Danny's place as the companion's companion became more solidified.
When The Doctor is knocked out searching for something trying to make its way inside Orson's spaceship, Clara takes the controls again in an attempt to get them out of danger.
She steers the TARDIS to Gallifrey to the very barn we encountered in Day of the Doctor (Doctor Who Season 7 Episode 15), at a time when The Doctor was a small boy (how DOES The Doctor's childhood work, given his many incarnations?) and not only afraid of the dark, but unwilling to become a soldier. Soldiers played a large part in the installment, and we're sure to hear even more about them as the season continues.
Clara inadvertently becomes the very thing that the little Doctor feared by grabbing at his ankle from under the bed. She also became the person to instill in him that fear is a super power, something that can help propel you to heights unimaginable without it.
It doesn't matter if there is nothing under the bed or in the dark, so long as you know it's OK to be afraid of it. So listen, if you listen to nothing else, listen to this. You're always going to be afraid, even you learn to hide it. Fear is like a companion, a constant companion -- always there. But that's OK because fear can bring us together. Fear can bring you home. I'm going to leave you something just so you always remember. Fear makes companions of us all.Clara
The entire hour was expertly written with subtle nods to the interconnection of time and space and how the Impossible Girl has played a part in The Doctor's life for a very long time. It's as if they were on a collision course for all time.
Clara continues to take control. She grows stronger with each installment. She's not only driving the TARDIS, but making decisions about what The Doctor will do. She commands that he do as he's told and he does. Has any companion ever had quite the same relationship with The Doctor?
What I am wondering is this: Could Clara become the first female Doctor? With her role as the Impossible Girl, running parallel to his entire history and her increasing control over situations, Danny's descendant's story of time travel and the news that Clara would be abandoning her role as companion during the Christmas episode (sending the media into a frenzy that she would be quitting the series), wouldn't it be incredibly cool if she backed off of that last statement because she's becoming The Doctor?
We now know The Doctor had a beginning. We've been told that Twelve was the last face of The Doctor. What if it's time for a new Time Lord to be born? Does it have to be a child with Academy training or would the many incarnations of Clara as the Impossible Girl do the trick?
While you all take a moment to let that sink in, I'm off. I want to hear your thoughts in the comments. These last two seasons have given us a lot of material to digest and places to jump off. Will the sensational Christmas story reveal a new Doctor and retain Danny Pink as her companion? Think about it and weigh in!
Don't forget, you can always watch Doctor Who online if you need a refresher course on all things leading up to this moment.
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with anyone who will listen. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.