Clara Oswald is no more. Did her death hit you right in the feels or miss its mark?
How does Clara's departure compare to some of the other companion farewells? Will the Doctor seek revenge on Ashildr/Me or stay true to his word? Any chance we'll see Clara one last time before the end of the season?
TV Fanatic writers Kathleen Wiedel, and Hank Otero plus our pals Tom Gardiner of threeifbyspace.net and Zach Wilson, host of AfterBuzzTV's Doctor Who after show, answer all this and more in our Doctor Who Season 9 Episode 10 Round Table discussion...
Well, Clara finally met her end. What did you think of Jenna Coleman's "final" episode?
Kathleen: They have been teasing her departure all season (and by teasing, I mean whacking viewers over the head with a sledgehammer about it). Unfortunately, by putting her in mortal danger in every single episode, it lent a certain measure of frustration by the way she did meet her end, thanks to her own choices. That said, the actual death scene itself was touching.
Tom: Call me an optimist, though no one who knows me ever does, but I think Clara's going to be back. I'm with Zach in still believing Jenna Coleman's somehow going to end up in the spin-off "Class" and until that belief is absolutely and definitively squashed I'm going to continue to believe it. That being said, Clara's death was done well. I completely agree with Kathleen that we've been beaten over the head very thoroughly this season when it comes to reminding us Clara's time is near, but the actual execution, pardon the phrase, was nicely done.
Zach: I enjoyed the episode, though not necessarily as much as I feel I should have given how much of game changer episode it is for the show. I did really like the idea of Doctor Who's own little Diagon Alley run by Mayor Me and I had fun with the return of Rigsy. Sorry Tom, I'm actually going to pull my Jenna Coleman in Class theory back. I think this is it for Clara, so shy of a crazy Bonnie the Zygon cover up story, I think this is it.
Hank: While I did like the whole Diagon Alley thing as Zach mentioned, I was expecting a much more emotional episode. To this day, I still tear up watching Amy and Rory's finale episode. Then again, as Kathleen says they've been teasing Clara's death pretty much all season so her exit was bound to disappoint. I've said this before, but I think Jenna Coleman was terribly underused this season. At least she was given more to do in her final episode.
How does Clara's departure compare to some of the previous companion's farewells?
Kathleen: There haven't been many companions to depart the TARDIS by sudden death (*cough*Adric*cough*), but I find myself shaking my head. Clara's demise was brought about by her own recklessness, almost certainly fostered by the death of Danny Pink. Clara never properly mourned him, and that manifested itself through her extreme risk-taking behaviors. Unfortunately, when you run with the Doctor, sometimes your luck runs out on you. River Song put it like this in "The Forest of the Dead": "When you run with the Doctor, it feels like it'll never end. But, however hard you try, you can't run forever. Everybody knows that everybody dies, and nobody knows it like the Doctor."
Tom: Well, the departure of most other companions didn't come with that giant Hammer of the Obvious reminding us they're on borrowed time, so there's that. Oddly, while Clara found out she was to die with little advance notice, she accepted it with dignity. I think Kathleen's right in that she never got over Danny's death and these risks she's been taking are an expression of her desire to be with him again. Still, I think it's going to be another Moffat fake-out.
Zach: I thought the actual death scene was good, not great. I was much more emotional about the departure of Amy and Rory, hell I was closer to tears when I thought we were gonna lose Wilf. That said, I think that in terms of Clara's psychology, this episode did definitely complete her arc. It did a good job portraying how a person would likely consider themselves invincible if they traveled with the Doctor for that long, something we didn't really got into so heavily with previous companions. I did also like the fact that Clara's death is a result of her own choices. The Doctor can blame himself for his own mistakes, or be angry if someone else was at fault, but Clara died because she wanted to be like him. That's some deep trauma for the Doctor to deal with.
As for why I think this death was emotionally flat? Well, it basically comes down to the fact that this is approximately the 5th time we've seen Clara "die" on screen. Just off the top of my head: her first episode (as Oswin Oswald), her second episode (as the Victorian era nanny), falling into the time stream in The Name of the Doctor, and the first episode of this season, to name a few. Add to that all the mortal peril she's been in this season that came short of killing her and I'd been teased with it too much for it to really tug at my heartstrings. Sorry if that sounds cold, it took me a few days to sort out why I wasn't sadder, and that was what I came up with.
Hank: As I mentioned above, Amy and Rory's departure gets me every time. Personally, I think Clara just changed so much after Danny Pink's death she was no longer the companion I fell for. I mean, I understand the risk-taking behavior and all that but it's just how I feel. I think this is probably one of my least favorite exists, even Donna's memory wipe was more tragic and touching. Perhaps I'll feel differently in a few years, but as of right now I'm not a fan of Clara's demise.
Share your thoughts on Ashildr/Me's overall arc. How do you feel about her now?
Kathleen: I'm tempted to suggest throwing Ashildr into a black hole so she can hang out with the Beast from "The Impossible Planet." Has she had a tragic life? Certainly. More tragic than Jack Harkness? Not even close. Yet the good captain is NOT running around being a complete sociopath.
Tom: Bringing up Jack Harkness brings up something that's been bothering me about Ashildr. She keeps saying how she's got an unlimited life, but a limited memory because she's "only human", but isn't Jack Harkness also just a singleheart pinkmeat? He doesn't seem to have trouble remembering his past so that just adds to my feeling that Ashildr is using the excuse of forgetting her past to justify her crappy life choices. Every time we see her she is less and less sympathetic and another step closer to joining the pantheon of the Doctor's great enemies. As far as I'm concerned, harboring some of those enemies puts her there already.
Zach: I wonder if there's something to the fact that Ashildr was frozen in growth as a young girl. In theory, if the body is just going to stop growing or changing, as it appears because she has not aged, then her hormones would be the same as that of a teenager, right? That means more intense emotions, more melodrama, and even when acting intelligently, being more likely to seek the approval of others by doing crazy stuff. I still find her a very interesting character and I'd love to be able to keep visiting her in different spots throughout human time.
Hank: A black hole sounds good to me Kathleen! I was so excited that Maisie Williams was part of this season, then with each episode I disliked Ashildr more. I love the thought that she's frozen in time as a tween, that would explain so much Zach. However, she does seem to be scheming and filling Diagon Alley with the Doctor's enemies doesn't help her case at all. I wouldn't mind Ashildr/Me's immortality being cut short. Though it would be fun to see an immortal throughout different time periods in mankind's evolution, I'm not sure I like Ashildr/Me enough to care.
Who do you think is the "they" Ashildr/Me kept referring to?
Kathleen: There's a good chance that the Time Lords may be involved, which would be an intriguing turn of events. The last time the Doctor interacted with the Time Lords, they did not part on good terms. Rassilon, the leader of the High Council, was moments away from killing him when the Master intervened. I doubt that the High Council has much in the way of nice things to say to the Doctor after the events of "The End of Time." (It's also important to distinguish between the Time Lords and the Army, which is who we saw in "The Day of the Doctor".)
Tom: I really hope "they" are the Time Lords. I'm ready for some Gallifreyan drama, and would like to see where their society divides itself on how they view the Doctor. I'd be surprised if many others outside the High Council were angry with him and likely many of them will be on his side.
Zach: Not gonna argue with anyone. It's gotta be the High Council of Time Lords. The show needs a bit of a shake up and reintroducing a universe full of Time Lords is the perfect way to do it. Let's face it, a tenth year as the "last one of his kind" is risking the show's format going stale and one of Doctor Who's strengths is that it's designed to prevent getting stale in a way that no other show is. I think the High Council has been watching the Doctor and is no longer okay with how much he's mucking about in space and time and they're tired of waiting to hear his name. It's also been two seasons since we found out that Gallifrey was out there, so I think it's time to stop teasing us with it. BRING ON THE TIME LORDS, MOFFAT!
Hank: I'm thrilled I have you guys to enlighten me, you rock! I had no clue who Ashildr/Me was talking about, but the Time Lords makes perfect sense guys. If she's being manipulated by them, I may just see Ashildr as a more sympathetic character. I really want to like her, so that would be an interesting twist.
The Doctor was furious with Ashildr/Me. Will he keep his promise to Clara and steer clear of revenge?
Kathleen: It's possible he won't take revenge on Ashildr. I don't think his promise to Clara will stop him from unleashing the Eyebrows of Doom on whoever was actually behind it all. Remember that phrase, "Demons run when a good man goes to war"? This Doctor might not be a good man, but his enemies would be wise not to forget everything he's done over the millennia.
Tom: Did he promise to steer clear of revenge for what Ashildr has already done or for that plus anything she might do in the future? Now that Clara's gone (like I believe that!), if Ashildr runs afoul of the Doctor in the future I don't think she's necessarily safe from his wrath. At this point I kind of hope she ends up on the business end of the Doctor's sonic device-du-jour ... which I hope is not sunglasses.
Zach: I think the Doctor heard her about Ashildr and that prevented him from doing anything rash, in the moment. Once he calms down, I think he's smart enough to know that she's being used. He may try to clip her wings in some way, so that she doesn't have the power to do something like this again, but that's more calculated cleaning up of a problem, as opposed to angry revenge. But, assuming we're right about the Time Lords, I think the Doctor will absolutely be acting hostile to them, regardless of what their intentions are and this may cause a falling out with his people, instead of a thankful reconciliation.
Hank: It seems like the Doctor's got more important things to worry about than revenge. Someone else is clearly playing puppet master here and Ashildr/Me just got caught up in it all. She did mention in the episode she never expected Clara to pull something so stupid. While I'm not crazy about the character, redemption might make for a better endgame with Ashildr/Me. If she screws up again in the future, then off with her head!
Do you think we'll see Clara again in any way, shape or form by the finale?
Kathleen: Recall that line by River Song I quoted in the second Round Table question? "Everybody knows that everybody dies, and nobody knows it like the Doctor. But I do think that all the skies of all the worlds might just turn dark if he ever, for one moment, accepts it." So, yes. I am virtually certain we'll see at least one more Clara by the end of this season. For that matter, we may see her again at any point in the future! Not Clara-Prime, who has been his companion, but one or more of the echo-Claras scattered across time and space. Though she'd probably end up dead by the end of the episode...
Tom: We'll definitely see her again, if the cover of the Winter 2015 issue of Doctor Who Magazine is any indication. Coleman's on the cover dressed as a waitress in what looks like a 1950's American diner. Plus, as Kathleen pointed out, Clara's all over the Doctor's timeline so there's no reason she couldn't pop up repeatedly like the Paternoster Gang, River Song, et cetera. Besides, I've made it clear I think her death is a cheat and she'll be back in time for "Class" to begin. Now I'm going to hold my breath until that happens ...
Zach: Tom and Kathleen have got it covered this week. Yes, I think we will see her one more time this season. I imagine one of the time-stream Claras will have landed ahead of the timeline to help out number 12 and we'll get that here. But I'd say Clara-Prime (which is an awesome way to refer to her; kudos Kathleen) is gone (at least until the 55th anniversary special).
Hank: I had not seen the cover of the Doctor Who Magazine, but I did get the feeling Clara would pop up again this year. Since the echo-Claras (love that Kathleen) are all over the Doctor's timeline, she will inevitably resurface. Hopefully, they take the opportunity to impact the Doctor's storyline moving forward and Clara's appearance is not just some gimmick. I don't see her returning after this though, the Doctor's companion is gone. Let's meet the next companion already.
NOTE: Doctor Who Season 9 Episode 11 is titled "Heaven Sent" and airs on Saturday, November 28.