In what has been one of the strongest seasons to date for Doctor Who, it is perhaps fitting that the best episode since last year’s “Listen” was reserved for Clara Oswald’s farewell.
Clara: “You. Now, you listen to me. You’re going to be alone now, and you’re very bad at that. You’re going to be furious and you’re going to be sad, but listen to me. Don’t let this change you. No, listen. Whatever happens next… wherever she is sending you, I know what you’re capable of. You don’t be a warrior. Promise me. Be a Doctor.”
But to appreciate just how momentous that statement is, let us rewind back. Back to a clever girl named Oswin Oswald, trapped in a Dalek, and so clever and strong, she could take down an entire prison planet of that species. The roll forward to sharp-witted governess name Clara Oswin, who lived a double life, and also died before her time. And then to Clara Oswald, who found herself flattened into a two-dimensional plot device, and often portrayed as demanding, arrogant and carelessly disrespectful with the Doctor’s time. (That line where Matt Smith snaps at her to just learn how to use the iPlayer already sticks with me.) Even post Series 7, when Capaldi came on board, and Clara’s characterization became noticeably better, that arrogant streak never left. Said arrogance was what drove her to live a double life on Earth and in the TARDIS, lying constantly to Danny, and even at points stepping into the Doctor’s shoes as if she belonged there. The most notable episode where that happened was “Flatline” where Rigsy became the companion to her “Doctor Clara.” It is not surprising, then, that the show chose to bring back Rigsy for Clara’s last episode.
We should also note that this episode opened with the same “The Doctor and Clara were just in the middle of having an Adventure when…” trope that we saw in the episode where Ashildr was first introduced. The show has made a point of playing up how reckless Clara has become this season, with Danny dead, and the adventure we just missed out on made sure to emphasize that. It’s also not an accident that tonight’s episode saw her hanging out of the TARDIS over London the way she once saw the 11th Doctor do in the 50th Anniversary episode. She really does believe herself to be The Doctor’s equal at this point, even though Missy point-blank explained that she is, in fact, just “the puppy.” She thinks she can clever her way out of anything, and that she’s studied and proved her mettle. That arrogance that first arrived with her way back when, and has always been a hallmark of her character tonight proved her downfall.
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