Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Thinking About Doctor Who

Last week's episode had quite a few people wanting to throw things at Stephen Moffatt (The episode, perhaps surprisingly, was written by Sarah Dollard and was her first Doctor Who episode - which makes me think we have not seen Clara Oswald's final appearance - would Moffatt hand her real exit to somebody else? I think not).

We have two episodes of season 9 left - Heaven Sent and Hell Bent. But Face the Raven contained something the new series may or may not have seen.

The death of a Companion.

(I say may or may not because some people consider River Song to be a Companion, and she "died" in Forest of the Dead. I would argue that the Doctor's wife is not a Companion).

And, as a lot of people reacted, the "senseless, meaningless" death of a Companion.

To which I'd answer:

Yes.

Clara did die stupidly. She died because she took a risk.

But more than that, she died because she tried to be the Doctor.

And I realized that this is now something of a theme.

Donna Noble's exit happened after she mind melded with the Doctor - and he had to wipe her memory of him to save her life. In Journey's End, we are explicitly told that a human/Time Lord fusion cannot happen. She could not be the Doctor.

Clara was trying very, very hard to be like him. She impersonates him in Flatline, briefly, and she has to act as him while he's trapped in a broken TARDIS. It's partly his fault. In Kill The Moon, the Doctor ducks the responsibility for a terrible moral quandary by pushing it off onto her.

For the entire of season 8, though, Clara was trying to build her life. Then, she loses the man she loves.

And throws herself into trying to be the Doctor. "Clara Oswald never existed" is a chilling line, but so is "Perhaps this is what I wanted."

Clara tries to become an extension of the Doctor. She dies because she does what she thinks he would have done; and because she insists on doing it without telling him.

It's a stupid death. But it fits the theme.

Moffatt has been saying to us since he took over "The Doctor is not somebody you want to be." The Doctor is somebody you want on your side, somebody you respect, but also somebody you fear. He's walking the line between hero and monster.

And Clara's last act is to keep him on the right side of that line, reminding us that the Companion serves an important purpose in the Doctor's life. He's not human. He needs humanity - and again, because he's not human, he can only get it through somebody else.

The Mayor is a chilling reminder of that in her own way; no longer human (by the Doctor's act), with memory problems (remember Donna), and losing touch with her own conscience (which is why, rumors aside, I don't believe she can be the next Companion, as much as Capaldi apparently loves working with Maisie Williams. Who is, in any case, busy).

Don't be the Doctor. Appreciate him, value him, but if you think about this: The Companions that had the best lives after him were the ones who tried to be the best them they could be.

Martha Jones is a classic example, although she had her own "be the Doctor" moment in Journey's End when she bluffed as beautifully as he ever has. But Martha Jones doesn't try to be the Doctor. She tries to be a really good Martha Jones.

I think that's a pretty good message to send. Don't be your heroes. Let your heroes show you how to be you.

Finally, my theory as to the identity of the next Companion. (I know, I'm going on and on and demonstrating why I always have to be moderated on Doctor Who panels).

First of all, it's not Ashildr/Me/The Mayor. Nope. That rumor appears to have come from Peter Capaldi saying how much fun Maisie Williams was to work with. For one thing, Williams is still busy working on another show. For another, the Doctor himself has said they'd be bad for each other.

But I do have a theory as to who it is.

Face the Raven starts when Rigsy calls the emergency TARDIS phone, a number Clara gave him after they worked together in Flatline (the first time Clara tries to be the Doctor). He was her Companion.

The Doctor materializes the TARDIS in Rigsy's home and there we see a baby in a cradle.

Now, one character trait of the Doctor is he treats children with every bit the same respect as he treats adults. Including babies.

But his reaction to little Lucy is...interesting. His comment that she's "Brilliant" might, on the face of it, appear to be the Doctor's normal disgust with people who call babies cute, but there's a look of realization in his eyes when he looks at her. And he actually suggests bringing her along, then thinks better of it.

Clara doesn't take Rigsy's place for Rigsy. She takes it for Lucy, so she won't have to grow up without a father.

My theory is:

The next companion is Lucy.