By T. Mack
A good friend and fellow Doctor Who fanatic recently informed me he was sitting down to re-watch Season 8 of the iconic sci-fi series. I immediately tried to dissuade him. I reminded him of the rage and pain he’d felt throughout his first viewing of it. I told him that no good could come from it. I explained that it would only make him angrier, grumpier and sadder. I even reminded him of the tragedies of the story-telling that I knew he’d made a point to block out.
“You don’t want to relive these things,” I said. “They were painful. You blocked them out for a reason.”
Even so, he pushed forward. Over the course of the next five days, I received a series of text messages filled with despair and rage over the storyline, the missed opportunities, the wasted characters and the tragic handling of our beloved television series. I don’t think I refrained from issuing at least one, “I told you so.” He asked me who was to blame for the mess that was Season 8. I answered swiftly and succinctly… Steven Moffat.
Now, allow me to clarify. I actually like Steven Moffat. I think he weaves great stories and makes good television. I am, after all, a Whovian as well as being totally, utterly Sherlocked. However, he tends to dump all over his own work by creating rules, then breaking them. He writes himself into corners, then turns everything upside down and on its head in the most ridiculous and illogical ways to get himself out of it. It leaves fans confused, frustrated and hesitant to trust him the next time around. And that’s saying a lot when you consider just how ridiculous and illogical the entire premise of Doctor Who is anyway.
Be warned. There are…
But this is not just about Moffat. That’s a rant for another day. Nor is this a review of the pitiful and weak Season 8, which come to think of it, is something I should write before the Season 9 premiere next month. However, this rant comes directly from those topics. This is about Clara Oswald in Season 8 of Doctor Who… Specifically, the need for her exit and the missed opportunity to send her on her way with grace, elegance and style.
Most Doctor Who fans basically agree that Season 8 was a hot mess, for various reasons. A big part of that was Clara Oswald, who was a wonderful companion for the young, energetic, heart-throbbing Eleventh Doctor, played by Matt Smith. And while it often makes sense for a companion to cross over Doctors, especially to help audiences cope with a drastic personality change, it didn’t pan out well this time around. Clara’s firlty, slightly-and-semi-romantic-but-not-quite relationship with Smith’s Doctor did not translate over with Peter Capaldi’s older, more curmudgeon-y Doctor. The characters understood this and attempted to find their footing by figuring out the dynamic of their new relationship, but they found it difficult.
There was too much personal, semi-romantic history to create a firm, father-daughter dynamic. They might have created a mentor/mentee relationship except that Clara is too outspoken and independent for that as she doesn’t really listen to the Doctor. Besides which, Capaldi’s new Doctor is too mean to be a mentor anyway. I suppose you could call them best friends, but that kind of didn’t fit, either, as their relationship was too strained by uncertainty and a fair amount of distrust. With all these possibilities eliminated, they were left with an awkward, undefined dynamic that was neither romantic nor completely platonic. Then to make matters so much worse, Clara got a new boyfriend whom the Doctor despised. That’s when everything seemed to go quickly to Hell. The Doctor was what could only be described as jealous. The boyfriend thought the Doctor was Clara’s father, then after finding out that wasn’t the case, spent the entire season trying to figure out what they actually were… just like the audience. He asked Clara and she couldn’t explain. So then she began “seeing” both men and lying to both about the other. Seriously, she was “cheating” on her boyfriend with the Doctor and “cheating” on the Doctor with her boyfriend. The character was exhausted, the men were upset and the audience was exasperated.
By mid-season, it was pretty clear to many of us that Clara needed to go. It simply wasn’t working out any more and it was time to for her to say goodbye. So we began wishing and hoping and praying that Season 8 would be her last. It’s what we wanted for Christmas. Then Santa showed up on the Doctor Who Christmas special and we thought he’d come to bring us what we’d requested. And he did! And it was beautiful! We were so surprised when the Doctor went to pick up Clara and found an old woman in her place. He was late, as he often is and Clara had lived a life filled with adventure and romance, but without him. She was happy and content and so were we. She was on her way out. And what an exit! Even as we’d been hoping for it, we were caught off guard. Clara’s ending, like nearly all companion endings, was sad and heartbreaking in that wonderful way Doctor Who tends to be. It was elegant, mature and graceful. It was actually quite a perfect ending to the season and the character. For the first time in months, we were incredibly happy with the choice Steven Moffat had made for the character of Clara Oswald.
Then, Moffat totally “Moffatted” the whole thing up! He treated the entire scene like an un-funny prank. He was like a 6-year-old who scares his mother to death by pretending he was hit by a car then jumps up and yells, “Psych!”
UM… THAT SH!T IS NOT FUNNY!
After the heartwarming conclusion to Clara’s story, the Doctor steps into the TARDIS, goes back and wakes her up earlier. “Look you guys… none of that happened! She’s young again and can bring their awkward chemistry and unnecessary melodrama along to Season 9. Isn’t that great?”
Well… NO! No, it isn’t, Steven! We’re over it. That was absolutely beautiful, you bastard! Why in the frack would you undo that? Also… really? I mean, REALLY?! You couldn’t go back to a different year and get Amy and Rory, but you went back for Clara?! We all call BS! I haven’t been on the “Moffatt’s-gotta-go” bandwagon, but you’re a bastard for this, dude! Seriously. I want to punch you in the face over this mess. It’s months later and I’m still pissed! Please do me a favor during Season 9… GET YOUR SH!T TOGETHER!
There is a whole lot more to rant about for Season 8 of Doctor Who. But I’ll refrain from that at this time. For now, I just needed to get this one thing off my chest. For months I’ve held it in. But it was time to let it out. Clara needed to go last season. And she was given a beautiful, poignant conclusion only to have it snatched away in an act of immaturity and indecisiveness. I suspect Moffat knew Clara needed to go. He must have known the people wanted it. So he showed us what it would have been then did what he wanted anyway. Why bother showing it to us if you’re just going to take it away? Either listen to what we tell you and give us what we want or simply say no. Don’t dangle things then snatch them away. That’s childish. Grow up, Steven!
*DEEP BREATH* End rant.
Are you a DW fan? Do you think it’s time for Clara Oswin Oswald to be gone? Do you agree that a great opportunity was missed? Or do you think I’m crazy? Did you love the season? If so, tell me what you dug about it. I’d love to hear your thoughts.