A Rant About ‘Doctor Who’ & Clara Oswin Oswald

By T. Mack

CLARA1

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…

CLARA_SPOILERS

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.

CLARA2

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.

CLARA3

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.

CLARA4

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?”

CLARA_WHAT

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.

CLARA_FINE

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.

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12 thoughts on “A Rant About ‘Doctor Who’ & Clara Oswin Oswald

  1. I think Clara needs to go as well. I thought it after the first episode with CP. She helped introduce him, but then….she just irritated me.

    “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!”

    Amy and Rory being sent back in time by the angels created a fixed point, something that could not be changed. They would always be sent back by the angel in every version of reality. And since their new lives began at a fixed point, everything after that was fixed as well. The Doctor could not go back. As for Clara, there was no fixed point to worry about, he could go back and get her — he just shouldn’t have. That ending, the one they gave Clara the first time, was probably the best ending of any of the companions. It was peaceful, full of life, full of memories, and positive. It was amazing. None of the other companions in the reboot got that kind of treatment.

    ROSE: Time zapped to another reality where their goodbye burns out a star and is cut-off mid-sentence leaving her heart broken. Yes, they later give her the DoctorDonna-Doctor, but he comes to her broken like Ecclesten, just in the body of the Doctor she loved. I don’t see it being an easy future for her.
    MARTHA: She sacrificed herself (and her family) for him a million times. Each time she did, she fell a little more in love with him. She left because she knew he could never love her back, and she left broken-hearted. Later, we find that she found love with Micky/Ricky, so that too was a little bitter-sweet.
    DONNA: She got everything she ever wanted while traveling with the Doctor. He literally made every one of her dreams come true. She traveled, saved worlds, was a hero a hundred times over, saw things no one would ever believe, weaved in and out of those far-away stars her and her grandfather loved to watch so much, she was needed/wanted/important to the Doctor – a feeling she never had at home, and she became the smartest human alive for one episode, and that was going to kill her. Against her wishes, the Doctor wiped her mind, effectively erasing all of the things that Donna did during her time with the Doctor, and putting her right back where she had been when he found her: her dreams never to be fulfilled. Later, she was getting married and her gift from the Doctor was a winning lottery ticket purchased by a quid borrowed from her dead father. A little bitter-sweet there, but still not a good ending for that character.
    AMY/RORY: They were able to remember what had transpired during the time with the Doctor, but they knew they could never see him again when zapped back. They gave up their Doctor, their families, their lives, and their daughter just to be together. That one was at least bitter-sweet.
    CLARA: Had all of her memories, saved the Doctor a billion times over, jumped into his time-stream to save him again, found love and lost it, had a family, everything. She was just an old woman when he found her… but he insisted on doing for her what he never did for Amelia Pond (until it suited the story-line) — he went back to the little girl who waited for him. He tucked her in and told her stories to make her remember him, but he didn’t take her with him as promised. But with Clara, he decided the life that she lived, the life and loves that she had were not important — instead he took her and changed that history for her. Her companionship has not yet come to a close, but the one they gave her already was better than any one of the other companions, and that didn’t matter. She came back to undo all that she had managed to accomplish in her long life post-Doctor. pfft

    Liked by 1 person

    • It really was a fantastic ending for her character. I hadn’t even cinsidered that it was the best yet of any of the new age companions. I agree with you there. Even though it was slightly tragic–as all companion exits typically are–erasing it was the bigger tragedy. Thanks so much for your sharing your thoughts Marla.

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      • The tragedy is not inherent in all of the companion exits is less in the way, but the why. It never feels like the right time for them to go. You never want to see the Doctor without a companion. And if the actor is good enough, you FEEL his loss. In the case of Clara, that ending was far from tragic, it was a beautiful send-off for a woman The Doctor loved and owed so much to. Taking her away from that life, going back for her, was more tragic then anything else. He took from her something that she wanted, just as he did with DoctorDonna. HE made it tragic- with Donna he had to because her life was at stake, with Clara he did it because he was selfish.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I think the fact that we feel the loss of the companions makes them each a kind of tragic. But I agree that the most well-done ones are absolutely beautiful as well. It seems we are definitely in agreement about Clara’s. It was a wonderful ending that was then snatched away from both the character and the audience. To me, it was just one of many missteps during season 8. I’m hoping that season 9 will see the show return to solid footing.

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      • 100% agreement there.

        I do have a theory though…PC is unfamiliar in a big way to a huge portion of the fan-base. Most people remember Tom Baker (if they watched it back then), but a majority of Who fans, especially in America, had no idea about Doctor Who until sometime between DT’s last season and MS tenure. So for them, the Doctor is always <45 and will always be male. They hinted in The Doctor's Wife that regenerations are not gender specific, and then they made it clear with Missy. However, the Nü Whü fan base got a massive shock when the child-like Doctor was suddenly a grumpy old man with cross eyebrows. To help ease that shock for the audience they kept Clara which was both a good and bad move. Clara (as all companions do), voiced our initial objections, and forced the Doctor to prove to her (despite her first hand witnessing) that he was really the Doctor. A few episodes in, the shock wore off, but her character started to change into someone less fun and more "no talking in class". At that point, she was no longer helping the audience adjust to the new Doctor, instead, she was actually making it difficult for the audience to connect with him because she wasn't connecting with him. And Danny Pink, although a great character, also helped to take away some of the mystique around the Doctor, because Clara was lying to both at one point, making the Doctor come across as a jealous and possessive type of a person. It didn't suit him. So yeah, she was the perfect companion for the first few episodes because she had to get to know him and so did we, but after a while she became a distraction that was stifling PC's attempts to make the Doctor his own; the harder she digs her heels in, the more he has to pull her, the less the audience is willing to follow.I think Moffat was simply trying to find a way to get the audience to accept PC and he did that with Clara, then he realized that Clara wasn't doing what he intended her to and wrote her a lovely exit, but Jenna Coleman wanted to stay on the show, so they kept her (IMHO to the detriment of the show as a whole).

        Liked by 1 person

  2. The thing is, had that been her last episode, the ending would’ve been the same as The Angels Take Manhattan. Which meant, there had to be some continuation for it not be a repeat of that. Which also meant that potential ending was undermined anyway. So he wrote himself into two alternatives that doesn’t work either way.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love Clara so much and all my friends disliked her when she first became a companion. I think she had some beautiful moments in Season 8, but I absolutely get your point!
    S8 was totally out of balance. I often felt like Clara got more screen time and was put in the spotlight rather than the Doctor, who we really needed to get to know. I wasn’t that bothered by their relationship being difficult to define, I liked that they had to figure that out. But the Christmas episode would have been such a nice closure for Clara and Twelve. I know that Steven only wrote her back in again, because Jenna Coleman changed her mind about leaving the show pretty much last minute, but if Doctor Who taught me anything, it’s that sometimes change is necessary no matter how much you like the character.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I also loved Clara when she arrived. I thought she was a great companion… spunky, energetic and up for anything. But we’re on the same page that things fell apart in Season 8. And you’re so right about change being necessary sometimes.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Nah! True Whovians have to take the bad with the good. Anyway, you have to be able to discuss with the rest of us WHY season 8 was so bad. So… Unfortunately, you should charge through it. I look forward to reading your thoughts on it. I’ll be sure to check out your Season One review!

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