Thursday, May 23, 2013

Secrets that Must Never Be Told: The Name of the Doctor (1/3)

First of all,  this was one of the most explosive episodes I've seen in a while. Therefore, I'll be splitting this review into three parts: one for Clara's identity, one for the Doctor and River's relationship, and one for John Hurt's character. A fourth section may be necessary for other comments.

I blew into this world on a leaf. I'm still blowing. I don't think I'll ever land. I'm Clara Oswald. I'm the impossible girl. I was born to save the Doctor.
This section will analyse Clara's character, building on certain points from the previous post "Mysteries Worth Solving."  Once again, I apologize for any unintended ill will towards Clara as a replacement for the Ponds.  Anyway, the opening was a jaw-dropper, right from the get-go. Clara on Gallifrey. Clara seeing  Bessie. Clara in a guard uniform from Invasion of Time. I'd borrow the Once Upon a Time meme and say we've been Cora'd, but  as they all turned out to be her, it's not entirely correct.

At least I guessed part of it. When I saw the pillar of light in the trailer, I thought it would scatter Clara, creating echoes of her throughout time and space. On the other hand, I thought her comment "I was born to save the Doctor" meant she was a tool of the Silence, which she still could be, but that's a bit of stretch.
Am I satisfied with this reveal? Yes and no.  It's something different, not like River, where they keep meeting out of order, or Donna, who keeps running into him.  Instead, he meets two echoes first, only meeting the original and allowing the creation of said echoes afterwards.  On the other hand, it doesn't seem the natural conclusion to Clara's arc; there's no moment of AHA! after she leaps into the Doctor's timestream.

I actually think this plot would have been better served by an authorized novel than the TV series. While the modern tie-in novels are one-off adventures (I have some reviews posted),  this would have been a great plot to launch something like the Virgin New Adventures or Eighth Doctor Adventures for Eleven.  Those novels, published during the wilderness years of Doctor Who, had reoccurring characters and varying degrees of arcs--Compassion is one example. A member of an alien race know as the Remote, she undergoes various degrees of media manipulation before becoming a Type 104 TARDIS.  Something like that would have been the perfect medium for Clara's story--more time to explore her story,  more physiological insight, and the chance to insert scenes showing her with past Doctors, without the limitations of stock footage and replacement actors.

I also didn't feel a solid connection between Clara and Eleven for most of the season, so it surprised me that she was so willing to sacrifice herself.  I can think of maybe three non-family members I'd die for, and they're all people I feel I could tell anything to.  Would Clara really be willing to do that for the Doctor? Perhaps it would have made more sense if she'd done it to save the universe; stars were going out again, as the Great Intelligence's rewrite was erasing every world the Doctor had saved.  Maybe if we'd seen Earth disappearing, the whole world vanishing and Clara, at the Eye of the Storm, knowing everyone she knew would be gone otherwise... I couldn't see her doing that.

River would have. Without a doubt, River would have done that for him, if she'd been able to. But that's another post.

And what's next? If I remember correctly, JLC's contract is renewed for season eight.  Is he going to get her out? Or will he end up chasing her echoes through time and space forever? It would be amusing..."She died saving me. Again. Guess I'd better go find another one."

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