Doctor Who Review by John Keegan

Doctor Who 9.10: Face the Raven

Doctor Who 9.10: Face the Raven

Written By:
Sarah Dollard
Directed By:
Justin Molotnikov

Throughout the ninth series, there has been a consistent message regarding Clara and her mindset: she had adopted, more and more, The Doctor’s somewhat reckless means of resolving crises.  She was uber-confident in his (and her) ability to find a last-minute solution to cheat death or achieve victory.  Sooner or later, that was going to exact a terrible price, and that moment arrives in “Face the Raven”. 

Perhaps I simply exist within a bubble of pro-Clara fandom, but I was surprised to find that her death was greeted with loud cheering by a number of Whovians.  And by loud, I mean Adric-level happiness at her death, which was similarly self-sacrificial in nature.  I don’t get the hate at all, especially when other Modern Era companions have been far more cloying in their presentation of Importance.  And this is also the first companion in quite some time to receive a definitive death.

What makes Clara’s death all the more tragic is that it merely serves to be a footnote in a larger scheme of betrayal on Ashildr’s part.  It seems rather obvious that Missy is going to be the author of The Doctor’s current pain, but that overlooks his own part in weaving this particular web of despair.  The Doctor created the problem that is Ashildr, The Doctor taught Clara how to be so foolish and reckless, and The Doctor is terrible at consequence management.  It all adds up to a no-win scenario for Clara.    

Adding to that is the realization that Clara’s death might have been avoided, if she hadn’t come to the conclusion by now that consulting The Doctor is unnecessary.  She’s allowed his distracted mental state to convince her that taking action and asking questions later is perfectly OK.  She’s cheated death enough to believe it’s a foregone conclusion that it will happen again.  The end of the episode strongly suggests that The Doctor could have easily warned her not to take that course of action.

On the other hand, doesn’t Clara bring it all together in the end, confirming that the traumatic events of the eighth series finale drove her towards a self-destructive path?  It’s going way too far to suggest that Clara was attempting “suicide by Doctor by proxy”, but certainly she was tempting fate and maybe hoping, sooner or later, she’d lose.  Looking back, it makes a bit of sense that Clara would break after enduring so much, and The Doctor would be the last one to realize it.  And now he’ll have to live with that, after lecturing Ashildr and others on the weight of surviving the death of loved ones.

It opens the door for more criticism towards Moffat regarding his treatment of female characters; after all, the timing suggests that this will be less about Clara and more about The Doctor in the end.  But I would argue that the entire ninth series to date has been exploring Clara’s psychological shift.  It’s been about both of them.  And now it will be about what happens when you make Twelve very, very angry. We were also given another reminder that The Doctor doesn’t fare so well when he’s alone, and adding this much anger to the mix is unlikely to end well for his current enemies.

Our Grade:
The Good:
  • Clara received the final moments that she deserved
  • The character arcs for the ninth series have been the best in quite some time
The Bad:
  • In some respects, Clara’s death is more about the impact on The Doctor than her own story

John Keegan aka "criticalmyth", is one of the hosts of the "Critical Myth" podcast heard here on VOG Network's radio feed Monday, Wednesday & Friday. You can follow him on twitter at @criticalmyth

Doctor Who by - 11/23/2015 8:13 AM155 views

Your Responses

Registered Participants can leave their own Concurring/Dissenting Opinion and receive Points and Loot! Why not sign in and add your voice?


Log in to add your own voice and receive points by leaving good comments other users like!