Warning: This review contains spoilers of the largest proportions. Do not read on unless you have seen this week’s episode and faced the raven.
Well that was it. In a surprise move, episode ten seems to be the definitive end for Jenna Coleman’s Clara Oswald. In Doctor Who’s revival years we have seen many companions come and go but never this abruptly and never this shocking. With two episodes to go and Doctor Who’s track record for side-stepping death, perhaps we should hold our breath but it really looks like Clara is properly dead. Ashildr’s premonition back in “The Woman who Lived” (“She’ll blow away like smoke Doctor”) came to pass as Clara met her end to a deadly winged shade.
Whilst Clara’s swansong is the biggest talking point of the episode it has to be said that debut writer Sarah Dollard has delivered one of the best episodes of the revival so far. On the strength of this episode I’d love to see more from her next series. The idea of trap-streets is a stroke of genius and was an impressive location with inevitable comparisons to Diagon Alley. There was so much packed into this episode but it never buckled under the pressure. It juggled returning characters, its own ideas and themes and Clara’s exit perfectly in its forty-five minute runtime.
Though it may take a second to remember who he is, Rigsy fits into the story effortlessly. Having encountered Clara in last years “Flatline” where the Doctor spent most of his time trapped inside a tiny TARDIS, Clara is essentially Rigsy’s Doctor. His countdown-clock tattoo leading to impending death is another of Dollard’s ingenious ideas adding a real sense of foreboding danger. The Doctor’s reaction to Rigsy’s child was priceless “did you make this human?” but it also has tragic undertones. The Doctor and Clara have to save him or this baby will be growing up without a dad.
Maisie Williams shows up once again as the increasingly hard to read “Me.” We reach phase-three of the character which really shows how impressive the acting is to give us three such distinct takes on the same person. This time she is full-on antagonist and clicks into place in some larger plot arc involving some unnamed enemies. I sense the next few episodes are going to be juicy with confession dials, hybrids and possibly Gallifrey?
Clara’s recklessness reaches boiling point on their mission as we all knew it would soon. She’s spent enough time with the Doctor to understand his gameplan and get a grasp of the rules. Taking the death sentence from Rigsy was a very Doctor thing to do but unfortunately humans only get one life to lose. Her death was incredibly moving and something to applaud in a family drama. How the show deals with the aftermath is going to be interesting. I have to say I’m totally captivated with the narrative. Peter Capaldi may very well be the best actor we’ve ever had in the role of the Doctor and in the next two episodes there’s a huge potential for him to show his greatness once again.
Clara we’ll miss you if this is the end of your story. The character has undergone such a transformation from plot-device impossible girl to heart of the show and the Doctor’s conscience. As fans we will grieve but moving on it’s hard to remember a more exciting time to be a fan of the show.