Doctor Who: Face The Raven
November 21, 2015 1:17 PM - Season 9, Episode 10 - Subscribe

The Doctor and Clara, with their old friend Rigsy, find themselves in a magical alien world, hidden on a street in the heart of London. Sheltered within are some of the most fearsome creatures of the universe, and Ashildr! With a death sentence hanging over their heads, not all of the intruders will get out alive.
posted by fearfulsymmetry (89 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
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Very Harry Potter, very Neil Gaiman
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 1:18 PM on November 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


More than a bit of the troll market from Hellboy too I think.
posted by sobarel at 1:41 PM on November 21, 2015 [3 favorites]


The moral of the story is to always read the terms and conditions.
posted by FallowKing at 4:17 PM on November 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


That was a remarkably well written episode (although, I am curious about how much of a polish Moffat did on the script), but why would Cybermen need asylum?

And, can it be next week yet? I want to see if my suspicions about this all happening before the Young Davros Adventures are confirmed.
posted by Mezentian at 5:54 PM on November 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


That was extraordinary. I have no idea what it was. In fact, that I don't know what it was was, perhaps (after fifty years), the most extraordinary thing about it.
posted by Grangousier at 5:58 PM on November 21, 2015


The io9 recap I just added says "the Doctor...is then whisked away to some horrible other place. Only Rigsy is left behind—and even though the alien sanctuary usually wipes people’s memories using the amnesia drug Retcon before allowing them to leave, Rigsy is apparently allowed to remember what’s happened, because he turns the Doctor’s abandoned TARDIS into a beautiful shrine to Clara."

Wait, what? Did I miss something?
posted by wintersweet at 7:43 PM on November 21, 2015


It was after the credits, wintersweet.
posted by bettafish at 7:49 PM on November 21, 2015


There's an extra scene after the credits.
posted by Coaticass at 7:50 PM on November 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


Oops, should have previewed.

That link to the io9 review is borked, by the way.
posted by Coaticass at 7:52 PM on November 21, 2015


the Doctor...is then whisked away to some horrible other place.

Heaving behind the teleport bracelet.
What was up with that?

(And would it have killed them to make it a little more Liberator?)
posted by Mezentian at 7:56 PM on November 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


Oops, the link should work now. And thanks.
posted by wintersweet at 7:58 PM on November 21, 2015


Someone on io9 suggested the refuge Cyberman might be Kroton.

I endorse this idea.
posted by Mezentian at 8:33 PM on November 21, 2015 [3 favorites]


Writers take note. This lost so much heft just by virtue of not being able to trust this show. The only thing I could think of was "If she doesn't die this time I'm going to lose. my. shit." Instead of being able to enjoy it. I still wasn't able to buy in emotionally and believe it, even now. Maybe I never will. Uggghhhh I don't want to feel this way! I want to be in tears. Instead I'm still getting ready to lose. my. shit. when it turns out she's still alive.

I liked the ending with the mural though. I feel like the TARDIS would also appreciate it.

"I'm less breakable than you. I should have taken care of you."
"I never asked you to."
"You shouldn't have to ask!"

I really liked this exchange, both because the Doctor is absolutely right finally, and a little glimpse of the emotionally competent Doctor I miss. (Even though the phrasing "taken care of (someone)" seems to be mostly used in bad contexts nowadays, no?)

Also finally a mention of "Heal yourself" which I thought originally was the answer to "Why this face?" As in "Save yourself this time, like that other guy you saved once".
posted by bleep at 8:40 PM on November 21, 2015 [6 favorites]


Was there any advance word this was Coleman's last episode? When the other companions left we had ample notice so we knew which episode would be their final one, which kind of killed the suspense but gave things real weight because it put a ticking clock on their departure. I only knew Coleman was leaving this season and not this particular episode, so I kept expecting a fake-out death. It sapped most of the emotion of it, because I kept thinking, "If they're going THIS big for another dead Clara fake-out, how are they going to top it when she really leaves?" Clara was marked with a LITERAL ticking clock, but I didn't take it that seriously because Clara is always dying.

I think Danny Pink's death was a lot more affecting than Clara's, because it was pretty clear he was really gone. With Clara I kept expecting a reprieve and it wasn't until she hit the ground that I bought that this was probably an actual death.

Assuming she is really dead, it seems kind of random. I guess it pays off on the thing where Clara was getting more and more reckless, and she took a big risk here and it blew up in her face. But various people have mentioned all the "hybrid" stuff this season and I was sure that was going to be part of Clara's exit somehow, that she'd become part Time Lord or she'd end up part alien monster or something hybrid-y. (Maybe the hybrid stuff was more subtly referencing Clara becoming sort of a hybrid of herself and the Doctor, but I was expecting a bigger payoff frankly.) I also would've bet that Danny Pink would be involved somehow in Clara's last story, that Clara would go off into space heaven with him or she'd have a vision of him or something.

People have complained about the music being obtrusive on the show, but this was the first episode in a long time where it just seemed LOUD to me. I could still make out the dialogue, but when the music is that noticeable it's a problem.

In the scenes for next time, the Doctor didn't really call somebody offscreen "Kinda", did he?
posted by Ursula Hitler at 10:23 PM on November 21, 2015


I remember that Coleman's departure was supposed to be sometime before the end of the season, but had no idea which episode.

As for Clara's death, I was reminded a bit of Icarus.
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:40 PM on November 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


If this is really it, I think it could have been a fantastic choice (if they hadn't cried wolf too many times). And a realistic portrayal of how a series events can get out of control and cumulate in a horrible result. And this time there would be no pleasing epilogue coming.
posted by bleep at 10:45 PM on November 21, 2015 [3 favorites]


Was there any advance word this was Coleman's last episode?

I guessed is a few weeks back, because it was implicit in the synopsis, but I believe they discussed in on Norton or something during the week, so it did get a smidge spoiled.
posted by Mezentian at 10:54 PM on November 21, 2015


Interview with first time Who writer Sarah Dollard- Part 1; Part 2.
posted by Coaticass at 11:31 PM on November 21, 2015


In the scenes for next time, the Doctor didn't really call somebody offscreen "Kinda", did he?

I thought he said something like that at first but after watching it again he actually says "If you were any part of killing her..." with a very angry look on his face.

I liked Clara and this was an odd way to take her out of the show, it almost felt like she was just thrown away casually to set up whatever is about to happen with the doctor. However, it did give us quietly wrathful 12th which was a glorious thing to behold.

"I'll do my best. But I strongly advise you to keep out of my way."

Capaldi managed to seem very, very scary in that scene. I think we can rule out Me/Ashildr as a companion for the near future.

So whomever made the deal with Ashildr knew about the confession dial and had a way to acquire it. So are we finally going to see Gallifrey? Or was the heavy hinting that the Time Lords were behind all of this a red herring? I honestly do not know if they want to bring them back at this point considering we have had 9 seasons without them actually being around. And nothing in the preview gave any clue as to where he was or who he was actually talking to. I suppose it could be Missy but we left her with the Daleks and I would hate to see them again so soon. They are already diluted to the point of being completely non-threatening.

I wonder if they are going to dangle the Gallifrey/hybrid thing around for the next two or three seasons like they have done with a few things over the years. It doesn't seem that interesting.
posted by weretable and the undead chairs at 1:42 AM on November 22, 2015


People have complained about the music being obtrusive on the show, but this was the first episode in a long time where it just seemed LOUD to me. I could still make out the dialogue, but when the music is that noticeable it's a problem.

During Clara death scene, probably because it was so foreshadowed and drawn out, all I was thinking was 'Murray's put in some overtime here'

Incidentally I started reading the Tardis Vault at the start of this series (breezy history of the show - with lots and lots of photographs of costumes, props, merchandise etc) and one thing I noticed was a quote by RTD that the loudness of the music was a deliberate decision in order to compete with the very loud 'shiny floor shows' like Ant and Dec that were being broadcast when the show started, especially for viewers that were channel surfing across.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:00 AM on November 22, 2015


Friend's warned me that the BBC's press release for next week's show has a massive spoiler in it.

This was after googling something re the show and the very first entry was from the Daily Torygraph with the headline 'Dr Who: Face The Raven - Clara Dies'. (It as after I had watched, otherwise I'd have been slightly dis-chuffed even though it was kinda obvious it was coming soon)
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:04 AM on November 22, 2015


quote by RTD that the loudness of the music was a deliberate decision in order to compete with the very loud 'shiny floor shows'

What does this even mean?
I am baffled.
posted by Mezentian at 3:29 AM on November 22, 2015


Doctor Who currently airs right after Strictly Come Dancing on BBC1, which I suppose is about as loud, shiny and floor-based a show as you could get. Even catching the last few minutes before Who starts leaves you with tinnitus and a general sense that maybe global thermonuclear warfare wouldn't be so terrible after all.
posted by sobarel at 4:55 AM on November 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


'Shiny Floor Shows' is a catch-all term for several types of television show that are / were popular on early Saturday nights... undemanding physical quiz shows, competition shows like X Factor / Pop Idol and variety shows like the aforementioned Ant and Dec and Strictly. They are studio based with shiny floors, bright lights and a revved up audience and tend to be very very raucous. RTD wanted something that would fit in with that.

There was/is drama on a Sat night - hello Casualty - but it was on later. Ironically they have pushed Who into that slot, so perhaps don't' feel it has to be so loud.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 5:34 AM on November 22, 2015


I don't understand why companions need to die (or otherwise be permanently exiled) in order to leave the show. There's such a heavy preoccupation with death on this show. It's like nothing can happen unless death is somehow involved. Oh well...

Sad to see Clara gone, even though I knew it was coming. Her character was especially strong this series, and really added to the fun.

How did Clara know how to release the Chronolock and move it to herself? I don't recall anyone giving her specific instructions. I only recall her being told that the Chronolock could be passed-on, but I don't recall actual instructions for it.

I have an issue with otherwise clever and smart characters suddenly doing something "very stupid" and justifying it with seriously broken logic that is far below their established intelligence. Like Clara taking the Chronolock because she's supposedly protected from harm. Or, the Doctor sticking his arm inside a machine with a lock only his Tardis key can open...Hello? Obvious trap here.

Overall, though, it was a really good episode (Murray's overbearing death scene orchestration notwithstanding) Gonna miss Clara, though.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:35 AM on November 22, 2015


That was the first one I've really liked in a long time. I'm hoping it's not Missy behind the trap Ashildr set for the Doctor, but if it wasn't her it was probably Davros, so that's more Daleks either way--and at this point they're actually less threatening than almost any new monster that shows up.

I'd have to join the anti-Murray Gold chorus. I think his work, like the Daleks, actually does the opposite of what it's meant to: in his case, it jars me out of the story and makes me aware of the emotion that the producers were aiming for, rather than leaving me actually feeling it.
posted by johnofjack at 8:27 AM on November 22, 2015


Or, the Doctor sticking his arm inside a machine with a lock only his Tardis key can open...Hello? Obvious trap here.


It was an obvious trap, but the Doctor was compelled to fall into it as there was no route around. He needed to get the 'murdered' mother alien out of the stasis pod in time to show that Rigsy wasn't a murderer before his counter ran to zero (he didn't know it had moved to Clara at that point). Ashildr had disappeared with her key so he couldn't use that.
posted by biffa at 8:32 AM on November 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


He needed to get the 'murdered' mother alien out of the stasis pod in time to show that Rigsy wasn't a murderer before his counter ran to zero...

So, apparently the Sonic Raybans are useless for disabling machinery?
The show seems quite adept at making the Sonic{whatever} all-conquering except at the very moment it really is needed.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:42 AM on November 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yeah I mean when they showed the lock I was like "Oh good, a lock! If there's one thing the Doctor is good with, it's opening locks easily!" Then I was like o_0
posted by bleep at 8:55 AM on November 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


I don't mind Clara dying but the long drawn-out thing with the awful Murray Gold super loud music and the death porn loving gaze on her saint-like body--I really enjoyed most of this episode but I had that same horrible feeling I had during the whole of the last Tennant special and at the end of S2 when Rose was banished and it was SO TRAGIC. I am ready for a companion to just leave and have it be okay.

Also while I understand the fact that the Doctor could have handled Clara better and I have always been one for saying the Doctor has what he now calls a duty of care for his companions (which is why I've always been so squicked by the whole Rose-Ten thing, because ew, Doctor, don't be a funny uncle), I really dislike the way that blaming the whole fiasco on the Doctor undermines Clara's agency. Clara's agency or lack thereof has been a thing the whole time she's been on the show, from her first appearance as Souffle Girl, and even if the Doctor should have discouraged her from taking risks, she did make the decision to take Riggs's chronolock and she owned it. Yeah, the Doctor is going to blame himself, and he should, but as a viewer I have to hand a large share of this disaster to Clara.

(And Capaldi did brilliantly with his bit--he's so good--being understated and all, but I am so done with the big threat from the Doctor. Tennant may have ruined me for that.)

This was a really good episode story-wise and I'm looking forward to the next bit even if it is the season finale. But I was really disappointed in how the show handled Clara's death/departure. (Assuming that, even apart from the rest of it, it is her final hurrah. Remember, if the impossible girl always shows up, the death of this version of her may not end her interference. Or maybe we're just dropping that now. I'd be okay with just dropping the impossible girl concept now that Eleven is gone.)
posted by immlass at 10:12 AM on November 22, 2015


Looks like Clara (Jenna Coleman) is regenerating as Queen Victoria.
posted by jazon at 11:39 AM on November 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's like nothing can happen unless death is somehow involved.

The caretakers of revived Who have clearly not read Ursula Le Guin's writing on fiction.

I'm just relieved that THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE IS GOING TO BE DESTROYED is less of a thing now, because the universe is, in fact, surprisingly large and undestroyable and it was getting to be a little tiresome that all of reality was going to be broken at the end of every season.
posted by sonascope at 12:12 PM on November 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


Enjoyed this a lot, Ashildr is an interesting new character, I liked the Mos Eisley cantina/troll market vibe of the hidden street, and I like the dark/angry Doctor.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 2:46 PM on November 22, 2015


I think on some level the Doctor's companions have to die becaus it's a side-effect of his recklessness. He doesn't kill them directly but the companions are lured into becoming as reckless as he is which does them in in the end. Although they don't all actually die I guess.
posted by GuyZero at 3:37 PM on November 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


Although they don't all actually die I guess.

Yeah, in the new series Clara is the only regular companion who has died. (Well, Amy died, but after she and Rory lived a long life in the past.) Rose, Martha and Donna are all still around. I guess it seems like they've all died because the show is so full of fake-out deaths, and because it's been so long since any of the companions from the RTD showed up.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 5:07 PM on November 22, 2015


I knew Coleman was leaving and I'd expected Clara's death to have happened before now, so I was certain she was gong to die as soon as she took the death sentence on herself. Even so, the scene wasn't quite as affecting for me as it ought to have been.

Overall, though, I thought this was a much better episode than most of the preceding season.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 5:32 PM on November 22, 2015


I thought Clara's death was really well done. Her speech was great; the doctor's response was great. The (non) mystery central to the story was captivating.

The only thing is... Why couldn't Asildir take the tattoo? Last time we saw her, she was far beyond ready to die, and I doubt more centuries would make that change. And this was all her fault, and she understood this.
posted by meese at 5:35 PM on November 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


Why couldn't Asildir take the tattoo? Last time we saw her, she was far beyond ready to die

I just re-watched The Woman Who Lived, and that's a good question. Honestly, I'd expected her to do that, but--oddly enough--for the opposite reason: that, as far as she knew, she couldn't die. But Ashildr was also desperate for the Doctor to take her with him, and now she's got the key to the Tardis.

A few notes about The Woman Who Lived in re: this and (possibly) the rest of series 9:
  • After asking where Clara is, Ashildr tells the Doctor "I take particular note of anyone's weaknesses," followed by "She'll die on you, you know. She'll blow away like smoke."
  • Towards the beginning of the episode, Ashildr tells the Doctor "You're the man who runs away." In The Witch's Familiar, Davros asks the Doctor what he ran away from.
  • Towards the end of the episode , the Doctor asks Ashildr who told her about him, "the man who comes for the battle and runs away from the fallout." She dodges the question.
  • The Doctor tells Clara he's missed her; she tells him not to worry and that she's not going anywhere; he gives her a long look. I think leotrotsky may be on to something, and now I'm wondering how many of Mezentian's predictions are right. Is The Woman Who Lived after Face the Raven in the Doctor's timeline? (Has the show ever done that before, showing an entire episode from later in the Doctor's life before showing an entire episode from earlier in the Doctor's life?)
  • Face the Raven marks the second time (in only three episodes!) that Ashildr has tricked the Doctor into helping her.

posted by johnofjack at 6:07 PM on November 22, 2015


I turned the TV on thinking it would be massively lazy to have Clara die after all that heavy-handed foreshadowing, but I loved that episode. Great writing, great worldbuilding -- we'd better see more of Sarah Dollard after this -- great atmosphere, and Coleman/Capaldi pulled out all the stops. I even liked the Murray Gold music everyone's hating on.

Clara went from "??? just write her consistently" to being one of my favorite companions, but it was about time for her to wrap up her tenure, and while her exit was more tragic than I would have preferred it did make sense as a culmination of everything she's been through up to now. It's also pretty subversive for a relatively optimistic, light-hearted genre show like New Who (yes, I know Classic Who is much darker) to kill off a main character not through a heroic sacrifice or bad luck but because they screwed up. I also liked that Clara owned up to her part in her own demise and went out standing firm.

Also while I understand the fact that the Doctor could have handled Clara better and I have always been one for saying the Doctor has what he now calls a duty of care for his companions... I really dislike the way that blaming the whole fiasco on the Doctor undermines Clara's agency.

Agreed. If anything I'd say the Doctor's fuckup was that he is a much worse proto-companion than Clara is a proto-Doctor -- I mean, sure, Clara miscalculated, but usually the person out and out screwing up or being pointlessly reckless is the Doctor, and it's whoever's travelling with him who has to pull his ass out of the fire. Arguably he's also repeatedly failed Ashildr in that respect.

As much as Clara's arc makes sense I do have some qualms about the potential "companion tries too hard to be like the Doctor and gets smacked down for it" thing, which has played out a few times in the series already. I'm a little fed up with New Who's "Doctor exceptionalism" and inability not to have the saddest possible exits for companions, and feeling that this was a very well done execution of the trope doesn't change that.

I do think we'll see a glimpse of Jenna Coleman again before the series wraps, but I'm betting on it being an echo rather than Clara herself.

Kelly Connolly has a nice epitaph for Clara on EW: She took an empty death and made it mean something, which is a fitting analogy for her entire stay in the TARDIS. As the Impossible Girl, Clara was more of an enigma than a person, but in Capaldi’s time, Jenna Coleman managed to make Clara feel as essential to the show as the Doctor was to Clara.
posted by bettafish at 7:26 PM on November 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


Ok, I just watched the episode. And it's probably important to note that I don't read whovian sites, or spoiler sites, or celebrity sites, or watch talk shows or anything, Doctor Who is one of the only shows I actually watch, so I had no idea any of this was coming...and I wept like a baby. Like, that kind of crying where you make embarrassing noises. (I did that when Danny died too. And the episode where Danny "came back". Frankly, I cry a lot at Who, I guess...) My kidlet is just gutted too. Says he's not sure he wants to watch Doctor Who any more. I think Clara may be his first unattainable crush.

I've loved Clara as a companion. I think her whole arc has been amazing, because I think she was a stand-in for a lot of fans like me, in that she reacted to the Doctor like a regular person would; i.e., incredulous, unbelieving, then joyous and filled with glee, and then after Danny died, reckless and sure that she was invincible because nothing could ever be stronger than the Doctor's power to save her.

I really loved Clara as a character, and I loved watching Jenna Coleman on the screen, and I have all the sads right now. The scene where Rigsby tagged the Tardis, I just lost it. Just lost it. I'm weepy thinking about it.

I will miss Clara Oswald.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 7:40 PM on November 22, 2015 [8 favorites]


But Ashildr was also desperate for the Doctor to take her with him, and now she's got the key to the Tardis.

But does she need it at this point? If she's the mayor of a little town full of aliens, she could presumably hop aboard a spaceship whenever she likes and leave Earth. (Also, why didn't she leave Earth? After however many hundreds of years here, it would seem like she'd be even more eager to get out and see the universe.)

It's funny, but I don't think I've ever been as sad about a death during the Moffat era as I was rather routinely in the RTD era. Some people call RTD melodramatic, but he was great at making you feel sad and there were plenty of episodes that didn't quite work until they got to a big epic gut-punch at the end that would have me blubbering. I quite like the Moffat era and I think I've said here before that his era is probably more consistent than RTD's. RTD hit higher peaks, but he hit plenty of lows while Moffat just keeps things moving along at a pretty steady level.

But while I really admire what Moffat does, the sad stuff usually doesn't really land for me. I can think of a few exceptions, like when Amy met her bitter old badass self or the death of Danny Pink. (And Clara's almost-departure in the Christmas episode hit me a lot harder than this real one, come to think of it.) When something sad happens in the Moffat era, I often find myself kind of thinking, "Oh, that is a sad thing happening" and not just being bulldozed with the sads like RTD used to do. I remember being kind of gutted by the death of Cassandra the bitchy trampoline, and that's kind of amazing when I think about it. (Of course, that may be kind of a drag queen sisterhood thing.)
posted by Ursula Hitler at 9:24 PM on November 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


I don't think that Who is polarising (OK, maybe here it is), but I found this to be incredibly dull and predictable. As soon as Clara took the chronolock thing on, it was just too obvious that she'd be popping her clogs this time. The ridiculously heavy handed "we're going to make you feel sad" music almost had me laughing. It was like Tennant's long drawn out death, and not in a good way. Since I don't like Clara as a character, I was actually punching the air when it became clear she was a goner. I imagine they'll be doing the usual thing of introducing a new companion next series, and that's why we have a returning character for the Christmas special.

Anyway, next week is the penultimate episode, so we get to see what this epic cliffhanger is. Moffat has been trailing it for ages now.
posted by Juso No Thankyou at 12:17 AM on November 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


like Tennant's long drawn out death

Well at least we didn't get a scene with her school kids...

"Just remember learning's not just about facts, to get qualifications, to go to university *cough* but learning to love life, to be curious *cough cough* there's a whole amazing beautiful world out there full of adventure you can explore, and-"
"What's that miss? Tell us more about the time you snogged Emily Bronte?!"
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 1:43 AM on November 23, 2015


Interview with first time Who writer Sarah Dollard- Part 1; Part 2.

That raises more questions than it answers.
What would this episode be without Ashildr or Clara's death?

On the other side, as it stands, this this week, the first and last episodes of Doctor Who broadcast were written by Australians.

That's pretty neat.
posted by Mezentian at 2:22 AM on November 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


I really dislike the way that blaming the whole fiasco on the Doctor undermines Clara's agency

That might be the default way to take this, and to some extent the Doctor feels responsible yeah. BUT, given the substantial, convincing monologue that Clara gave about how this is emphatically not the case, I think you'd be hard-pressed to argue that the show feels that way, or wants us to feel that way.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:20 AM on November 23, 2015


My favorite thing about Ashildr is how her lifespan may have become infinite, but her memory has not.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:22 AM on November 23, 2015 [5 favorites]


I didn't really enjoy this episode. Clara's death just didn't have any real emotional impact. And I know Doctor Who isn't a particularly logical show, but this episode really did not hang together from a universe-with-weird-stuff-but-no-actual-magic point of view. The raven was basically a deus ex machina wizard.

But I am looking forward to Clara being gone, and a new prolonged battle over many seasons with Chaotic Neutral Ashildr. With her slight insanity, extreme selfishness, and faulty memory, she's a much more interesting counterpart to Capaldi than Missy or the Daleks ever could be. I just hope Moffat makes the most of that opportunity.
posted by miyabo at 11:36 AM on November 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


Today would have been Clara Oswald's 29th birthday. Today is also the birthday of barmaid/governess Clara Oswin Oswald, who was born in 1866.
posted by plastic_animals at 12:45 PM on November 23, 2015


And, of course, Doctor Who, born 1963.
posted by Grangousier at 2:23 PM on November 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


Something I can't get past about the trap - how did Ashildr fabricate a copy of the Tardis lock? She's never been inside the Tardis.. in fact, I don't think she's ever even SEEN the Tardis.. so how does she know about it?
posted by coriolisdave at 10:07 PM on November 23, 2015


And, of course, Doctor Who, born 1963.

Beat me to it. The show is 52 years old today! It's a weird and wonderful thing that people all over the world are still eagerly awaiting the next episode of a show that's been (mostly) on the air for five freaking decades.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 10:49 PM on November 23, 2015


The way I see things going over the next two weeks: after defeating Matt Johnson, the Doctor stows his sonic sunglasses in a visor at the Library, allowing Clara to join River and the other Clara.
posted by hawthorne at 1:54 AM on November 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm assuming the lock was made by whoever was trying to trap the Doctor. They gave the entire device to Ashildr as part of their plan.
posted by plastic_animals at 3:57 AM on November 24, 2015


I don't usually like to ascribe this sort of thing to a creator, but, man, I don't get the impression that Moffat liked Clara very much.

Is she the first companion to die from an unforced error?
posted by He Is Only The Imposter at 12:17 PM on November 24, 2015


On the subject of departing companions, this Peter Davison anecdote is terrific:
A few years ago when Billie Piper was playing Rose, I was very worried because the next week’s episode was called something like The Day Rose Died. I can’t remember exactly what it was called. Well, my children were in love with Rose as a companion, and I was worried about her. So I sent an e-mail off to Russell T. Davis, who of course had grown up on the classic Doctor Who series, and I said “Could you just reassure me that Rose does not, in fact, die because my children shouldn’t watch it if that happens,” and he sent an e-mail back to me saying, “You killed Adric. What do you care?”
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:46 PM on November 24, 2015 [19 favorites]


I found the Clara's death sentence a bit perplexing and nonsensical. So, if you chronolock one person, then you can un-chronolock them, right? But if they pass the chronolock to someone else, you suddenly can't do that anymore? That just seems stupid.
posted by Saxon Kane at 1:53 PM on November 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


It is kind of stupid, but the show has to create these type of firm determinations to instill gravity and finality to these types of situations. The whole Fixed Point in Time thing is an epic example of how the show makes declarations and stands behind them. Otherwise, why couldn't the Doctor go back in time, get Amy and Rory, still hang out with them for decades, and then let them die in the past, as noted on their gravestones? It's silly, but when you have a time machine, silly has to have a hand in the game.

As a Supernatural viewer, I couldn't help but think, "Oh, so Clara was a demon!" Ahem.

I got hit by Clara's death harder than I expected, but the manner in which they filmed the very last few seconds made me groan. There's nothing worse than cutting to a different cut, which back tracks a second or two, for "impact" or whatever you want to call it.

Count me also befuddled why the Doctor couldn't use his sonic glasses to pop the lock. All they had to do was make it out of finely crafted wood or something to overcome that barrier.

Clara definitely came into her own with Capaldi as her Doctor. When romance and Doctors intertwine, it rarely really makes for enjoyable viewing. I never cared that much for Rose and Ten's fascination with her, nor for Eleven's fascination with Clara. She ceased to be a thing when Eleven disappeared and was finally allowed to become a more fully fleshed out person. I appreciated this death quite a bit more than Danny Pink, who, I guess puts me in the minority, was rather randomly out of the blue for someone of his character's weight.
posted by Atreides at 2:04 PM on November 24, 2015


There's an additional twist: Ashildir set the whole chronolock thing up as a trap for the Doctor. She signed a contract with the raven so that she could put the chronolock on the kid and then take it off before time was up. This way, the kid wouldn't actually die, but she would get the Doctor where she wanted him. When Clara took the chronolock from the kid, that voided Ashildir's contract with the raven.

So, I guess, under normal circumstances, the chronolock can be removed either from the original person or whoever takes the death sentence for the guilty party. It's because Ashildir messed with the rules, setting up a special contract with the raven so she could pretend to sentence the kid to death when she had no real intention of killing him, that it couldn't be removed from Clara. Now, why, exactly, could it not be removed from Clara, given the special contract Ashildir had with the raven? No idea. My best guess: "You really shouldn't fuck with death."

They say several times in this episode that you can't cheat death. Well, twice now Ashildir sort of has. Her immortality is a cheat of death. And here, in this episode, she tried to cheat death again: she tried to cheat the system with the raven by forming a secret contract with it. But, like they say, you can't cheat death... and I guess Clara's the one who paid the price for this second attempt of Ashildir's to do so.
posted by meese at 2:05 PM on November 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


I wondered if Ashildr was either going to give Clara the 2nd immortality pill, or swap the tattoo to herself because it would finally kill her [or] she'd be immune to the raven*.

* which is pretty blatantly Special Circumstances EDust, now that I think about it.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 2:23 PM on November 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


I wish they'd stop forcing all villainous women on the show to bear the same visual signifiers. It's unimaginative.
posted by painquale at 5:28 PM on November 24, 2015 [5 favorites]


Ashildr had the other immortality thinger! Argh. And I can't even discuss this episode with the mister, because he lives in a world free from all the articles about how Jenna Coleman left the show and he's still convinced Ashildr is going to save Clara. This poker face thing is hard, y'all.
posted by Ruki at 6:46 PM on November 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


Ashildr had the other immortality thinger!

She used that at the end of "The Woman Who Lived" to save the highwayman.
posted by Gary at 7:53 PM on November 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


Mister's response was "Oh. Well, bugger." Thanks for reminding me.
posted by Ruki at 8:27 PM on November 24, 2015


So, was the Raven/Quantum Shade a piece of technology? A living creature? Random magic nonsense?
posted by Saxon Kane at 9:32 PM on November 24, 2015


Any sufficiently advanced plot device is indistinguishable from magic.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:06 AM on November 25, 2015 [4 favorites]


Even if she hadn't used the life saving chip in the Woman who Lived, the Rave/Shade thing was ripping people's souls out. I don't know if the chip worked that way.
posted by Atreides at 7:26 AM on November 25, 2015


That's a good point, Atreides. The chip thing repaired damage. There wasn't any indication it could repel something trying to kill you. And the Shade wasn't going to stop, so that would have been a futile gesture. (And possibly a hellish loop to get trapped within.)
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:23 AM on November 25, 2015


My wife and friend didn't know Coleman was leaving the show this season. When Clara died my friend asked, "Did we know Clara was leaving this season." I said that it had been announced and then realized I shouldn't have.

However with the Coal Hill series coming up, I wonder if there might still be life for Clara, just not as a companion.
posted by charred husk at 10:19 AM on November 25, 2015


plastic_animals: I'm assuming the lock was made by whoever was trying to trap the Doctor. They gave the entire device to Ashildr as part of their plan.
Yup. Which implies whomever supplied the lock knew how to craft (specifically) a Tardis lock. Given in the history of the show none of the baddies have ever managed to breach the Tardis, that really only leaves one option for the lock supplier.... one or more Time L(ord/adie)s.
posted by coriolisdave at 2:14 PM on November 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


Face the Raven had a Star Wars/Back to the Future Easter egg.
posted by plastic_animals at 3:37 PM on November 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


Why didn't they just put Clara in the stasis pod to stop the countdown? I even thought that was the reason the stasis pod was put in script.
posted by ShooBoo at 8:11 PM on November 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


I think the answer to that is quantum mumble mumble.
posted by hawthorne at 10:19 PM on November 26, 2015


For reasons the BBC has put the script (ominously titled the Purple Script) for "Trap Street" online as a PDF:
The "purple script" from 26th June 2015, under the episode's original title Trap Street, includes a number of additional passages of dialogue/scenes that were lost prior to its ultimate filming and transmission, examples of which include Rigsy's full name and the appearance of his fiancée Jen, the mystery of Derren Brown, plus dialogue from the original ending scene that appeared post-credits.
posted by Mezentian at 12:50 AM on November 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


Interesting the changes that were made to scene 74 - I think it goes to show that there are a lot of things that one might prefer to include that have to come out for reasons of pace or (though not in this case) budget. It's not that the writers didn't think of them.

Also - of course it's Time Lords - the stasis technology was covered in hexagons.

If you'll excuse me, I've got to go and prepare to be wrong again.
posted by Grangousier at 2:29 AM on November 27, 2015


(The fact that there are all those hexagons might also suggest that he's up against Bob Holness, but I count that as an outside possibility.

Or bees, I guess. )
posted by Grangousier at 2:32 AM on November 27, 2015


Also - of course it's Time Lords - the stasis technology was covered in hexagons.

So was the machine from The Lodger, and the Silents' machine.

And they are roundels, barbarians!
posted by Mezentian at 3:51 AM on November 27, 2015


Given in the history of the show none of the baddies have ever managed to breach the Tardis, that really only leaves one option for the lock supplier.... one or more Time L(ord/adie)s.

That's a good point, and I'd imagine most people would prefer a story with Time Lords/Ladies over yet another one with the Daleks.
posted by johnofjack at 6:06 AM on November 27, 2015


I suspect the stasis pod was there only to work as a trap and likely doesn't work with quantum shades. But who knows.
posted by Ashwagandha at 7:03 AM on November 27, 2015


Given in the history of the show none of the baddies have ever managed to breach the Tardis

Probably not during the current series but the Sontarans have in Classic Who.
posted by Ashwagandha at 8:58 AM on November 27, 2015


Also, if I recall, the Cybermen in Earthshock.
I am pretty sure there is at least one Cyberman unaccounted for on screen (KROTON!), and possibly a Sontaran somewhere is wondering around a workshop somewhere.
posted by Mezentian at 7:21 AM on November 28, 2015


Probably in the boot cupboard.
posted by Ashwagandha at 6:47 AM on November 30, 2015


I would love to see an episode where they find someone who has been trapped in the TARDIS for hundreds of years.
posted by plastic_animals at 9:05 AM on November 30, 2015 [2 favorites]


"I would love to see an episode where they find someone who has been trapped in the TARDIS for hundreds of years."

I think that under normal circumstances that wouldn't happen because the TARDIS itself is aware and would have some means to communicate someone's presence inside the TARDIS to the Doctor.

But I can imagine all sorts of ways to get around that. Someone smart enough to have hidden themselves in a way that is a double-edged sword -- they're hidden, but that also means they're trapped. Or the TARDIS itself has decided to hide someone (or just to not reveal their presence to the Doctor). Or there's a portion of the TARDIS that the TARDIS itself is, by design, blind to. A place where Time Lords put the stuff they deliberately want to forget. And so on.

It's a really good premise on which to build an episode because New Who hasn't really explored the weirdness and extent of the TARDIS very much and I think there's some natural audience curiosity about it built up at this point. And the idea that someone could have entered the TARDIS a long (subjective) time ago and been there, unknown, while we've watched the Doctor's adventures is also pretty intriguing. And you could build a puzzle and an emergency around both discovering the stowaway and some only-now-emerging implications of their longtime presence.

One problem I can foresee is that my intuition says that the episode's strength would depend a lot on the characterization of the stowaway -- how interesting and compelling the character is. Who they began as, their motivations, how their time in the TARDIS has changed them. To the degree to which the character is interesting and inspires an audience's investment, is also the degree to which the character's fate has to be handled correctly, and that can be difficult. I could imagine a new companion arising out of such a character, but mostly that seems unlikely. I dunno. But it really is a good premise.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 9:54 PM on November 30, 2015


One problem I can foresee is that my intuition says that the episode's strength would depend a lot on the characterization of the stowaway -- how interesting and compelling the character is. Who they began as, their motivations, how their time in the TARDIS has changed them.

Kamelion could fit the bill. A past companion, thought dead, hiding in the TARDIS in order to keep himself from hurting anyone outside.
posted by painquale at 5:25 AM on December 1, 2015


I just watched this one again and Ashildr says explicitly that she's not interested in the Tardis; that she made her deal just to keep the street safe. So how would the Doctor and the key get back to the Tardis?
posted by johnofjack at 4:37 PM on December 1, 2015


I would love to see an episode where they find someone who has been trapped in the TARDIS for hundreds of years.

This idea has popped up a few times in the Big Finish audios with varying levels of success.
posted by Ashwagandha at 9:46 AM on December 4, 2015


I am going to watch this series through to the end but I think I am done with the show after that, at least until someone else is in charge. This episode was grade A nonsense bullshit and I am just tired of there being no consequences and no continuity. It might seem outrageous to feel that way after an episode where a companion dies but really, haven't we already seen Clara die innumerable times because she was trying to save the Doctor? Except nothing that happened in previous series matters, certainly not something from 2+ series ago, so excuse me never mind.

Wasn't it just a season or two ago when the Doctor and Clara met a character who was a presumptive descendant of Danny Pink? But if Danny died, and Clara died, without producing any children together, do we assume that was just a potential future? Or do we assume Danny had a child with someone else? Or do we just forget about it because it happened a year or two ago (in real time) so never mind don't think about it?

Did Clara's post-it notes from the end of the last series ever make any kind of sense? Did her statement to the Doctor that "Danny and I will be fine" ever make any kind of sense? No? Well.

I try not to rag on stuff here on FanFare because it gets me down but I am really, really mad at this show because I don't feel like they're making a good faith effort. Like, at all. Don't tell me "it's a children's show." That's insulting to children and it's insulting to me.
posted by trunk muffins at 8:44 PM on December 4, 2015


Did her statement to the Doctor that "Danny and I will be fine" ever make any kind of sense?

I'm not gonna get into all of your post, but if you mean the scene after Danny died, when Clara lied and said he was fine and the Doctor lied and said he was on his way to Gallifrey, I think they were both lying so they could say goodbye with a little less pain. It was like, "Well, everything is just fine for me now, so you don't need to worry about me anymore. Off you go..."

Now that you've raised the issue about Danny Pink's astronaut descendant, that is very puzzling. I suppose he probably was the product of an alternate timeline, and they could deal with that now or they could say Danny's story is kind of over and doing a story about his descendants from an alternate timeline would just feel weird now. I think you may have caught them in a continuity flub, but I don't think it's a dealbreaker and I can see how they maybe got there. I write stories for a living these days, and it is honestly just appalling what can slip by you even when you are being careful as hell. Almost any show you could mention has a few howling continuity errors.

If this season isn't working for you, then yeah, I don't think you're going to enjoy Moffat's tenure. I think he's really good and this is one of his best seasons, but if you're not digging it, it's unlikely at this point he'd change gears so much that he'd do something you'd like better.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 9:06 PM on December 4, 2015


When Danny died whatever future he had with Clara was erased. I don't see anything wrong with that. Just like when Rory died and Amy said "But we saw ourselves on the hill!" That future was erased and replaced with another one. I have a lot of qualms with the writing the past few seasons but that wasn't one of them.
posted by bleep at 9:29 PM on December 4, 2015


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