DOCTOR WHO: Companion Pieces - Clara Oswald

.
A popular television character returns to our screens later today. That's right, Clara Oswald! Stacy Embry pays tribute to the Impossible Girl.



The Doctor looks up at the center window at Clara, Jenna Coleman as the Governess in The Snowmen, and reacts to the perfect image he sees. Matt Smith's visceral hearts wince, he almost swallows but that can't happen because his throat has closed, it shows immediately that Eleven doesn't want to fall in love, but nevertheless has. Then against his own will, the Doctor finds himself agreeing to come up and save Clara and therefore the world. Our ancient Doctor is instantly reborn as Romeo delighting his audience. He takes her to the TARDIS, gives her the key to both it AND him and announces "its me giving in," the Doctor goes on to declare that "this is the day...THIS IS THE DAY, that everything begins." Finally, even after her untimely death, he honors Clara's sacrifice and ends up getting a clue to find her. Clearly, this is the woman the universe created for him and he sets off to understand this beautiful gift. In a cyclical world, the mystery and the devotion still work.

The show Doctor Who was vaguely familiar to me. I'd heard of it, but the episodes I saw as a child were more like Dark Shadows than Star Trek. But in 2012, with Coleman and Smith, this show felt new. It felt fresh and these actors had a palpable connection. It was electric. I watched the premiere of this episode and then its two repeats within 24 hours on BBC America. The Snowmen only gets better with each viewing. (In full disclosure, this was my first Doctor and companion, so I also fell in love that Christmas Day of 2012.)


As I waited for what turned out to be season 7b, I binged all of the existing new Who episodes. Many, usually in the Russell T Davies era, were just too silly for me. My suspension of disbelief couldn't withstand cat people and a giant spider woman. If that exposes my flaws, I'm sorry, but I found a lot of the new WHO quite funny. The Daleks, slow and pondering with their little whisk, actually made me giggle. Yet, the occasional story like Blink, Silence In The Library and The Pandorica Opens encouraged my hopes. Even the early, and clearly talented, Matt Smith didn't captivate me until I happened onto Asylum of the Daleks. There, again, I found him with Clara. Never in the same room, they still sparkled. As I had hoped. I was even more desperate to see where the Clara/Doctor journey was going.


Finally, 7b started and The Bells of Saint John gave viewers the original Clara. As a follow-up to The Snowmen, this episode superseded even my most fervent hopes lingering from my months of waiting. When the I Am The Doctor theme moved from percussion to music as the download is reversed to under fifty percent, I was mesmerized as this produced a quality and attention to detail that was rarely reached in a television program. From the first scene, this original Clara was no "bargain basement Sally." The two were fully together and the magic overtook me again. A ton of questions spooled from my observation. Who was the woman in shop who gave Clara the TARDIS phone number? Why are the years 16 and 23 missing from "101 Places to See?" What was with the leaf? Did she love the Jammie Dodgers? Why did he leave flowers, as a besotted lover's gift?


When they then repeated the balcony scene, I swooned. Here was a nervous Doctor as a last Centurion guarding his love. Just to cement the classic balcony motif, Moffat repeats it while allowing Clara to become the hero with, "well then...I'll have to come to you." Juliet leaving the balcony to claim Romeo? That is so "cool, chin boy."

The Doctor and Clara then ride a motorbike, save children, fight Gods, save submarines, hunt ghosts, journey into the center of the TARDIS, save more children and survive a cyber-attack. (I can't whip up any enthusiasm for The Crimson Horror. Sorry, it felt Daviesian and quite silly.) Then up though the fiftieth anniversary, Clara is well portrayed as Eleven's mate. She is his "impossible girl." She affects the outcome of his timeline and even the destiny of Gallifrey itself! To pique interest, there is even a veiled intimacy with "Clara asks me if I dream..." making viewers picture a more complete relationship.

Then, abruptly in The Time of the Doctor, she can't hear what Tasha Lem says to Eleven?
Huh? C'mon, Moffat, really?


It felt like the BBC prematurely forced him to move up to the 12th Doctor. And if that's true--- he should have resolved NOT abandoned the Eleven/Clara connection, instead of her just "seeing what she wants" like Emma Grayling, the psychic in Hide, suggested. The excitement went instantly hollow as she was shuttled away. Then, Amy Williams added insult to injury by being gratuitously inserted into the regeneration scene. Manipulative, it took me out and made me angry. After all, her time was over, and we know that because Clara didn't even know the name Amelia. I felt so bad for Clara AND Jenna Coleman, and I'm not the only one. In the season extras, Matt Smith says he'd have liked another year to play out the Clara/Eleven plot. Of course he does...they invested and created a real connection. Something unusual and exciting. How can viewers resign ourselves to Romeo dying, but that our Juliet is left with no dagger so she has to live??


I don't give a fig about Capaldi, but still hope he's successful. (He seems a sincerely talented man and devoted Who fan.) I just want to see how Moffat digs Clara out of his self-imposed mudslide. After all, she loved Eleven enough to spend 300 years in the time vortex trying to get her key into the TARDIS lock and get back to him. River Song hinted at a larger story with her final "spoilers," and I don't doubt that Jenna Coleman can create whatever is required (not unlike the machine room in the TARDIS), but Juliet surviving heartbroken and alone hasn't been done. My worst fear is that the writers will insult us by forgetting her pure sacrificial act of love - entering the Doctor's timeline - and give us a pale pacification like Rose received with her parallel world and her very own 10b.

All my fears aside, I care about the character Clara and can't abandon her. Also, I really want to know what happened during her 16 and 23 years missing from "101 Places to See." I hope that this Juliet had more stories with her Romeo...and that we can see Matt Smith and Jenna Coleman on the Who set together again. If there is a Moffat, maybe he can make that work.

Previous Companion Pieces 
Jamie McCrimmon
Victoria Waterfield
Sarah Jane Smith
Peri Brown
Martha Jones
 
Stacy is a new Who fan. She came on-board with The Snowmen and binged Matt Smith's catalog--even using him in her classroom. An Educational Psychologist and Drama Director, Stacy teaches secondary education in Indianapolis, IN. 
Warped Factor
Words in the key of geek!