One of the most enjoyable things about having guest bloggers is giving people with a variety of opinions a platform. Although, at times, it may not always seem so, I love Doctor Who. Even when it’s at it’s weakest, I watch religiously. I’ve tried to quit. Heaven knows, I’ve come close! One of the things I enjoy most about the show are the people I meet along the way. People who have grown up with actors from Hartnell to Capaldi as “their Doctor”; I love hearing from ALL of them (you!), even when opinions are diametrically opposed to my own. As regular readers are no doubt aware, I am not exactly the biggest fan of Clara Oswald. I certainly don’t “hate” her. I am, honestly, completely ambivalent toward the character, and certainly, with regard to her time with Peter Capaldi, I do find myself agreeing with many of the points raised in this post. Similarly, I love Jenna Coleman as an actor! For good, or bad, she plays the hand she is dealt, and she does so exceptionally well.
A tribute to Clara is, perhaps, therefore, the LAST thing you would expect to see on this blog! And yet, here we are, with a beautifully written tribute to the character, by my latest guest blogger, Adil, and it is my pleasure and privilege to share it with you..
A love letter to... Clara Oswald
Now, unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’d have heard the news that Series 9 will be Jenna Coleman’s last series as Clara. She first graced our screens as Oswin, in ‘Asylum of the Daleks’, back in 2012, which was 3 years ago. Yes, 3 years ago! Blimey, hasn’t time flown? Clara is known for being a divisive character to say the least; a quick journey across the web, or at least through Twitter, will reveal that she has a loyal fan base and others that totally despise her. If the title of the post hasn’t given it away, I’m in the camp that loves Clara. In fact, she’s been my favourite companion of the revival, and here’s why…
Now before you exit the page, I’m not a biased viewer; I do recognise flaws in the way in which her character’s been written. For example, at the very start of her time on the TARDIS back in 2013, she didn’t feel like a real character, constantly being written with a new personality as each episode aired. It wasn’t until ‘The Crimson Horror’ where shades of the Series 8 Clara started to appear and by ‘Nightmare in Silver’, it felt like she’d finally became a coherent character. In fact, ever since she became a real character, Clara’s been receiving a profound amount of development, becoming more like the Doctor as time progresses. ‘Flatline’ saw the peak of the development with Clara taking charge of the council workers. She was able to think on her feet, make risky decisions and eventually, save the Doctor who then defeated the Boneless. And of course, there was that great line at the end when the Doctor stated, ‘’you were an exceptional Doctor, Clara... Goodness had nothing to do with it.’’ An accurate statement given that she had to lie and fool the workers into thinking they were safe, a strategy of the Doctors’ that she had previously disapproved of.
One quality that I absolutely admire and love seeing is her ability to hold her own. She’s a character that doesn’t really depend on the Doctor which is always a great quality in a companion. Episodes such as ‘Deep Breath’, ‘Kill the Moon’ and ‘Flatline’ demonstrate that, although she might be frightened by a situation when left to deal with it herself, she’s more than capable of handling it.
The three episodes noted above are all Twelfth doctor episodes which brings me onto another point; the Twelfth Doctor brings so much more out of Clara. Now, what I mean by this is that with the Eleventh doctor, she had someone she could control. Not exactly a push over per se, but she didn’t have to fight for control in the way she does with the Twelfth doctor. When Eleven regenerated, he changed into someone erratic, someone frostier and slightly more unreliable, and, most importantly, someone far more stubborn. The start of the 8th series saw Clara attempting to figure out who the new Doctor was, what made him tick and how she could control him. He’d become the polar opposite to his former persona. To elaborate, Eleven would never have left Clara alone with the clockwork droids in ‘Deep Breath’. At the very least, he would’ve let her use his sonic. He also wouldn’t have left Clara alone to decide the fate of the moon without telling her his plan to find out what the moon actually was. Twelve changed Clara. She knew that she couldn’t boss Twelve around in the same manner she did with Eleven and so, she became more authoritative and much bossier. She never would have needed to bring Eleven to the volcano to threaten him in the way she did Twelve. That scene illustrated a fight for control, a fight for power and dominance that wasn’t really present with the Eleventh Doctor.
She’s quite a tragic character too. As a character constantly fighting for control, whether it’s control over the Doctor or Danny, she’s faced many tragedies in which she had no control over. For instance, she’s suffered the deaths of her mother and Danny. The death of her mother is particularly interesting. This could perhaps be reasoning as to why she feels the need to control every aspect of her life, a subconscious response to the despair and helplessness she felt when her mother died. When grief struck her again, at the loss of her boyfriend Danny Pink, she felt the responsibility to alter his death. This led to the scene in the volcano in ‘Dark Water’ which remains one of the highlights of Moffat’s era in general. As the scene progresses, you can tell she is trying to fight that familiar sense of desperation, despair and helplessness by trying to control the Doctor, trying to force him to alter her own timeline. Something she knows that she can’t do, but decides to try and do regardless of the fact. Series 9 seems a turning point for her, which is the biggest reason
I’m glad she stayed on past ‘Last Christmas’. There are still loads of places you can take the character which seems the case with the next series. It seems she’s almost given up trying to control everything and decided to embrace travelling through time and space. This intrigues me incredibly. With the promise that she’ll continue becoming more Doctor-like, it’ll be interesting to see where Moffat and the crew take her and how far she adopts a Doctor like mind-set. Perhaps that’ll lead to her inevitable departure?
Her dynamic with twelve is also brilliantly written. With arguably the most conflict that there’s ever been between the Doctor and a companion, they still remain crucial to one another’s lives. After ‘Last Christmas’, it’s evident that the both of them are inseparable with a bond that echoes shades of Three and Jo Grant, Nine and Rose. The love that they share for one another becomes obvious and it’s going to take a lot to break them apart.
Clara, a tragic companion, one who strives for clarity and control over her life as they are both things that she often lacks. Whilst she hasn’t always been consistently written, when the writers found out who she was, she quickly developed into one of the most intriguing characters that the show has had. It’s been a pleasure to explore her character these past couple of years, and I hope that the next series sees her lose herself to this persona of the Doctor that she is adopting, as that seems to be the obvious way forward. Here’s hoping that when she goes, she goes out with a bang.
Many thanks to guest blogger Adil.. Please give him a follow on Twitter @Nougdalla98