Monday, June 2, 2014

Doctor Who: The Problem With Clara

It has long been a thorn in my side that I've never been up to date on Doctor Who episodes. Now finally (finally!) I am but one episode behind and there's really nothing left for the Internet to spoil. (Yes, thank you for telling me all about Gallifrey and River Song. Truly.)

Ever since Amy and Rory departed, something has been bugging me about the show. Like a punch line I know I should understand, but continues to evade me. Watching the 50th Anniversary special, I finally realized what it was.

Season 7 part 2 hasn't been as good as episodes in the past, and it's all because of Clara.

Don't get me wrong. I love Clara. She's spunky, has great personality, and will forever be immortalized in my mind as the girl who said 'It's smaller on the outside.' 

She's a terrific character, but she's just kind of ...there.

Despite all her wonderful attributes, she is a flat character. I have yet to connect with her to the extent of any of the other companions. I feel the writers of this season have failed me in that they have told me much more about Clara than they have shown me.

Think back to every episode with Clara Oswin Oswald. She has no set goal or motivation. She wants to travel but, now that she is traveling and through space and time no less, it doesn't seem to be developing her character. She was the Impossible Girl but, as crazy as it sounds, this was the Doctor's story more than it was Clara's. That was obvious in how the story was told. When Clara finally stepped into the spotlight in the climactic finale of the storyline -The Name of the Doctor- it was over almost before it began.

In short, Clara doesn't have a story yet. She's merely a character in the Doctor's. I hope to see much more involvement from her in the future season. There are so many possibilities. Now that she isn't the Impossible Girl anymore, perhaps she can just be Clara, because Clara has the potential to be my favorite companion yet.


  1. 'It's smaller on the outside.'

    Haha!! This line is when I fell in love with her.

    "this was the Doctor's story more than it was Clara's"

    I've always thought this was the case with each companion. The companions, to me, serve as an excellent vehicle for exposition. Basically, The Doctor has already seen and knows everything, but having a companion nearby allows him to explain to us normal earth folks, "Okay, these are good/bad or this culture needs to be interacted in a certain way."

    You are right about the (anti)climactic finale for Clara in The Name of the Doctor. I think it would have been awesome (oh, ummmm... SPOILERS for those who haven't seen it) if she had sacrificed herself to save the Doctor, as she intended. Instead she hops in, does stuff behind the scenes which we don't ever really get, and then the Doctor swoops in and saves her. No sacrifice, no price to pay, nothing. She went from The Impossible Girl to the girl who won't leave The Doctor's side in fear she'll get left behind. And, yes, Clara deserves more. However, The Name of the Doctor finally gave us the War "Doctor" and filled in many important gaps to the Doctor Who storyline, so in a way, it was another form of exposition provided by Clara. After all, the Doctor knew what the "9th Doctor" had done.

    "Clara doesn't have a story yet"

    To me, she's had as much a story as several other companions, so this is where we differ. I really enjoyed the "Impossible Girl" mystery and how it worked out. But I do believe she could have more story, as long as the writers remember that the show is called, "Doctor Who" and not "Doctor Who's Companions".

    "Clara has the potential to be my favorite companion yet."

    Again, I disagree (but we can still be friends). She'll never measure up to Amy Pond in my heart and mind. While the companions offer exposition, they also offer emotions that the Doctor isn't always free to express, especially when it comes to the Doctor himself. We often care for the Doctor because his companions care for him. Amy Pond always added a layer of emotion for me. One of my favorite episodes is the Van Gogh episode because it struck an emotional cord for me. I don't think Matt Smith could have delivered the emotional impact that episode carried by himself. Amy made me care and want to cry at the end (I'm not saying I did or didn't).

    It will be interesting to see Clara and the new Doctor.

    1. Excellent points all around, James. It really is the Doctor's story, but somehow Clara feels less involved in it than any of the other companions have. Lots of times she's more like a sideline character, just on the edge of the story and action, but not fully invested in it. I think it was most obvious in 'The Crimson Horror'; it sometimes feels like they don't quite know what to do with Clara, so they stick her in stasis for half the episode, then let her tag along for the rest.

      Funny you should mention Pond. I always thought she was pretty awesome, but not my favorite. Just now I rewatched 'Angels Take Manhattan', and I may have to alter that opinion. =)

    2. If I rewatch the last season, I'll have to look at how involved she is. I like her excitement and humor, but she doesn't seem to give the show much emotion and I think that is one of the biggest impacts the companions can give us.

      Also, I'm soooo excited that I don't have to withhold Dr. Who references whenever we are in the same room anymore. YAY!!

      Who is your favorite companion?

    3. Clara definitely amuses me, she just needs more 'oomph'.

      I know, right?! I understand ALL THE REFERENCES.

      Bleh. I'm terrible with choosing. I would have said Rose, but after rewatching the last episode with the Ponds, it might be Amy and Rory.