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Edgar Nikitin
Edgar Nikitin

[S9E10] Face The Raven !!INSTALL!!

Rigsy: You're serious? You actually expect me to give you my death sentence? Clara: I've always wanted a tattoo. You know, something small. Discreet. Rigsy: Clara, cut it out. Clara: Why aren't you listening? I'm under the Mayor's personal protection and it's absolute, apparently. Look she controls the raven, so I will never have to face it.

[S9E10] Face the Raven

Anyway, so the tattoo transferred over to Clara and I waited patiently for the emotional whammy. It never came to be totally honest. I didn't shed a tear, and this coming from a guy who has been weeping consistently over Fitz-Simmons on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 3. That's not to say Capaldi and Coleman didn't nail their final scenes together, they absolutely did. It's just the events and bizarre story failed to elicit an emotional response. Don't get me started on the double-faced aliens and that whole twist.

Clara: Okay, we split up. Cover more ground. I'm good cop, you're bad cop.The Doctor: No no no we don't have... Can I not be the good cop?Clara: Doctor we've discussed this; your face.The Doctor: Oh yeah yeah.

After getting a call from Rigsy, a character we saw in last season's "Flatline," the Doctor and Clara return to London. Rigsy, a graffiti artist and new father, has no memory of his previous day and now has a mysterious tattoo on the back of his neck, a series of numbers that are hauntingly counting down. The Doctor discovers that the tattoo is actually a chronolock, the death mark of something called a Quantum Shade, which assumes the shape of a raven. This chronolock tattoo is counting down to his unpreventable death, but preventing the unpreventable is what the Doctor and Clara are all about, right? They reason out that Rigsy was infected along a mysterious hidden alley, a "trap street," which has become a refugee camp of sorts for aliens fleeing warfare. (The comparison to Harry Potter's "Diagon Alley" is too obvious not to mention.)

This was underlined in "Flatline," when, with the Doctor trapped in a dying TARDIS, Clara has to assume the Doctor's role, taking on a companion, Rigsy. She even refers to herself as "The Doctor" at one point, only half jokingly. And then, in the Season 8 two-part cliffhanger "Dark Water," she does it again at the point of a cliffhanger face-off with a Cyberman. This was memorialized in the next episode "Death in Heaven," when the opening credits lead with Jenna Coleman's name, then show her eyes over the time vortex. And we all laughed, until this season when we realized that Moffat had more going on there than met the eye.

After Ashildr makes it clear that this is now irreversible, the raven is coming for Clara, the Doctor ruefully claims that he should have done more to protect her. He threatens Ashildr in full on "War Doctor" mode, even at one point declaring that "The Doctor is no longer here. You are stuck with me!" But Clara is having none of that, telling the Doctor to remember who he is, that his "reign of terror will end at the sight of the first crying child."

And that's when Jenna Coleman puts into play the full force of her fearsome actor powers. As good as Capaldi was two weeks ago as the Doctor stopped the Zygon rebellion, Coleman is every bit his equal here. Clara, inspired by Danny Pink, who pointedly would not travel with her, who would not be her companion, resolves to do what he did, "Die right. Die like I mean it. Face the raven." The truth of her story arc since the Impossible Girl days is laid out in this exchange:

I admit that the whole concept of the death mark tattoo being transferable from one person to another was awfully convenient. The raven and the tattoos controlled by Ashildr were much too supernatural-type elements for my liking, as well.

  • Why wasn't the stasis chamber considered when Clara had less than 10 minutes to live? It's not even a guarantee that it would have worked, but to have it brought up as a non-viable option would have been worth a few seconds, and to really highlight how hopeless the situation is. As it is, it's a plot device that could have been a possible means to save Clara but got looked over. Stopping time for Clara wouldn't stop the clock for the chronolock entity, though. All that would change would be that she'd be unconscious when she died.

  • So why not just pick up the raven's cage and drop it into stasis instead? Or otherwise trap the shade inside it? Surely it'd be worth a shot to at least have Clara try and lead it into the thing when it came for her.

  • The thing doesn't need the raven, it just needs a physical host to interact with the world. Get rid of the Raven and it will simply choose another one. As for why not imprisoning it in the stasis field, its described as being outside normal space and time, its possible nothing would actually contain it.

  • Filtering the Janus Every other creature in the trap street is masked by the worm filter; why aren't the Janus? Even after knowing the true nature of the other inhabitants, they all appear human apart from minor flickers, but both Janus have clearly visible second faces throughout. Possibly the Janus are unable to disguise themselves for some reason. It would explain why Anah felt it necessary to play a Sweet Polly Oliver with her child, rather than simply conceal her own species and the girl's outright.

  • It may not have been necessary because, save for the second face, the Januses look human. The filter was only used for species like the Sontarans and Cybermen who could not pass as human.

  • Why doesn't the Doctor use regeneration energy on Clara? We know from "The Witch's Familiar" that he can voluntarily transfer it to others if need be. Clara's body is intact; if he wanted to he could give up a life's worth of energy for her, and she'd be right as rain, and he could be delivered to his enemies knowing he has one last good deed to be proud of. Why doesn't he even consider it? Perhaps doing that (or resurrecting her by any other means) would just cause the raven to come back and kill her again. Depends just how far it takes "you can't cheat it".

  • What was said above and Ashildr does say that the spectre "was promised a soul" - granted we have very varying ways how the show has dealt with souls in the past, but usually losing your soul is the one way to become deader than dead.

  • There is also no indication that regeneration energy transfer would actually work on someone who is dead. Previously it was used to cure the Doctor of poisoning and fix River's wrist, plus it was used to revive Davros. But in none of those occasions was the person actually deceased. If the Doctor were able to, there is no guarantee that Clara would not find herself in the same state as Owen Harper did after he was revived in Torchwood. Which was not the same situation as Clara finds herself in "Hell Bent" where she is in a state of time-locked life, not death with consciousness. If the Doctor were able to revive people using regeneration energy, he'd have done it by now with other people - including Ashildr in "The Girl Who Died."



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