Doctor Who Season 9.10 – Face The Raven (Lots of Spoilers and Grumbling)

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So after last week’s damp squib, and given the rest of the series has pretty much been good and that we have been promised a SIGNIFICANT EVENT, was is actually any good?

Well . . .

In the spirit of being nice, I shall compare it favourably to another episode.  Remember “Utopia” from David Tennant’s second Season?  The story was kind of lame and perfunctory and the actual ‘get the humans to safety’ thing really wasn’t the point. The point was the big shock revelation leading to an epic two part season finale.

And I hope that is what is happening here because frankly, there was barely a story in “Face the Raven”.  There was a lovely set, some great costumes and the effects were good. I even liked the idea of an alien refuge – reminded me of Neverwhere in a twisted kind of way. But really? That was a send off?

I was hoping that the return of Me/Ashildr/Mayor would signal something explosive; I even thought the return of Riggsy would provide some sort of interest, but his entire role was to show us his neck.  What a waste of two characters.

Was I the only person who was emotionally unmoved?  All of this build up; Clara’s recklessness and arrogance over the last series; Me’s rise, and growing threat, and it all boiled down to one person getting angry, three people standing around with mouths dropping and eyes popping. Was there actually any acting going on? Probably not. Everyone just stood about, there was so much Just Standing About.

And that ending.

Yes, it was cool that she ‘faced the raven’ with dignity, head held high; yes, it was an interesting note that the Doctor really couldn’t do anything this time but . . .that multi camera fall was too cheesy for words. The ultimate mood killer.

If the episode belong to anyone, then it would probably be the raven who was as he should be, brooding, menacing, hitting all his marks; Clara came a close second but frankly, it would have been a much more affecting death if the rest of the episode had had even the slightest amount of chutzpah, but it was just sterile and unengaging. And that’s the fault of the director, I suppose. The direction was hopelessly static.

It wasn’t as bad as Sleep No More (and therefore not as bad as Kill the Moon) but what a turgid episode and what a deeply disappointing end to Clara’s tenure as companion.

But then, of course, if you’ve seen this month’s ‘Doctor Who Monthly’, the cover features Clara dressed as a waitress in an American diner (the same one seen in The Impossible Astronaut).  We haven’t seen that location/costume in the series yet. So is she really dead?  Or is this diner alternative life for her?   Is this where she finally gets to meet alterna-Danny/Orson Pink and live happy ever after? Or is the death of Clara some odd misdirection and has Missy stolen her away, as she has done before, and prepping her to turn against the Doctor?

Either way, I hope to god whatever happens is better than Face the Raven.

To be brutally honest, I think Clara has long outstayed her welcome, anyway. If she had left with the Christmas special as “Old Lady Clara”, that would have been rather lovely. This season though, she only seemed to be there to be a bit of a twat.

She’s got from being an underdeveloped enigma, to a bitchin’ kick-ass sidekick, practically owning the show, then . . .  just a sort of cypher. She has spent this series saying ‘look at me, I’m reckless’ without any other sort of growth or character.  The only time Clara was really interesting this series was when she wasn’t Clara at all.

Hey ho.

Here’s hoping  that whatever the diner picture signifies gives us a more satisfying conclusion.

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