I have re-watched The Name of the Doctor several times, and no matter how many times I watch it again, I still remain extremely irritated by the same scenes. It’s a problem to have a love for a show that exhibits some really cool ideas, yet depicts scenes that happens to make me clinch my teeth.
This scene really continues to irk me every single I watch this episode.
On the one hand, this is actually one of the coolest scenes in Doctor Who history. There have been many, many references to classic Who throughout multiples during the revival of the show, including in The Next Doctor, The Stolen Earth, Gridlock, Nightmare in Silver, and The Crimson Horror. This single episode is an amazing game changer in a manner by which classic Who can influence new Who, and that’s awesome.
No other character depicted in the revival has interacted directly with the First Doctor as he was stealing the TARDIS to begin his travels. It sets Clara a part from even Rose Tyler in the history of the show.
The part that irks me so much is really two things. First, she says she was “born to save the Doctor” which makes her character completely dependent on the Doctor. The existence of her character depends on the Doctor, instead of functioning as an independent character, with her own life, her own connections, and her own decision making. Clara is simply a plot device. Jumping into the Doctor’s timestream to save him is even ruined because the Doctor then goes and saves her from her own decision in the first place, gutting out that decision as truly being depicted as altruistic. Clara’s existence is solely to move the plot forward so the character of the Doctor can grow, change, and learn – not so Clara can do those things.
Second, after Clara jumps into the Doctor’s timestream, she says “I don’t know where I am.” Of course, she should know she is, as she decided moments before to jump into his timestream to save him. Essentially, not only is the single most important decision her character makes gutted, but as she is in the middle of her decision – she is saying she doesn’t even know where she is. Really?
Initially, in her characters first appearance, as Oswin Oswald in Asylum of the Daleks, I was excited for this companion. In that story, Oswin is depicted as multi-dimensional as she expressed she decided to join the starliner Alaska‘s crew as Junior Entertainment Manager to see the universe. Regrettably, this version of Clara had been turned into a Dalek after crashing on the planet of the Dalek Asylum, yet still believed herself to be human, and acted independently of the Dalek’s nature.
Two unfortunate factors plague this version though:
- Her skimpy outfit depicted was not her physical presence to the Doctor, and thus becomes an object of desire for male viewership. It makes her intelligent decisions in vain, because she is sexualized to the audience.
- This death of Clara does serve to move the story forward for the Doctor, including by removing the Doctor’s identity from the memory banks of the Daleks. Her death serves the Doctor, really, and not the existence of her character.
- This version of Clara is depicted as a “monster” as we meet her as a Dalek. She isn’t human, unfortunately, and of course, must die in some manner because of this.
Unlike Oswin’s depiction, which is presented as more of a coincidence that she met the Doctor (and doesn’t even know who he is), rather than being dependent upon him. The genuine depiction of Clara is not so lucky, as she is born to save the Doctor, which ruins the wonderful and refreshing addition that this ‘echo’ of Clara actually accomplishes.
As shown here, nothing in her personal story depicted is a direct connection to the Doctor meeting her at the Asylum. The fact that she is later shown to be making a decision to save the Doctor guts this all out. It ruins it. The character is no longer independent anymore, even in this version.
I do hope that next year’s story for this character improves, but I doubt it.