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30 November 2015 @ 07:36 pm
Face the Raven  
NB. Not seen Heaven Sent yet because I'm in Delft. I'm desperately trying to avoid getting spoiled until I get home.

One of Doctor Who's strengths can be its ability to play in other people's sandboxes and, in the process, make them distinctively its own. The most obvious predecessor of Mayor Me's trap street is Diagon Alley, but children's literature is full of magical byways tucked away just out of sight of regular humans and the trap street is tapping in to all those archetypes. However Diagon Alley and its predecessors tend to be the natural environment of the ancient and the magical where this is a refugee camp, with the twist that many of those that have fled here are the foot soldiers of invasions defeated by the Doctor. That makes it something distinctive, it may be magical seeming and old-fashioned looking, but it is full of the temporary and the displaced. To be honest, I would have liked to see more exploration of the world of this refugee camp and would have preferred an episode in which the street was found a little earlier and then had space to introduce us to its an its inhabitants properly. While the initial meeting with Rigsy was fun and nicely portrayed the search for the street itself felt a little dull.

There had been pretty strong rumours going around that Clara was to be killed off. I was slightly dubious about them to be honest, no only because Moffat is notoriously unwilling to kill characters, but also because the show has pulled "they're going to die, oh no they aren't" tricks on more than one occasion in the past. Still, the moment the chronolock was transferred to Clara I was pretty sure it was going to end up with her death. The only real question in my mind is whether the death will stick. I reckon its about 50/50 - the story worked hard to play up the significance of the moment and of all the Doctor's companions Clara has been the one who probably feared (or perhaps cared about) the possibility of death the least so it is actually a good way for her to go, on the other hand see above. It was mostly well done, I thought. We've grown used to the Doctor going on vengeance quests, so to see him explicitly ordered not to was an interesting take on the situation and while it was milked a bit for sentimentality, the show didn't linger on fond farewells. I think, ultimately, I will be a little disappointed if Clara is rescued from this.

I'm not sure to what extent, in the long view, Face the Raven will appear as a standalone story and to what extent it will appear the first of a three-parter. It's difficult to really evaluate it, given that it it largely build-up for what comes next. Clara's death gives it a weight and significance but if you remove that (which you could fairly easily without damaging the overall shape of the plot) then it is simply the set-up that leads into the finale.

I'm not sure quite what to make of this one. I liked it, but I don't feel as though the story has really finished yet.

This entry was originally posted at http://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/180468.html.
wellinghallwellinghall on November 30th, 2015 07:15 pm (UTC)
Commenting ability hampered by being on phone, but this is again very much what I thought, only better expressed.
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on November 30th, 2015 07:42 pm (UTC)
daniel_saunders: Leekleydaniel_saunders on December 1st, 2015 12:14 pm (UTC)
I also haven't seen Heaven Sent yet as I've also been out the country. I'm sceptical of Clara's death lasting, though, otherwise why not kill her in the season finale? And Moffat has 'previous' here, to say the least - death in Doctor Who has probably been cheapened.

I think you are right that this may end up looking just like set-up. I guess the obvious parallel is Utopia, which I see as part one of a three-parter, but lots of people (including Davies) see as a stand-alone story. I think of Clara's death was not intrinsic, then it distorted an interesting set-up.

I'm still looking forward to the last two episodes, though.
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on December 2nd, 2015 08:43 am (UTC)
Moffat doesn't just have previous for not killing people (and Moffat isn't the only culprit here in that Davies hinted strongly that Rose would die in the run up to Billie Piper' departure, and even within the story itself). However, Moffat also has previous for writing that revolves around tricks and devices and that, I would suggest, encourages people to think there is something else going on here.

I'm looking forward to the last two episodes two. If Clara is dead, I think I'm satisfied with how he went. If she isn't, then I think a lot will depend upon the execution...
a_cubeda_cubed on December 1st, 2015 10:44 pm (UTC)
I was disappointed with Clara's death. I thought it lacked emotional punch. I'm not sure why, but for me it just seemed to come too much out of nowhere. The point about Mayor Me's "absolute" protection mentioned when Clara takes the mark looks like a misfired Chekov's gun to me.
As to whether the death will stick, I think it will, but that we'll see Jenna Coleman in the next two episodes. I haven't seen Heaven Sent yet, either, but the trailer for it showed a world of illusion and mis-direction. So, like we got Danny Pink in last year's Christmas Special, or like we got Billie Piper in The Day of the Doctor, I think we may see Clara or just Jenna Coleman in the last two episodes.
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on December 2nd, 2015 08:57 am (UTC)
I think we expect protagonists to die in grand gestures of some sort, and this wasn't portrayed as such. It was just Clara attempting to be the Doctor, as usual. And ultimately she didn't "save" anyone because Rigsy would have been saved anyway - though it felt less pointless than Adric's death, when she took the chronolock, Rigsy had not yet been saved. I think all of that was the point - this was the logical end to where Clara's character had been going, and I think you could argue that while she was always reckless, she'd almost had a death wish since she lost Danny Pink. We also know Jenna's leaving and given where the character is, there's an awful lot of character development that would be needed to get her to a point where she no longer needed to travel with the Doctor.

Given it seems the logical end for her character, I would be inclined to think that this really was it, were it not for Moffat's penchant for tricks and surprises. On the other hand I think this season and last he's been really trying to rein back on that tendency and focus a lot more on character development instead of plotting sleight of hand. Frankly it could go either way, I think. The death works as it stands (for me anyway), but a good save could work too.

I agree that we are likely to see Clara either as flashback, illusion or mental imagery in the next two episodes.

My guess would be that Mayor Me's protection was not absolute (well clearly not) she only said it was. Part of the problem clearly is that in reality she only has limited control over her community (otherwise she wouldn't need something as drastic as the Quantum Shade to impose her authority nor would she need to be making deals with whoever she's made a deal with (probably/possibly/depends)). I think we're supposed to realise a lot of what she says is posturing. Clara's problem is that she didn't realise this (it's not clear if the Doctor did or didn't, I suspect he at least guessed at it), and she's not the Doctor and didn't understand what he was doing with the chronolock. I don't think it a misfired Checkov's gun exactly, but I think the show needs to come back and explore the situation further - and we need a more fleshed out character arc for Me or at least some more explicit understanding that the nature of her memories leads her into a recurring pattern of gradual detachment followed by a horrific mistake and revelation.
cynthia2015cynthia2015 on December 4th, 2015 02:41 am (UTC)
I bet the Doctor now regrets giving Ashildr, I'm sorry "Me" immortality. She is clearly not the girl that he first met anymore. We already saw the change in 'The woman who lived". Even though Clara also contributed to her own death subconsciously or not.

I didn't like her phrasing of "saving the world from the Doctor". She isn't exactly in the position to be so judgmental. But she wasn't the "bad guy" either.

I've never watched "Game of Thrones". So I take the actress at face value. I've heard praise from those who do.

Edited at 2015-12-04 02:44 am (UTC)
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on December 4th, 2015 09:08 am (UTC)
I assume there are further plans for Me and it would be interesting to see where the show is going with her. Like Clara, I think she assumes she has a better handle on things than she actually does, but unlike Clara she has the potential to develop that experience, albeit one that is limited by her memory limitations.

It must be said, I'm not convinced by the actress, I'm not seeing the range I think is required to convey an immortal and sometimes the delivery seems a bit wooden (to me, at least). I also haven't seen Game of Thrones so I'm judging on just what I've seen here.
cynthia2015cynthia2015 on December 4th, 2015 12:09 pm (UTC)
I hope there is a major pay off over "Me". She has been heavily featured in this series. Which meant Clara had less screen time. Which is ashamed since it was the last series for Jenna Coleman.

For those who don't watch Maise Williams previous work would refer to it as "smug" acting. But I try to compare it to John Barrowmans Jack. Although he is an adult. He would have a better handle at dealing with life's challenges compared to a young woman. Her mannerisms remind me of a young Drew Barrymore.

I'll wait until the end of the series to pass judgement.

Edited at 2015-12-04 12:10 pm (UTC)
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on December 5th, 2015 03:28 pm (UTC)
I think Immortal Jack works better than Me, but to be honest, even there I preferred cheeky Doctor Who Jack to brooding Torchwood Jack and, in both cases, I would say the actor wasn't quite up to the demands of the scripts.
cynthia2015cynthia2015 on December 5th, 2015 11:36 pm (UTC)
Jack did get a spin-off of his own. I can't imagine "Me" being the lead of her own series. Unless the actress did a dramatic turn with her character. I hope Moffat didn't just hire her because she is on Game of Thrones.

I would like to have seen her interact with Jack though, because she obviously has been in contact with Torchwood. She has access to the retcon. Unless it was the Time Lords.

I did think that bit where she turns her back from everyone and hands over her coat to someone a bit over the top. Who thought that was a good directive move?.

For the record, I can't take the name "Me" seriously because it sounds like how you would pronounce the word "noodles" in Indonesian, which is spelt "mie".

Edited at 2015-12-05 11:37 pm (UTC)
louisedennislouisedennis on December 7th, 2015 01:47 pm (UTC)
I hope Moffat didn't just hire her because she is on Game of Thrones.

He probably did. Or at least, given its clearly a celebrity role, I imagine there was a list of celebrity actresses with genre appeal and they were approached in turn to see if they were available and interested. I doubt she auditioned for the part.

FWIW I thought she was much better in Hell Bent than she had been in the previous episodes.
cynthia2015cynthia2015 on December 8th, 2015 10:32 am (UTC)
Like how Karen Gillian may have gotten the part of Amy so that Moffat could make Scottish references?. She thought her audition was for another role.

Maisie Williams was better when she was talking with the Doctor, than at him. At least that's how I interpreted it as.

I guess Clara will be busy trying to finish her list of things to do before she is officially dead. Who is going to tell her family?.

Too bad we didn't see her encounter with Jane Austen.

Edited at 2015-12-08 10:34 am (UTC)