Talk about an emotional roller coaster! On or off the Tardis, Clara?
There were lots of psychological themes to this episode-addiction, the Doctor as ancient mummy unable to stop (aka addiction), illness and vulnerability, lying… But I think I’ll focus on the relationship, as I am wont to do…
Off the top..I’ll admit…I got the air knocked out of me by this episode. I had been so sure that we were going to see some significant shift in the Doctor after Kill the Moon. Yet, Clara turned on a dime, tossing out last week’s protest by declaring it a “big wobble” and rejoining the Doctor. So, I took a few days to settle down, breathing deeply, and then watched it again. I enjoyed it much more the second time.
In trying to figure out why I was so darn disapointed, I realized that I had decided Clara telling-off the Doctor would change him. I’ll confess, I haven’t bought into Capaldi yet. I believe in Moffat and I believe that I will buy on by the end of the season, but it hasn’t happened yet. I am still searching Capaldi’s performances for my favorite characteristics from the New Who Doctors-warmth, kindness, protectiveness, and compassion. Capaldi’s Doctor, so far, is smart, witty, funny, bold, arrogant, and a little off his rocker; awesome characteristics of the Doctor. But, he isn’t kind. After Kill the Moon, I decided that the Doctor will have heard Clara and softened. That didn’t happen. And yet…while this episode didn’t match my fantasy of change…the Doctor did change.
Despite having instructed Clara to lie to Maisie to get her into the club car with the scientists, the Doctor took on Maisies sadness and fear in order to make himself the target. It was a classic, compassionate, Doctor Who move. Later, on the beach, when Clara questioned his tactics, the Doctor softened and, for one of the few times this season, let her into his head.
“So you were pretending to be heartless.”
“Would you like to think that about me? Would that make it easier? I didn’t know if I could save her. I couldn’t save Quell. I couldn’t save Moorehouse. There was a good chance that she’d die, too. At which point…I would have just moved on to the next…and the next until I beat it. Sometimes, the only choices are bad ones, but you still have to choose.”
Not as warm as I wanted, but better. I think it was enough for Clara, was well.
I keep thinking back to the moment in Deep Breath that I believe defines this season for Clara. The Half-Faced Man asks her where the Doctor is. Clara responds,
“I don’t know. But I know where he will be. Where he will always be. If the Doctor is still the Doctor…he will have my back.”
Clara got so angry last week because he chose to literally and figuratively not have her back; the one thing about him she trusts. But this week, he made a different choice. I think that made all the difference.
Lots of us change our minds about relationships. We like to think we don’t. We like to believe that relationship choices are black and white. I have at least one client a week say, “I’d just kick him (her) to the curb if he did that to me!” We say it to our friends all the time, telling them how they should handle their relationships. (Friends make the worse relationship advisors!) But the truth is, often the reasons to stay are more important than the reasons to leave, even when we always thought we would. There is rarely a right answer about staying in a relationship, there is only our answer.
This discussion assumes a context of a non-abusive relationship. When violence and cruelty are involved, it gets much more complicated and people often need the help of family and friends to make choices that allow them to protect themselves. If you have experienced physical/sexual violence or emotional/psychological cruelty in your relationship, talking to your friends and getting support is the most important thing you can do. For more information go to
Favorite moment in the episode: “Mystery shopper!”