Clara, Clara, Clara. What are you up to, girl?
Clara seems to be sinking ever deeper into her TARDIS addiction, and can you blame her? I feel eminently confident that if that blue box showed up on my front porch, I would have at it until the Doctor kicked me out.
Yet, Clara is (and has been) hurting others in order to continue her TARDIS traveling. Danny asks her if she is in trouble and she lies. She tells the Doctor multiple times that Danny is fine with her traveling, when he’s not. Lying is a central component of addiction. Moffat acknowledge in Doctor Who Extra that part of the purpose of this episode was to strengthen the addiction storyline.
Another core component of addiction is tolerance, which means needing greater amounts of the drug to get the same results. What could possible feel better than traveling with the Doctor? Being the Doctor! Clara is definitely upping the ante. She is also becoming more and more willing to go to any lengths to stay on the TARDIS, a third component of addiction. If Clara were my patient, we’d be talking about the balance between what she gets from her time with the Doctor and what it costs. In this episode, it appears that she is willing to pay the price of Danny’s trust in her and the integrity of their relationship to stay with the Doctor.
This is not the first time the challenges of TARDIS travel have been central to the companion storyline. The Ponds’ ambivalence about continuing with the Doctor served as a primary focus of season 7B. However, unlike Clara, they didn’t appear to be willing to mess up the good stuff in their life to keep adventuring. They began to question what they wanted out of their lives and whether TARDIS travel gave them those things. Clara questioned and rejected the Doctor, but was then seduced back into a TARDIS high.
Clara rejected the Doctor in anger, rather than as a decision. This, I believe, lies at the heart of Danny’s talk with Clara at the end of Kill the Moon. Don’t leave because you are mad, he told her, leave because it is the right thing for you and your life. I haven’t been thrilled with Danny, but I do believe he has been misunderstood. Danny deeply understands Clara’s attraction to danger and excitement, he was a soldier after all. I don’t think he asked her to stop traveling with the Doctor. He expressed concern that the Doctor is too impulsive and careless with his companions (A la Rory in Vampires of Venice) and that Clara is too enthralled to make good decisions. All he asked (well…unfortunately more like required) from Clara is that she let him know if she is in real trouble. This week, swinging from a retro ceiling chair, very close to being absorbed by flattening monster, she denies the danger. Total addict.
Taking a different point of view, I can recall no episode in which anyone worried about a male companion becoming so enthralled with the Doctor that his ability to make good decisions became impaired. Happy to be corrected about this, but if true, is reflective of the show’s ongoing struggle with sexist gender roles, both in front of and behind the camera.
Back to addiction…Being the shrink that I am, I wonder why Clara is so addicted? We know that addictive behavior comes from the need to have something outside of us balance/soothe/regulate what is happening inside of us. What is unbalancing Clara so much? What is creating so much internal distress that the need to avoid/suppress/distract herself from it is worth lying to the man she loves?
Perhaps living eleven previous lives to save her best friend, then watching him grow old and almost die in front of her eyes, only to witness him reborn into a grumpy, mean old man was a little bit more trauma than Clara’s system could take. As the Doctor has been plagued by self-doubt and recrimination for his past decisions, perhaps Clara has also been trying to work it out…or has needed to. Between starting a relationship with Danny and the Doctor’s endless self-absorption, Clara has not had the space or time to take care of her own business. Perhaps Clara has become addicted to danger because there has been no room in the TARDIS for her to heal. So, to manage the questions and pain and fear, she keeps throwing herself in the thick of it, no matter what the cost. If this is true, well done Misters Mathieson and Moffat!
(Maybe the Doctor and Danny will finally bury the hatchet as they join together to take care of Clara?)
Totally Surplufluous Question to Create the Appearance that this Blog Has Value: Is there anything in your life you are unwilling to give up? What price are you paying to have it in your life? Is it worth it?