In my first post on this topic (which can be neatly summed up by the words “asdjgl;hhgahag argh mOFFAT”), I wasn’t able to explain exactly why I was so disappointed in the latest episode of Doctor Who. So I’ve been thinking about it, and I think the thing that ticked me off was not so much that Clara forgave the Doctor after her awesome ragefest last week (I loved it I loved it I loved it)…..
…..it was that we didn’t get to see her forgive him. I mean, yes, they said words on screen that mean that everything is nice and cozy again and on with the adventures—
—but they outright skipped the weeks it apparently took Clara to calm down from “Kill the Moon.” And the problem with skipping those weeks, those weeks full of Clara ranting at Danny during lunchtime about how much she can’t stand the Doctor and those quiet times at night when she just chugs through a pint of ice cream while looking at the stars, is that we the viewers don’t feel them. For us, it was Clara Angry to Clara Accepting and Sad to Clara Let’s Travel Again. But that’s missing out on huge, important moments for Clara, in between the anger and the sadness. I mean, how did they even reunite again? Isn’t that important? How do you contact the proud alien space insect telling him you want in again? Did she phone him all awkwardly or did he come to her? What was Twelve doing for those weeks—was he alone, was he with River, did it matter to him at all that she left? This is important character stuff, but we skipped it because….because….um, space mummies. Kids like that, right?
And what makes this character-skipping-adventure-jumping all the more frustrating is that it’s not an isolated occurrence in this show that I love. For a man obsessed with timey-wimey mechanics, Moffat consistently shows a deep misunderstanding on what time means. Like, time—not jumping forwards or jumping back, but what ages mean, the movement through eras and thought, the pacing of hours. Time rarely matters to his characters: Eleven spends centuries escaping death and centuries waiting for it on Trenzalore, but the weight of these years hits the viewer just as big numbers, not as the lifetimes they are. Rory waits for 2000 years, but he doesn’t really change—he just waits, and then he’s back to the derpy lovable Hufflepuff. River Song is a child in the 60s in New York and then somehow ends up in Leadworth for the 90s, a fairly normal cutup despite the loss, the decades apparently spent waiting for her parents to be born. All of history collapses in the finale of series 6, despite the fact that this means absolutely nothing because time isn’t just a bunch of historical characters and pterodactyls. Amy tries to get a divorce at the beginning of series 7, even though we skipped all the buildup to that drastic decision in favor of Ood jokes.
Basically, time lacks consequence for Moffat. The big fancy millennia are fun to throw around, and time loops are enjoyable enough, but time—time for characters to change, time’s drag and pull, time that moves forward in a neverending chain of reaction—is always skipped in favor of cute jokes and scary monsters. We miss out on time that is important to the characters, and that is a loss to the world’s best time travel story. We miss out on what time means to humanity because we’re so busy seeing how many zeroes we can add to the end of our century. And that’s sad, because humanity’s time, with its “weddings and Christmas and calendars,” is a beautiful thing to focus on.