I’ve been thinking about Clara Oswald lately (as one does) and I think I’ve finally realized why I find her character so personally compelling. It’s because she is both always and never herself.
See, society tells us we have to look a certain way, act a certain way, fall into a certain category, or we won’t be accepted or happy. Then there’s the counter-movement found in a lot of popular media, that tells you to be fearlessly yourself and you’ll achieve all your dreams. But neither of these viewpoints really presents a complete picture of what it is to live, because how many of us really fit into one neat box? How many of us know exactly who we are, and want to act on it all the time?
Clara Oswald shows us that you don’t need to act on yourself to be yourself. Much has been said about her tightly controlled image and how far she is willing to go to be perceived in this or that way. But less is said about how all these images she projects are, in fact, who she is.
So....I wanted to request you doing some klangst? Like Maybe one o the two catches lotor kissing the other (much against consent) and then an argument, and possible getting thing cleared up and forgiveness?? aha..
Headcanon that sometime after he loses Clara, the Doctor goes on a rock band tour, and as an encore he always plays a guitar solo that he calls “Clara” (because what better way to attract a young(ish? He can never tell, but the clothes scattered around a room he doesn’t remember look vaguely youthful) woman than with a rock concert?). This encore becomes, improbably, wildly successful, and everyone’s humming it for weeks till it inevitably fades from their memories and they move on to the next song.
Clara is in her late teens at the time, and the song catches her fancy when she’s setting her new ringtone. It’s named after her, she says, only half joking (even then she is certain she is special, set apart for something amazing), and chooses it. Never caught the band’s name, but then she’s never been interested in that sort of thing, she thinks, humming the tune absently.
When the Doctor starts strumming chords in the Tardis, after Skaro, she is startled. He will stare at her, gentle in his intensity, and plink out a chord, then another. (He won’t tell her what he’s doing, and she doesn’t want to push in case he decides to stop playing altogether.) Something about the music always reminds her of late-night conversations with far-off friends in college, and the day she found out she’d been offered the job at Coal Hill, and the moment of breathless dread when she’d called Danny, ready to tell him everything (but that comes far too close to remembering the moment when the phone went dreadfully silent, and her mind skates away). She’s not sure why it sounds so familiar. It’s probably just another of the Doctor’s many anachronisms.
It’s not until she meets the Doctor in a Utah diner that she realizes what the song had been.
Some of the best/most memorable moments of the RTD era, just because:
•The devastation in Nine’s eyes when Jabe says “Time Lord” in “The End of the World”
•the Dalek being able to levitate in “Dalek”
•the stupid preciousness of Rose trying to say “Raxacoricofallapatorius” in “Boom Town” and her exuberant hugs with Nine and Jack
•the soundless “ex-ter-min-ate” outside Lynda’s window during “The Parting of the Ways” before the Daleks smash through
•In the same episode, that close-up of Rose/Bad Wolf’s face when she says “I want you safe—my Doctor” and the light in her eyes dies out for a second and there are tears running down her cheeks. And you can see that she is burning up and falling apart but she doesn’t stop, and you can tell that she knows she going to die and doesn’t care if it means he’s safe
•Jackie’s shriek of “I’m gonna get killed by a Christmas tree” in “The Christmas Invasion” (I C O N I C)
•"That, that, that is textbook enigmatic"
•Ten’s smug smile at Rose’s exasperation in “School Reunion” when she’s serving chips
•K-9’s increasingly sassy versions of “We are in a car”
•"A door once opened may be stepped through in either direction"
•The Doctor’s giggle when he finds out Rose is a dog in the parallel universe, and Rose being increasingly fed up with him
•"I believe in her"
•Ursula getting preserved as a concrete slab (w h a t)(it wasn’t best but it sure was memorable)
•The Doctor crying in the Tardis when he’s cut off during “Doomsday”
•Jackie hugging Rose on the beach
•"I’m not—I’m not—I’m not from Mars??“ said as though Ten is no longer sure whether he is or not
•Martha’s face as she looks at the Earth from the moon
•The Doctor deciding that electrocuting himself at the top of the Empire State Building is a good idea
•"Don’t they teach recreational mathematics anymore?” Lol FAVE
•"If the Doctor had never visited us, if he’d never chosen this place, on a whim…would anybody here have died?“
•The music in the background of the Master’s hunt for Martha on the streets during "Last of the Time Lords”
•"You’re not falling, Astrid. You’re flying" (I don’t care what you say, I loved this stupid episode)
•Donna waving at fat and her weirded-out look afterward
•When Rose first shows up in “Partners in Crime” like !!!!!
•Halpen TURNING INTO AN OOD WHAT WAS THAT
•Martha breaking down in tears when the Hath dies
•Donna’s enraged “What? Who did I kill?!” in “The Unicorn and the Wasp”
•River’s last words being “Spoilers”
•The Doctor’s look of utter desolation after River dies
•Donna’s frantic clinging to her children when the data core world starts falling apart
•That moment of cold horror when the Doctor questions whether the people on the train would really kill Sky and the Hostess says, “I would”
•The look of complete terror in Ten’s eyes when he starts copying Sky
•THE MUSIC WHILE TEN AND ROSE ARE RUNNING TOWARDS EACH OTHER
•"No really, you can hug me" Donna is so thirsty for Captain Jack and I love it
•ThaT KISS MY PRECIOUS BABIES
•The sudden drop in your stomach when Donna keeps repeating “Binary—binary—binary—”
•That awful moment when Wilf swings the door open and Ten is holding Donna
•Rosita being more competent than everybody else in “The Next Doctor”
•Jackson Lake’s Tardis being a hot-air balloon (that episode was so adorable tbh)
•That feeling of foreboding when Ten turns down Lady Christina de Souza
•Steffi watching the video from her family as she is hit by the water on Mars
•The quiet flash of light after Adelaide enters her house in “Waters of Mars,” and Ten’s broken “I’ve gone too far"—an understated scene but no less chilling for all that
•Ten and Wilf crying together in the cafe
•Ten deciding that jumping through a ceiling was in any way a good idea
•Jack’s final salute
•"Was she happy, in the end?”
•Donna getting a happy ending
•"I bet you’re gonna have a really great year"
•The change in Ten’s expression when he starts regenerating and you can see his choice to die bravely
Okay but the scene in “Journey’s End” where Ten wipes Donna’s memory…it’s ugly, and awful, and painful, but it’s not simple and painting it as such is doing it an injustice.
Donna doesn’t want her memory wiped. She doesn’t want to go back. But her mind is burning up and she has Shaun to look forward to, and maybe kids, and years with her granddad. I’m sure Ten didn’t want to violate her mind ever, let alone in the way he did, but she was dying and she was his best friend.
Maybe it was the wrong decision. Maybe it was unforgivable. But—if your best friend was dying, slowly and scared and in pain—would you let them die if you had a way to practically guarantee them a happy, normal life?
That scene is awful and it rips me up inside every time. The moment when Ten advances on Donna, unstoppable even as she pleads for her memories—it’s a horrific action.
But I can’t say Donna wouldn’t have done the same to him, if their situations were reversed. And to be honest, I’m not certain I wouldn’t have done what Ten did either. What if it was my sister, dying like that? My little cousin? My best friend?
Davies is rarely interested in what the “right” thing to do is, in his stories—he’s interested in the human thing. And this scene is Ten at his most human, in all his messy complexity, even as he performs an inhuman act of cruelty.
There’s nothing nice about this story. But to unambiguously condemn Ten’s actions is to disregard the questions about human nature raised by “Journey’s End,” and Doctor Who has never been a show to ignore hard questions.
It occurs to me that the cue cards are really indicative of Clara’s need for control and how her desire for a perfect narrative and an epic story didn’t go away after Danny’s death.
The Doctor is terrible at conforming to basic social niceties (or at least he pretends he is—which is a meta all by itself), but he’s really very good at reassurance, comfort, and inspiration. From “Brave heart, Tegan,” from Five to Ten’s “I am so, so sorry” catchphrase to Eleven’s big Pandorica speech and Twelve’s frankly terrifying psychological deconstruction of the Half-Face Man, the Doctor in any incarnation is very much a people person. One of the main reasons he is considered so dangerous is his charismatic ability to persuade, terrorize, or encourage, as Osgood points out in “The Zygon Inversion.”