One piece of criticism I often see levelled at Clara Oswald is that she was too powerful, too influential, too much a “spotlight-stealing squad” (to use a term from TVtropes.org which has a small write-up devoted to this). And I’ve seen some people outright ask why Clara got all the attention, while Amy, Rose, River, Martha, Donna, etc. didn’t.
Well, first off, that’s nonsense. As Russell T Davies and Steven Moffat have continually said since 2005, the companion is the co-lead in the modern era of Who, and the show is usually told from the point of view of the companion. Not too far removed from An Unearthly Child back in 1963 which was almost totally from the perspective of Barbara and Ian. You want a case of a show being taken back to its roots, you can’t go further back than Episode One. And during their time, all the modern companions have been in the spotlight. We’re going to see it happen again in a few weeks with Bill. Companions in Doctor Who are by their nature “spotlight-stealing squads”, at least the ongoing ones. The only way around that would be a season of nothing but “Heaven Sents” (which is not necessarily the paradise one would imagine) or the Doctor having a different companion every story which is what they’ve been trying to do with Twelve in the comics after dropping Clara, with very mixed results. And I personally find the novels in which the Doctor (any Doctor) has an adventure without a regular, established companion less appealing than those that do.
But there is another reason that I consistently see missed as to why Clara Oswald, specifically, was as influential as she was.
Clara Oswald was the Golden Companion. That is, she was the companion created to accompany the Doctor for the golden anniversary of Doctor Who. 50 years of Romanas, Sarah Janes, Adrics, Leelas, Ians, Tegans, Roses, Marthas, Donnas, Amys … all those who came before, were in some measure distilled into a companion that represented a half century of the “best of the best” who travelled with the Doctor.
In “The Name of the Doctor” we see Clara echoed throughout the Doctor’s entire existence. In “The Day of the Doctor”, after The Moment fails to convince the Doctor not to push the button, Clara makes the Doctor choose an alternative. In “The Time of the Doctor”, Clara convinces the Time Lords to give the Doctor more regenerations (so that means every Doctor from Capaldi on out will exist because of Clara). In “Listen”, she gives the Doctor his inspiration as a young child. Ultimately, she leaves the series in “Hell Bent” as “a” Doctor in all but name. Which is perfectly fitting and a culmination of an amazing character arc that I know will be reevaluated positively by many in the years to come.
Is that a lot for a single companion to accomplish? Maybe. But then how many 50th anniversary companions are we likely to ever see?
I love how Capaldi’s voice goes extra-gravelly on “Come on, it’s Christmas, the North Pole – who you gonna call?!” ggggguh the shivers.
Also, he has snow in his hair and on his eyebrows!! EXTRA dramz!
And he’s wearing a black hoodie and, seemingly, the holey shirt at the SAME TIME. WHY has the Who fandom not crashed at this confluence of events?! and more to the point, why have I not freaked out about this yet in a public place?
Father Christmas: “Believer until the age of 9. Why did you stop?”
Clara: “Cos you’re a fairy tale. …I grew out of fairytales.”
::whooshing sound of Tardis materialising as Clara stands there in her nightie::
Father Christmas: “Did you, Clara? Did you really?”
OKAY YOU GOT ME NICK FROST. I DIDN’T! I’M STILL IN LOVE WITH ONE!!!!! Ya HAPPY NOW?!!!!
…More to the point, Clara’s in her night clothes an awful lot this episode, and just like the Doctor, with his hoodie over his holey shirt, it’s a double act… Her blue bathrobe goes over her white collarless nightie thing…
and nightie thing:
And then, the Doctor appears!
“Clara! I want you to step inside the Tardis. I don’t want. you. to talk. I want you to do as I ask. PLEASE.”
The “Do as you’re told” dynamic of theirs is back in full force… My “power plays are the heart of the Twelve/Clara relationship” senses are more than tingling… also hits ‘the Doctor is so protective/possessive of Clara’ buttons…
AND THEN what I can only describe as the Doctor’s fucking hawk face to Father Christmas after Clara goes inside the Tardis… he’s like ’watch the fuck out Claus that’s my bey’
Aaaaand as we all know, Clarakisseshimonthecheek, and the Doctor morphs into an adorably shocked owl. I can’t really say any more without combusting.
Well. and she does the deed whilst wearing that nightie undershirt thing
And I dunno, there’s just seemingly generally a lot of sexy fierce, concerned face going on throughout, which i can’t help but be approving of
and my fave, c)
and it also looks as if Clara cries at one point, which is always actually great cos Jenna Coleman is amazing at being sad in a way you can’t resist or ignore, as the Doctor himself of course has pointed out to us many times:
“Five-foot-one and crying. You never stood a chance.” and “It’s the sad smile. It’s a smile but you’re sad. It’s confusing. It’s like two emotions at once. It’s like you’re malfunctioning.” and “Stop it with the eyes. Don’t do that with the eyes. How do you do that, anyway? It’s like they inflate!”
Thanks, Clara. You give us and the Doctor the feelz
and i really don’t know what’s with the tangerines tho, but if it means Capaldi’ll take ridiculous semi-sultry photos like this, i’m sold