moffat's women series

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Moffat’s Women - Jenny Flint

Jenny is warm and supportive, even to near-strangers in need of comfort or company. While she lovingly embraces her role of Vastra’s wife and maid, she also approaches the idea with a certain degree of subversion, ranging from playful banter with Vastra to the subtly confrontational tone she takes on with Simeon. She’s not just at anybody’s service.

It is notable that Jenny’s down to earth nature appears in contrast with Vastra. Her own story disregards social conventions when it comes to her marriage and Jenny is just as likely to start sword fights, confront nefarious suspects and pick locks. She is truly as dangerous as she is mundane… never mind that she doesn’t so much as bat an eye at Vastra eating people. The Watson to Vastra’s Sherlock Holmes clearly adores everything her extraordinary profession entails and is a force to be reckoned with, all on her own.

You have to hand it to the Doctor for dumping a slightly needy girlfriend by palming her off on a copy of himself. He tried leaving her in a parallel universe, and that didn’t work.
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Moffat’s Women- Reinette Poisson

Reinette is educated, amibitious and graceful. She posses a sharp wit, even biting at times, and yet filled with poetry and adept at imbuing even the most bizarre of her circumstances with beauty: There is a vessel in your world where the days of my life are pressed together like the chapters of a book”. Reinette’s poise hides her vulnerability, but there is steel found under it as well. She’s the child who demanded to know what the clockwork droid wanted with her and she’s the young woman who stole a kiss from an impossible man. She walks among Doctor’s memories as if it is second nature to her and calmly confronts the monsters which plagued her for three decades.

And she is Madame de Pompadour. A title, a larger-than-life persona, a shining figure of history. And still so very human.

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Moffat’s Women - Sally Sparrow
Sally is intuitive and smart. Although she might come across as a bit of a cynic, she is able to accept and adapt to the impossible very quickly and she can be as empathic and caring as she is quick-witted. She doesn’t give up, even when she is scared or disconcerted by what is happening, and this is what allows her to bring together the puzzle pieces of the episode. Sally most definitely is the heroine of her own story - and in the end sets in motion the events of “Blink”.

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Moffat’s Women - Madame Vastra
Madame Vastra is wise, loyal, and capable. She projects an air of poise and is typically rather sparse with her feelings - unless she is around Jenny. There we can observe a much wider range of emotions, from loving and playful to scared and enraged, when the woman she loves is in danger. Not to mention that the two of them have a quite a bit of fun, as they and Strax solve crimes together: Madame Vastra is a Victorian superhero.

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Moffat’s Women - Madame Kovarian

Madame Kovarian is ruthless, sadistic and driven. She might very well be the heroine of her own story; after all she is fighting in a war to avert the reemergence of an unimaginable one, to stop the Doctor from speaking his name at Trenzalore. But she makes such a terrifying villain because she pursues her overtly noble motives without a hint of mercy. To her, other people are objects, possessions even, and she moves them on the chessboard of her battles, not merely without remorse but with visceral pleasure. And with this she exits the territory of pragmatism to enter the world of nightmares.

Her mistake is ultimately hubris. She thinks she knows her chess pieces and underestimates the quiet rage of the mother, the impulsive rebellion of the daughter, and the potential for treachery among her own allies. Ultimately, she cannot transform her own past, cannot change the Doctor’s future - she can only bring misery into the present.

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Moffat’s Women - Lorna Bucket

Lorna Bucket is the only character for whom the assumption that her life revolves around the Doctor is credible… and it’s shown to have devastating consequences. Her story is a mirror image to Amy’s - the girl the Doctor didn’t come back for, for whom the Doctor is a story, not the whimsical tale of the Raggedy Man but a dark legend of a Great Warrior. And so it doesn’t have a happy ending.

Lorna hides a love for danger under her quiet demeanour, following the Doctor’s name and the promise of the excitement it carries all the way to joining an army. Moreover, she’s observant and knowledgable, with an attention to detail.  “She was very brave”, Vastra describes her when asked who Lorna was and that’s undoubtedly true, but she is more than that. Above all, her kindness rules her courage - and at no point is that clearer than when she brings Amy the prayer leaf.

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Moffat’s Women - River Song

River Song is confident, mischievous and adventurous. She’s technologically savvy, a trained killer, an archaeologist with a genuine love for her subject and she’s turned flirting into an art form. Her story is told out of order, more often than not back-to-front, but keeping this in mind, the most stunning character development is revealed.

When we “first” meet her at the Library, she’s come a long way from the young, reckless, destructive person she was in the beginning. She’s become more independent, she’s grown to not to put her own needs above those of the universe, she’s learned to be caring and empathic and she’s gained a complete and complex image of the Doctor - the best man she’s ever known, with all his faults. And however much River loves him, he’s hardly all there is to her life. She has her own adventures… sometimes he’s lucky enough to be invited along.

River doesn’t always walk away undamaged, but you can be sure she’s landing on her feet, even if it means hiding just how hurt she is. And she’ll find a way to have fun, whether it’s pissing off Sontarans or investigating Weeping Angels in New York in the 1930s.

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Moffat’s Women - Osgood
In the span of just two episodes, Osgood comes from wishing for the Doctor to save her and faltering in his presence to leading UNIT’s confrontation with the Cybermen, confidently presenting her own theories, and bravely interacting with Missy. She’s intelligent, she has an eye for details which others around her can be quick to overlook, and above all she is genuinely good-hearted. As the tear in the veil of ignorance of the negotiations among Zygon and humans, both she and her copy keep silent rather than to endanger the approaching peace between the two. In many ways, Osgood
does not merely represent the fandom - she represents the best qualities of the Doctor, too.

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Moffat’s Women - Oswin Oswald

Oswin is a genius, so smart that the Daleks decided to convert her when the Alaska crashed at the Asylum. She proceeds to build her own little world in her mind, in which she is still shipwrecked among the Daleks, but carries on bravely, baking soufflés (with varying degrees of success) and sabotaging the planet’s systems. Oswin projects an air of self-confidence and flirtation, she’s always good for a quip and quick to make friends - but she still never loses sight of her own interests and goals.

Finding out the truth about what she had become is horrific. Nevertheless, the same girl who pursued her dreams to travel across the universe, who kept the Daleks out of her head for a year by nothing but strength of will even if it broke her, succeeds at holding on to her identity. Ultimately, Oswin values her humanity to the point where she sends the Doctor away and stays behind at the Asylum, fully knowing what would happen once she takes down the forcefield.

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Moffat’s Women - Elizabeth X (Liz Ten)

Liz Ten is driven by a sense of duty and responsibility. She’s amiable, whether she’s complimenting Amy’s hair or praising Mandy’s bravery. While she seems to enjoy the cloak and dagger adventure of going undercover in her own kingdom, her motivation is much more noble than that. Liz genuinely cares about her country and its people and has been doing everything in her power to find out the truth about Starship UK for centuries.

The secret she uncovers is darker than she could have guessed - it’s her own guilt she finds, a crime motivated by her desire to see her people unharmed. But even after choosing to forget so many times, to “be again the heart of this nation”, she still asks for a better solution.  And Amy saves the star whale.

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Moffat’s Women - The Moment
“The galaxy eater… A weapon so powerful, the operating system became sentient. According to legend, it developed a conscience.” And yet so much more than that. The Moment possesses not merely a sense of morality, her entire being is infused with a very particular wisdom, born of humour and painful truth, kindness and judgement. She is the ultimate destructor and yet chooses the role of a guide and the face of someone who sought to keep the Doctor safe. Her unspeakable power weaves pasts and futures together until a different, wondrous path appears. And Gallifrey is not burned but preserved. In a single moment.

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Moffat’s Women - Madge Arwell

Madge is caring, perceptive and carries a very particular brand of fortitude which is firmly her own. She might appear sweet-tempered, even clumsy at times, but she also enjoys lock-picking and figures out how to navigate Androzani Harvester in the span of minutes - and she’s not above using other people’s perception of her to her advantage. Madge ultimately takes things in stride, whether it’s a space man looking for a polixe box or flying through the time vortex, but she’s human nonetheless. As she struggles through grief and difficulty, we get to observe cracks in the façade which betray that she is far from a simple character.

The Doctor chooses this time to swoop in and help her and her family with some over-the-top holiday cheer. Still, all he truly does is to cause even more trouble and it needs Madge Arwell to not only get them out of there again, but to save a forest full of trees and her husband’s life along the way.

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Moffat’s Women - Abigail Pettigrew
Abigail loves her family and when she became fatally ill, she chose to volunteer for the ice in order to help them. She has an appreciation for beauty, especially for the fish who the rest of her planet seems to consider a nuisance, and she faces life with open-mindedness and acceptance. Not to mention that she is incredibly talented and gifted with a beautiful singing voice - it is she who ultimately saves all the passengers on the spaceship. The woman who was “nobody important” was revealed to be the most important of all.

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Moffat’s Women - Amy Pond

Amy Pond is an incredibly layered, wonderful, and flawed character. She is brave and independent, she is scared of abandonment and commitment, she is rude and yet compassionate. She has a knack for creative problem-solving and can make connections other people can’t, whether it is realising the truth about the star whale or figuring out how to defeat the Weeping Angel.

She has had a difficult life, but Amy is always changing and growing, as she holds onto the contradictory pieces that make up her own histoy. We watch her learn to love and to trust. We see her struggling with keeping up with both her travels with the Doctor and the normal life she comes to value. She experiences joy and loss and she just lives, passionately.

What is so exceptional about Amy’s ending isn’t that she chooses Rory; she likely would have made the same choice two seasons earlier. But for the first time it feels like a decision that she can be happy with. Because she no longer is “the girl who waited” - and the Doctor didn’t keep her from growing up, he just became part of her story to get there.

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Moffat’s Women - Miss Evangelista
Miss Evangelista is initially introduced as comedic relief, but this soon comes back to haunt us as we are poignantly reminded that she is in fact a person with feelings and thoughts, who suffers under the treatment of others. She is, ultimately, an outsider. Her beauty only makes it easier to joke about her and her distorted face is proof alone that the world is not what is seems. Still, Miss Evangelista is more than her looks or her intelligence. Unchanged is her appreciation of kindness, her willingness to help even when people reject her, and the way she notices what others might overlook. And she always reveals the truth, whether it is the careless cruelty found even in good people or the cyberspace nature of the Library computer.

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Moffat’s Women - Nancy
Nancy is an assertive and caring young woman - a leader, who the homeless children of London look up to with absolute trust. Whether it is using the air raids for a nice meal, forcing Mr Lloyd to let her go after being caught, or singing a transformed soldier to sleep, she is incredibly resourceful and quick on her feet. As a teenage single mother, Nancy has her demons and secrets. But when push comes to shove, she faces them proudly and it is her bravery that saves the world on that day in January 1941.

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Moffat’s Women - Shona McCullough
While Shona isn’t actually a scientist (“that’s rubbish!”), she is more intuitive and inquisitive than anyone gives her credit for. After all, she is the one who first mentions the possibility that they are dreaming and who interrogates Santa to determine whether he can be real. Shona is funny, direct and when the occasion calls for it capable of very creative problem solving, such as dancing through a room of lethal aliens. And yet we catch a glimpse at someone who is lonely, too… and someone who dreams herself right into the middle of danger and adventure on Christmas Day.

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Moffat’s Women - Tasha Lem

Tasha is powerful, dedicated and strong-willed. She uses her influence with cunning, banter and a visible feeling of thrill, and yet her ultimate aim is stability. It is precisely this contradiction which makes her such a fascinating character. Tasha is waging a battle against destruction not only in her own heart (“You have been fighting the psychopath inside you all your life”) but in the entire universe. Faith, an army and even people she cares about are her weapons. We see just how dangerous her actions can be when her own doctrine threatens to be the catalyst of the Time War, renewed. In striving to avert conflict, she cannot help but stand at the centre of it.

Nonetheless, Tasha never wavers. Violence, balance and words carry her through the centuries, as she becomes religious leader, military general, keeper of the history and guardian of the future of Trenzalore in one. The Doctor is the man who stayed for Christmas. Tasha is the woman who stayed for peace.