I’m going to be honest: I’m glad that this is Clara Oswald’s last season on Doctor Who.
Last year, I went into a great amount of detail as to why I thought Clara Oswin Oswald Didn’t Have to be an Impossible Girl. Here we had a character who started off with a lot of spunk in “Asylum of the Daleks” as Oswin, and a clever governess between Victorian social strata in “The Snowmen.” We had the mystery of just how a human individual could appear in different time lines and planets as different incarnations of the same person.
The ingredients were all there in creating a fascinating Companion for The Doctor. Either Oswin or Victorian Clara might have made for some excellent long-term character interaction. Instead, what we got was a plot device: someone “born to save The Doctor” who later develops a tremendous sense of self-entitlement, and a propensity towards lying and outright hypocrisy.
Seriously, I was kind of hoping that after her betrayal in “Dark Water” The Doctor would remember he could snap his fingers, open the TARDIS, and leave Clara behind on the lava planet.
But what is worse in a lot of ways is that Moffat, and the writers he directed in his show-running capacity, seemed to do this in order to represent Clara as a reflection — and then a mirror darkly — of The Doctor even as they attempted to create for her a shambles of a personal life.
In all honesty, the character of Clara Oswald should have had her ending in “Last Christmas”: in that last denouement mirroring “The Time of The Doctor” where it is she, this time, who is old and dying and The Doctor is now young again and helping her with her party favour. Even in “Listen” and “Last Christmas,” some of Clara’s strongest episodes as a character she is still only seen as important in relation to The Doctor. But in “Last Christmas,” there was this sense of finality. We had seen Clara span space and time. But now her seeing old and tired, leaving a full life behind her in a situation that is a fixed point in time, would have been a bittersweet ending that might have made up for a lot.
Indeed, “Last Christmas” was supposed to be Clara’s last episode before Jenna Coleman decided to stay on for another season.
Instead, that touching scene was rendered into another Inception-level hallucination of the dream crabs and The Doctor and Clara go off to have another tortured series of adventures. You could almost feel Steven Moffat giving detractors of Clara the finger at that point: teasing that moment and then taking it away.
It’s not fair to say that Clara is the only example of bad writing from Season Eight. Certainly, The Doctor himself suffered from this malady, but it was always in relation to the forced relationship that Moffat made between him and Clara and, up until now, didn’t seem all that inclined to change.
It was not unlike reading an otherwise excellent story with a recurrent, discordant, and obnoxious grammar mistake that the author claims is there for creative or dramatic effect: something like a narrative Jar Jar Binks.
But now Jenna Coleman is leaving sometime during the Ninth Season of Doctor Who and this leaves us with so many questions. Could the end of Clara Oswald’s time on the TARDIS have something to do with Missy calling her “Clara, my Clara,” her maneuvering to unite her and The Doctor, and the name of the second episode of the two-part opening story “The Witch’s Familiar?” Certainly, it would explain a lot: if it’s not just another contrived red herring and if her fate in “The Magician’s Apprentice” is only temporary.
Nevertheless, Jenna Coleman is moving on to her new role as Queen Victoria in the new drama series Victoria and I wish her well: just as I wish for Clara Oswin Oswald — the excellent Companion that could have been — to finally rest in peace.