1. The TARDIS doesn’t like Clara.
It should have automatically translated everything for her. Language, signage, the whole shebang.
And then it didn’t let her in. Even though she was running from trouble. Even though she was protecting a small child. Even though the Victorian governess version of her had already been given a key. It’s very foreboding and might turn into a real problem. Best-case scenario, Clara is too much of a time paradox for the TARDIS to handle; worst-case scenario, the TARDIS is trying to protect the Doctor from a potential threat. Clara does end up downloaded into the body of the Doctor’s greatest enemy after all.
2. The Doctor is already asking Clara to sacrifice for him.
Of course he couldn’t give up the sonic — never give up the sonic. But we already know he carries Amy’s glasses on him, and hell, even his bow tie has a special ornamental box indicating it is something the Doctor cares enough about to preserve. Instead of taking a moment to figure out what he could do, he automatically turned to Clara. Even worse, the Doctor only looked vaguely unsure that she would help him, instead of even remotely apologetic when he asked her to give up her dead mother’s ring — with no guarantee that she’d get it back or ever see it again. That type of trust needs to be earned. And after the measly three episodes we’ve had with Clara prior to this, I think it’s safe to say that she shouldn’t trust a man who’s gotten her killed two times out of three.
At least when Clara gives up the leaf that started her parents’ entire relationship, knowing without a shadow of a doubt that she’ll never get it back, she did it on her own. Without the Doctor asking, and after he’s done everything he can do, proving once again that she’s the right person to be traveling with him right now. She is kind. And can’t stand by and do nothing when children cry.
And perhaps with a little nod to Martha, Clara reminds us and the Doctor that she’s not anyone else, she’s just her. And if that’s not good enough, well then, eff you very much. This line makes me hold out hope for her and her individuality after a very Amy Pond–like first adventure.
3. Moffat is already Frakensteining Clara’s episodes.
Moffat cobbled bits and pieces of admittedly great episodes together to form this week’s episode, and it ended up ringing hollow and fake. The first real space and time outing of every companion is usually a fan favorite, finally letting us see what the companion can really do, how they handle themselves in the first completely foreign place they’ve ever been. But this time it felt stilted and too filled with cheap production or overused plot devices to have any real impact on our opinion of Clara.
To start with, there was the end of the world feeling and scenery parallels from Rose’s first outing (“End Of The World”).
And then the suspiciously Mediterranean-like alien market place from Donna’s “Fires of Pompeii”, in which Donna also gets separated and lost from the Doctor. At least they referenced the actual location, The Rings of Akhaten, and the one time the Doctor had been here before with Susan directly.
But most the most cannibalized plot line, the spunky young girl who saves a child, an entire civilization and the Doctor by listening to her instincts, is of course from the first Amy Pond outing, “The Beast Below”. Moffat’s story arcs already have noted issues with leaning too heavily on the mysterious woman trope, and if he wants to give us someone we can really care about, he’s got to push Clara in a different direction and give her a personality of her own instead of checking off boxes that make her seem cool in his head.
Also I couldn’t help but feel the red robes were actually Karen Gillian’s priestess robes from “Fires of Pompeii” (pre-Amy Pond guest spot), and nod to Liz10’s preferred vigilante outfit in “The Beast Below”.
Bonus! Hi, hello, I’m a giant evil emoticon in space.
Worst CGI villain or worst CGI villain? Though Matt’s Smith monologue here is possibly one of my favorite Eleven speeches in all three seasons. Somebody give that man a BAFTA.