Doctor Who: Initial Reactions to Face the Raven
A Guest Blog by Hevy782
So I could be mean to you and wait until the end to talk about Clara’s demise but since you’ve probably already suffered enough I’m going to be kind for once and talk about it first. Now for those of you who don’t know I am not a big Clara fan. None of that is really to do with Jenna Coleman as I think she’s an amazing actress who’s not been given the best material to work with. There was practically no solid sense of character during series seven as the whole impossible girl plot line simply treated her as nothing more than a walking, talking plot device. Then came the fiftieth anniversary where she suddenly became a teacher despite showing no prior interest in teaching. But anyway, moving on to series eight where the control freak angle was thrown in out of nowhere but on the bright-side we were at least getting some much needed character development at this point. Throughout most of series nine I couldn’t really care less about Clara and given how little she got to do I think the writers might have felt the same. But despite all of that I still found her death quite moving, mainly because of Sarah Dollard’s great writing and Peter and Jenna’s superb acting. Also, my heart was racing at times during this episode but I couldn’t quite put my finger on why. This was probably at it’s worst during the scene where she gets the tattoo and while I had seen her death coming from a mile off this was the moment that sealed the deal for me. Some people have complained about the circumstances leading up to the death saying it wasn’t really that heroic but it wasn’t really meant to be, it was meant to show much of a risk-taker she’s become and now she’s seen the consequences of that which provides a fitting conclusion to her arc this series.
So that’s basically all I have to say about Clara’s death itself but I’m not completely done with it as it does hang over the episode as a whole quite a bit. In fact the reason I brought it up first was because it would have been hard to discuss the rest of the episode without mentioning it and it would end up feeling like I’m just killing time until I can talk about it, a bit like how the majority of the episode felt to me. Not that I’m saying I didn’t enjoy the build up to it, I thought some of it was great but ultimately it was rather uneventful and had a very thin plot, making it feel like the episode was only here to kill Clara off and set up the finale rather than tell a story in it’s own right. They could’ve done a neat little murder mystery plot in a mysterious setting but instead as soon as the investigation into what’s going on begins it’s over, there’s literally only really one scene of it. It’s something that Doctor Who’s been doing far too often recently in my opinion and that is introducing really cool and interesting ideas but rather than exploring them more beyond that they simply move on to the next one. Take the trapped street idea from this story as an example. It’s a wonderful idea and it’s done very well visually but we hardly go anywhere with it before we move on to the episode’s next big idea, the raven itself but by the time we get to it there’s not enough run time to flesh it out satisfactorily.
Now let’s talk about Rigsy who I quite liked in Flatline and once again I quite liked him here. He now has a son but he’s still very much the same character as last time and it’s nice to have him back as not only did he work quite well with Clara last time but he also helped to point out how much Clara has changed since last series. However, I’m disappointed he sort of disappeared from the story at the end and didn’t get to properly say goodbye to Clara or the Doctor either for that matter. But his memorial for Clara at the end was nice. Now we come to the return of Me who has once again changed quite a bit since we last saw her. However, I feel like this story kind of undid some of the development she got in her previous story and it seems like most of the interesting character development has once again taken place off screen. However, those final moments she had with the Doctor were very strong and I get the feeling she’s going to need one more episode to resolve that.
Speaking of the Doctor, let’s talk about him now and I’ll start off by saying that this is probably one of the strongest performances that Peter Capaldi has ever given. It really got me excited for where we’re heading next week with a what has basically been described as an episode long monologue and the events of this episode should play into that quite nicely and make it even more entertaining. But anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself so let’s turn our attention back to this episode and talking about his goodbye to Clara. I already mentioned how superb both the actors were in this scene but I might as well talk about them again as they are both so good. Clara’s line about not wanting the last she sees of the Doctor to be him threatening people is a particular stand out for me and is the turning point of the scene. We then get such a range of emotion from Capaldi but then the way he turns on Me following Clara’s death is simply incredible and it’s great to see that it will affect him greatly as a character. It has been said that we will be seeing a more cynical Doctor next series and it’s good to see here that there will be a good reason for that. It will also be interesting to see how he treats his next companion due to Clara’s death although having said that I hope they don’t do what they did with Martha and have the new companion be overshadowed by the old one.
Overall, this episode isn’t perfect but the final quarter of it very nearly is. I’m going to give it an eight-out-of-ten although I’m not sure whether more time could’ve improved this and fixed some of the flaws I’ve pointed out or just a better use of the time they already had here. With an extended run time and only one real character to cater for I hope next weeks doesn’t suffer from the same problems as Heaven Sent has a lot of potential and I only hope it can live up to it. So until we see it next week be sure to sound off your thoughts on the episode in the comments below.