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Clara Oswin Oswald: The Only Mystery Worth Solving

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I think Clara's arc throughout Series 7 was actually pretty fun to watch. While I do think that series suffered more from the split series format than the previous one did, Clara's story in general was pretty evolving to watch onscreen.

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I don't like Clara all that much. Can't put my finger on why, just don't.

I haven't taken to Clara either, but I know why - the character is poorly written. Jenna Coleman is doing her best with the material, but she hasn't been given much to work with. Glib quips, a few emotionally manipulative scenes and an ill-conceived, overly-convoluted plot arc do not an engaging character make.

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I wanted to love Clara. After we saw her in Asylum of the Daleks I really loved her and was super keen when they announced she'd be the new companion. I wondered how they would go about getting her story to line up. Then came the christmas episode and she wasn't a modern UK girl like all the other recent companions, I thought that was great! Until they made her into a modern UK girl..

 

and then I just couldn't get into the character, I was so disappointed in it all. Hoping she will mesh better with 12.

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I wanted to love Clara. After we saw her in Asylum of the Daleks I really loved her and was super keen when they announced she'd be the new companion. I wondered how they would go about getting her story to line up. Then came the christmas episode and she wasn't a modern UK girl like all the other recent companions, I thought that was great! Until they made her into a modern UK girl..

I enjoyed Oswin in Asylum of the Daleks, but with hindsight feel that her quirks were much better as a one-off than superimposed over a different but related regular character, to whom they weren't such a good fit. Victorian Clara was promising but felt anachronistic for the period - she came across to me like a modern character inserted into a historical narrative. Again with hindsight, I suppose she was, in a way, but shouldn't have been. I'd have preferred her as the regular companion to modern Clara though, and the reason why she wasn't saddens me - it was because a historical companion would have required actual character-focused writing, and the team weren't willing to make that kind of character-based commitment, because their plans for the season were all about plot and there was no room for character. And so Clara became a modern girl, which the writers took as license to use shortcuts, writing her via a very generic companion template instead of fashioning her as an actual person - while still asking us to invest in emotional scenes even though there's been no build-up. I've been tremendously disappointed in her so far.

Edited by Llywela
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I think the doctor has no deep feelings for Clara. She's like having the part time companions like Mikey as the main companion. But I think the Doctor chose her as a companion because she kept popping up. She was a companion because of the plot connection and not because the doctor had a connection with her.

 

The Doctor is like a teacher to Clara though she has this built in take care of and protect the doctor, We have only had a half season with Clara so it's hard to fully judge her yet. I see potential. Like a reconnection with a long lost father/daughter where trust is not there but memories keep you trying.

 

I'm looking forward to seeing what happens :)

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I feel nothing for Clara. Nada. I honestly almost forget she's even there. She's supposed to be amazing and super special for saving every Doctor. She saved every Doctor! That's epic!  Yet.... I got nothing.

 

I don't understand why there's such a disconnect with the fans.  For me, she's not the "Impossible girl" she's the "Invisible girl."

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I feel nothing for Clara. Nada. I honestly almost forget she's even there. She's supposed to be amazing and super special for saving every Doctor. She saved every Doctor! That's epic!  Yet.... I got nothing.

 

I don't understand why there's such a disconnect with the fans.  For me, she's not the "Impossible girl" she's the "Invisible girl."

I think a lot of the trouble is that most of Clara's characterisation is driven by plot requirement, rather than her responses to the plot being driven by her character. It's a subtle but crucial distinction. She's been given a few distinct personality traits, but none of them have been developed because most of what she does is entirely unrelated to her actual personality. I've seen Neil Gaiman openly admit that when he wrote Nightmare in Silver he wrote Clara as 'Generic Companion' rather than as Clara (because Neil Gaiman, worryingly, believes that the companions are interchangeable anyway) and that attitude shows in most of her episodes - it's always 'what would be cool for the companion to do here?' rather than 'what would Clara do here?'. She's being written by writers more interested in plot than personality, used as a cog in the wheel of those plots rather than the plots being used to develop her as a character. As a result, the character is superficial. She's had plenty of emotive moments, but they feel shallow because they haven't been earned. Her relationship with the Doctor wasn't developed, it simply skipped from A to Z in between episodes, leaving the viewers with whiplash, wondering where the turnaround happened. The interesting parts of her character journey all took place off-screen. They wanted her to be a mystery - but forgot that she also needs to be a person. That's the biggest problem, imo. She feels like a construct, a character sewn together out of all the traits believed by middle-aged men to be important in a 'strong female character' - 'feisty', 'wise-cracking', 'bossy', 'flirtatious', and so on. I have never once believed in her as a person.

Edited by Llywela
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She feels like a construct, a character sewn together out of all the traits believed by middle-aged men to be important in a 'strong female character' - 'feisty', 'wise-cracking', 'bossy', 'flirtatious', and so on. I have never once believed in her as a person.

 

 

That really sums it up perfectly, well done. Unfortunately the series took a giant nosedive after Amy/Rory departed and a big reason for that is how Clara has been written. I dont know if the new Doctor is getting some new writers but they definitely need to do something, show was in kind of a bad place and (as always) a regeneration is critical moment in righting the ship. I'm actually a bit worried about how Clara's character will fit with an "older" Doctor, fingers crossed though. 

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She feels like a construct, a character sewn together out of all the traits believed by middle-aged men to be important in a 'strong female character' - 'feisty', 'wise-cracking', 'bossy', 'flirtatious', and so on. I have never once believed in her as a person.

 

I couldn't put it better myself. Apart from the grating staccato-like delivery, I never believed for a second that she was so important. Matt Smith acted his little heart out to sell it but, nope, it wasn't working. She is the only companion of NuWho that I absolutely cannot stand.

 

Her story just felt like a device for an enormous retcon to justify her existence. Somehow that seems backwards.

Edited by supposebly
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I think Series 8 will mend that with Clara. I do think she'll emerge from that series a stronger, more developed character with Capaldi's Doctor.

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I think Series 8 will mend that with Clara. I do think she'll emerge from that series a stronger, more developed character with Capaldi's Doctor.

I really, really hope so, because I don't think I've ever been so disappointed in a Doctor Who companion. I wanted so much to love her. I'm worried that the damage might already be done and too late to repair. Fingers crossed!

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I think it's just as likely she's gone soon as it is series 8 improves her but hopefully I'm wrong about that.

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I think it's just as likely she's gone soon as it is series 8 improves her but hopefully I'm wrong about that.

I was thinking the same thing, I feel like she won't make it past the next season.

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not to pile on Clara....but the death of a companion can make for a powerful episode

Eh, I don't want her to die. She's already been shoehorned into enough unearned positions of artificial significance without that. I'd kind of like her to just fade away. She's only a part-time companion as it is. I'd kind of like the Doctor to just drift away from her between adventures, which would be more in character for him than going off for extended periods of time and apparently never meeting anyone new or making new friends or changing even the slightest bit in between visits. So let her carry on with her life and the Doctor drift off into another adventure, and then another, and then another, and meet new friends and pick up new companions, and somehow never make it back to Clara for next week's little excursion...:D

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yeah, it's not that I actively want her killed or anything! However the show isnt going to miss a chance to be painstakingly dramatic and given the Doctor supposedly owes all his lives to Clara (if i'm following correctly), I cant see them passing up a chance to have some heart rending scene displaying Capaldi's acting chops should they decide to move on from Clara. 

 

The more I think about it though, the more I feel her character is unsalvageable and will stick out like a sore thumb should Capaldi be a worthy Doctor.

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However the show isnt going to miss a chance to be painstakingly dramatic and given the Doctor supposedly owes all his lives to Clara (if i'm following correctly), I cant see them passing up a chance to have some heart rending scene displaying Capaldi's acting chops should they decide to move on from Clara. 

Yeah, more grandstanding, more melodrama, more hyperbole. Which is exactly why I'd rather she just fade away! Like UNIT did, back in the '70s. The Doctor couldn't bring himself to make a clean break, so he just drifted away, bit by bit. It'll never be allowed to happen in this modern era, where everything has to be So Damn Important and Meaningful and whatnot. But it would be such a relief to have something low-key and understated again!

 

Plus...I think it would make for interesting storytelling. Have the odd Clara-lite adventure, where she's at work and the Doctor's off doing his thing. Show that while she's feeling blase about having him at her beck and call, he's drifting away from her, meeting new people, making new friends. Have him turn up for her one week with a new companion in tow - someone from another time, maybe even another world - and watch how that dynamic shakes down. Let her realise that he isn't always going to come back and she has to choose where she really wants to be. Stuff like that.

 

But it'll never happen, not in the current regime, because that would be a character story and they aren't interested in character stories, only in Epic Plot.

Edited by Llywela
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I could never get into UNIT! The Doctor as an earthbound 007 type just did nothing for me. I can't exactly remember 4th's quote about not being at beck and call to the Brigadier and Unit but that was probably biggest turning point in series, as far as Doctor getting back out into Time/Space and staying there with no pretense of him as sort of a human.

 

I think there is a possibility that if you remove Clara's flirtatiousness with the Doctor there is almost nothing left to her character- which is why I don't see how it's going to work with the much older Capaldi....unless they add a male companion for her to be interested in which would be an awful development.

 

Personally I'm a fan of the big story arcs for the most part, it's just the melodrama every step of the way that gets to be too much and is why I wasnt a huge Tennant fan. I hope Capaldi brings back a bit of the sometimes unnerving callousness The Doctor should have.

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Clara is pretty meh in my view, but if they kill her off, how can she save the doctor throughout time?

Because she already has. That part of her story is already over and done with, thank goodness.

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I could never get into UNIT! The Doctor as an earthbound 007 type just did nothing for me. I can't exactly remember 4th's quote about not being at beck and call to the Brigadier and Unit but that was probably biggest turning point in series, as far as Doctor getting back out into Time/Space and staying there with no pretense of him as sort of a human.

Heh, I think him being exiled to Earth in the first place was a bigger turning point for the show, really. ;) I love the UNIT family and I love a lot of the stories from that era, although they can be a bit dry and over-long (and I'm not, heretical though it may be to admit, the biggest fan of Jon Pertwee's acting style). Perhaps he should have made the break sooner than he actually did, but it kind of makes sense that he'd got into the habit of having a base to return to, that he felt some kind of obligation having been taken in when he needed a place and a purpose. And I appreciate the way that sense of obligation and home vanishes as soon as he regenerates, that he'd already been drifting away before then, going on ever more extended jaunts, and then once he's regenerated it's only having companions from that place that takes him back there at all, as soon as he's parted from them, that's it - he never goes back. And it was that gradual drift away that I think would be more in character for him than spending apparently hundreds of years of his life tethered to a single person in a single place in time, the way the 11th Doctor did first with Amy and then with Clara. The third Doctor barely managed a couple of years before he started to drift, and he was spending a lot more time in that single place for the attachment to form! As soon as they started saying it had been 200 years between visits and yet nothing had changed, my suspension of belief shattered and this era has never won that back.

 

Maybe with Clara's flirtatiousness removed, the writers will be forced to actually develop other facets of her character - well, we can hope!

Edited by Llywela

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I've been binge watching Season 7 (after rewatching the TOTD and DOTD and watching the Season 8 premier) and now have a whole new perspective on the season and on Clara.  I'm now watching in terms of the Doctor and the series arc, not of standalone episodes.  I'm now seeing Clara as a distraction to help pull the Doctor out of the deep despondency he felt from losing Amy and Rory, not to mention River.  He was so depressed, not interested in anything or anyone, just brooding, when out of nowhere a mystery appeared.  I've been watching his face during the first few Clara episodes, especially when she isn't watching him, and don't see personal affection so much as intrigue and suspicion.  He's so frantic; I feel like he's trying to keep her interest so she won't leave him before he solves her.  Which of course doesn't happen until she steps into his time stream.  The longer he keeps each incarnation alive, the more info he has.

 

So now I feel a lot better about Clara, whom I never warmed to anyway.  She may think she's a companion, but I think the Doctor really only sees her as a puzzle.  And I think beneath everything else, he is always mourning the losses he couldn't prevent of those he really did love.  When he regenerates as Twelve, he isn't really sure who Clara is, and maybe doesn't really care all that much.  But he does feel that he always needs someone to connect him to the world and not let him drift into that same dark hole he was in earlier.  If Clara is the only one, he'll take what's available.

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I adore Clara.  I think she's going to be wonderful with twelve.  I loathed the Amy saga and was so happy when that ended.  And Jenna Coleman is a much better actress.  She has such an expressive face.  Some of the writing for her hasn't been the best but I think she has risen above her material.  Moffat was obviously infatuated with Karen Gillan.  And now that both she and 11 are gone, I think Moffat can concentrate on giving Clara better character development (as much as Moffat can give anyone character development since everything is a plot device to him.  Even Amy.  Oh look, she's River's MOTHER!).

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So let her carry on with her life and the Doctor drift off into another adventure, and then another, and then another, and meet new friends and pick up new companions, and somehow never make it back to Clara for next week's little excursion...:D

It wouldn't be long before he bumped into another version of her anyway; that's what made her a mystery to him, and now that he has the answer, why would he want to risk two of her coming together by having one of her travel with him? That's long established as being a dangerous thing.

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I think the splinter stuff with Clara was resolved with The Name Of The Doctor. Since then, she's been mystery free, has changed careers and seemed to have more characterisation to her. She's working wonderfully with Capaldi's Doctor as well.

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I was wondering how Clara compares to the other "manic pixie action girl" (tm someone on the boards) Zoe, the 2nd doctor's companion.  I never saw those episodes, but from the retrospective I got the impression that she was supposed to be smarter than the Doctor, or at least think she was, and capable of doing most anything.

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Zoe was a genius, like a human computer. She wasn't clever, which is the most important thing in Who now. She could calculate better than the Doctor, but he was better at plotting and planning and mystery solving.

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I was wondering how Clara compares to the other "manic pixie action girl" (tm someone on the boards) Zoe, the 2nd doctor's companion.  I never saw those episodes, but from the retrospective I got the impression that she was supposed to be smarter than the Doctor, or at least think she was, and capable of doing most anything.

Yes, like Ketose says, Zoe was a completely different kettle of fish than Clara. She had a photographic memory and genius level IQ and was highly educated, which meant she could rattle off facts at a rate of knots and perform complex calculations faster than a computer, she was (or believed herself to be) cleverer than the Doctor in certain aspects. But only in those certain aspects, which were related to her phenomenal memory and powers of calcuation. She was also emotionally stunted and knew it, having been trained to prioritise logic over emotion - that was why she stowed away in the TARDIS with the Doctor and Jamie, because she wanted to escape her limited existence as a human computer and learn how to feel and experience. She was certainly no Clara, possessing wisdom for all circumstances, guiding the Doctor's ethics and emotions, far from it. And her little-miss-know-it-all attitude was frequently called out by both the Doctor and Jamie. They were a team that balanced one another well - no one of the three was always right or always wrong, there was plenty of give-and-take, because they were all good at different things and complemented one another's strengths and weaknesses. The Doctor was a master strategiser who used a bumbling persona to throw his opponents off guard - to the point where even his friends couldn't tell when he was genuinely confused or only pretending. Jamie was primitive and ill-educated, coming from the 18th century, but he learned fast and was very sharp and intuitive, as well as brave and loyal. And Zoe had her book smarts and logic. They were only thinly developed, but it was a far more balanced team than we're seeing with the Doctor and Clara. Today's show places the emphasis in very different places, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse.

 

And I really wouldn't call Zoe an 'action' girl - she was nothing of the sort!

Edited by Llywela

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I don't know if it's just me, but I get the distinct impression that Clara is done with the Doctor and is ready to lead her own life.  That last few episodes she has had to be convinced to come onto the Tardis instead of wanting it.  Does anyone else see that or am I dreaming?  Most likely the latter.

 

::giggle::

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I don't know if it's just me, but I get the distinct impression that Clara is done with the Doctor and is ready to lead her own life.

 

One can hope, anyway. In many scenes the Doctor seems to be below her at this point, for instance when she comes back from barn and says "Maybe a big. bad Timelor is just afraid of the dark" and basically ridicules him. Of course moments later she is hugging him, so who knows. Personally I think she is being built up so much so as to be killed off causing yet another existential crisis for the Doctor.

 

That or BBC wants to give her her own series a la Sary Jane Smith though I have no idea if current popularity of show in Britain would warrant such.

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Ha ha to a Clara Oswin spinoff.  If Jenna does leave, I would welcome seeing her again in something else.  In my mind she is too tied to the Doctor for me to believe there would be any success in a Clara Oswin show without the Doctor.  I hope she gets something equally as exciting, though.  I find her to be a wonderful actress.

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And I really wouldn't call Zoe an 'action' girl - she was nothing of the sort!

As I said, I only saw her in the anniversary special and there she was judo-flipping some dude three times her size.

 

Thank you for giving me more details about the past companions.  Helps to put the new ones in perspective.

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As I said, I only saw her in the anniversary special and there she was judo-flipping some dude three times her size.

Yeah, that's The Mind Robber and the dude is a comic book hero brought to life by...I don't even know what, science that looks like magic. But that's the only occasion on which we see Zoe fighting, and it's an unusual circumstance. She knows how to handle that particular opponent because she's grown up reading his comic strips! It works for this one story, which is designed to be surreal, but certainly isn't the norm for Zoe!

Edited by Llywela

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I don't know if it's just me, but I get the distinct impression that Clara is done with the Doctor and is ready to lead her own life.  That last few episodes she has had to be convinced to come onto the Tardis instead of wanting it.  Does anyone else see that or am I dreaming?  Most likely the latter.

 

::giggle::

 

I get the impress Clara might end up deciding to leave the Doctor like Martha did back in Series 3.

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Aboard the most beautiful train in history, speeding among the stars of the future, a legend is stalking the passengers. Once you see the Mummy, you have 66 seconds to live. Clara sees The Doctor at his most deadliest and most ruthless - and finally she realises she's made the right decision. Because this is their last adventure: it's time to say goodbye to the Time Lord.

 

Copying the description for tonight's show and italicizing a line to ask a question.  Did Clara never see Eleven being ruthless and deadly?  Could one remember a time when Eleven could be described as such.  I can think of a few times for Ten and even Nine, but not Eleven.

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HOW DID THE DOCTOR GET CLARA OUT OF HIS TIME STREAM?

So it's Season 7, Episode 13 "The Name of the Doctor" - The Impossible Girl is explained as Clara jumps into the Doctor's time stream and scattered across it in different incarnations. The Doctor jumps in after her where the whole 'introducing-John-Hurt-as-the-doctor' thing happens and then... NOTHING! It goes on to 'The Day of the Doctor' and 'The Time of the Doctor' (which by the way I have other issues with)... No one else seems to be bothered by this... DID I MISS SOMETHING???

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HOW DID THE DOCTOR GET CLARA OUT OF HIS TIME STREAM?

So it's Season 7, Episode 13 "The Name of the Doctor" - The Impossible Girl is explained as Clara jumps into the Doctor's time stream and scattered across it in different incarnations. The Doctor jumps in after her where the whole 'introducing-John-Hurt-as-the-doctor' thing happens and then... NOTHING! It goes on to 'The Day of the Doctor' and 'The Time of the Doctor' (which by the way I have other issues with)... No one else seems to be bothered by this... DID I MISS SOMETHING???

No, you didn't miss anything. According to Steven Moffat, once the Doctor had found Clara they simply walked out of the time stream, and he thinks that resolution is so blindingly obvious that he can't understand why we'd want to see it on-screen or be puzzled that the next episode started on a reset with no explanation. Never mind that we'd been told, repeatedly, that stepping into the time stream would be fatal. Never mind that there was no exit apparent on-screen. He honestly sees no reason why he needed to resolve the scenario. They were in there and then they were out, and apparently that's all we need to know.

 

Yes, it is awful storytelling, structured around 'cool' moments rather than plausibility or, you know, actual narrative logic. He wanted to end the season on the big reveal of John Hurt. He wanted to open the anniversary special with Clara at Coal Hill School. He had no space in between to achieve the transition, so he decided not to bother with the transition - those twin desires overruled all other considerations, including the integrity of the storyline. Awful writing.

Edited by Llywela
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Never mind that we'd been told, repeatedly, that stepping into the time stream would be fatal.

 

For Clara on her own. But with a powerful being who has an innate understanding of the nature of time by her side, not so.

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Never mind that we'd been told, repeatedly, that stepping into the time stream would be fatal.

 

For Clara on her own. But with a powerful being who has an innate understanding of the nature of time by her side, not so.

 

Except for the part where it's doubly dangerous for the Doctor because its his time stream and its the don't interact with your past selves thing multiplied by infinity and there's nothing to brag to or use for a technological quick fix unless he sonic'd his way out which would really upgrade the sonic to a magic wand. It's time, its the damage his time travels have wrought on the universe, he explains that at the start and out of nowhere it's fine for him to jump in afterwards and they exited out through?

 

a magic time door ?

 

It's stupid and nonsensical and typical handwavery elimination of all emotional and dramatic stakes by rewriting the rules at the last minute to serve the protagonists.

Edited by wayne67
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Well the answer is easy you see.. hey look a super secret Doctor played by John Hurt. And guess who's coming back for the 50th Tennant and Piper. Plus Paul McGann regenerating. Tom Baker! Have you forgotten the question yet?

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Well the answer is easy you see.. hey look a super secret Doctor played by John Hurt. And guess who's coming back for the 50th Tennant and Piper. Plus Paul McGann regenerating. Tom Baker! Have you forgotten the question yet?

I feel like this is becoming the basis of most of the episodes. Just fit as much as you can in one episode to keep us distracted from plot holes. Personally I think it was a missed opportunity not to explore the whole 'inside the time stream' thing further. 

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