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Fridge / Doctor Who S35 E10 "Face the Raven"

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Fridge Brilliance:

  • Proof that Ashildr actually did regret Clara getting killed as collateral damage from her scheme? Rigsy clearly remembers what happened to her in the brief scene of him painting the TARDIS in her memory. Ashildr had claimed earlier that everybody who left the Street would have their memory wiped, but she let Rigsy retain his memory of his experience there, presumably because she wanted somebody human to remember Clara's sacrifice and knew her own overloaded memory couldn't be trusted. Word of God explains that there was a deleted scene where the Doctor orders Me to allow Rigsy to keep his memories and tell Clara's family she's dead.
    • Further evidence in Hell Bent that Clara's death impacted Ashildr is that, despite this episode and her preceding appearance making it clear that she finds it difficult, usually impossible, to remember things over long periods of time, when the Doctor meets Ashildr again trillions of years into the future, she is still able to recall every detail of Clara's death.
  • When Clara is hit by the raven and begins to die, she adopts the posture usually seen for past Doctors (at least since Eccleston) as they regenerate. The black mist that emerges from her is also a dark mirror of what often happens with the Doctor. But of course there is no regeneration in her case. This is more a behind-the-scenes decision than something Clara might have unconsciously done given the only regeneration she witnessed did not involve this. (That said, the next episode establishes that the moment Clara actually dies she is untold years older than she was when she stepped onto the street, so by that time she may well have witnessed other regenerations - possibly even the Doctor's.)
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  • The Trap Street turns out to be a very literal trap for the Doctor.
  • Anah's daughter speaks through her hind face to tell the Doctor that her prophetic insights about Me's plans weren't clear, then shifts back to her front face when she says "I'm sorry". That's the face that was pointed at Clara at the time. She'd foreseen how the episode would end, and didn't mention it because she knew there was no way to change Clara's fate.
  • Clara may have been resigned to her fate a long time before this. As "the impossible girl," she was scattered across time already. We've seen little of her family, and then there was the nasty fate that happened to Danny. She may have decided on some level that she would keep adventuring until her luck ran out, and giving up one's life to save an innocent man and keep a baby from being fatherless? It's as good a way to go as any.
    • The series also established the fact that she viewed travelling with the Doctor as an addiction. And thrill-seekers addicted to the adrenaline rush - and drug addicts looking for greater highs - sometimes do push themselves too far, often with fatal consequences.
  • Introduced to Rigsy's new daughter, the Doctor asks "Did you make this human?" While it's an awfully odd way to put it, at least he's taking pains not to jump to the same conclusion he did with Lofty's baby in "The Girl Who Died", of assuming Rigsy stole her. Still socially awkward as hell, but at least trying. The way he says it, though, is more in admiration than anything else; it could also have been an olive branch extended to the aspect of the fanbase that believe Time Lords do not reproduce sexually, based more or less on a couple of expanded universe novels that suggested other methods are used.
  • Despite the series adhering to The "I Love You" Stigma, there are actually two sound reasons why Clara doesn't utter those words, nor does she allow the Doctor to say them. Note that in the context of the scene, "I love you" would be perfectly appropriate regardless of whether the two's friendship was (per Word of God) a romance or purely platonic in nature:
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    • In "Death in Heaven," Clara promised Danny she would never utter those words to anyone else (her clinical use of the phrase in "The Witch's Familiar" was not addressed to anyone, and she zigzagged on the promise in "Before the Flood" when she challenges the Doctor to prove that "if you love me in any way, you'll come back"). She is keeping to this promise now.
    • Knowing what the Doctor is capable of, and seeing him enter a massive Freak Out! against Ashildr, Clara devotes the rest of her life (or at least, what she assumes is to be the rest of her life) to comforting the Doctor and talking him down from raining hell on Ashildr and Trap Street. She succeeds in taking him from shouting fury to quiet sadness and focusing on her rather than revenge. If she had said "I love you" or allowed the Doctor to say it (or anything approaching it), and if they had engaged in anything more intimate than the hug, there is every chance it would have undone all this work, leaving the Doctor in the same desperate fury he was minutes before. And it would have made it more difficult for the two to separate, too. Yes, his fury bubbles over in the next episode ... but for Clara the important thing was he spare Trap Street and Ashildr, which he does, albeit after putting the fear of god into her.
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Fridge Horror:

  • The Doctor, the hero of the universe, the savior of all races; and he cannot do anything to save someone he cares about. He can't go back in time and save her. He can't bend the rules. He is powerless. And now he is furious. The Metacrisis showed what a vengeful Doctor looked like. The Dream Lord was a sadistic Doctor, taking delight from seeing his suffering and self doubt. The Time Lord Victorious was a look into the Doctor's psyche, his God complex. And 'Before the Flood' and 'The Girl Who Died' showed how he so desperately wants to change the rules of the game, as he is the last player standing. The only thing the Time Lords feared more than an angry Doctor, was the Valeyard. And this could very well be the straw that broke the Doctor's back and turns him into the Valeyard. For he has lost everything dear to him, and now it is their turn... As subsequent episodes prove, Clara's death and his subsequent torture unlocks elements of all of these dangerous traits.
  • A minor one. Clara seems to enjoy far more than is healthy being at risk of falling to her death from the TARDIS, and the Doctor shows concern about that. Now think of what happened to the first version of Clara he met face to face...
  • One that is realized when rewatching the episode: the countdown on Rigsy's neck at the start of the episode indicates how long Clara has left to live. This episode therefore chronicles the final 9 hours of her life, with the last half hour or so (from the moment she takes on the chronolock) playing out almost in real time. As such it is possible to track "final" events in Clara's life: her final visit to the TARDIS, her final glimpse of sunshine... (Even the revelations of "Hell Bent" don't really change this because regardless, these are her final experiences as a "normal" human.)
  • Clara telling the Twelfth Doctor "Heal yourself" to cope with his pain once she dies becomes this when one realizes that the Eighth Doctor's last words were "Physician, heal thyself". He regenerated into the War Doctor. Will Clara's fear that Twelve will become a warrior again come to pass despite her orders?
  • Ashildr is damn lucky that Twelve has a great deal of restraint and cared deeply for Clara and thus listened to her final words. The Doctor hasn't had an ongoing companion killed in action since at least War (in comic books), and/or Five (who lost companion Adricnote ). Ten put it bluntly - harm someone he cares about and it is not a safe place to stand. Ashildr pushed four of The Doctor's BerserkButtons (endangering an innocent, trying to put him in a trap, making him regret saving her life, and then capping it with a dead Companion) in the space of less than five minutes. Add her being a tyrant over her little corner of the world - The Doctor has little patience for tyrants. Clara knew The Doctor does have a nasty streak and her last action was trying to talk him out of using it. A less restrained or ethical incarnation, like Six or Seven, would only keep a promise not to rain hell as long as Clara was breathing - then all bets would be completely off the instant she wasn't.
  • Ashildr claims that it never even occurred to her that Clara would take the countdown from Rigsy, and evidently feels that this absolves her from responsibility for Clara's death. But if she'd really been so determined to ensure no innocent suffered for her scheme, why did she make Rigsy's tattoo transferable at all? Even if it never crossed her mind that Clara would put life on the line for a young man she didn't know all that well, Rigsy has a family. And for all Ashildr knew about little Lucy's mother, Jen might have been as willing to try to game the system as Clara, and might have come along on the search for the Trap Street. So poor Lucy might've wound up half-orphaned even without Clara or the Doctor doing anything foolish.
  • An awful realization occurs when watching Clara's death upon viewing the followup episode, "Hell Bent". We now know that between her last two heartbeats, Clara is pulled out of time by the Doctor and goes on to live an untold number of years/centuries/millennia as a functionally immortal time traveller, experiencing untold adventures, friendships, and other experiences. Something will eventually make her decide to return to Gallifrey and be placed back into her timeline. There is no way to avoid the implication that we are, therefore, witnessing Clara Oswald committing suicide. What would drive her to eventually choose to end her life is a mystery that may or may not ever be chronicled officially. But it makes the death of Clara in this episode infinitely sadder, and disturbing. Which adds a whole new spin to the way she takes a last breath in, just before the black smoke of the quantum shade flows out of her mouth. Assuming she eventually gave up the habit of doing so when she wasn't needing to talk, that isn't just the last breath of her life: it's one of the first spontaneous breaths she's taken in who-knows-how-many years. Whether intentional on the actress' part or not, looking closely at her face one can almost see Clara experiencing a moment of pleasure as she breathes in, which in retrospect could explain the serene look on her face as she collapses despite her having cried out in agony a moment earlier. Compare to the old man who decidedly does not look this way after he's killed.

Fridge Logic:

On the headscratchers page.


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