It feels like forever since we had a Doctor-Lite in Doctor Who. Flicking through my memories, the highly emotional Turn Left – aka That One Where Rose Talked with a Lisp – was our last one. And whilst Twelvy had a considerably larger presence on-screen this week than during Tenth’s time, you would be a fool, and potentially a dirty liar, to suggest that Flatline was anything but Clara’s episode.
Thrown off course to the far reaches of Bristol, The Doctor is held prisoner in his rapidly shrinking TARDIS. Clara, having vacated earlier to scout for clues, is left in charge, armed with psychic paper and the screwdriver. Oh, and the Doctor’s gadgetry allowing him to see and hear everything she does.
Unearthing a plot by two-dimensional beings who may or may not be peaceful, Clara planted herself firmly in the Doctor’s shoes, much to his chagrin. Ostensibly, this was the episode’s running gag; the much grumpier and pompous Doctor refusing to identify anyone outside of himself as having his portent personality. But there was something more there. Clara, who I love more with each new episode, ticked all the boxes in a list of timelord prerequisites. She was quick-witted, fearless and, tellingly, she was willing to hide the truth from those around her for the greater good. Something she’d had practice with in the episode before.
Once the monsters were put to bed – Peter Capaldi finally being given a Doctor speech on par with the Eleventh’s ‘Come and have a go if you think you’re hard enough’ at the Pandorica – and the regular humans went back to their regular homes to drink their regular cups of tea, Clara, the impossible girl, sought the Doctor’s approval. And he struggled.
There’s been some comments about Moffat’s agenda and wagging a finger at feminism. That the Doctor’s lack of acknowledgement was a tip of the fedora to the male fans in the crowd.
‘Hey! She was good, but she’s no Doctor! Right guys?! Pwoah! Misogyny, fedoras, Sherlock!’ is what I imagine some people thought the Moff was saying as he packed Jamie Mathieson off to write his script. But that’s not the case. The Doctor didn’t struggle because of pomposity and bluff and glass ceilings, he struggled because of what he saw.
Since the resurrection of Doctor Who, Davies and Moffat have stoked the fires on the danger the Doctor puts people in. Particularly those he holds dear. Donna acknowledged it in The Runaway Bride and the Eleventh Doctor was given a talking down to by Rory in Vampires of Venice. I’ve mentioned before that I feel the Doctor has been taking stock of his life/lives and uprooted a barrel of angst. With Clara taking control so deftly, The Doctor isn’t worried about being replaced, he’s worried about the legacy he’s leaving behind.
All the way through this series, Clara has been making her own decisions, even when being fought over by two chest thumping alpha-males. That doesn’t mean all those decisions have been wise. Clara is no longer the Impossible Girl: A facsimile of a woman always ready with a cheeky, flirty one liner. She’s now a well-rounded and fallible human being. And these kind of human beings, i.e. the best ones, mess up all the time. She wants to impress her friend, as we have all done from time to time, and she’ll do anything to achieve that. The Doctor’s influence is great, as it has been with all his companions. Maybe this time, he’s taking a step back and truly realizing what he’s done.
About The Author
My name is John Noonan. I’m a freelance writer that specialises in arts and entertainment. From genre flicks to chick flicks, I love the stuff. So much so, I started a film review blog at earlybirdfilm.wordpress.com. I also contribute to online and hard copy press, including FilmInk magazine.
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