Doctor Who Series 9 finished a few weeks ago and so in anticipation of the Christmas Special, “The Husbands of River Song,” I thought I would discuss my feelings on Series 9. I have really loved Capaldi as the Doctor, but Clara has been a particular disappointment so the past couple of series have been… interesting. I was not sure how 9 would go because originally it was rumored that Clara was supposed to leave during the last Christmas Special and then suddenly she didn’t.
There have been a lot of things that I have enjoyed about this season because they have played a lot with the concepts of war and death. Most of it is really well done, but they kept having Clara almost die, which was a bit overdone. The overall stories have been really well done, but Clara has felt like an obligatory companion and not as the amazing character she could have been.
War and Death
I would have to go back and re-examine, but it really was incredible to have a season of Doctor Who deal with these familiar themes in almost every episode. Now not all were about war, but they did all deal with death in some form. In many ways it makes sense with where the Doctor has come from to deal so heavily with war and death, considering what happened with Gallifrey and the Time War. They deal with many different aspects of these ideas throughout the various episodes. In one storyline they introduce the concept of having mercy on an enemy before they were ever your enemy. In another they show that strength in battle is not always physical and that death may not be the worse option. Then they explain the idea that war really is a crap shoot because there is no way to know who will live and who will die. Then there is the fact that multiple times the Doctor faces the possibility of death, but does not just accept it, which causes some problems.
Clara’s Almost Deaths
So the most annoying part of the season for me were all of the almost-deaths of Clara. The first time it was shocking because it was not expected, but then it became almost a gimmick. I think they were trying to show that she kept taking greater and greater risks, but really there still were not other consequences to her actions. This made the almost-deaths not feel like much of anything. It meant that when we did finally experience her “death” it felt like nothing. It was entirely unceremonious, which even though I do not like Clara as a character still felt sort of wrong for the show in general.
Now what they do with her “death” is actually really interesting and gets us to some of the best episode of the season for the finale. At the same time Clara really does become just a motivation for the Doctor’s story instead of a character in her own right.
The Doctor’s Story
The pieces that I really liked about this season of Doctor Who is that they seem to be looking back at who the Doctor is through all of his lives. I have never watched Classic Who so it is hard for me to say if this is true, but they seem to want to explore the idea of the Doctor more. They look back at the Doctor and the Daleks with their relationship. Then we finally get to see the Doctor on Gallifrey and the implications of what that means. Who would the Doctor be to the people of Gallifrey, and how would they react to him being back?
Some of the attitudes of the Doctor in this season seem very reminiscent of his attitude during the Specials between Series 4 and 5 where he travelled alone and started viewing himself as the “winner.” He forgot for a while what it meant to be the Doctor.
The Husbands of River Song
With all of that I am so excited for the Christmas Special. The thought of River Song meeting Twelve has me fascinated. Where this series ended also makes me wonder what they are going to do. Capaldi really has been fantastic as the Doctor and with Clara gone I am hoping that they will find a companion who stands in their own right and becomes more than just a plot device.