The Girl Who Died

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    Anonymous @


    and I agree, she is becoming a bit of a bore lately, Clara I mean.

    Are there people saying that? Certainly I’m not one of them. As I read these comments in full, I found others agreeing with the idea that this week there is a certain maturity to the companion -less motor mouth -more listening. Her behaviour with Ashildr was wonderful. Her knowledge, last week, how the Doctor would come back, would help was patient and delivered thru tonal language and thru eyes and small gestures.

    A beautiful delivery by Coleman in every way, I believe. Even the way she spoke with those left on the ship last week, saw her taking nominal control but being gentle -a tactic not quite mastered by the Doctor -and the “cards, Doctor, the cards.” Her idea, no doubt, and a classic, worthwhile one.

    It’s a wonder companions don’t become utterly doolalley travelling thru time and space, something humans were never meant to do, really (well, not for “nine million years” -I’m really referring to the Sonic and the Doctor’s mention of the “tech”). I think she’s held up rather well -as to throwing herself about, still grieving, with adventure after adventure, lapping it up and possibly making a balls up of it, that’s another question entirely.


    Kindest, Puro

    ichabod @ichabod

    @purofilion  I think she’s held up rather well -as to throwing herself about, still grieving, with adventure after adventure, lapping it up and possibly making a balls up of it, that’s another question entirely.

    I’m with you on this, puro — I like her better now than I did before because she’s different from S8 Clara, so there’s nothing to be bored by — she’s on the last leg of her story, shaped by harsh experience in S8 and so not the Clara we ended up with in S8.

    Though I needed to see through the cheery competence/confidence facade before I realized the depths here — that was one of the purposes of the phone call in Before the Flood, when she almost came to tears fighting to make the Doctor promise to come back, not to leave her hanging and alone.  There’s the Dr. Action-Girl layer; then there’s the the emotional wreckage of the Danny debacle beneath that, like cold black water with all kinds of abandonment, sorrow, self-recrimination, and rage floating around in it, under a thick but brittle layer of ice; and below that is our knowledge, as audience, that she’s halfway to her ending, and we can’t be sure how much about that either she or the Doctor knows.

    For me, all of this makes her very very not-boring at all, though I concede that that deepest layer is crucial.  I think that without an impending doom of some kind, she wouldn’t be as interesting.

    geoffers @geoffers


    Did anyone else see the transfer of Clara and Ashildr to Odin’s space ship as something effected by half of the broken sunglasses, triggered by Ashildr being told to “think, open!” by Clara?  I thought the Mire had sent them up with the warriors, but that does raise the question: why?  They’r not aggressive, testosterone carrying males.

    my take on this was that the mire had gotten what they came for, and were about to leave, but then the activation of the sonic device caused them to take notice (which, in a doctor-esque spur-of-the-moment move, is what clara intended, i think). “strange alien tech, out of place” sort of thing. so they grabbed ashildr and clara, so their leader could deal with them…

    jphamlore @jphamlore

    @missy: I think it has been pretty much established ever since The Doctor’s Wife that the Tardis does indeed control the Doctor at least in the sense of taking him not where he necessary wants to go but where he needs to go.

    Now we see how scientific, how rational, the Master / Missy’s campaign has been to try and convince the Doctor to stop traveling with human companions and to instead travel with her.  There would be natural questions, such as wouldn’t the Master do as he / she always does and try to acquire some power source for selfish reasons from whoever they meet?  Well, Missy already acquired what could have been the power to conquer the universe, Earth dead in Cybermen bodies … and she went to the Doctor and gave the controller to them to the Doctor.   And she said she did not need an army, but he did because unlike her he believed he was in the right.  And Missy has also been demonstrating that humans are too frail, too easy to snuff out, like gutting a fish, while she is near unkillable.  I suppose her crowning argument would be if Clara were to be killed off despite being under the Doctor’s duty of care.

    There’s actually only one thing standing in the way of the Doctor and Missy’s taking off together to see the universe as friends:  an agreement that neither the Doctor nor Missy see Earth nor trouble it again.  That is the one thing that for some reason the Doctor will never agree to do although most of the time he is complaining when the Tardis takes him somewhere on Earth.  Now why should that be so.  Because somewhere deep inside the Doctor knows that half of the hybrid that is prophesied to threaten the universe comes from humans.

    CountScarlioni @countscarlioni

    @ichabod  “how can he know by the end of “Girl” that Ashildr will in fact become a problem because of the chip he’s given her?  He know that he himself has, on occasion, been problematic to the universe (all right, remind me — does he remember now that he’s both destroyed Gallifrey and saved/hidden Gallifrey without destroying it?), but she’s just starting out, and she’s human, not a Time Lord with a TL’s knowledge or expertise, so — I get it that she could become very unhappy to outlive everyone; but how can she be a tidal wave as one young woman?

    Does the Doctor tune in telepathically and see evidence that her budding shamanic gifts (of which she’s currently a bit ashamed and untrusting) will make her formidable in future?”

    Let’s give this a try. The Doctor understands that giving Ashildr the chip is very problematical. This act, this ripple in time, he agonizes, has the potential (but isn’t certain) to turn into a tidal wave. Clara is exasperated that the Doctor won’t tell her what the rules are, and breaking the rules has been a big theme in the last two episodes.  Even though Ashildr is now a young girl, he has made her functionally immortal, and in doing he accepts he has surely “broken the rules.” Ashildr also seems problematical: she has brought her village bad luck and has the gift of story telling. The bonkers theory bit is that her story telling gifts will (based on what we saw in the preseason trailer with the lion in the stagecoach) become amplified in some fashion. So, she is now a young girl, but she has the potential to become far more.

    I don’t think the Doctor’s sure she will turn into a tidal wave, but he thinks she might well as my sense is that from the way the Doctor talks about ripples and tidal waves, he simply doesn’t know if he is about to create a serious ripple or a tidal wave when he breaks the rules (“Time will tell.”) He didn’t care which it was (ripple or tidal wave) in Before the Flood because he was so alarmed at the danger Clara faced.

    Here, with the chip and Ashildr, the rule breaking seems a bit different from The Waters of Mars because the tenth Doctor knew that Adelaide Brooks had died on Mars but he saved her anyway. It was Adelaide Brooks’s suicide that puts things to right.

    I’m enjoying the two parters hugely, in part because there are so many thought provoking comments here that really help set-up things for the second parts of the two parters.


    Anonymous @


    There’s actually only one thing standing in the way of the Doctor and Missy’s taking off together to see the universe as friends

    I can’t really, imo, imagine the Doctor wanting to travel with Missy -though I certainly think you’re right about the condition underwriting it.

    But we can’t forget, and neither should he, the millions who perished in Utopia (was it called that @bluesqueakpip?), Martha’s memories of that time – her family repeatedly tortured -along with Capt Jack. The woman who became the Master’s wife – a plaything, again. Missy, ‘deliciously’ happy to see Clara killed by her Doctor (who knows, I grant that Clara herself could be the magnet of forthcoming doom -an ‘oncoming storm’ in herself; maybe Missy’s had a preview?)

    Those who died in the Matrix -yes, they were ‘scheduled’ to die anyway, but she prevented them from ritually having a ‘good death’ (not that any one of us knows what that is -but certain mythologies, legends, faiths create rule etc..); a concept played around with last year and now faced head-on this season.

    Perhaps the death of Clara: a good death? A necessary death? Or a ‘no-death’? We still need to prefigure in the character of Orson. somehow.

    What’s your opinion @jphamlore of the Orson paradox?

    Anonymous @


    For me, all of this makes her very very not-boring at all,

    Yes, I agree. And I’d never thought I’d say this -particularly when she appeared as The Clara in her first episode with the Spoon heads -that not only is this pretty, big brown eyed girl interesting, she’s possibly more interesting than any other companion. Beyond the Imposs Girl Arc, it was she who spoke thru the Crack in the Wall, as it were (in the last day of Mat Smith’s incarnation) and she who’s dealing with this new regenerated and difficult ’13th’ doctor, in a way.

    Whilst I loved Noble and was fascinated by her ending -that came at a price and also at the end. This is something tangible where Clara exists beyond as ‘just’ companion -a real life with him causing some kind of damage possibly. She’s lost a boyfriend too -something that didn’t happen to Rose (Mickey was just Mickey) Martha or Amelia -River was/is an interesting companion but not technically in the thick of the traditional companion role, as it is generally outlined.

    She’s more complicated than ever and possibly whilst a motor mouth in those early years -I wonder how much of that was the inexperienced actress -the higher pitch, lacking in pause, matching the whirly-gig of Eleven -instead of a balanced person using the language properly, the tone, the deft gesture to communicate -in the way Capaldi does – so expertly and effortlessly (though it just appears this way!)


    ichabod @ichabod

    @countscarlioni  Ashildr also seems problematical: she has brought her village bad luck

    But has she?  Her father says, she thinks that every bad thing that happens to this village is because of her; and the villagers don’t react to her the way small communities tend to react to people singled out as bad luck — just the opposite.  That bit doesn’t work for me.

    he simply doesn’t know if he is about to create a serious ripple or a tidal wave when he breaks the rules (“Time will tell.”)

    But this does; if he’s thinking in terms of cascading consequences of a “small” act of his (a resurrection), yes.  But “tidal wave” has been used by Clara in conversationg with the Doctor to mean HIM.  Clara: “*You’re* a tidal wave!”  Doctor: “Don’t say that!”  So I thought he meant that Ashildr might personally live to bring about big changes in the way that the Doctor has done in the past.  If it’s a natural cascade of change coming about automatically, not because of Ashildr’s personality, that makes more sense: it’s not that Ashildr is a (potential) tidal wave, but that the fact that she’s still around instead of properly dead creates ripples that mount up to a tidal wave.

    @purofilion  . . . the death of Clara: a good death? A necessary death? Or a ‘no-death’?

    Just so; and how much of the outcome will be up to, or in the aftermath down to, the Doctor and his decisions?  A rich and meaty arc, given the complex and for the most part fascinating relationship that these two have woven between them.  At this point, Clara stands to the Doctor as Ashildr stands to her loving father, Einar, and it’s to that symmetry (among other things) that the Doctor responds by taking the huge risk of restoring Ashildr’s life — and then, nota bene, running away to leave the consequences to fall as they may on Ashildr and her village and the world . . . Ah, Doctor (*sigh*).  What a *human* you are in your weaknesses!

    ichabod @ichabod

    @purofilion  . . . a motor mouth in those early years -I wonder how much of that was the inexperienced actress -the higher pitch, lacking in pause, matching the whirly-gig of Eleven -instead of a balanced person using the language properly, the tone, the deft gesture to communicate -in the way Capaldi does – so expertly and effortlessly (though it just appears this way!)

    Oh, good, yes — I think you’re right.  Working with this batch of creatives, let alone acting with Capaldi, has had a maturing and polishing effect on her (well, kind of like the passage of time, of course), and gives her better ways to present Clara to us.  Which is perfect for her story: if she were a real young teacher, traveling in time and space with a real alien for some years now, we’d expect to see her become more poised and articulate as part of a particularly rich growing-up process.  She’s doing wonderfully at being just what Clara should be now, given the events of the past.

    I’m really going to miss her when she goes . . . and be glad we’ve had her company for so long.  Love to see a person grow in their craft and their understanding.  I think Capaldi is unfolding a professional lifetime’s accretion of those things, while Jenna is acquiring and trying out hers — and I don’t think she could have a better teacher, either.  Among other things, she’s spoken of Peter as being “afraid of nothing” in terms of trying a dozen different ways of doing a scene or a bit of business and then coming up with a brand new one for the take — and that kind of artistic confidence is one hell of a tool to add to your professional kit.

    So much wonderful stuff going on here at so many levels — it all actually makes me forget about the twisted, dripping horror that is modern politics!  Except for the victory of sane Canada — congratulations, all here who are happy to see Harper get the boot!

    jphamlore @jphamlore

    @purofilion: As for Orson Pink, my bonkers theory still stands that Clara’s ultimate fate is to go into the Nethersphere to be reunited with Danny where they can teach the Nethersphere’s children.  That would leave her story to be open depending on what Jenna Coleman decides to do for future appearances.

    Pre-The End of Time, the Master was being driven crazy by the sound of drums in his head.  I speculate Missy is only pretending to be crazy.  As we have seen in Time Heist, atrocities are justified if they are committed to keep a species alive.   The Doctor and Missy are the last of the Time Lords.

    Earth and humans stink to Missy.  Yet she and the Doctor keep hanging around Earth and humans.  I think because the Doctor, and Missy, probably know that humans are going to be one half of the hybrid that threatens the universe.  Who is more warlike than humans who not only war against other species but also incessantly with each other?  The Doctor’s trying to convert humans one at a time to be more kind and peaceful does not scale.  Who is to say Missy’s apparent cruelty is not the right approach.

    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord

    I think one of the interesting things here is that most of us at some level feel that the Doctor interfering in the balance of life and death is a bad choice that will somehow rebound upon him. There is a big mirror here though, because Clara effectively did the same thing for the Doctor. Pleading with the Time Lords for more life without his knowledge. She gave him additional life when he seemed reconciled about his death.

    I think the continued references to his new status as ‘possibly’ immortal due to some clerical error is as much of an issue as it was when I thought I detected it in Listen (in Orsons ship as it is about to decompress).

    If Ashildr is going to be resentful towards the Doctor, can we mirror some resentment from the Doctor to Clara? going to be resentful towards the Doctor, can we mirror some resentment from the Doctor to Clara?

    jphamlore @jphamlore

    @phaseshift: For the first few hundred years of her life, I think Ashildr’s problem won’t be that she’s immortal.  Her problem will be, to quote another franchise, that

    Everywhere in the world, they hurt little girls.


    Anonymous @


    dang dang dang cloister bell:

    you’re on a loop mate! 🙂

    Anonymous @


    so your thesis is that humans aren’t decent and good, deep inside? 🙂 Anywhere ? At all?

    To be cruel like Missy – torturing, with a quick ‘zap’ killing those UNIT men (with kids and wives), being involved with endless souls to merely ‘play with them.’ Like bad children chopping off cat’s tails.

    Come on, she’s an atrocity: made out to look cute, frenzied and funny. But she’s foul. Of course she can be witty and amusing and her ‘friendship’ with the Doctor is something that humans (with our attitude, apparently, to sex/shipping, as it were) cannot understand.

    But to think we ought to be summarily wiped out, is a bit rough. There is dignity in many of us. And goodness. I wouldn’t want to be part of a world that doesn’t recognise that. I think Who relies on this ideal. The Doctor loves us: “it is defended” [We are defended. And all that this concept entails]

    Anonymous @


    I spose that in the two very different jobs that I have, I see the absolute best and the absolute disgusting foul nastiness -of humanity. The first job gives me the positivity to cope with the second one and to know that every time there is horror and filth there is also incredible kindness, compassion and generosity of spirit -I think the Doctor knows this too.

    On a bigger scale, obviously, I’m just a tiny weeny cog in a giant machine working against the ravages of time.

    jphamlore @jphamlore

    @purofilion: I interpret Missy’s killing the UNIT agents as being part of her training of Clara so that Clara would still be able to think fast and to control her emotions.  Thus the very next arc when Clara tells Lunn to go after the phone, which ironically I believe does not play a part in the rest of the action, she is asked whether traveling with the Doctor has made her as cold and calculating as he appears to be.

    Humans as uniquely warlike among ourselves is a trope that has probably existed as long as human civilization has existed.  Examples in Dr Who include such serials as the Fifth Doctor’s Warriors of the Deep where humans, with a little shove from the Silurians and Sea Devils, are on the hair trigger edge of blowing ourselves up.

    The prophesied hybrid would appear to be a union of two warlike species.  As to me it is almost certain that humans will be half of the hybrid, by definition in the show itself, humans must be warlike relative to the rest of the universe.

    Mersey @mersey


    “Why couldn’t you ‘stand her’?”

    I couldn’t stand Clara because she was too perfect. It’s really hard to identify with someone so impossible:-). I think this opinion crops up in people’s comments. Rose was a young, uneducated woman who sought her place in the world, Martha had her crazy family and she suffered from Doctor’s complex, Donna had no pernament job and she lived with her mom in her thirties, Amy was an orphan working as a kissogram. Clara lost her mum, but she was still too happy for my. She didn’t act as a regular companion as well. She was capable of flying the Tardis and she even landed on Gallifrey!

    “On the contrary, I think it was clever: from Deep Breath onwards we knew where the face had come from, but in the way of dramatic irony, we’re waiting for the big reveal for the Doctor and I thought it was nicely done.”

    As for Doctor’s face I don’t think it’s a stupid idea. Everyone heard about Moffat- Davis conversation. I was really curious what they had cooked. But I forgot about it. And now Capaldi is really established as the Doctor and it doesn’t matter for me that he has the face of some ancient sculptor. They waited too long with the news. And as far as I know Time Lord can’t choose his appearence. So who gave him this face, who decided about it? If he had the piece of Caecilius…. Funny how they’re changing rules with every series.

    “I must be one person who, in watching the series, didn’t particularly enjoy it. Actaully, when is it all going to be over! ;)”

    You are not the only one who doesn’t apreciate Game of Thrones. I watched the first episode and decided it’s too violent for me.


    ” I’m not at all sure she wants to travel with the Doctor forever, or be immortal.  She’s suffering too much.”

    It was partly a joke, but I did see something in her eyes. Sometimes I think Clara risks her life because she subsconciously wants to die and the Doctor is her only reason to live. Sometimes I think the opposite. But when she said that the Doctor did the right thing for Ashildr there was definitely something on her mind. Maybe as @janetteb has said, Clara thought about Dany. That was my second thought.

    Thank you for your replies!

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip


    I couldn’t stand Clara because she was too perfect.

    That’s a plot point to which we haven’t yet had the answer. And it is, I think, a plot point – because Steven Moffat specifically drew attention to it in the webisode ‘She said, He said’.

    Clara as a person is very far from perfect. Clara as the Doctor’s Companion is suspiciously perfect; always able to provide exactly what he needs – even if what he needs is way beyond what should be her abilities. She is, as the Doctor said (and then appeared to forget, which is suspicious in itself), ‘too perfect’.


    DrBen @drben

    @purofilion – What’s your opinion @jphamlore of the Orson paradox?

    I’m not @jphamlore but shall answer nonetheless.

    I am 90% convinced at this point (although I would welcome being surprised) that Moffat has no intention of answering the remaining questions he asked in “Listen”.  I think this is not sloppy writing, but rather fits in completely with the theme of the episode — sometimes it’s all in your head.

    With Danny’s death, I think we are left to draw the conclusion that Orson has nothing to do with Clara — either he is a descendant of Danny’s from a sibling’s line, or he is completely unrelated to Danny and the Tardis merely selected someone with the same name and a similar face.  Either way, any resemblance to Danny Pink is purely coincidental (or all in your head).

    Same goes for the thing in the bed.  Any answer would be ultimately less satisfying than the mystery itself.

    Mersey @mersey


    “That’s a plot point to which we haven’t yet had the answer.”

    My point earlier in this conversation was that Clara was so perfect because she was an undeveloped character. She was perfect as a human (a perfect barmaid, a perfect souffle girl, a perfect nanny) and a companion. But why she’s not perfect any more? Because the writers changed their minds about her. We didn’t get any clues in her first season that she’s something more than a regular human. She was impossible, but now we know why.  Not because she was special but because she entered Doctor’s timeline (another woman destined to save the Doctor). I’m not sure whether we’ll get every answer. We have questions about Rupert/Danny and of course Orson Pink who has Danny’s face and time travelling is his family tradition. But Danny didn’t travel in time and Clara was not pregnant with him. Remember that Coleman wanted to leave the show after the Christmas special. And writers didn’t plan to give as any answers then. Now they have more time and they’ll cook something up. (They’ve already done it). So I stick to my point that Clara at the beginning was really undeveloped and that’s why I didn’t like her.

    I feel I’m a rather down-to-earth user of this forum but it’s good. It only stimulates our conversations.


    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord

    Just a note on the eels. If, in the UK, or the US, or Australia, a thriving Colony of electric eels was discovered in a River, what would they be called from an environmental perspective?

    Invasive species. Invasive species are plants, animals, or pathogens that are non-native (or alien) to the ecosystem under consideration and whose introduction causes or is likely to cause harm

    So this story features a bunch of invaders (Vikings) battling a bunch of invaders (mire) by using a bunch of invaders (eels). Something meta to this series perhaps.

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip


    Clara certainly wasn’t perfect as a human in her first series (the one with Matt Smith). Yes, she was in many ways a very good nanny – though personally, I wouldn’t like anyone I employed as a Nanny to take my kids on unauthorised trips through time and space. No, she wasn’t a perfect souffle girl – her souffles always collapsed, or came out burnt. Until she got upgraded by the Great Intelligence, she was struggling with anything computer related.

    Where she was oddly, strangely perfect was as the Doctor’s Companion. She stayed where she was put, she could do any job required and she could always say or do exactly the right thing to save the day. Clara still is that oddly, strangely perfect companion, even after Trenzalore. As a human, she isn’t and never has been perfect. As a companion, she’s still ‘born to save the Doctor’. And as a person, the Cloister Bell still keeps clanging whenever she’s in danger of dying.

    As far as being undeveloped: yes, I think most people would agree that her ‘puzzle’ nature was initially developed at the expense of her characterisation. I think most people would also say that the dynamic is better with Peter Capaldi (I suspect the casting brief had the production team’s ideas about the next Doctor in mind, rather than Matt Smith’s Doctor).

    We have been bashed over the head with script-statements that Clara is simply an ordinary human girl. Honest, guv, she’s perfectly human, perfectly ordinary. Really she is. Admittedly, this could just be a frustrated production team explaining that she bloody well is an ordinary human girl, dammit! 😉

    Remember that Coleman wanted to leave the show after the Christmas special. And writers didn’t plan to give as any answers then.

    Now, at this point I would ask you to remember that Steven Moffat was so keen to retain Jenna Coleman that he first of all wrote an ending to Series 8 that allowed her to return, and then (after persuading her to at least do the Christmas Special) carefully wrote that Christmas Special so that Jenna could not only decide to stay on even while filming, but could (if necessary) be persuaded even after filming while the Special was being edited. That’s a writer who is very, very keen for an actor to stay on.

    If they put out a casting call for the next Doctor Who companion, half of British Equity would be delighted to show up. Much as I think Jenna Coleman is a very good actor, and much as I wish her well in her future career – she ain’t that hard to replace. Maybe she works really well with the rest of the team.

    Or maybe Steven Moffat hadn’t finished Clara’s storyline.

    Arbutus @arbutus

    Finally had a chance to watch this again, and I still really liked it. I found it held my attention start to finish, delightfully. I loved the snappy dialogue, the way everyone delivered their lines with the funny bits beautifully understated. Clara’s little snort: “I’ve got a hobby… it’s you, by the way.” “I’m not actually the police, that’s just what it says on the box.” “What do Gods never ever do? Gods never actually show up!” And I liked the faux medieval music that popped up from time to time. This felt very Tom Baker, Douglas Adams to me. (People mentioned The Pirate Planet awhile ago, that was an Adams story, wasn’t it? I didn’t make that connection until just this moment.)

    This brief exchange struck me both times, at the beginning, when they were talking about tidal waves and time travel. Clara said, “You are a tidal wave,” and the Doctor replied, “Don’t say that.” The Doctor appeared a bit disturbed here, by what seemed like a throwaway remark. I also liked the really understated way the Clara/Doctor relationship dialogue was handled, especially at the end, when he talks about immortality and meeting someone you can’t bear to lose. It really makes me wonder where we are headed with Clara. It may not be death after all.

    I loved the Doctor’s course in Doctor 101- Always talk with confidence, be a moving target, act as if you know their plan and if you’re lucky, they’ll tell it to you. Also his translation from Baby, very poetic (and cool that the Doctor deciding to stay stopped the baby’s crying!). I agree with those that felt that this is Twelve at his absolute best, which is odd because really, it’s not got a plot that bears close examination, does it? But I don’t expect we’re not supposed to think very hard about it, it’s like the Robin Hood episode last year in that regard. For me, this just moved beautifully along, but I do love a good bit of dialogue and this was all about that, so it worked for me. It was pretty much pure fun until the very end, when the momentous bit sets in. Wasn’t that beautifully done, watching the ages spinning around Ashildr, watching her age not in body but in spirit? I expect we will be getting something quite different next week.

    Arbutus @arbutus

    @denvaldron, my sympathies. It is part of life but a very hard part. It sounds as though there is comfort to be had, but even leaving aside all the many difficult things that must be dealt with in the aftermath, we miss our loved ones after they are gone. I’m sorry for your loss.

    Brewski @brewski

    Ok, so I found the episode entertaining, but it got me to thinking about something.  Allow me to play Devil’s Advocate a moment.   (Note: the following is NOT actually my opinion):

    “My biggest problem with the episode is where the Doctor is ‘translating’ the baby.  I mean, come on!  How plausible is that?  Are we accept that there is sufficient modulation in the voice of a crying baby to transmit such a complex array of concepts and meanings?  We could, of course, entertain the possibility that the Doctor is using telepathy rather than auditory transmission, however this forces us to replace science with science fiction AND presuppose that human babies are somehow telepathic.  We are also expected to believe that an infant somehow has access to knowledge and world-experience sufficient to understand and relate context with content.  This despite the fact that babies do not form this type of cognitive ability until nearly a year old.  Of course, we could fall back on ‘but we don’t know how much a baby knows’ but once again this forces us necessarily right back outside of science.”

    Ok, in truth I LOVED those scenes!  I think they were beautifully written and sublimely acted.

    So what’s my point?

    Sometimes in Doctor Who we accept beauty and poetry and philosophy over science.  It’s just part of the magic of the show.  (And yes, I am using that word ironically.)  And in this case of the Doctor “speaking Baby” that attitude seems to be nearly universal among fans.  I haven’t seen anyone on this (or several other boards I’ve nosed around in) have anything but praise for the scenes where the Doctor is translating the baby.

    So where and how do we decide?  When is it okay to have non-sciencey baby-translating but NOT non-sciencey Moon Eggs or Northern Megawatt Eels?

    To me it’s not a matter of how sciencey or not-sciencey Doctor Who is.  I simply watch it with a different set of eyes – a different frame of mind – than I would, say, a Star Trek TNG.  I’m not suggesting that we put such discussions off the table.  In fact, dealing with it is what leads us to some wonderful bonkers theories!

    Just maybe temper it with a little more leeway.  Personally I can suspend my disbelief enough to hang it from a CyberKing! 🙂



    Sometimes in Doctor Who we accept beauty and poetry and philosophy over science

    This is the Moffat(1) (and the oft-cited Joss Whedon and Rob “Veronica Mars” Thomas) way – in a conflict between emotional truth and pedantic rectitude, emotional truth wins. It helps, of course, having a cast that can deliver to good – being it Sarah Michelle Gellar, Kristen Bell or Peter Capaldi. But emotional truth always wins.

    Every time.  No exceptions.

    (I suppose the cautionary counter-example is Battlestar Galactica: the quest emotional truth does not give liberty to arbitrarily change a characters just to make whatever polemical point you are getting at, and even a good cast can’t dig you out of that hole)


    (1) And for that matter, RTD

    Anonymous @

    @mersey @bluesqueakpip

    Yes, indeed I believe there were things I’d forgotten regarding Clara: she wasn’t perfect was she? It’s interesting that we look at a young confident and attractive  woman and some of us, go “drat, she’s damn perfect, it’s so unfair and …so…so..she’s BORING”.

    No. In her ridiculous ineptitude, she’s not perfect and therefore the second part of the phrase “she’s boring” doesn’t fit either 🙂

    I can make a soufflé. It’s pretty easy if you practise: so Clara aint good at that. As a Nanny -not so much either. Those kids needed a good bollocking occasionally and as an occasional teacher myself, I notice she’s not that outstanding there (her questions are often closed 🙂 ) but that’s possibly a script issue.

    I often think people liked Donna Noble because she seemed totally ‘not with it’ as we’d say in Oz. Losing things, yelling at people, fighting with her mother, not always employable, friendships all a-shatter and ordinary looking, in a way (Mr Ilion didn’t think so): not some size 4 petite 22 year old with big brown eyes -but it’s interesting that our belief, ‘she’s perfect’ could come from her appearance not from her ‘actions’ as I wonder how different Donna really was from Clara?

    They both had issues with normal people ‘at home’ (Danny/Nerys) there’s some difficult or awkward relationships in Clara’s family etc..however, these things are pretty much a failsafe for scriptwriters and also could well describe 99% of people anywhere at anytime!

    Just musings.

    I still like her now. No idea what the Graun scabs think of her…don’t particularly care. Do I? 🙂

    Anonymous @

    @phaseshift  -your metaphorical approach to the eels is wonderful and spot on, imo.


    Yes, I can see that the script writers may indeed leave the ‘thing under the bed’ as a little bit of continued theorising or as an idea that confused us all. Even Moffat will say, “that thing under the Bed? Yeah, we never worked out what it was, either. Damn we tried, though.” Awesome.

    I’ll even agree that Orson could be left as a what-if? Could it be possible, as this is a time travel show, after all 🙂 that Orson came from another future, one where Danny didn’t die and the Matrix was inhabited by others (I don’t think Missy necessarily intended Danny to die, although I don’t recall full agreement about that on the Forum). Surely in that future, Danny and Clara have children and so off the great-grand child travels. Now, though, that future’s  over-written or relegated.

    I wonder if Clara has spoken about this with the Doctor? What do you think @bluesqueakpip? Is Orson part of a future that’s been over written due to Danny’s untimely demise? @drben I would hope I’d never accuse these writers of “sloppy writing!” Not me! I aint one of those! 🙂

    Kindest, Puro

    winston @winston

    @purofilion  @drben

    Sometimes DW leaves me with far more questions than answers, and the thing under the bed was one of them. And who is Orson? Maybe we will get answers someday but till then it’s bonkers theories.

    I try to tell myself ,like the Doctor , that it is fun not to know.

    jphamlore @jphamlore

    The Doctor is a shepherd-like bodhisattva.  A quote the Dalai Lama likes from the works of Shantideva:

    For as long as space endures
    And for as long as sentient beings remain,
    Until then may I too abide
    To dispel the misery of the world.

    Many of the Doctor’s fellow Time Lords lost their way advocating the Ultimate Sanction in The End of Time.  They needed to strive to be king-like bodhisattvas helping others after they obtain enlightenment, not to seek to destroy all of creation other than themselves.   I think the Doctor will find a way for the more peaceful of them to attain this.

    And those Time Lords who fail to realize they need to strive to leave the Wheel of Pain and not be bound to it, they will be trapped as Weeping Angels.

    I suspect the Doctor will correct Ashildr to seek enlightenment.  Immortality need not be a trap.


    Ozitenor @ozitenor

    Reading through the commentary, it seems there is a notion that Time Lords may not be able to choose their appearance when regenerating. I am sure i will be corrected if I am wrong here, but when Romana regenerated into her Lalla Ward persona, she chose a number of iterations first (that annoyed the Doctor!) before deciding on “Lalla Ward”. So, that Time Lord certainly had the ability to choose faces, and Doctor 4 didnt seem at all surprised by this.

    Missy @missy


    Thing is, in the unlikely event of Missy and the doctor getting together, would the Tardis allow it?
    I still remember “The Moment” asking the Doctor:

    Moment: “Didn’t you want her to see it?”
    Doctor: “Who?”
    Moment: “The Tardis.”

    She is a living thing. Isn’t speculation great?


    Missy @missy


    Yes puro, it has been said.
    I like Clara, although not nearly as much as Rose and Donna, it’s just that at times, she gives me the pip – don’t know why. *shrugs*



    Missy @missy


    “run. run you clever boy and remember ME” ? I think that on re-play she says it without the “me” -in The Dalek Asylum at least.

    Yep! She mostly said “and remember.”

    jphamlore @jphamlore

    @missy: A very good point about the Tardis possibly rejecting the Master as a long-term companion.  After all, it is the Tardis that most of the time is calling the shots as to where the Doctor goes.

    ichabod @ichabod

    @mersey  Clara at the beginning was really undeveloped and that’s why I didn’t like her.

    Same here; in an early pre-S8 interview, Moffat said it outright: that Clara was originally conceived of as a plot-mule, not a full-fledged character, and she pretty much remained that, IMO, until S8 began.  At that point, of course, lots of fans complained that she wasn’t perky and helpful and perfectly attuned to what the stories required of her but was suddenly all angry and demanding and lying, what’s up with that, anyway?  Alas; have a female character go from Mary Tyler Moore to somebody with an ego and a passionate soul and a determination to get her way at least *some* of the time, and presto!  She’s a bitch.

    I liked her as soon as she showed some spunk on her own behalf, which was S8.  It was a bait-and-switch problem that set her off: here she’d gone and begged more life for 11, and what she got was — 12!!!  A half-crazy enigma with a lined face who barely knew who she was, at the start.  Well, it took a while, but she dealt with it.  I admire that.

    Rob @rob

    Morning All

    Especially @bluesqueakpip for post #45268 and @missy for #45289 and (as I’m feeling ultra inclusive today @EveryoneElseWhoPostsHere )

    Well I’d quote the relevent bits but tablet and mud and not enough coffee plus a few other random poor excuses but the gist of this is…….

    Clara is the hybrid daughter of the Tardis post Trenzalore and because it’s the Tardis before it too (now I’m positive someone will point out that they posted this 4 years ago but these two posts mentioned above made my brain go just like Clunks in Catch The Pidgeon)

    ps saw Silurians, Cybermice and an Ice Warrior down at the bottom of Wookey Hole last night on my way back to digs from the pub 😉

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip


    as an occasional teacher myself, I notice she’s not that outstanding there (her questions are often closed 🙂 ) but that’s possibly a script issue.

    She’s certainly a pretty good teacher, because – in an inner-city, inner-London class – she keeps her class quiet and attentive even when they’re doing Jane Austen. 😈

    Spider @spider

    @lisa, @blenkinsopthebrave, @purofilion, @ichabod  cheers! It was a very cool trip. Rewatched Fires Of Pompeii last night. Loved it even more now! No jet-lag, only 1 hour time difference from the UK so no probs there.

    Ok, now caught up with comments. Overall I really enjoyed the episode. The scene cut from the practicing with real swords to the utter chaos I found particularly funny. I decided to just not think too hard about the whole eels in northern Europe and the using electricity part of the plan, and let that just slide and allow myself to enjoy it.

    I agree that some of this episode felt like there was a bit of padding, but it meant we got some great scenes and dialogue between Clara and the Doctor that I think would not have been in a faster paced episode. Definitely a lot more foreshadowing of bad things!

    Highlight for me was of course the throw back to Fires Of Pompeii. I loved they included clips of that episode it gave me chills just seeing those – and as others here have already said, i think it was necessary to show that for younger or casual viewers in order for them to make the link. Since not everyone is an obsessed whovian who stands outside the ruins of a house in Pompeii gesticulating wildly at a name plate and babbles on about thinking this is the house of someone who a character in a TV series was vaguely based on who a few years later then went on to star in said TV show. *ahem* yes, I got some rather confused looks from my friends when I tried to explain my excitement. Yes, yes. It was I who was the mad soothsayer XD


    If Ashildr is going to be resentful towards the Doctor, can we mirror some resentment from the Doctor to Clara? going to be resentful towards the Doctor, can we mirror some resentment from the Doctor to Clara?

    I have also been wondering if there is a bit of residual resentment from the Doctor to Clara on this as well. I don’t remember the reference from Listen (will need to relook at that), but in Kill The Moon when the Doctor says “In fact, I’m not entirely sure that I won’t keep on regenerating forever” he casts a very significant glance at Clara as he does so. So I agree there is something underlying there and that his line in this episode about being immortal is possibly a reference to himself and another little dig at Clara.

    Now that I’ve got through all the comments, time for a rewatch to pickup on all the things I missed that, as always, people here point out!


    Anonymous @

    @bluesqueakpip quite right too!

    They didn’t want to lock Ms Oswald in the music cupboard (which the students did with me), or, start swinging from the folding blackboards each morning. I opine, therefore, that she’s doing a far better job than I ever did.


    Anonymous @


    I think you mentioned somewhere TLs can’t choose their faces? Indeed they can. Long established as an idea.

    Brewski @brewski

    @pedant I agree entirely.  Particularly in that an excellent ensemble makes such a difference. One can get away with depicting a dry and bland scientist.  Not so much a dry and bland poet.  🙂

    @winston For sure not knowing is half the fun! It’s what gives birth to such bonkers theories.  “Always leave them wanting more. ”  And more to the point: too often the explanation can be anti-climactic.  Leave me to my exciting imagination!


    JimTheFish @jimthefish
    Time Lord

    To me it’s not a matter of how sciencey or not-sciencey Doctor Who is.  I simply watch it with a different set of eyes – a different frame of mind

    Absolutely. It’s not SF. Never was. It’s not strictly fantasy either. One of the great things about the show is that it has its own frame of references. You also have to just roll with the ‘rule of cool’ a lot of the time.


    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip


    in a conflict between emotional truth and pedantic rectitude, emotional truth wins

    Yup. It’s always worth remembering, when you’re about to fire off an anguished BTL missive about how Lancaster bombers weren’t in service at that date, or electric eels live in South America, that this is fiction.’Truth’, in fiction, is emotional truth.

    It doesn’t matter what the court of Denmark was ‘really’ like. What matters is the emotional truth of Hamlet. 😉

    PaperMoon @papermoon

    @jimthefish re the horned helmets and electric eels being deliberate. I thought so too, and also thought this may have been happening last season too.

    Brewski @brewski


    I like that! It’s kinda like when a good piece of abstract art “feels” more real than a high res photograph.

    The photo captures the bare reality. The art captures the feeling it evokes.



    The photo captures the bare reality. The art captures the feeling it evokes.

    Hmmmm, or indeed hmmmm, and for that matter hmmmm and hmmm.

    The search for emotional truth does not absolve the writer (or the photographer) of the requirement to avoid outright absurdity (unless absurdity is the point) or falsehood, for down that road lies Plot Mandated Stupidity (I’m looking at you Broadchurch 2) or Arbitrary Character Remodelling (ILAY the aforementioned BSG).

    Brewski @brewski



    (That is the sound of Brewski eating his words. )


    ichabod @ichabod

    @brewski  (That is the sound of Brewski eating his words. )

    Don’t eat ’em, they’re fine — it’s a matter of proportion.  If the art is good, it captures the emotion, meanwhile eliminating or changing things that don’t add to the perception of the emotion.  A photograph also eliminates (and sometimes contains re-arranged elements, choices by the photographer about lighting and angles, etc. — so it’s by no means a closed question.  (I used to have lively discussions with my dad about this very issue, since as an artist he hated it when people treated photography as an art form.)  Great, sometimes merely good photographs can carry huge emotional truth, with or without manipulation of the bare reality (if there even is such a thing!).  Great painting can be all about surface and appearance, very little emotion involved (for most viewers).  So it’s a big ball of artsy-fartsy, reality-schmeality stuff, IMO, no word-eating required.

    @pedant The search for emotional truth does not absolve the writer (or the photographer) of the requirement to avoid outright absurdity (unless absurdity is the point) or falsehood, for down that road lies Plot Mandated Stupidity (I’m looking at you Broadchurch 2) or Arbitrary Character Remodelling (ILAY the aforementioned BSG).

    With you on Broadchurch, but I hated *both* parts because I found the characters dull beyond belief (well, no — there are plenty of dull folks in real life, so I do believe in their existence).  But it’s those questions about whether the search you mention has been successful or not that arguments about taste — “Yes, that clown on velvet is so beautiful it breaks my heart” and “Tosca is just a grubby little piece of trash” etc. — so that’s a scale that slides in so many directions and dimensions that those discussions also can go on forever, and probably should.

    But a subjective approach is built into me as primary and perhaps less so in you — which is *why* these conversations rarely get settled (especially when you add in the dimension of time and how taste and perception changes).



    Arbutus @arbutus

    @brewski @pedant @ichabod

    Fascinating ideas. I was going to post full agreement with Brewski’s original comment, and certainly from my own point of view it’s absolutely right. But @pedant is equally right on the “there is only so much that one can accept” side of things. But where that line is drawn is obviously different for all of us, which is why we get disagreement as with Kill the Moon or the excellence (or not) of companions.

    @ichabod    What is and isn’t art? Can of soup, can of worms… a question that is almost impossible to answer without sounding unbearably snooty at times. But as you say, I think it is still right to ask the question. Just not to assume that there is ever only one answer!  🙂

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