Doctor Clara Oswald the Child: “Kill the Moon” Review
I finally got around to watching Doctor Who Season 8 on Netflix and was largely disappointed. Peter Capaldi is a wonderful Doctor; no complaints there. The “darker tone” I kept hearing about seems to be largely the result of the self- and moral questioning the Doctor undergoes, as the episodes themselves cannot be strictly interpreted as darker than anything from Season 1. However, there were several cop-out plots, such as “Listen,” which can be boiled down to “Here is A Noise. It might only be the pipes rattling or it might be Something. Oh, it was just the pipes rattling, but didn’t you have goosebumps for a few minutes!” My largest beef with the season, though, was its closer (I would say misplaced) focus on the companion Clara.
The Girl Who Lies
Clara is not the impossible girl she was in Season 7, and Season 8 seems to be about establishing who she is now. The conclusion I, as an audience member, came to was that Clara Oswald is a liar. She lies to the Doctor, to her boyfriend Mr. Pink (who, on a side note, is quite possibly the best male character we’ve ever seen on Doctor Who, and who must, as consequence, die), and to just about everyone, which makes it terribly amusing in “Mummy on the Orient Express” when she gets upset that the Doctor asked her to lie for him. As a result, she cannot even trust the Doctor (we all know he isn’t always completely truthful either), and when he asks her if she thinks he is lying, all she can answer is, “I don’t know; I don’t know” (Kill the Moon).
She also becomes irrationally angry with the Doctor, cannot be reasoned with, and inexplicably considers herself to be in a position to correct his behavior. Despite the numerous examples of the Doctor’s authority, Clara calls herself his teacher and challenges him heavily at the end of “Kill the Moon.” In this episode, they discovered that the moon is actually an egg, and the creature within is hatching. This is causing havoc on earth, and the ultimatum “the human race or an innocent life” is levied. The Doctor leaves the humans to make this decision on their own, saying that they have all the same information that he does, and that the decision will affect them and their future, so they should be responsible for it.
After all is said and done, the conflict ended in a pro-life resolution, the self-important Clara lashes out with such rude statements as, “Tell me what you knew or else I’ll smack you so hard you’ll regenerate,” and, “You know what, shut up. I am so sick of listening to you!”
The Doctor tries to explain, “Essentially what I knew was that you would always make the best choice. I have faith that you would always make the right choice.”
“It was cheap,” Clara responds. “It was pathetic. No, no, no, it was patronizing. That was you patting us on the back saying, ‘Oh, you’re old enough to go to the shops yourself now, go on, toddle along.’” As if the process of growing up and being guided into larger responsibilities was something by which she ought to be offended.
The Doctor’s attempt to justify himself, “No, that was me allowing you to make a choice about your own future; that was me respecting you,” is met with manipulative tears. The Doctor is obviously shocked and confused. At this point, as an audience member, I identified strongly with him. Isn’t the companion supposed to be the “reader surrogate” for this show? Isn’t that why we haven’t had any interesting people from other time periods as companions since Classic Who? Because we won’t identify with them?
Clara tells the Doctor, “Respected is not how I feel,” and proceeds to blame him for her emotions: fear and self-doubt. She rails against being treated like a child, but cannot behave like one to communicate how she feels or understand for herself why she feels that way. She “almost chose wrong.” That is not the Doctor’s fault, but something over which she needs to do her own soul searching. Shouldering difficult decisions and accepting the consequences of those decisions is what being an adult means.
As the season progresses, Clara continues to avoid responsibility. When she realizes that she doesn’t really want to quit traveling with the Doctor, she never apologizes for her behavior or further discusses with the Doctor how she obviously hurt him with her words.
I lost all respect I had for Clara Oswald in this season. I hope that her behavior is not a reflection of our culture—that the writers did not think that audiences would identify with her in this situation. Clara is not our Doctor.