Doctor Who Series 9, Episode 10
“Face the Raven”
Posted by Kim
When Rose Tyler got stranded in Pete’s World in “Doomsday”, Russell T. Davies commented that it was a direct result of Rose and Ten’s cavalier attitude in “Tooth and Claw”. Their dalliance with Queen Victoria resulted in the creation of Torchwood and Torchwood was responsible for the events in “Army of Ghosts” and “Doomsday”. (This is also for the longest time I refused to WATCH Torchwood because I could not forgive them.) Traveling with The Doctor through all of space and time has consequences and you never know when those consequences will come to bite you in the ass. Considering how we’ve been comparing Twelve and Clara to Rose and Ten for the past season and a half, it was only a matter of time before they too would have to face the same consequences that Rose and Ten did. “Don’t worry, you daft old man. I’m not going anywhere.” HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA.
Speaking of consequences, when we were at Long Island Who, we attended a panel where we discussed Series 9 so far. Our dear friend Graeme Burk was the moderator and he asked the room to describe Series 9 in one word. The predominant reaction? CONSEQUENCES. We’ve seen The Doctor come face to face with the consequences of his actions all series, from meeting young Davros on the battlefield to his actions in the future in “Before the Flood” to giving Ashildr an immortal life to the literal “Truth or Consequences” question when he faced the Zygons. From the get-go, “Face the Raven” sounded ominous, given the fact that we’ve been teased with the death of Clara Oswald ALL SERIES. Like Rose Tyler before her, we knew that Clara would never leave the Doctor of her own volition. Only death or a parallel universe would separate them. Well…we’ve done parallel universe already. So. But I’m getting ahead of myself. As much as I just want to talk about the last 15 minutes of “Face the Raven”, Clara Oswald deserves me talking about what brought her to the point of losing her life.
The Doctor and Clara go to Rigsy’s new flat. A lot has changed since we first met him…mainly the fact that he has created a new human. Can we take a moment to appreciate how much The Doctor loves babies? He coos over Rigsy’s baby girl even more than Clara does and I swear to God, the way Peter Capaldi’s face softens as he calls the baby “brilliant” makes me want to punch him in the face because he just won’t let me live in peace. As much as he wants to take the new human with them, The Doctor knows it will just distract him, so they take Risgy into the TARDIS alone so they can examine the mysterious tattoo. While the Doctor runs a full body scan, Clara examines his phone. All the data from the past 24 hours has been wiped. The scan reveals that Rigsy has had contact with Aliens in the past 24 hours. Why can’t he remember that? He’s been retconned. (CAPTAIN JACK, IS THIS YOUR DOING?) All of the evidence mounts to one conclusion, and it’s one that drives the Doctor to his empathy cards. “There’s no nice way to say you’re about to die,” The Doctor confesses, calling Rigsy by name. That’s when Rigsy knows he’s in deep shit. “Don’t start using my actual name now. Call me Pudding Brain, call me Local Knowledge. Whatever. Just don’t call me Rigsy,” he pleads. You’re going to save me. You’re a doctor. That’s what you do.” (UGH) They have 526 minutes to find who did this to him before Rigsy dies. Time to get cracking.
Once they retrieve the mapping from the Sonic Sunglasses, our trio takes to the ground searching for the trap street. (Maybe it was the location or maybe it’s the fact that I’ve been watching so much Torchwood or maybe it’s both, but the entire time they searched for the street, I expected Gwen Cooper to appear on the scene.) The Doctor warns Clara and Rigsy to stop looking at the world as they usually do. The street will be hidden in plain sight. They will know they are near a trap street when the details surrounding them don’t add up because the misdirection circuit protecting it will scramble their thoughts. (Think how many trap streets could ACTUALLY be out there in the world.) They close in on an area and the Doctor tells Clara to go back to the TARDIS and get all his most annoying stuff (love). She also grabs Rigsy’s phone, which appears to have finally downloaded data from the day before. When she gives it back to him, he drops it and flashes of his lost day appear. Boom. The entrance to the street appears. Why? “Something slipped through the retconned memory. Something that took over your whole mind.” They enter the alley and are greeted by two men (who flash back and forth between men and their actual alien selves) who demand to know their reason for asylum. That’s right, the street is actually an alien refugee camp. And a very familiar face presides over it, making good on her promise to be the Patron Saint of The Doctor’s leftovers.
All of the refugees (revealed to be a Sontaran, a Silurian, a Cyberman, and an Ood. Among others) sneer at Rigsy and call him a murderer. The Mayor says they have very strict rules against violence on this street. If you break them, you MUST be punished. There is no room for grace. Rigsy is accused of killing a beloved member of the street, a Janus who fled there with her son. She had been knocked to the ground and Rigsy was found over her body. In order to protect the peace, The Mayor swiftly sentenced Rigsy. Clara refuses to believe that he did it, which means the only option is that one of the other aliens did and set him up. In the square, an old man and his wife approach the Mayor. He also has a neck tattoo and the countdown is nearing its end. “I only took it to save her,” he pleads. Much like Jean Valjean, this man stole medical supplies to save his wife, also a punishment that merits death apparently. “I can remove the chronolock,” The Mayor tells the assembled street. “But I won’t. Our rules keep us safe.” The wife begs her husband to give it to her, but he refuses, saying he did all of this to SAVE her. The Mayor takes a breath and closes her eyes. The tattoos leave her neck and become smoke. A raven in a nearby cage does the same. This is the Quantum Shade, and once it binds itself to a victim there is no turning back. “You could flee across all of time and all of the universe, it would still find you,” The Doctor explains, disgust apparent in his voice. The old man flees, running through the street trying to escape his fate. There is no escaping it though. The Raven slams into the Old Man’s chest, he exhales black smoke and falls to the ground. The tattoos return to the Mayor’s neck. This is the fate that awaits Rigsy in forty-one minutes. “I have no wish to harm your friend if he is innocent, Doctor. Question anyone. Examine the body. But it’s not me you need to convince of Rigsy’s innocence. It’s them.”
CLARA: Weren’t you listening? I’m under the Mayor’s personal protection. And it’s absolute, apparently. Look, she controls the Raven, so I will never have to face it. This is clever.
RIGSY: But this is putting you in danger.
CLARA: No, this is us talking the opposition into their own trap. This is Doctor 101. We’re buying time. We get all of the aliens on our side in the next half an hour, and then we reveal I’ve got the chronolock, not you, and boom! We buy ourselves more time to find the real killer.
RIGSY: The Doctor would never let you do this.
CLARA: Doctor 102. Never tell anyone your actual plan. He’ll have a tantrum when he finds out. And then, when we confront Ashildr, she’ll want to take the chronolock off just to shut him up. What happens if you don’t go home tonight to Jen and Lucy, eh? If you never go home? You really want your little girl growing up without a father just because he wouldn’t take a risk? You trusted us to save you, so trust us.
Oh, Clara Clara Clara. The thing that HURTS me is that her logic is SO SOUND and her heart is in the right place. She doesn’t even THINK about the danger she is putting herself in because she and the Doctor have had SO MANY wins together. She never considers the option that it could all go wrong. It’s stupid and brave and oh so clever all at the same time. She touches the back of Rigsy’s neck and the chronolock transfers to her neck and I yell at the TV because now it’s CLARA’S life that is on the clock. I understand her need for the element of surprise but the fact that she didn’t let the Doctor in on her plan made me NUTS. Why why why why why.
Meanwhile, The Doctor is questioning The Mayor’s other assistant, Kabel, who drops some very important knowledge. “Your friend, acting like he was all scared of us, calling for a doctor.” This immediately makes The Doctor question just exactly what’s going on here. He demands to know if Rigsy was calling for A doctor or THE Doctor. “You find yourself accused of murder on a strange alien street in the middle of London. Only they’ve taken your phone, so you beg the woman in charge to call me instead. She knew you and I were friends. So why’d she lie? Unless she had something to hide.” Oh, shit.
Long story short, the whole thing was never about Rigsy. It was all about the Mayor getting the Doctor to come to the trap street. They realize that the Janus isn’t dead but being held in a stasis pod (and her son is actually a daughter but I’ve rambled on enough already). There is a keyhole that can free her from the pod and the only option available is for the Doctor to use his TARDIS key, which he does, despite Clara’s protestations. “This girl needs her mother,” he says, shoving his key into the box. If there’s one thing the Doctor has proven he will always be a sucker for, it’s family. (He and Clara have that in common, being rootless themselves.) The minute The Doctor unlocks the machine, a silver bracelet clamps on to his wrist and The Mayor grins triumphantly. WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON HERE?