"Let me be brave."
IN THIS ONE... Rigsy returns to lead the Doctor and Clara to a hidden street where a quantum raven will claim one of their lives.
REVIEW: Though I do have some criticism for the first couple acts of this episode, I want to talk about Clara for a bit since this is her "death" if not her departure. And I have to compare her to Rose Tyler. They've had the same arc, in a way (though with some reversals, admittedly). Bad Wolf and the Impossible Girl went from capable companion to overconfident "wannabe Doctors" in their last season, and both ended dead/not dead, but very definitively separated from the Time Lord they thought they'd never leave. But the way Clara meets her fate puts her far above the blubbering Rose, which has something to do with how they justified her overconfidence as much as with how it was played. Clara is most definitely suffering from a death wish, and has been acting increasingly reckless since Danny Pink's death. The Doctor's noticed and has become more and more apprehensive about it. Rose acted "Doctorish" because she so wanted the Doctor to be her equal/boyfriend; Clara adopts that persona to better handle loss, which she believes the Doctor is mostly impervious to (though she's wrong). So when she takes Rigsy's killer tattoo, she's playing the Doctor's part, putting his lessons into practice, but she's lacking his immense experience and knowledge. So it's a mistake, and it leads to her death. And she goes to that death bravely, with no whining, fully accepting her mistakes. And more than that, she wrings a promise out of the Doctor not to get revenge on Ishildr/Me or anyone responsible for her demise. Her last act is to save people from his wrath, putting into practice one more lesson she took from the Doctor, and recently too - the notion of breaking the cycle of violence he just taught the Zygons. It's all very touching, even if it's not the last we see of her.
And it's to the episode's credit that this cheat doesn't hurt the moment on repeat viewings. It is, after all, part of the season's themes, and Clara's journey will mirror Ishildr's AND act as another Doctorish thing for her to do, i.e. survive death. We'll get to that in due course. The "regeneration stance" she adopts isn't exactly accidental. The episode does have other cheats that are less excusable. As with Sleep No More, a good part of the plot is a hoax. The murder supposedly committed by Rigsy, having to investigate it and talk to witnesses, etc... It's all a lure to get the Doctor to the trap street's, well, trap. It ties into the plot, that's not the problem, but we just HAD an episode that was basically lying to us and the Doctor. And parts of it don't really make sense. Like if everyone is cloaked to look human by the light worms' field, why are we seeing Januses with two faces? Shouldn't they be cloaked too? An Ood? Really? What's the hurry in putting your TARDIS key in the stasis pod's keyhole, except plot expediency? Weren't there other ways to lure the Doctor to the trap street that weren't so elaborate and potentially deadly? He was tracking Me anyway. Where did she get all that crazy tech, and why not at least attempt to address it? (See Theories, where I do.) Do the quantum shade's loopholes make sense to you? People tend to forget all the plot holes once Clara is marked for death, but on repeat viewings, they're more noticeable.
That said, I'm mostly positive about the exercise. Mayor Me "protecting" Earth from reprisals from the Doctor's defeated foes or from aliens who, traditionally, might be inclined to regenerate or call their race to the planet, with a blanket treaty, is fairly intriguing and not where I thought her story might lead. Rigsy having a daughter, probably there to raise the stakes and make Clara save him more readily, but I can't help thinking how cool it would be if she became the Doctor's next companion once she's all grown up. The Judoon policemen. Clara name-dropping Jane Austen (another Doctorish touch). The Doctor's bad cop face. How he knows Rigsy is doomed but puts on a brave face for him. Me's very real regret that it all went pear-shaped. The Clara memorial on the TARDIS during the credits (did you miss it by changing the channel?). Plenty of nice bits hung on a flimsier-than-you-remember plot.
THEORIES: So who WAS behind the Doctor's abduction? Obviously, those who have seen the next episode know, but was it obvious from clues in this episode? Yes... and no. Taking its cue from the concept of the Hybrid, the episode could point to either the Daleks or the Time Lords, though only the latter is truly convincing. The transmat bracelet, for example, has two stones with scribbles that could be Gallifreyan script, but one of them appears to be cast in Dalek bronze AND sort of acts like a Time Ring. The featured stasis pod's green energy beings recalls the Master's cage on Skaro in the TV Movie, but even back then, its design looked more like it was borrowed from the Time Lords. And Mayor Me's access to a quantum shade that can hunt down souls across space and time, that seems to be a Time War terror weapon, and thus could have belonged to either side even if it's not particularly Daleky. But here's the thing. The trap street hides in plain sight and might even be "bigger on the inside", which is a TARDIS trick. The stasis pod has a key hole that fits a TARDIS key. And Mayor Me's house has hexagonal "roundels" in the Time Lord style. But if these clues litter the trap street, why doesn't the Doctor recognize them?
REWATCHABILITY: Medium-High - Clara's death is top notch, but there are signs that the episode cheats a little bit to get us to that point.