Series Issues: Doctor Who 9×10 – Face the Raven

Gawd. Freaking. Dammit. Oh, yeah spoilers ahead…

(Source: BBC)

(Source: BBC)

I kept reading about it coming soon, but I didn’t know how soon it was going to be. In this week’s Doctor Who 9×10: Face the Raven… Well, I can’t tell you yet because the first lines always appear in the Facebook post so I don’t want to put a spoiler up first thing. Here’s one thing that you should know about this week’s episode: go watch it first, then come back. There’s really no point in me telling you what happens. There are a few surprises in store and more than a few climatic moments.

Happy moments in this show are deceiving. They follow the grand ole tradition of the happiest the moment, the darkest the trouble ahead. First, Rigsy uses the emergency line to phone the TARDIS. There’s something about bringing back Joivan Wade as Rigsby, who back in last season’s Flatline, played a companion of sorts to Clara becoming the Doctor… of sorts.

Rigsy has a tattoo of a number that keeps counting down every minute. The Doctor agrees to take a look at it and find he’s going to die. Because that’s the important bit before we know how the tattoo works. For that we travel to… Diagon Alley. Ok, not really. It looks sort of the same idea of a hidden alley that twists and turns but it’s actually filled with aliens. A lot of them, very familiar. One of them however, is not quite an alien. Once again, we meet Ishilda (Maisie Williams) now known as Major Me. She rules over this space, where aliens are safe from persecution. She also is capable of using the Quantum Shade to put a counter an kills its wearer. Only she can remove the mark.

As demonstrated by another victim, the counter runs out and an apparently randomly placed raven in a cage, turns to smoke, finds you and kills you. If they had used an owl, J. K. Rowlings would be all over this one. All jokes aside, Rigsy has that mark because he’s been framed of a crime he didn’t commit. Here’s were Clara has a very bad idea. She finds out that another way to get rid of the mark is if someone voluntarily accepts it. She convinces Rigsy and accepts the mark herself without the Doctor’s knowledge.

The Doctor manages to discover that the apparent victim is not dead, but kept in stasis. To turn off that stasis, Mayor Me has set up a keyhole that can open only with the TARDIS key. Is it a trap? Yes. Does the Doctor know it? He does. But with time running out, he does it anyway. A wristband device is attached to his wrist. Yes, it is a trap. Major Me made a deal to hand the Doctor over in exchange for the safety of Sanctuary Alley.

What she didn’t anticipate is Clara’s move. Accepting the Quantum Shade means that Mayor Me can’t remove it anymore. Time has ran out for Clara. The Doctor throws away all pretence of civility and tells Mayor Me to find a way to fix this, or he will reign hell on you for the rest of time. It’s one of those times in which the Doctor turns up the scary factor times ten. It’s what I call one of his Oncoming Storm moments. It’s a great dramatic performance by Peter Capaldi, only challenged by Jenna Coleman’s swan song as she begs him that he will not let anyone else suffer.

We’re saying good-bye to Jenna Coleman’s Clara Oswald. End of an era.

As for the Doctor, he’s teleported away to face his captors. Before that, he gives Me one last warning.

You’ll find that it’s a very small universe when I’m angry with you.

I know it might seem like a complete downer, but this was an amazing over-the-top episode. The three-part finale to this season has begun. And with no-holds-barred take-no-prisoners attitude, there’s no telling what’s next.

Highs/Lows/Ravens:

  • The Doctor can be scarily awesome. The threat level is pure red: “You can and you will or this street will be over. “I’ll show you and all your funny little friends to the whole laughing world. I’ll bring UNIT and the Zygons. Give me a minute and I’ll bring the Daleks and the Cybermen. You will save Clara and you will do it now, or I will rain hell on you for the rest of time!” I know how this might sound dark, but I can’t help but love moments like this one. The Doctor has been struggling to become more sensible to human suffering and building on his empathy. Then, in one big swoop, he becomes the Oncoming Storm once again.
  • Clara also has some deep emotional lines in this one: “Maybe this is what I wanted. Maybe this is it. Maybe this is why I kept running. Maybe this is why I kept taking all those stupid risks, kept pushing it.” She is finally owning up to it. She’s been courting danger for a long time now. However, as much of a fan I was of Clara Oswald, I just want to state that if this is her death it should stick. Otherwise the value of this episode would be severely diminished.
  • Another one, because it’s good: “Whatever happens next, wherever she is sending you … don’t be a warrior. Promise me! Be a Doctor.”
  • The Alley does look a little too Potter-esque. But technically using a raven instead of an owl is more Game-of-Thrones-y.
  • Maisie Williams is back as the woman who didn’t or just won’t die. However, her performance is eclipsed in this episode.
  • The last will and testament of the Doctor, the confession disc, is gained by Mayor Me. Will we get to see what’s in it?

That will do for now.

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