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Doctor Who Review: ‘Face the Raven’

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Well, the big moment has finally arrived – the highly publicized final episode of Doctor Who to feature Jenna Coleman – ending her run as Clara Oswald: The Impossible Girl.

Following another exhilarating adventure Clara receives a phone call from Rigsy (Joivan Wade) from the episode “Flatline” asking for The Doctor’s help. Rigsy has awoken with no memory of the night before and has a tattoo on the back of his neck – sounds like a fun night out. But the tattoo is counting down to zero and The Doctor believes it is a countdown to Rigsy’s death. The trio need to figure out where Rigsy has been and figure out a way to stop the timer, going to a secret street in the center of London.
doctor who - face the raven tattoo
It is the end of an era with Clara leaving the show with Ms. Coleman moving on to lead a show about the early days of the reign of Queen Victoria. Her tenure as The Doctor’s companion has been a mixed affair; Clara had cheek and spunk to her in her first appearances in “Asylum of the Dalek” and “The Snowmen”, but she lacked the chemistry Matt Smith’s Doctor had with Amy Pond. When Clara became a regular character she was a dull presence, but she improved when Peter Capaldi became The Doctor and her presence grew on fans.

When Clara appears in the episode she is filled with the joys of life, happy about her travels with The Doctor and enjoys the thrills like when she is hanging out the TARDIS when it is flying over London. Her recklessness and kindness are her downfall and forces her departure. It is sad when Clara has to face her fate with stoicism. There is a lot of melodrama and cheese as The Doctor tries to find a way to stop her fate and Clara forces The Doctor to keep a promise, but this is what fans want sometimes as it pulls on our heart strings. Clara’s departure felt very similar to Amy’s departure as both companions face the inevitable and The Doctor pleading to stop it as Murray Gold’s music swells behind them. Both departures take The Doctor to a dark and dangerous state of mind.
doctor who - face the raven i will be brave
Maisie Williams returns for a third outing as Ashildr/Me, this time the mayor of the hidden street, or trap street (basically a fake street on maps to protect copyright). Me refers to the street as a refugee camp, a safe haven for all the aliens in London. Williams is decent enough with her role, but her performance in “The Woman Who Lived” was better because of the emotional depth. Ashildr serves as a warning to The Doctor about how he could help and the action he takes. Defying the laws of time and nature often have an adverse effect for the time traveller.

When The Doctor and his companions enter the trap street it was like sci-fi version of Diagon Alley in the Harry Potter series, a tight ancient street, a hidden world just a stone throw away from the normal human world. The street also has some similarities to the comic book series Fables, a series about fairy tale characters who are in exile in New York City, an underground community who have disguised themselves as human. It is an area that the series will visit again and it will be interesting to see the mark-up of the street and what drove these aliens into hiding. Residents include a Cyberman, an Ood and two Judoons, generally races that do not get along.

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It was an emotional goodbye for Carla and hopefully Jenna Coleman will continue to find success like Billie Piper and Karen Gillan did. Her departure will take The Doctor to a very dark path for the follow-up “Heaven Sent”.

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Kieran Freemantle
I am a film critic/writer based in the UK, writing for Entertainment Fuse, Rock n Reel Reviews, UK Film Review and Meniscus Sunrise. I have worked on film shoots. I support West Ham and Bath Rugby. Follow me on Twitter @FreemantleUK.