"Face the Raven," a surprising episode of Doctor Who
"Face the Raven" opens like any other Doctor Who adventure with Clara and the Doctor returning to the TARDIS after an exciting romp across the galaxy with witty dialogue to make a joke of whatever situation they were just in. Then Rigsy, from the episode "Flatline" from last season, which remains, by far, the best episode of Capaldi's turn as the Doctor, calls Clara and asks about a tattoo that counts down.
To find out what happened to Rigsy, Clara and the Doctor help retrace his steps, which leads to a fun sequence of the trio walking through the streets of London to find a "trap street." The sequence is rather well filmed with fun energy to it, and Gold's score is particularly different than his norm, which is refreshing.
After finding the trap street, the Doctor yet again encounters Ashildr, who is the mayor of an alien refugee camp full of creatures from the series' past. However, a holographic program is used to make it look more like a slum from the early 20th century, which creates an interesting atmosphere, except for the fact that the set really looks like a set, but that's a minor complaint and a possibly intentional one.
The plot really picks up when the Doctor and Clara discover that Rigsy was setup so that the Doctor would come to the street. Ashildr set the trap all along and now Clara swapped the Raven death mark with Rigsy.
Shockingly, Clara dies, or at least appears to die. Here's the thing; Clara has been a great and charming companion, and yet her death felt lacking. As a bonafide "Spoiler-Phobe," I did not read any articles about when Coleman was leaving the series, so "Face the Raven" quickly turning from another fun Doctor Who romp to the end of a likable companion was unexpected. Sure, I knew that this would be her last season, but I did not expect this to happen until later. However, the biggest reason for the lack of impact is that Moffat is notorious for bringing characters back from the dead, and the Doctor and his companion are always in danger, and he usually manages to fix things. So, I expected the Doctor to save the day like he always does, and yet he did not. Usually, a companion's sendoff feels a little more final, even if the entire season built up to this, especially in the Moffat era. So, maybe part of the lack of impact is my own fault, but maybe she is not actually dead. Who even knows at this point, except for the writers and potentially reporters. Either way, I rather wait to see for myself. And despite the problems, the speech by Clara is really rather moving and impeccably acted.
Overall: 8.5/10- Despite being a little underwhelming considering the consequences, "Face the Raven" is yet another solid episode of Doctor Who, although it could have been a classic with more emotional impact.
- "Under the Lake"
- "The Witch's Familiar"
- "The Magician's Apprentice"
- "Before the Flood"
- "The Girl Who Died"
- "The Woman Who Lived"
- "The Zygon Invasion"
- "The Zygon Inversion"
- "Sleep No More"
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