We expected the Doctor to be a detective to save one of Clara’s friends from being punished for a crime he didn’t commit.
What we didn’t expect is one of the most heart-breaking sacrifices since Adric, more than 30 years ago.
*** SPOILERS BELOW ***
OK, let’s just say it: Rest in peace, Clara Oswald.
She took quite a risk saving Rigsy from a murder rap, and we were all hoping she’d escape it. However, she took one risk too many. Still, it’s what we’d expect from the Impossible Girl. It’s still one of the saddest moments in the series.
It all begins when Rigsy (Joivan Wade) calls the TARDIS, talking about how he couldn’t remember the day before, his phone was wiped, and he has a tattoo on his neck that counts down. He also has more than 500 minutes to live. That’s bad news, especially since he’s a new father.
It seems he stumbled into a secret part of London where aliens live in enforced harmony. They’re ruled by, believe it or not, Ashildr (Maisie Williams) She calls herself Mayor Me, and explains the rules are strict. If they are broken, the offender “faces the raven,” also known as a “quantum shade,” that imposes punishment. It even applies to a man who stole a medical ration to save his wife. She says this has to be done to keep the rules and the peace.
Rigsy is accused of killing Ahma, a Janus being who can see the past and future. Off in the distance, a similar being is looking at them strangely. As for the other aliens, they think Rigsy’s guilty, mainly by the way they look at him. They just saw him over the body of Ahma, and assumed the worst. The Doctor goes inside the city, making the Mayor promise no harm will come to them. She agrees. She also warns the Doctor that her town includes aliens that don’t like him. It’s why we see an Ood fixing a Cyberman.
After some further investigation, the Doctor thinks Rigsy was set up. Clara also finds out the chronolock tattoo can be removed, or that she can get it from Rigsy. Someone will die in the end, though, but Clara hopes he can be cleared before it’s too late. It’s a major risk, but she thinks the Doctor can stop the tattoo in time. That’s what usually happens on the show, right?
They also figure out Anah’s son (Letitica Wright) is a girl, and knows Rigsy is not a killer. She also thinks that Ashildr is up to something, and it is being done for the good of everyone. It also involves the Doctor.
They also figure out Anah is in a stasis pod, and still alive. Seems Ashildr also slipped up on how the Janus race deal with their dead. The Doctor finds out he can open the pod…with his TARDIS key. Does she want his ship?
Nope, it seems it’s all part of a deal. Ashildr has promised to bring the Doctor to someone. That’s why she’s locked him to a teleport bracelet. She also wants the confession dial. She did this because she wanted to protect her street, and she had hoped it would be done with no one getting hurt–except the Doctor.
This is where Clara plays her trump card. She tells Ashildr to remove the bracelet or she’ll going to have a death on her hands. This horrifies the Doctor and Ashildr, both wondering what Clara was thinking. But the tattoo can be cancelled, right?
Well, no. When Clara got the tattoo from Rigsy, it changed the contract Ashildr had with the Shade. So, Clara will have to die in Rigsy’s place, even if no crime was committed.
Let us repeat that, Clara Oswald will have to die. No last-second appeals or loopholes. This is where the story of the Impossible Girl ends.
The Doctor won’t hear of it. He demands Ashildr save Clara or else, but Clara will not let him do that. She is prepared to face her fate. This is the bravest thing she has ever done, making him accept what is coming as well.
It leads to a speech equal to the one he made two weeks back:
Then she faces the raven, and it is over.
The Doctor has to go where Ashildr has sent him, and he tells her to stay out of his way. As he puts it, “You’ll find that it’s a very small universe when I’m angry with you.”
Maybe, for a moment, some fans may wonder if this would never had happened if Ashildr wasn’t given that chip that has allowed her to live for hundreds of years. Whoever wanted the Doctor would have found another way to trap him, it’s just too bad she has to share in what has happened.
There are no words, but there is this:
Clara will be the most difficult Companion to replace since Sarah Jane. It’s that big a loss. It’s still an incredible way to send off Jenna Coleman for her three years of service aboard the TARDIS.
So what’s next, and will we see Ashildr again before the season ends? It may be likely, especially if she regrets what she’s done and maybe tries to reverse it. That’ll bring Missy back, unfortunately. We are expected to see many familiar faces when the season finale starts next week