WARNING: This review contains HUGE spoilers
If you hadn’t been spoiled by Peter Capaldi’s early words, ‘Face the Raven’ was supposed to be only about the return of Joivan Wade as Rigsy (‘Flatline’). Not only did we have Maisie William’s Ashildr back as well, but our hearts were also crushed by Sarah Dollard and Steven Moffat. We knew it was coming, but it still hurt.
First things, first. I really liked the originality of the concept of a tattoo counting down to one’s death. I believe it would make you extra anxious if the tattoo is in the back of your neck, so you can’t really see how many minutes you have left. On the other hand, some aspects of this episode actually reminded me of earlier New Who, from the cozy setting to seeing Cybermen or those creepy and awkward double-faced people.
Ashildr/whatevernameshegoesbynow is back, presumably having caught up with their time. However, this wasn’t Ashildr’s episode to shine. Not only because the focus was put on the other three main characters of the episode, but also because having her accidentally doing the wrong thing again felt sort of repetitive. However, I’m still very interested in seeing what the show’s ultimate goal with this character is, especially now that we know there’s no way she’s going to be the next companion.
This episode was all about Clara. About Clara hanging out of the TARDIS because why not and about Clara repeating over and over again that she can handle herself, a line that is usually translated as a death flag. We knew this was Clara’s last season and we knew this was coming, so having her being so overconfident only made everything more painful. In a way, I felt like everything from her death, the reason why she died, and even the episode in which she died were a bit random and anticlimatic. However, at the same time, it also fit her character perfectly. Did she have it coming? Yes. You see, there’s a difference between being adventurous and taking risks every now and then, and being completely reckless and completely disregarding your life. Her death is something that was bound to happen. Some sides of the fandom have complained many times that they don’t like how Clara acts like the Doctor. I never really cared about that fact, but I do agree that you can’t really compare Clara and the Doctor. He said it himself: “I’m less breakable”.
This episode wasn’t perfect, though. There were some iffy things, like the lack of a better explanation on why the terms of the contract had changed, to some slightly awkward camera angles that put me off during Clara’s death scene. As a matter of fact, her actual death scene lacked the emotional impact of her actual farewell to the Doctor. During her speech, she gave him an order not to do anything stupid or seek revenge after her death, something that we know the Doctor is very prone to do. I want to believe that the Doctor will respect Clara’s final request, but at the same time, he is really pissed at Ashildr right now.
I did shed a few tears for Clara’s death. She wasn’t my favourite companion and I don’t think I’m going to miss her or that the show is going to change dramatically because of her absence, but hey, she gave us some really nice moments and, don’t we all get attached to the companions as much as to the Doctors?
Side-note: is it just me or this episode had a lot of Pottery-themes going on? The hidden street reminded me of the House of Black, we had the Diagon Alley and that double-face thing totally reminded me of Quirrell/Voldemort.