Television: Doctor Who, "Face The Raven"


I really, really tried to watch this episode, like just sit and watch it. But my mind kept wandering. I just couldn't concentrate on it. And it's not like I was thinking about anything in particular—I wasn't preoccupied—I just wasn't engaged.

Spoilers ahead, btw.

We all know this as the episode in which Clara dies. She sacrifices herself for Rigsy. Remember him? Street artist guy? Now he has a baby girl because we have to pile on all that stuff in order for Clara's sacrifice to make sense and have more weight. Anyway, Rigsy calls the TARDIS (Clara has been handing out the number) when a weird tattoo appears on the back of his neck—and it appears to be counting down.

Countdowns are, as a rule, a bad thing. Except maybe at New Year's.

Through some convoluted logic, the Doctor, Clara, and Rigsy find a hidden street. All very Harry Potter, really. Turns out Maisie Williams (again, sigh, and I can't be bothered with her character name) is "mayor" of this street. She's branded Rigsy with the countdown because he's been charged with murder of a resident of her street.

Now I'm not sure what the point of a countdown is if you're then going to wipe someone's memory. I mean seriously. Rigsy is told she was giving him time to say goodbye, but he makes the very valid point that he couldn't remember anything so how could he know to say goodbye? This system is fatally flawed. Then again, I suppose the countdown is usually used on residents of the street, and they don't get their memories wiped. So under normal circumstances I guess it works.

In fact, we're given a demonstration of the titular raven coming to claim someone's soul. Just so we know what's coming. I think it would have been scarier and more dramatic not to know, but whatever. Does make you wonder—two in one day? What's the crime rate on this supposedly safe haven street?

Convinced that Rigsy did not kill this woman he's accused of murdering, the Doctor, Clara and Rigsy use Rigsy remaining time to try to ferret out the actual killer. As a stopgap measure, Clara also takes the countdown from Rigsy. Because conveniently, that's allowed so long as the person taking it is willing to sacrifice themselves for the condemned. Clara's reasoning is that she's been given absolute protection by Mayor Maisie, so they can't kill her anyway, right?

And as it turns out, the supposed murder victim? Isn't dead.


In fact, when they find the murdered woman's body, the Doctor reaches in to unlock the stasis chamber it's in and gets slapped with a metal cuff that turns out to be a teleportation device. This whole thing has been a setup from the start.

Geez, talk about unnecessarily complicated plans.

Now here is where things get . . . I dunno. It's like I didn't buy in to this logic. Mayor Maisie goes to take the countdown off Rigsy only to discover it's on Clara. But for some convoluted reason, she can't take it off Clara. She says it's because she made a deal with the Quantum Shade (aka Raven) that only she could break, but Clara had cut her out of the loop by taking on the countdown. Huh? Maisie could break the contract if the countdown was on Rigsy but not if it's on Clara? The contract was for a soul. How could it matter which soul? If Maisie was going to void or break the contract anyway, the raven wasn't going to get a soul, was it? In short, I just don't believe she couldn't save Clara.

So then there's a lot of Clara and the Doctor saying goodbye and a somewhat overwrought death scene. (Three shots of the screaming? This is me rolling my eyes.)

The Doctor is, of course, very angry about all this and warns Maisie that . . . he's very angry with her for this trick that resulted in his companion's death. Then his transporter bracelet takes him away to whatever we're going to see next week.

It was not a terrible episode despite the circular logic that I didn't quite buy and the fact that I wasn't entirely invested. If they use Clara's death the right way in terms of the Doctor's motivation and character development, then this may be a good jumping off point for future episodes. The show as a whole may improve for it. We'll see.

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