Does Clara Hide a Secret that is Bigger on the Inside?
Guest contributor Richard Forbes speculates.
Steven Moffat, writing in Doctor Who Magazine earlier in the year, suggested that we might just find out of the source of Clara’s troubled relationship with the TARDIS. After explaining that Clara was particularly hard-to-impress which might put the TARDIS off, Moffat wrote that “it’s almost like it’s all building to something…” in his most speculative of tones.
I, for one, am going to take the bait and share an (albeit controversial) theory as to why the TARDIS behaves so strangely towards Clara.
A Rocky Relationship
There have been a number of the instances where the TARDIS has behaved oddly towards Clara. The trouble began in The Rings of Akhaten when the TARDIS refused to open its doors for Clara while she was trying to hide Merry. Clara called the TARDIS, a “grumpy old cow” in response. In Hide, the TARDIS once again refused to open its doors, instead toying with Clara through a “Clara version” of the TARDIS interface. Likewise, in the mini-episode, Clara and the TARDIS, the TARDIS played several practical (and very frustrating) pranks on Clara.
Signs of a troubled relationship between Clara and the TARDIS were last seen in The Time of the Doctor as the TARDIS pulled Clara into the time vortex, failing to dupe her, under orders from the Doctor himself.
The behaviour exhibited by the TARDIS suggests that it distrusts Clara, or simply wishes to tease her. But what needs to be answered is: why Clara? The Doctor has had many companions and none of them have been subject to such a prickly demeanour from the “Old Girl”, which suggests there is something special about these circumstances.
A TARDIS is a bioship built with a biological imprint, which means part of it is a living organism. The Two Doctors helps establish that in order for a TARDIS to operate, it first needs to be provided with a biological imprint from a Time Lord. There is a possibility here that Clara, a time traveller herself, would be enough to bring life to a TARDIS, because she has been on the TARDIS, consumed time energy, been in close proximity to the Eye of Harmony and is also as complex a time event as the Doctor now, after the “splicing” of Clara across time and space in The Name of the Doctor.
The details are not important for the theory, but we can probably assume that this theory would mean a return to Ancient Gallifrey (which could be involved in the ongoing mission to restore Gallifrey). There Clara would die an unsettling death, perhaps being processed against her will in a “TARDIS Factory” or more interestingly, the Doctor using a blank TARDIS to store her consciousness (like he did with River Song, using a sonic screwdriver, in Forest of the Dead).
With her biological imprint given to the Type 40 TARDIS, its consciousness would be built with Clara as the biological foundation. This new TARDIS would later become, incidentally (or not incidentally?), the Doctor’s TARDIS.
Here Be Paradoxes
Provided this theory is true, if River Song is the “Child of the TARDIS”, I think it would be fair to call Clara, the “Mother of the TARDIS”. This theory can help explain the TARDIS’s troubled relationship with Clara. The TARDIS would be closing its doors to Clara and taunting her as an attempt to ward off Clara and avoid the wrath of a paradox. Like a chicken visiting its own omelette, the TARDIS would need to be expending quite a lot of time energy to maintain the paradox (as it did in Last of the Time Lords) in the presence of Clara.
I Stole You
A contradiction arose between The Doctor’s Wife and The Name of the Doctor which this theory helps resolves.
In The Doctor’s Wife, the Doctor believes he chose his TARDIS because it was the only one that was unlocked in the museum, but the TARDIS (through Idris) explains that she chose him:
“I wanted to see the Universe so I stole a Time Lord and I ran away. And you were the only one mad enough.”
In The Name of the Doctor, however, Clara suggests that the Doctor steal one particular TARDIS, which would otherwise be contradictory with The Doctor’s Wife, since it was Clara (not the TARDIS) that convinced him to choose that particular TARDIS.
However, if Clara is the TARDIS, then the TARDIS is correct in saying that she played a major role in directing The Doctor towards her, but this still remains consistent with the opening scene of The Name of The Doctor.
Surviving the Time Winds
Upon stepping into the Doctor’s time scar (his final remains), River Song explains that the time winds would have split Clara into a million different instances all across time and space, but the real Clara would “die”.
Yet we know Clara did not die at the end of The Name of The Doctor, the Doctor recovered her from within his own time stream.
When the Doctor asks how Clara could still be alive, River Song says “spoilers”, indicating that there is more to be explained in regards to how Clara survived the time winds…
We have to remember that the Doctor and the TARDIS share the same journey through time and space, such they would share the same time stream – hence why his final remains are preserved in the TARDIS. If my theory is correct then Clara did not just walk into the Doctor’s time scar, she walked into her own.
It was established when the Doctor walked into his own time scar and returned safely that people can enter their own time streams and return from them. If this is the case, then Clara, incidentally, walked into the one time scar that both the Doctor and her could survive – an impression on the fabric of time-space, carved from the time travel exploits that they both have shared through the centuries.
While the TARDIS might be a ship, it still has characteristics, even endearing ones. Clara and the TARDIS share a lot of these characteristics, which gives credence to the notion that one gave the other life.
Clara strikes me as someone who is adventurous – she enters the TARDIS, asking to be taken somewhere “awesome”, planning her next adventures with the Doctor casually (“Will there be cocktails?”). the TARDIS shares this adventurous attitude and ambition, even deciding to steal a time lord so she could finally see the Universe.
Likewise, Clara and the TARDIS also both act as the Doctor’s moral anchor or compass. This is no clearer than in The Day of the Doctor. When the TARDIS is unavailable to give him the scolding he needs, Clara speaks for it. The War Doctor is so ashamed of using the Moment that he walks for “miles and miles and miles”, so that the TARDIS cannot witness the event. The Eleventh Doctor could do no better: when he caught Clara shaking her head at the scene of him helping to activate The Moment, he had to immediately reconsider his earlier convictions.
“Why did you park so far away? Didn’t you want her to see it?”
But most importantly, both Clara and the TARDIS love the Doctor very much. Clara was the girl that was born to “save The Doctor”, while the TARDIS has been with him for centuries. In The Day of The Doctor especially, you can see how well Clara has come to know, respect and love the Doctor – from noticing the youth in The War Doctor’s eyes or giving the Eleventh Doctor “a moment alone with [his] painting”. This is a companion who has come to understand the Doctor better than most companions ever have or ever will.
There are very few companions who resemble the TARDIS’s personality: brave, adventurous, devil-may-care, flirty, loving and compassionate. But with Clara, the similarities are endless – this may not be a coincidence.
Clara has always been presented as a “grand mystery” – some have even argued this has been overplayed at the expense of Clara’s character development. It appears though, that although we may now understand Clara better, not all of the mysteries surrounding Clara have been addressed. Why does the TARDIS treat Clara poorly? How did Clara survive the Time Winds? And who was the mysterious “woman in the shop”? I’ve presented my grand theory to potentially answer some of these lingering questions and I am looking forward to being proven right or wrong!
On a final note, it occurred to me that if Clara were to die while giving life to the TARDIS, this might be one way that Moffat can move away from the “Everybody Lives” cliché without abandoning the optimism of his previous seasons. Clara could live on forever in a different form, tolling the universe with her Time Lord. In fact, maybe, just maybe: she already has…