Popular / Unpopular Opinion: Clara Oswald

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By guest contributor Toby Hankin.

Back in May 2012, a certain Jenna-Louise Coleman (now just Jenna Coleman) was cast as companion to the Eleventh Doctor in the Seventh Series of the show’s revival run. She was not too well known, as she had never really taken on any major, iconic roles. In 2005, she had been cast as Jasmine Thomas in the ITV soap Emmerdale, then she went on to appear in shows such as Waterloo Road, Room at the Top and ITV’s Titanic. Not long into her career, she made her film debut in Captain America. Not a huge part, but she was still credited for it.

Only 5 months after she had been confirmed as the Doctor’s sidekick, she made a surprise appearance in the Series 7 opener Asylum of the Daleks, about 5 months earlier than expected! This was a pleasant surprise for most of us, giving us a taster of what the actress would be like in the show. But then it turned out she was actually a Dalek and she died. This sparked confusion all across the Whoniverse. The only clue we got to her true identity was her dying words: “Run you clever boy and remember“.

doctor-who-the-snowmen-gallery-(44)Come Christmas, Jenna makes her first proper appearance as Clara Oswin Oswald, a feisty, brave hearted Victorian Governess/Barmaid who had some connection to Jenna’s other character, Oswin Oswald. She seemingly had no connection however to Oswin, which again sparked confusion. Surely Moffat would have been able to cast another actress in Oswin’s place with the snap of his fingers? He was most definitely planning something. Something big. Later on in the episode, Clara helped the mourning Doctor defeat the Great Intelligence, after being invited aboard the TARDIS. She then dies, uttering the same last words as Oswin. “Run you clever boy and remember“. This episode ended with a modern version of Clara walking over the grave of the Victorian Clara and the Doctor setting out to discover just who or what she is. At the end of The Snowmen, a brief Coming Soon trailer was released and we could quite clearly see that Jenna Coleman would return to the show and the modern version of Clara. No, not Clara Oswin Oswald. Clara Oswald.

Obviously, we all watched Series 7 Part 2 and Clara returned. Of course, there was more mystery that shrouded her. So, the Doctor invites her onboard the TARDIS at the end of The Bells of Saint John and shows her a wide variety of creatures, times and places: from Ice Warriors to a haunted house. There was still no clue to her identity. This was  All until Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS we don’t know much, but in that episode, we learn that she is not aware of her “past lives” and is in fact a bit creeped out when the Doctor confronts her about it.

Then things change. In The Name of the Doctor, we learn just who Clara is. She is the woman who saves the Doctor from the Great Intelligence. She jumps into the Doctor’s time stream and scatters herself a thousand ways, creating different versions of herself throughout the Doctor’s time line. After her main storyline is over, we see her return as Clara in the fiftieth anniversary special: The Day of the Doctor (alongside Matt Smith, David Tennant and John Hurt). We now know that she no longer looks after the Maitland children, but teaches English at Coal Hill secondary school! She didn’t play the biggest part in the fiftieth, but that soon changed in The Time of the Doctor. We see her convince the Time Lords to grant the Doctor a new set of regenerations, therefore making the next 50 years possible! The Doctor regenerates right at the end into Peter Capaldi, leading the duo literally crashing into Series 8!

So Jenna Coleman will return for her first full series on August 23rd 2014, alongside Peter Capaldi and Samuel Anderson.

So now let’s ponder some of the reasons why many people like Clara so much:

Creating an Interesting Storyline

As we all know, Clara brought something new into the history of Doctor Who. Clara didn’t just help create the main storyline: She was the storyline! I think the whole “Impossible Girl” arc was simply genius beyond words. Many will moan about this (I know someone who never stops moaning about this), but I think the main story arc was strong and gripping, leaving you wanting more and more each week, eventually paying off in The Name of the Doctor, where we see Clara interact with all the Doctor’s past incarnations.

Keeping the Doctor on his toes

When Jenna was cast as Clara, Moffat said Clara would “lead him on his merriest dance yet”, which he meant. Clara is fun, flirty and very energetic. That’s what we like in a companion. Someone who can talk faster than the Doctor, even sometimes outsmarting him. Jenna delivers just that playing Clara.

Fresh Romance for the Doctor

Some of you will disagree with this, but I think it was a good idea that Clara had a bit of a crush on the Doctor! The Doctor is not a boring old miser with a box! He is a living and breathing being who is allowed a bit of romance in his life, even if it is Clara! They get on well and like each other a lot, so I don’t know why they shouldn’t have the odd flirt and be a bit closer than friends. I think if 11 had stayed longer, we would have seen the Doctor and Clara’s relationship develop more, which would have been good.

A Useful Companion

Those saying that Clara is just a useless companion, then you couldn’t be more wrong. As I said earlier, Clara has played a vital part in the episodes that she has been in. Let’s just go through why she isn’t useless:

  • Defeating the Daleks (Asylum of the Daleks).
  • Defeating the GI (The Snowmen).
  • Tracking down Miss Kizlet (The Bells of St John)
  • Defeating the Old God (The Rings of Akhaten).
  • Talking Skaldak out of launching nuclear weapons (Cold War).
  • Helping the Doctor realise the Crooked Man’s situation (Hide).
  • Smashing the organ (The Crimson Horror).
  • Saving the Doctor from the GI (The Name of the Doctor).
  • Talking the Doctor(s!) out of destroying Gallifrey, therefore being the reason they didn’t destroy it (The Day of the Doctor).
  • Talking the Time Lords into granting the Doctor his new regeneration cycle. MAKING THE NEXT 50 YEARS POSSIBLE! (The Time of the Doctor).

So seeing those, I don’t see why anyone would bother calling her a useless companion, or saying she’s not as productive as Amy or Rose etc.

Clara’s Theme

This may not be the most important point, but I think it’s worth a mention. I really like Clara’s theme! I think it captures your ear and just soothes you in a way the other themes don’t. It’s also the cue that signals the amazing Jenna Coleman. What’s not to like about it?

Conclusion

I think Clara is a very strong willed and productive character, who always gets the best of the Doctor. She’s down to Earth and has a great theme. I’m pretty confident that Clara will develop even more with the character of Danny Pink coming into her life and will face the greater challenge of the new Doctor: Peter Capaldi.

Continues on page 2 with the an alternative perspective.

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