News Categories
Archives

Series 8: Brave New Clara

Guest contributor Anke Wauters looks at the changing role of Clara in Series 8.

clara-deep-breath-intro-hair

Even though “Deep Breath” was profiled as an adventurous first episode to introduce us to Peter Capaldi as the new Doctor, we saw a shift in the focus to his confused companion. The story circled around the mixed feelings of Jenna Coleman’s Clara towards the change of her dashing young ‘boyfriend’ into this reckless, disorientated and rambling old man. For a long time, the impossible girl struggled to adjust to her brand new grumpy friend.

On some level, Clara without a doubt mirrors the viewership that was disappointed when casting news about the new Doctor got made public. The layered scene in which Madame Vastra condemns Clara for her judgement of the regenerated Time-Lord comes across as a direct conversation between Moffat and his fangirls. The Doctor’s moving plea to see him as he really is at the end of the episode was a request to the Whovians all around the world to love the show and the Doctor for their essential story and not the ever changing cast.

Most Whovians though, had no trouble at all to accept Peter Capaldi as our new Doctor. On another level, Clara’s confusion reflects the transition of this companion and the growth of her character. The impossible girl has always been faced with a lot of scrutiny in the past. Even though we sometimes saw hints of her courage and wit, Clara seemed to remain devoid of personality and only scratching the surface of her ability to become the powerful and breath-taking companion she surely has inside her.

After all, we saw Clara in different situations that forced her to alter and let loose the brave woman inside her. In ‘Asylum of the Daleks’, she was playful, heroic and quickly became a lovable character when she sacrificed herself for the sake of the Doctor and the Ponds. We saw a feisty and charming governess in ‘The Snowmen’ who could think quick and was inventive as well as independent. And even in the seventh season, Jenna Coleman’s character got moments of greatness (we all remember her sacrifice in ‘The Rings of Akhaten’ and ‘The Name of the Doctor’).

clara-deep-breath-half-faceBut it wasn’t until now that Clara was truly forced out of her comfort zone. ‘Deep Breath’ spat out a Doctor who is dangerous and reckless, even to the point where it becomes slightly irresponsible. Clara, the control freak, gets thrown into an episode that is as unpredictable as it is different to what she was used to. Her perseverance gets put to the test and she is confronted with her own unstable values.

Up until now, we mostly got to see the ‘deer in the woods’-act from Clara, with a few exceptions, of promising fearlessness. Some Whovians already appreciated Clara but others had more trouble to see through the veil and discover the fierce, strong and funny woman behind the ‘manic pixie dream companion’. I have always believed that a companion is constantly exactly what the Doctor needs at that given moment in time and space. Whether it was a best friend, a partner in crime, someone to remind him of his humanity or even a romantic interest – the companion is there to complete the Doctor. And so was Clara, in his own words: ‘Always exactly what I need.’

Last season, Clara was this enigmatic and flirty girl who helped the Doctor get over the traumatic loss of Rory and most of all Amy Pond. She was slightly naïve and still believed in the good of the world, still capable of being moved by the wonders of the universe (in contrast to the Ponds who have seen it all). But as the new Doctor arrives, our companion is forced to change as well. In my opinion, what this Doctor needs most of all is a friend, someone who sees him for what he really is, trusts him no matter what and makes him feel – unlike the giant dinosaur wandering around London – less alone in this world.

The phone call from Matt Smith finally smoothened the transition for Clara and she stood up for her Doctor. It is a recurrent phenomenon that characters in Doctor Who tend to have a growth that is stretched over a certain amount of time. It is my hope that the same will happen for Jenna Coleman’s Clara. I hope she evolves with this new Doctor, that she leaves behind ‘sweet little Clara’ once and for all – something both the character and the audience have been waiting for – and that she lets out the phenomenal, mind-blowing companion she really is meant to be.

Step back in time...

COMMENT GUIDELINES

Please be civil and keep article comments relevant and on topic. Flag and report any offensive/trolling behavior, or contact us with details.
Please do not post SPOILERS including anything from leaked episodes! Your account could be banned. For complete details on our comment policy please read.
87 comments
Scott1996
Scott1996

I feel like Clara had to get tougher and has to bite back a bit more with this new much harsher Doctor because realistically if she didn't she would have ended up crumbling and the relationship would have become unrealistic and leave you questioning why the two were still travelling together. I have to say I prefer the way she is written so much more, I found her so bland in Series 7, not to say she didn't have her moments but until Deep Breath I was kind of hoping she would leave, I like my companions feisty. 

timkins
timkins

A nice little article, with some very welcome compliments-- I've been a fan of Clara's since day one and only feel she's been let down by occasional generic writing (which happens to every companion) but there were still a couple of moments where the piece went too far... she's been simplistically written sometimes as I say, but she's never, ever been "devoid of personality" or just a "deer in the woods." Whatever the writing of her has been like, Jenna has always made her real. (And there's nothing wrong with being "sweet little Clara" in itself, if anything that might be a vital role to play with this new Doctor...) As I say, there were compliments, but this is the kind of piece that people who buy into the "blank slate" rubbish will seize on (and they probably have below, which is a shame)



Captain Grumpy
Captain Grumpy

This is what i like to see.

Clara definately needed this bit because now the way i see her she is much more brave and ready to take on anything but this could also show another thing. In "Journey's End" we see Davros saying that the Doctor takes innocent people and turns them into soldiers like Martha in U.N.I.T or Rose with the gun to get to the Doctor.

The12thDoctorRaps
The12thDoctorRaps

I can't wait for Flatline I think the episode is dedicated to her because people don't like her because she has no development but in that episode shes the hero and The Doctor is away so she can prove herself as a good companion in that episode! So far this series she has been treated well and better than S7 where she was the plot device

joesocwork
joesocwork

I liked Oswin and Clara Oswin and think they were perfect for their episodes.  But I think the writers made Clara shallow afterwards; she was a cutesy mystery for Matt Smith's Doctor to go ga-ga for and solve.  The mystery was solved and Matt is gone.  Now it feels as if the writers are overcompensating for Clara's earlier lack of display of personality.  I know it's sci-fi, but if a character is going to stay, I'd rather see a realistic developing personality over am enigma any day!

ClaireAbraham
ClaireAbraham

Clara's improved characterization is one of the things that's got me very excited about this new era of Doctor Who. She's developed flaws that are communicated to us through what she does rather than what other people say about her, and Jenna's acting chops are finally beginning to shine in earnest. She may end up going down in my books as one of the most improved companions ever.

MaraBackman
MaraBackman

I never took to Clara or her time-displaced duplicates during Series 7, because I found her to be a bland and boring plot device and her interaction with Eleven didn't really work for me either. But now with the changed dynamic brought by Capaldi, as well as her being brought down to earth and apparently not being the focal point of the story arc anymore, she has managed to win me over enough for me to care to see where this is going. "Make me care about Clara" was one of the many things on my personal wishlist for changes to be brought to the show after Matt Smith left, and I'm pleased to say that I've already managed to cross over most items on the list. Series 8 is shaping up to be just that good. :)

12th Doctor
12th Doctor

I quite like Clara this series. From Asylum of the Daleks to The Time of the Doctor, I hated Clara.

If I had to give her a score out of 10 for each of these, I'd say:

S7 Clara 1/10

S8 (so far) Clara 5/10

fear No More, LISTEN
fear No More, LISTEN

Clara is so going to be one of the greatest companions of all time. I really loved Amy, and by extension Karen, but from the way things are developing, its hard not for Clara to be right up there at the pinnacle, not just from Moffat's scripts but also from Jenna's amazing performances. Can't remember who else nailed such range and depth of emotions as Jenna did. 


ilyootha
ilyootha

More positive articles about Clara? If I were human, I'd say it was Christmas!



The Lazy Cat Is Baffled By Clara Oswald
The Lazy Cat Is Baffled By Clara Oswald

I have no idea where the episodes ahead will take her, but (like you) I hope that Clara continues to be written with the complexity and brilliance that she deserves. It'll be especially interesting to see how her relationship with the Doctor grows and how she'll cope with the forewarned "consequences" of her double life. No doubt there will come a point where Clara will be pushed to her absolute limits, be it by her worlds colliding, the increased danger or even the Doctor himself.

I'm also looking forward (like many) to seeing how things develop between her and Danny. I don't think this couple will resemble Amy and Rory: Steven Moffat must have something different up is sleeve. Both characters have something to hide here: Danny his troubled past and Clara her life with the Doctor. At some point they'll have to come clean with one another, which is full of possibilities for some wonderful development for the two.

The Lazy Cat Is Baffled By Clara Oswald
The Lazy Cat Is Baffled By Clara Oswald

*Claps* Brilliant article! a very enjoyable read! Though I've loved Clara from the very start (and I've never held the view that she is characterless) this Series really looks like it will make the most of her awesome potential. I really have no idea where th

MrRazza, Latest Result: Mr Pink is Human
MrRazza, Latest Result: Mr Pink is Human

I never subscribed to Clara-hate. I didn't think characterisation was fantastic in Series 7b, but I was certainly never left disappointed the way others seem to have been. I've felt like her character has been on a gradual slope of improvement all the way through though, and this steepened from the 2014 specials onwards. I wasn't too keen on her reluctance to accept the new Doctor in Deep Breath, while it was understandable for the first half it feels laboured for me after that just to make way for the Smith cameo, but otherwise (though I haven't decided on the slap yet) I've felt she's been solid in Series 8. I like Clara, I prefer her to the Ponds (well... I prefer her to Amy) and she comes across as real. Yes, she can be a bit annoying, but real people often are. I find that's very much the thing real people do.



galactic_unicorn
galactic_unicorn

The one aspect of Clara's character development that I'm not happy with is the lack of repercussions from jumping into the Doctor's time stream. I want to see how that affected her, and I want to know just how much she remembers from her echo selves' experiences. They touched on it SLIGHTLY in Day of the Doctor, but I wish they would explore it more. There just seems to be so much narrative potential in it.

cyberbrayde
cyberbrayde

I think she really suits being a teacher, an educator. It gives her a sense of Authority to the Doctor, and I love how the Doctor tells Clara "aint that right teach?" 

supermoff is playing Grand Theft Karabraxos...
supermoff is playing Grand Theft Karabraxos...

It will also be very interesting to see her relationship develop with Danny Pink. It may expose another side to her, and Pink Souffle is already looking very cute, so it should be lovely to see develop :)

 Notsosmartguy: Time Thievious Racoonus
Notsosmartguy: Time Thievious Racoonus

I just noticed there have been a lot of Clara centric articles lately, so glad it's looking like she won't end up as an underrated and underappreciated companion like Martha was.

MaddyKika
MaddyKika

Good article. Although since her first appearance I thought Clara was brave. Beyond that, it's amazing how she has great chemistry with both Eleven and Twelve. 

Ottoman14
Ottoman14

I kind of like her, but I've never thought that Clara was an interesting character. She doesn't have enough flaws for me to consider her character to be realistic- apparently Moffat expects me as a viewer to think she's a control freak, but actions speak louder than words in the fictional world as well as the real world. I really wish Moffat hadn't of put in that speech to Vastra- I literally cringed. It was the most unsubtle, forced 'character development' I've seen in ages. What would have been better is if Clara hadn't of mentioned the whole age thing (no excuse. She's seen how old the Doctor can look in DOTD) and had actually done something practical to prove that '(she) never had the slightest interest in pretty young men'

Jenna is a good actress though & I like what they're doing with her storyline at the moment

LGwalchmai95
LGwalchmai95

I loved Clara from when she first started on the show. I really connected with her character instantly, and she helped me, like the Doctor, to move on from Amy and Rory, who were my first companions. She really was a breath of fresh air and took the show in a new direction and brought out a new, amazing side to Matt Smith's Doctor. I didn't realise that so many people hated Clara during Series Seven until I discovered this site. I've always thought she was a three dimensional, well developed character. She's definitely getting more obvious time to shine one screen so everyone could notice this series, like in your face stuff. But I think she was brilliant in Series Seven, she saved the day so many times and did little things that don't really get noticed or appreciated, like in Cold War, it was obvious that she'd convinced Skaldak to not launch the missile. People really judged Clara too soon in my opinion, slating her character over the last few months like she's left, when she's still got ages left! I know not everyone's going to like her, I still think it's a shame though. I do like that we're getting to see more of her life outside the TARDIS now, and I look forward to seeing more of Danny Pink, as new characters can bring out new sides to characters, Clara being a great example of that. Overall I think she's just a very grounded, inspirational, likeable, respectable character. It's nice to have a friend of the Doctor who has her life in order, the closest we got to that before was Martha. I like her because the Doctor's not the be all and end all for her. Yes, they're great friends, but her life wouldn't stop without him, and I really love that about her. I love how caring she is, she can see the good in everyone, and I love people like that. I love the relationship she has with the Doctor, I never got any romantic vibes from her and Matt, it seemed like they fancied each other, but we're both too smart and stubborn to act on it! They both knew it wouldn't work, so settled for being best friends, and their dynamic was awesome in my opinion. Matt and Jenna were brilliant together! She's great with Capaldi too. I really get the sense of how much he likes and respects her, she's the only one he truly listens to now, and is the only one who can get through to him. Her opinion is one he truly respects, and it's interesting to see how much he needs her, and how dependant he may be becoming on her. Because she knows him so well and is so supportive towards him, it'll be hard for him to lose her. It's like Capaldi said, "It's not romantic, but it's not without love." I love that, it's sweet! So, I really love Clara, she's by far my favourite companion, and has been since Series 7. I'm enjoying seeing her develop and grow as a character as the new series progresses. I'll be gutted when she leaves, I hope she stays for a while yet! I think I'll struggle to cope when she does aha! By the way, sorry for the uber long post, Liverfyre's formatting is playing up, so my apologies! :)

aptser
aptser

@timkins +1. This! I don't agree with all these "Clara finally has a personality" comments she has always had one. Yes, she is better developed now, but she was always great (IMO obviously).

The Lazy Cat Is Baffled By Clara Oswald
The Lazy Cat Is Baffled By Clara Oswald

@11th No More You know what's even more exciting? We're only at the tip of the iceberg, more Clara awesomeness is coming! I have a feeling that especially in the latter episodes we will see some truly spectacular things from Clara. 

DWISCOOL100
DWISCOOL100

I know I am! The wait for Flatline is horrible

Anke_W
Anke_W

@The Lazy Cat Of Sherwood Thank you, really! I have so much respect for the people that saw Clara's potential from the start. I loved her sporadically but always suspected that she had greatness inside her. And I feel like she's growing towards that in this series. It's a great thing to watch. 

Alleigh
Alleigh

She admitted she was a control freak in Time of the Doctor due to the truth field, so it isn't really new.

Amy says Peter Davison is the Thirteenth Doctor!
Amy says Peter Davison is the Thirteenth Doctor!

"She's seen how old the Doctor can look in DOTD" -So? That doesn't even begin to account for the myriad factors that caused her to have the reaction that she did. The least of which being fact that she says her problem with his age isn't that he's old, but that he started out old. She had no reason to believe that he doesn't start young and then age every time. She would had even been right about that in the case of the War Doctor.


supermoff is playing Grand Theft Karabraxos...
supermoff is playing Grand Theft Karabraxos...

@LGwalchmai95  Nicely said. :) "It's not romantic, but it's not without love" was a really Dawwwwww line from Capaldi, and I'm definitely getting a sense of that. He truly respects Clara, seeing she's the only person 12 has actually given a compliment to yet (I believe), what with "I think you're probably an amazing teacher" remark. Because of 12's rather brusque disposition to date, it felt really genuine too :P




The Lazy Cat Is Baffled By Clara Oswald
The Lazy Cat Is Baffled By Clara Oswald

They could really do a lot with the concept, after all she's still the impossible girl. You never know, we could see it brought up this Series, maybe not as a key plot point but I hope it's at least referenced. The woman in the shop mystery could even be l linked to it.

ClaireAbraham
ClaireAbraham

@supermoff of Sherwood @ Notsosmartguy Martha only got one series. The powers that be discovered she wasn't coming across as well as she should (due to the wrong-minded unrequited love arc) so they dumped her and got Donna instead. Clara's getting a second chance to get it right, and they are making the most of it with her. I'm very pleased.

ClaireAbraham
ClaireAbraham

@Alleigh No, but now we are actually seeing it. The problem isn't that the idea of Clara as control freak is new; it's that for a long time they kept breaking the "show, don't tell" rule. Now they are showing. It makes a huge, huge difference.

Planet of the Deaf
Planet of the Deaf

@supermoff of Sherwood @LGwalchmai95 He's actually said a few complimentary things about her, but they're very subtle. Whereas 11 would have thanked her ten times and hugged her etc, with 12 it's the little comments and nods that show he's impressed

mwanderson
mwanderson

I've often wondered if the woman in the shop who gave Clara the TARDIS number was actually a splinter of Clara. It would be very Moffat-like if a woman rushed past Clara, head down, and quickly pressed a piece of paper with the number on into her hand, as she rushed from the shop before Clara could see who it was or thank her. It seems all too plausible - or should I say impossible ;D

Formerly EJB
Formerly EJB

@ClaireAbraham @supermoff of Sherwood @ Notsosmartguy lol. I'm still annoyed about what hapened to Martha!

LGwalchmai95
LGwalchmai95

@supermoff of Sherwood @Planet of the Deaf @LGwalchmai95 That's one of the reasons I love Matt's Doctor. He was really protective of his friends, and whenever he took someone aboard the TARDIS, he wanted to make sure they were happy and more importantly he wanted them to feel safe with him. Which I always thought was a great thing about his take on the Doctor. Capaldi's just a stark contrast in terms of, while he still wants Clara to feel safe when with him, he's just not as outgoing with his way of showing it. He doesn't wear his heart on his sleeve like Matt's Doctor did. Which is good, because it's nice to change it up a bit.