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The Future of Clara Oswald

Guest contributor Ruth Long on what Series 8 might hold in store for Clara.

clara-jenna-coleman-n

Clara Oswald, the impossible girl. The woman whose mystery intrigued and baffled fans last year, who has saved the Doctor countless times throughout his many lives, and who, well, has been met with very mixed responses.

To some (myself included) she’s a relatable, well-written and very well acted character, to others, err… less so. I have seen a bevy of criticism aimed at Clara; ranging from her perceived lack of character development to some finding her rather annoying and boring. I am not here to discuss or argue one case over another (there have been some brilliant articles that have done that already), but I feel that it is paramount to address this before getting into the nitty-gritty of Clara’s future on the TARDIS.

If there were one word with which I would describe my current view of Clara, it would be potential. From the very first time we saw her (then a Junior Entertainment Manager turned Dalek) I found her endearing; to such an extent that in all honesty, she’s what got me back into Doctor Who. However, I cannot say with confidence that she has yet reached the promise she holds. Don’t get me wrong; I think Clara has really shined in her time with the Doctor, particularly in the most recent specials, but there’s just so much about her that remains unexplored. So, what lies ahead for Miss Oswald?

Effects of the Past

the name of the doctor promo batch b (1)To speculate on the future, we must first revisit the past. I strongly believe that we will see some repercussions from Clara’s actions in the last series: principally, the effects of going into the Doctor’s time-stream. It bothered me that despite splintering herself across time and space, despite living and dying again and again, there have been no visible consequences, so far at least. Judging by recent words from Steven Moffat, we may well witness the aftermath of this sacrifice: what that will be exactly we can only guess. She could receive flashbacks from her echoes (Oswin in the Dalek episode for instance), or perhaps her thoughts and memories will become increasingly muddled with her other lives.

There are two other notable events worth mentioning; events that, in addition to the one just discussed, have arguably cemented Clara as one of the most influential companions in Doctor Who. In The Day of the Doctor, she was pivotal in persuading the three Doctors not to destroy Galifrey; rewriting a significant event in his history. Then in The Time of the Doctor, she pleaded with the Time Lords, asking them to “change the future”, which directly led to them granting the Doctor more regenerations, and thus saving him from meeting his end on Trenzalore.

Clara’s contributions to the Doctor’s past, present and future are undeniable. I think it would be a disservice to her character if they were never acknowledged in series 8. Even the odd reference to it would suffice; it needn’t be a vital plot point. Perhaps when she does eventually leave the show, the Doctor will express his appreciation for all she has done for him.

A New Doctor

Series-8-TV-launch-trailer-(33)From a Doctor that she felt she understood, could “control” even, to one that is far sterner, far more unpredictable, and seemingly, far more dangerous; Clara will have a lot to come to terms with in Series 8. The opening episode “Deep Breath” is of course centred in part on her coping with, as Moffat put it: “her best friend being someone else”, though I feel that her uncertainty about this new Doctor will carry on over several episodes, if not the entire series.

That’s not to say that they won’t be good friends, but various comments in addition to lines such as “I don’t know who the Doctor is anymore” and “am I a good man?” imply that this Doctor’s ambiguity will remain a recurrent theme throughout most of Capaldi’s tenure. There are strong connotations that the new Doctor will do some questionable things in his time; causing Clara to doubt his reliability.

Something at the forefront of people’s minds is just how the Doctor/ companion relationship will change. The romantic element will (obviously) be subtracted, making way for something much more platonic: perhaps akin to classic Doctor Who. The mentor/student dynamic is one that’s been frequently used to describe Capaldi’s Doctor and Clara, but I would like to challenge that. Personally, I feel the Doctor respects her enough not to treat her like a naive schoolgirl. My expectation is that there will be more of a mutual friendship and regard; in fact, Clara in some ways will have to take responsibility for the Doctor. Let me explain, the impression given is that the Twelfth Doctor will be much more alien; to the degree that Clara will have to be his “human interface” with everyone else. This brilliant line pretty much sums it up:

“She’s my carer; she cares so I don’t have to”

Because the Doctor is exploring who he is, there may be times where Clara has to serve (to a some extent) as his moral compass; aiding him in his endeavour to find out whether he is in fact “a good man”.

In the past I’ve drawn parallels between this pair and Sherlock Holmes/John Watson (particularly from Steven Moffat’s other show ‘Sherlock’). The former is portrayed as socially disconnected; far more interested in the task at hand than whether or not he offends those around him. The latter is the more human of the two, and has to put up with and apologise for their partner’s insensitivity and apparent disregard for others. They have a strong bond, complimenting one another but also clashing at times: I’m getting a similar sort of vibe with the current Doctor and Clara.

Both actors have shared their thoughts on the duo’s relationship, and the overall feeling is that despite the interspersed tension and banter they will share a profound connection that goes beyond superficial camaraderie. Peter in particular was keen to stress that the removal of flirtation does not equate to a lesser care for his companion:

“I think the Doctor loves Clara in a very deep way that is not just about romance, so it goes into deeper territory of affection.”

Clara Who?

Series-8-TV-launch-trailer-(7)A question some are still asking. I am of course referring to many feeling that really, we don’t know a lot about Clara Oswald. Where I would say this is (fairly) debatable, I do see where people are coming from. There is so much more to learn about her character, and that’s actually very exciting. From her job as a teacher at Cole Hill to her relationship with Danny Pink, there is a reservoir of possibilities to delve into.

Now on to the matter of Clara’s flaws. In response to the view that she is “too perfect”, we will undoubtedly get a much better look at her bossy control freak side.

Perhaps in the last series this was less prominent because in most cases (with a few exceptions of course), she could maintain some element of control. Clara is generally a subtle and restrained character (for better or worse), who on the whole has been consistently warm, charming, kind and selfless. Only when she is really challenged do her cracks start to come through. Personally, I can sense an underlying insecurity and fear in her, masked by her witty and bubbly persona. With a no-nonsense, “fiercer” Doctor to contend with, we could really witness just how much Clara struggles when she can’t stay on top of a situation. It’s ripe for some very interesting (and possibly amusing) moments.

Directly linked to this is Clara’s insistence on keeping her two lives (the one with the Doctor and her personal life) separate; a point Jenna Coleman has highlighted in recent interviews. Her endeavour is inevitably going to fail, which will not only be testing for her character but could lead to some potentially catastrophic results for the people she cares about. Moffat’s emphasis on consequences is somewhat foreboding, especially considering his statement that Clara’s interaction with the Doctor “may not be healthy” for those around them.

I believe that Clara will not only grow and mature even more as a character, but also become more independent. Where I wouldn’t say that Clara has ever been especially reliant on the Doctor (after all she’s saved him a fair few times!), there may be occasions where she’ll have to ‘bail herself out’ of danger. There is less of an assurance this time around that Capaldi’s Doctor will be around to “catch her” like his predecessor.

The term “audience surrogate” is often used in association with the Doctor’s companions. However, it could be argued that in Series 7 Clara by design failed to adequately fulfil this function. Though it was a change to the usual formula, making her a puzzle to be solved may have hindered the watcher’s ability to ‘see through her eyes’ so to speak. Relieved of the secrecy that surrounded her, she properly took on this role in the specials, and we will no doubt continue to follow Clara’s perspective into Series 8, with her reactions to the new Doctor mirroring many of our own.

Unanswered questions

hide-clara-hologramShe may no longer be an enigma, but that does not mean Clara is without her mysteries. One of the most intriguing is just why the TARDIS dislikes her: is it as simple as the old girl being a bit jealous, or is something bigger (on the inside) going on? Moffat’s cryptic hints could amount to no more than another confrontation (at the very start of the first episode for example) in which the affair is quickly resolved, but there’s a chance that it could be an entire arc of its own.

And then there’s this curious “woman in the shop”. For someone mentioned in a throwaway line she’s certainty presented us with quite the riddle. If she had not given Clara the TARDIS number, the Impossible Girl would never have encountered the Doctor. Because Clara has become so significant the effects of her absence would be far-reaching and potentially disastrous. The Great Intelligence may have defeated the Doctor long ago, he may have met his final end on Trenzalore, and Gallifrey may never have been saved. So who is this woman? What was her motivation? Does she have some sort or secret agenda using Clara? Only time will tell if this comes to anything.

It may be a non-issue, but it’s still one prevalent enough to warrant notice. How did Clara survive the Doctor’s time-stream? Lack of effects aside, it’s a problem in itself. This query is often dismissed; though some continue to be sceptical at the fact that she managed to live (and return to a normal life) after River asserting that the “real Clara” would die. As the lady herself said: “spoilers”.

The culmination of these questions is enough to persuade me that there is still more to Clara than meets the eye. I am convinced that she is a genuine, normal person (and not a trap), but there is clearly something a little iffy here. Will it play a big part, or am I just overthinking? We’ll have to wait and see.

To Conclude

I could really go on and on speculating about Clara’s future, I haven’t even broached her eventual departure from the show. As of yet there has been no confirmation that Jenna Coleman is staying beyond this year’s Christmas special, and how she does go is anyone’s guess, could she be one of the few companions to die? Maybe, but that calls for an entire discussion of its own.

I’d like to finish by saying this: To those who still remain unconvinced by her, I ask you to give her a chance. With the Impossible Girl arc behind her, a brand new chapter and the prospect of a completely different Doctor, Clara’s journey is only just beginning. You may have reservations about her, you may love her, or you may hate her. Either way, I can assure you that the very best of Clara Oswald is yet to come.

I hope you enjoyed this article, and I’d love to hear your thoughts and theories!

Step back in time...

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182 comments
LaureanoLeal
LaureanoLeal

She die, she always die, every copy of Clara dies, every time, with every Doctor, she always die

redvelvet6
redvelvet6

As soon they mentioned "the woman in the shop" I thought of Rose just because she was a shop girl. It's unlikely Rose would ever come back since she's in that other universe and I thought all of her appearances after her character left the series the first time were really bad. But if Moffat could find a way for her to be the shop girl without it sucking I'd be so into it. I loved Rose. I also don't think it'd be River b/c idk where that'd fit into her time line. The doctor already met her for the first time and seen her die so I think her story is pretty much over. I'm thinking it's someone new entirely. I think it's best to leave as many things from 11's story lines out of 12's.




Noybusiness
Noybusiness

"It may be a non-issue, but it’s still one prevalent enough to warrant notice. How did Clara survive the Doctor’s time-stream?"

The Great Intelligence was alone, she had a friend to save her.

thribs1
thribs1

She'll be gone by next season. These new companions don't last very long.

pyroclasticflow
pyroclasticflow

I don't think there's anything particularly new about the idea of Clara having to be the Doctor's moral compass. Companions have had to do this before. Remember Donna and the 10th Doctor? She had to tell him "that's enough" when he was destroying the Racnoss babies, and he still didn't stop. She pleaded with him at Pompeii to save a few people until he eventually gave in. Even River Song told the 11th Doctor never to travel alone. I think this warning was because his sense of morality gets out of whack when he doesn't have a companion. Time Lords are extremely powerful, and it's easy for that kind of power to go to their heads. Hell, look at the state of the Time Lords on Gallifrey. Many of them are pompous jerks.



While the Doctor himself is not a bad guy and spends a lot of his time saving others, let's keep in mind that he has committed genocide. He's killed millions of Daleks and thousands of Cybermen. I'm not saying it wasn't justified but he's no pacifist, and he does have a mean streak. He chilled out on that aspect a bit as the 11th and had a more "childish" personality but Capaldi is sure to be much different.


I think that the TARDIS had problems with Clara because she was "impossible." It doesn't seem like there have been issues since the time stream incident although there have only been two episodes since then. I suppose time will tell!












MaddyKika
MaddyKika

Great article for one of the most important companions! 

GeoWebber
GeoWebber

In The Name of The Doctor, just before she fades away for good, River, after Clara has entered The Doctor's timestream, asks, 'I was mentally linked with Clara so how could I be here? Spoilers.'

Does this ever get addressed? I don't recall.

KitwenchFerret
KitwenchFerret

Clara *is* the TARDIS? And she didn't rewrite his timeline when she stopped them from pushing the button.

Techinically, that's how it had always happened.

He just didn't *know* it.

Raxacoricofallapatorian
Raxacoricofallapatorian

This may be a little off-topic, but something I would do anything to see is Clara stood outside the TARDIS on Earth after a particularly dangerous adventure, possibly with a partner (*cough* Danny *cough*), with Twelve having made the decision that having her as a companion endangers her to much. She demands to be let back inside the TARDIS, but Twelve begins to explain his actions with a very old, a very well-known speech: "One day I shall come back. Yes, I shall come back..."

OncomingStorm in a Brownoat with a stake
OncomingStorm in a Brownoat with a stake

Cool article. On the subject of her leaving, I'm not sure if she'll leave on a Christmas special will she? Seems unlikely. I think she'll probably stay for series 9.

Undiscovered Adventure
Undiscovered Adventure

I'm very touched by everyone's positive comments, this really is a brilliant community! I'll definitely look into writing more articles, and Clara's departure seems to be a popular subject!





JJ2000
JJ2000

I have a feeling that Clara will probably join U.N.I.T. To be honest, I am not keen on her character, but I do think that the actress, Jenna Coleman is a brilliant actress. I just hope that Peter Capaldi's good, not even my favourite Doctor, just that he is good. I hope that Clara gets better as the series goes on and most of all, I hope the episodes are good. Series 7 Part 2 was a massive disappointment, minus 2 episodes, The Bells Of Saint John was okay and The Name Of The Doctor was absolutely brilliant. I also did not like the 2013 Specials, I didn't like The Day Of The Doctor and I believe thoroughly that The Time Of The Doctor is the worst episode EVER, in my eyes and that is my opinion. I just really hope that Peter Capaldi gets a good start, as every New-Who and probably every Doctor has. Matt Smith and David Tennant didn't get the exit they deserved, so I hope that Peter Capaldi does. Good start, good tenure, good run, good end. That's the way it should be. Not criticizing (for a change), just explaining what I want and think should happen. 


I really hope that Clara dies. Not in a mean or weird way and it's not because she is my least favourite New-Who companion at the moment, it's because I think it is the best possible exit for her. I really want her last ever Doctor Who lines to be: 

Clare: "Run. Run you clever boy and remember me." 

I kind of even wanted one of my favourite companions, Amy Pond to die, as I didn't want her to keep returning. I wouldn't mind Clara returning for maybe the 60th or something like that, but they should always be her last lines, even if they are repeated after her original run, or that is when she actually dies. I think it is the best possible exit for her and I hope they do it in a cool and sacrificing way. But also, the Doctor saving her somehow this time, bit like he did with River Song, but Clara actually dies, he just does something to save her before or something nice after she dies.

gazmarklives
gazmarklives

If it was River and people ask how could she not be recognised, the woman in the shop could have one of the silence with her lol

gazmarklives
gazmarklives

I have often wondered whether the woman in the shop is an older future of a splinter of Clara, that her part to play was to be there and tell the original to call the Helpdesk that led to her being with the doctor. I know some thing it is River but the whole predestination thing would be better if it is one of the splinters.

I do like the idea of a possible crossover with one of the splinters and connecting to the events of last year. Just to see Clara and her copy react to each other and build up their role in the events of the show.

Another thing someone pointed out to me if Clara was splintered across time, the great intelligence was split across time. Should there not be loads of Matt smiths across the universe. Just pondering....

SteveWillis
SteveWillis

The woman in the shop could just be Riversong. You know how good she is at ensuring events happen as they planned (giving the book to Amy to type up to ensure the destiny trap). I mean, there's a good reason why Clara didn't recognise River during the "meeting" during Name of. How many faces of shop assistants do you actually recognise if you've only seen them once? I think when the "Spoilers" about how Clara and River could still be connected is addressed, the shop will be too.

TheNameOfTheDoctor
TheNameOfTheDoctor

Btw, I love Clara, but hasn't the woman in the shop been mentioned before Clara?

Undiscovered Adventure
Undiscovered Adventure

Just found the Deep Breath premier Q and A (it's at Den of Geek.com). Steven Moffat has pretty much said that he's addressing the Mary Sue "too perfect" criticism, my favourite line is "we had the perfect girl and we absolutely messed her head"



Liana21
Liana21

I think that the relationship between Clara and Twelve should move in the vibe of Four/Sarah or Ten/Donna: best friends having adventures in space and time. I can see Twelve all mentor as Three did sometimes with Jo and Four with Leela, but with Clara, older, more mature and modern that clumsy Jo in the 70s, remembering him that she's a grown up with a life, a job and responsibilities in home.

I kinda like the idea of Clara being a sort of interpreter between The Doctor and other humans in things like "be kind", "have manners", "say sorry for that comment".

About the future, I'm adamant in the thought that I don't want her to die, some people say that if Twelve is going to be dark, kill off Clara is going to be a good manner of do it, but we've seen her die three times yet (counting Journey) and I think that it would be too much clichéd and a bad way to remember her in the future. I'd prefer her stepping out the TARDIS being because she suffers a trauma that makes impossible for her continue with her journeys with The Doctor (that can be dark too), or because she finds something that she wants to do more than tavel with The Doctor.

WhoLocked
WhoLocked

Hi, Just wanted to say, brilliant article - I agree I don't think we've even scratched the surface in regards to Clara's character.  At least I hope not.  As you mentioned, there is so much potential and I hope this will be explored.  This is one of the best articles I have read on this great site in ages, thanks so very much :)


Undiscovered Adventure
Undiscovered Adventure

She survived the time-stream even before the Doctor went in after her, remember what River said?

Undiscovered Adventure
Undiscovered Adventure

You're right, Clara certantly won't be the first, but it may play out a little differently, what with him not knowing if he is a "good man". As for the Clara vs Tardis conundrum, That does seem like the logical explanation, we'll have to see if that's what Moffat was hinting at. :-)

Polyphase
Polyphase

@pyroclasticflow It certainly isn't new, In fact it's integral to the show, For example.

DOCTOR: They only send these things in a real emergency, Jo. It's top priority, a three line whip. No, I've got to go.
JO: How do you know where to deliver it?
(The Tardis roof light flashes and she starts humming with energy. The door opens on its own.)
DOCTOR: I think that has already been decided.
JO: Hang on, wait for me. I'm coming too.
DOCTOR: That's out of the question. It's bound to be dangerous, probably difficult.
JO: All the more reason. You need me to look after you.
DOCTOR: Sorry, Jo, a lot of rubbish. Not this time. Au revoir!
(The Doctor enters the Tardis.)
JO: Oh, no you don't!
(Jo runs into the Tardis before the door can close. The Tardis dematerialises.) 

The Mutants

Undiscovered Adventure
Undiscovered Adventure

I guess you're right, that's just the way the Doctors put it "you're not sugesting we change our own history" or something along those lines.

Undiscovered Adventure
Undiscovered Adventure

For Clara and the Doctor, not for Clara full stop. Capaldi has said that their won't be any flirting between the two, though she may well have something with Danny in series 8.

TheElusiveWhovian
TheElusiveWhovian

I'm not sure. I think she may leave part way through Series 9. If she stays for the entirety of Series 9, she'll have done what is basically 3 Series (not all of Series 7, but if you count The Snowmen, The Day of the Doctor and The Time of the Doctor, it is the best of part of a series). No new series companion has done that much.

NineTenElevenTwelve
NineTenElevenTwelve

@Undiscovered Adventure I love Clara but, even now, I find it hard to determine what her true reception from the fandom is. Is she mostly loved, divisive, or hated? The most common opinion of her (whether it be positive, indifferent, or negative) seems to shift between each comment section about her that I come across.

NineTenElevenTwelve
NineTenElevenTwelve

@JJ2000 I respect your opinions (even though I disagree with nearly all of them aside from you stating that Jenna Coleman is a brilliant actress and that "The Name of the Doctor" was absolutely brilliant). 


"I believe thoroughly that The Time Of The Doctor is the worst episode EVER" Personally, I think Doctor Who will never sink lower than the day it had a character be turned into a living BJ toy. *cough*Love & Monsters*cough*







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

The Doctor appears to be immune to the scattering effects of his timestream. He was able to retrieve Clara because it would not fracture him into millions of copies as it did her, and so he could survive going into it. This makes sense, because seeing as how it is the Doctor's own timestream, he is by definition already scattered across it.


Undiscovered Adventure
Undiscovered Adventure

Yep I'm sure they will be addressed, in how much depth I don't know. If you're right, it could mean the return of River!

jpepelko
jpepelko

@SteveWillis Or it could be the Moment. It was Clara who convinced the Doctor not to destroy Gallifrey in the end. The Moment would want to ensure that she was there to be able to do that. And that would mean Clara going on adventures with the Doctor and ensuring his survival from the Great Intelligence.

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

Perhaps in the general sense that there exist girls who work in shops and happen to do things, but the one pertaining to Clara carried out the specific act of advising her to call the Doctor's phone number, pitching it as "the best help line in the universe."


Undiscovered Adventure
Undiscovered Adventure

Thank you so much for your kind words! that really means a lot! I wanted to express just how awesome Clara could (and hopefully will) be, even more so than she is now.

pyroclasticflow
pyroclasticflow

@Undiscovered Adventure I hope it does play out differently just for the sake of change, although honestly, I wouldn't be too upset if it didn't - I'll love the show either way. I will say the 9th Doctor struggled with knowing whether he was a good man or not especially since he's the first Doctor we see after Gallifrey is "destroyed." What's kind of bizarre to me though is that while Eccleston's portrayal of a darker Doctor makes sense due to the devastation that he had just experienced (and effected), I'm not sure what the reason for Capaldi's is. I mean if he just wants to be a darker Doctor, that's fine with me, and it's not like everything about the show NEEDS to make absolute sense but I'm wondering why this sudden change in temperament? Perhaps time has finally caught up with him. :P


PS - Love the article btw.














Undiscovered Adventure
Undiscovered Adventure

I hope she doesn't leave half way, I felt that was a bad decision with the Ponds, because Clara had to be introduced in only half a series with a whole mystery to accompany her. The same sort of thing would have to happen with her successor.

Anyway, I don't see a problem with her staying one more series, yes it would be an especially long tenure compared to the other new Who companions, but as long as they keep things fresh and mix it up a bit it could still work.

Miss Bosswald wants you to nuke the Moon.
Miss Bosswald wants you to nuke the Moon.

@Undiscovered Adventure River is one of my favorite Doctor Who characters but I hope it's not her. Unlike others, I don't think she's been overused but I don't want her to be. If she comes back, she need a good reason and a good story. She's not a plot device to explain every mystery in the life of the Doctor. Anyway it can't be her, Clara and River would have recognized each other in the Name of the Doctor.

Undiscovered Adventure
Undiscovered Adventure

I think so too, remember in the prequel He said, She said, the Doctor even said she was perfect "in every way", it was definitely intentional, Moffat obviously has a plan with Clara.

Undiscovered Adventure
Undiscovered Adventure

Thank you! Glad you enjoyed it :-) I'm sure we'll be given a good reason as to why Capaldi's Doctor is the way he is. Part of it is, as Moffat said, him living on Trenzalore for 100's of years and seeing people live and die for generations, reminding him that he's not human. Also, much of it will come from Peter himself, and you never know, maybe the Timelords meddled a bit as well with his personality.

pyroclasticflow
pyroclasticflow

@Undiscovered Adventure Great points! Living on Trenzalore for so long and getting to know people only to see them die is a great reason for the Doctor becoming more serious. I also love the idea of the Time Lords meddling with his next cycle of regenerations as a reason for him being darker. That would definitely be their style!