If I was told to review Face The Raven with only one word, that word would be ‘flawless’.
It’s not the only word that would spring to my mind, however; emotional, intriguing, moreish, and heart-breaking would also be dancing on the tip of my tongue.
As I’m sure you’ve already heard, this episode is the final one starring Jenna Coleman’s character, Clara. For me, this is a hard pill to swallow. This may be quite a controversial opinion, but I think that Clara is the best companion of the New-Who era. Most people tend to gravitate towards Rose as being the best companion since the show’s return, and I probably would’ve agreed with them until this series. Originally, I wasn’t too keen on Clara as the companion back in series 7, she grew on me in series 8, but this series I’ve become a massive fan of the character. At times, she’s really made herself look like The Doctor’s equal, not just a lady awestruck by the wonders The Doctor had show her.
Anyway, back onto Face The Raven. The episode is written by Sarah Dollard, and it is the first episode she’s written for Doctor Who. And what an excellent episode it is. The pacing of Face The Raven is perfect, allowing time for some brilliant dialogue, wonderfully blended in with enticing mysteries, topped off with some fabulous character interactions. It was also a pleasure to see The Doctor and Clara play detective again.
It was also enjoyable to see Maisie Williams’ Ashildr (I don’t care what she wants to be called- she’ll always be Ashildr to me!) back for the third time this series. It is very interesting to see the development we’ve seen from her character in the 3 episodes we’ve seen her in. She a totally different character each time, and it’s a total delight. The actions of Ashildr also have massive repercussions, and it is safe to say that we definitely have not see the last of her.
There was also clearly great production values for Face The Raven; the sight of seeing a raven turn into some kind of grainy mist, as well as the beautifully done street in which 90% of the episode is set, really helped create a sense of atmosphere. The street being so tiny and compact made the episode feel more claustrophobic and tense.
Now everything beyond this point will contain SPOILERS
Dollard has the episode littered with foreshadowing, from Clara nearly falling out of the TARDIS flying high above London, to Ashildr stating how no harm will come to Clara. This, in combination with the dramatic irony of us already knowing that this was Coleman’s final episode, made the entire episode painfully tense. The episode made me uncomfortable to watch, but that was just because I absolutely couldn’t look away.
If you can’t yet tell what I’m getting at, then here it is: Clara Oswald is dead.
And perhaps an even harder pill to swallow than before, is that it could clearly be argued that Clara died because of The Doctor. Her travels with the Timelord, and her previous successes at saving the day had made her more confident, a little complacent and even a bit cocky that she and The Doctor will always save everything, and everyone. This lead her to taking a death curse off of Rigsy and giving it to herself, because she was certain that she (or The Doctor) would be able to find a way out of it. Unfortunately, she was wrong, and paid the ultimate price for it.
Let us take a moment to appreciate how incredible both Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman were once they had realised what was about to happen. The sorrow on Capaldi’s face, the dawning fear upon Jenna’s face. This, then combined with gut-wrenchingly emotional dialogue made my heart shatter into millions of tiny pieces. One particularly poignant piece of dialogue is when The Doctor says “What’s the point of being a Doctor if I can’t cure you“. That, ladies and gentlemen, was the moment I lost it. I honestly had to pause my television, weep, then watch the final moments of Clara Oswald with tears in my eyes.
It is important to state as well, that I don’t normally cry. The last time I cried was over a family death over 5 years ago. Now that record is broken, as I sat in my living room, tearing up over the death of a fictional character.
I’m too emotional to write anything more about Face The Raven. So let’s just wrap up by saying that it was a spellbinding episode, and an absolutely harrowing end for Clara Oswald.
R.I.P Clara Oswald.