RECAP & REVIEW: Doctor Who – Face the Raven

So what happened?

After Rigsy calls the TARDIS phone to tell Clara and The Doctor that he has a mysterious tattoo on the back of his neck that appears to be counting down and remembers nothing of the previous day, they go to his home, meet his infant daughter and examine the markings. It’s not good, however, and Twelve is forced to tell him that not only did he have contact with aliens, but that he’ll die when the tattoo reaches zero. Unhappy with his analysis that there’s nothing to be done, Clara forces them to look for a solution to the problem, and through a joint effort that involves looking around London for the entrance to a trap street, an area that uses a misdirection system to prevent humans from finding the entrance to an alien safe haven, they finally find the place where Rigsy was the day before.

Doctor Rigsy
The Doctor (Peter Capaldi) examining the tattoo on Rigsy’s (Joivan Wade) neck.

Once there they’re confronted by group of otherworldly beings from various species, who are disguised as humans by the streetlights and are presided over by their immortal Mayor, Me (formerly known as Ashildr.) It soon becomes evident that she was the one who put the chronolock on Rigsy after he apparently killed a female Janus, an alien with two faces. Afterwards he was injected with Retcon to make him forget what happened then apparently given enough time to say goodbye to his family and friends before he would be chased by a Quantum Shade that takes the form of a raven. Determined to prove his innocence, the trio set about interviewing those who live on the street after Me informs them that she can’t simply remove the death sentence without ending the truce between the various factions who obey her rule of law.

Seeing a solution to the problem after an inhabitant informs her that the chronolock can be removed from somebody if someone else willingly takes it on, Clara thinks the protection she’d been promised by Me will mean that she can’t be killed by it and so encourages Rigsy to pass it over to her, all without The Doctor’s knowledge. Meanwhile, Twelve’s own investigations lead him to the conclusion that the Mayor deliberately set the young man up for murder in order to lure him to her, knowing he’d turn up if someone was in need. This is confirmed when they speak to the son of the Janus who was killed, who is actually a female Janus but her Mother forced her to dress as a boy so she couldn’t be persecuted for her ability to see into the future and the past. As they investigate further they realise that her Mother isn’t dead at all, but instead preserved in a stasis chamber and when The Doctor inserts his arm into the machine that will free her to undo the lock, it’s encircled with a mysterious bracelet. Whilst she is freed, Me arrives to tell him that his suspicions were right and that he was lured there as she’d made an agreement to teleport him away somewhere to keep the peace on the street, also expecting to take ownership of his confession dial which he duly gives her.

Me Rigsy
Me/Ashildr (Maisie Williams) realising that Clara transferred the Chronolock from Rigsy to herself.

Having got the outcome she wanted, Me goes to remove the chronolock from Rigsy, but is horrified to learn that he transferred it over to Clara. Because of this the contract she had with the Quantum Shade is broken, and she’s incapable of removing it from it’s new owner. Realising his companion is on the brink of death, The Doctor furiously urges his fellow immortal to do what she can to save his friend, promising to make her life a living hell if she doesn’t. It’s then that Clara steps in, and accepting her fate, urges Twelve to be proud of her and not avenge her death. Going out onto the street as he looks on, her time runs out and the raven kills her, leading The Doctor to tell Me to keep out of his way, before he’s teleported away to an unknown location. After the credits roll, we see Rigsy has spray-painted a memorial to Clara on the deserted TARDIS.

Monster of the Week

Danielle: This week the central threat came in the form of a Quantum Shade that took the shape of a raven. I’m not entirely sure that we’re any the wiser what exactly a Quantum Shade is, or how it would look were it not disguised, but it certainly seems to be a formidable and inescapable foe that wouldn’t seem out of place amongst the more sinister Who villains.

Marieke: I’m not sure the Quantum Shade was the monster here. It had a contract that it had to fulfil and that was it. Maybe better candidates were Me, whose long life has made her careless with other people’s, or even The Doctor, himself, whom we saw threatening to unleash the ‘dark side’ he usually keeps tucked away on the girl he once saved centuries before. Perhaps there isn’t a definitive answer?

Clara and Raven
Clara (Jenna Coleman) and the Quantum Shade, which takes the form of a Raven.
Creep Factor

Danielle: Birds are creepy, aren’t they? Hitchcock saw to that and so did Edgar Allen Poe before him. One which comes to steal your soul and promises to follow you to the ends of the Earth if you decide to try to outrun your fate are absolutely terrifying. In a way, so is the thought of a hidden refugee camp housing exiled daleks and cybermen smack ban in the middle of London. One out of control row and… well… it doesn’t bear thinking about, does it?

Marieke: The thing that creeped me out the most was the tattoo. Knowing you’re going to die is one thing, but effectively being branded with something that counts down to the exact moment of your death is another thing entirely. The two-headed aliens were a little bit freaky as well.

Mystery

Danielle: So where the hell was The Doctor transported to? Who brokered the deal with Me to send him away? Also what on Earth is on that confession dial? There were more questions than answers this week.

Marieke: I keep thinking that the alien who told Clara that the Chronolock can be transferred from one person to another, but neglected to mention that it couldn’t be removed after that, had some sort of an agenda. Perhaps he was working with whoever has requested The Doctor be sent to them? Guess we’ll find out…

Familiar Face
Joivan Wade
Joivan Wade as Rigsy.

After first seeing him last series in ‘Flatline’, Joivan Wade popped up again as Rigsy. This time with with his little girl, Lucy, in tow. Surely he has to be a prime candidate for the new companion now?

The Verdict?

‘Meet the Raven’ was a mixed bag. We loved the creepy atmosphere of the Victorian-inspired street which housed a number of The Doctor’s most sworn enemies, as well as the fact it was hiding in plain sight down an inconspicuous alleyway. Twelve’s threat about the Universe being a small place when he’s angry to the young woman who unwittingly brought about Clara’s untimely demise gave us chills too. He is after all a Time Lord and therefore has all of Time and Space at his disposal. We didn’t think for a second that it was an empty threat, which just underlines this Doctor’s inner struggle to establish whether or not he is a ‘good man’. At least his outgoing companion was there to point him in the right direction which seems to have been her main purpose since Capaldi took over the helm.

Clara dead
A hero’s death: Clara bows out of the show.

Where Coleman’s last episode didn’t quite live up to our expectations was in the all too convenient reintroduction of Rigsy, which ultimately led to her character’s death. Him having a small daughter seemed like an all too easy shoe-in in order to up the ante so that his friend would take the burden of his death sentence. Had he been brought back earlier in this series, then perhaps it would have sat a little better. In general, the jury is still out on how we feel about the nature of Clara’s demise. In one sense it felt anticlimactic. She made a stupid mistake thinking herself invincible and suffered the consequences, and that’s that. In another, the lack of histrionics seemed apt. At one point we wondered if she’d go on the run, but the fact that she faced what was coming to her with the same kind of acceptance and bravery that her boyfriend Danny Pink did made absolute sense. This entire series it’s seemed as if she’s been coasting and deliberately taking risks that not even her trust in The Doctor can justify. Either way, in spite of our differences of opinion over her compatibility with Twelve, both of us are sad to see her go. Good luck, Jenna!

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