Fair warning: This post is entirely devoted to Clara Oswald’s presence throughout Doctor Who’s seasons 7-9. Hence, there’ll be major spoilers from the entirety of season 9 and specially from the season finale.
Well, here we are again, at the brink of yet another divisive season of Doctor Who -one of the best I’ve seen, If I must say- and, yes, we must embarce ourselves to start saying our goodbyes to yet another magnificent companion who’s currently leaving the show: Clara Oswald, but who’s really this impossible girl? What were her motives all along during her four-ish year arc? What we’ve learned from her? Fear not my dearest, my intention with this post is to make a deconstruction-ish of this misterious girl, a somewhat Swan Song to give a proper goodbye to one of my favorite Doctor Who companions ever. Shall we?
From the first moment we met Clara Oswald, (Our Clara, not one of her echos) in the last minutes of ‘The Snowmen’, we realize that she is no ordinary girl -of course, we mostly go on with it at this point of the story because we’ve already met two of her echos before- and she is really aware of it.
Her first line («I don’t believe in ghosts») could perfectly be set off against her immovable belief on the Doctor’s constant regard towards his companions as no more than ghosts (something we can remember of on a dialogue taken from ‘Hide’). Something that, in my opinion, could perfectly sum up everything that Clara was, her motives, and the person she became at the very end of her arc. A very powerful statement indeed.
Clara didn’t wanted to be another forgotten ghost on the Doctor’s graveyard in the first place. She wanted to be remembered, to be immortal. Whilst the ghost portrayal, in Clara’s mind, operated as a remembrance of a lost life, the immortal persona acted out as a reminder of a life well lived.
That’s why she was constantly reminding him of this («Run you clever boy, and remember me»), unknowingly that this very idea will ultimately seal her fate. As far as we know, Clara blew in into the world as a leaf, lived all kinds of adventures and fly off as wisp of smoke by facing the raven.
When we first met her as a crucial character on ‘The Bells Of Saint John’, we learned that she was a nanny of two young children, something that her mother cared about and used to do. Symbolically, being a nanny is, at firsthand, the best way to be remembered by someone. Children often recall what they’ve learned from the regular presence of a certain individual in their childhood. Most of the times, this place goes to the nanny. This idea expanded itself when she met the Doctor.
Fearless and valiant, Clara accepted to travel with the Doctor’s Eleventh incarnation waiting to meet new and wonderful places where she can be remembered. From The Rings Of Akhateh to Trenzalore, Clara Oswald found a way to be a constant in a lot of people’s life, and from the very moment she stepped into the Doctor’s timeline, she managed to stand by on every crucial moment of his entire life. After all, what better way to be immortal than splintering yourself throughout a Timelord’s timeline? The ultimate immortal being.
Make no mistake, Clara Oswald’s actions were not selfless. Notwithstanding, her feelings towards the Doctor were real. She did care about him, in fact, he became the most important man in her life later on. Something that messed her relation up with his boyfriend Danny Pink, in my opinion, and narrative speaking, a character who’s sole function in the show was to humanize the already Doctor-like immortal Clara.
Therefore, one of the most Clara-like traits was, undoubtedly, her ability to always put everybody before her, specially when it came to children. Her tremendous dedication to guarantee safety and happiness in other people’s life was one of the main reasons the Doctor got another set of regenerations and, surely, why she started to teach on Coal Hill school on the first place.
Se devoted her entire life soothing children and making sure they didn’t grow up motherless (or fatherless) like she did. So, from the very beginning of her adventures, when she calmed down Merry Gejelh, to her last breath, when she sacrificed herself to the raven in order to give Rigsy’s son a full life with his dad, she always had one thing in mind: never stand down when an infant’s life were in danger.
Clara’s actions were big and significant. Nevertheless, a great deal of them came from a reckless place of debauchery and overconfidence. Spending so much time along the Doctor’s side made her think that everything, even death, could (and should) be overcomed. Risks stopped being too dangerous and adventures became part of her life. At on point, immortality wasn’t just only about being remembered, it also meant running away from death.
This way of thinking suited perfectly to the Doctor’s M.O. His companion, on the other hand, wasn’t supposed to legitimize it. You see, immortality is a very tricky concept to begin with. In Clara’s case, her fearless choices and brave ways of thinking were the perfect combination to ratcheting her up towards this already traced road. One thing, that in my opinion, she didn’t reckoned to achieve in a real way.
That’s why her actions forced her to face the raven and confront the consequences. Although, with the events occured on ‘Hell Bent’, Clara succesfully managed to delay her death just in time to enjoy a handful of adventures with a TARDIS of her own and a faithful companion embodied by Ashildr’s ‘Me’, whilst she became an eternal (but faceless) print on the Doctor’s mind. In the end Clara single-handedly became the (immortal) Doctor in spite all odds (she even died in a regeneration pose, for god’s sake!). The perfect ending to an impossible girl.
So, please, next time you think of Clara, ask yourself the next question: Clara Who?