Last night was the premiere of Doctor Who‘s famous yearly Christmas special. It was a lead-in from the season’s opener, “Asylum of the Daleks,” and the BBC leaked quite a few details before the season even began, including the actress playing the new companion. Writer Steven Moffat hinted that this episode would have a ton of twists and turns for the newly-big stateside Who audience, and believe me, I broke away from the family festivities as soon as nine o’ clock hit Christmas day.
To recap this season a little bit, we opened with “Asylum of the Daleks,” in which the doctor was recruited by the Daleks, a race of aliens inside robot-looking boxes with a plunger for one hand and an egg beater for the other. The episode also introduced us to Oswin Oswald, the intrepid Junior entertainment manager upon the starliner Alaska. She quickly became an audience favorite, what with her charm, intelligence, and awesome l33t hacking skills.
One problem though: She was marooned on the Daleks’ version of an insane asylum, an entire planet relegated to the Daleks so evil not even a Dalek could control them, as the Doctor so kindly put it.
Personally, I spent the entire episode hoping that perhaps the doctor would rescue her and make her his new companion, and doubtless many fellow audience members hoped right along with me. Alas, it was not to be: The end of the episode revealed that Oswin was in fact a Dalek, though she retained her human mind, and she was summarily blown to smithereens along with the rest of the planet.
That wasn’t all though, because a few weeks later, the great troll Steven Moffat revealed that Jenna-Louise Coleman — Oswin’s actress — would be playing the part of the new companion come this season’s Christmas special. All at once, the rumor mill whirred to life, because none of us could see this being at all possible?
Some brainiac fan quickly pointed out that the Doctor never actually saw Oswin —though the audience did — and therefore it stood to reason that “souffle girl,” as he affectionately called her, had been the Doctor’s companion earlier on in her timeline and either did not remember or didn’t want to let on that she was. This seemed a reasonable theory, and was the one that I clung to for much of the season as I hotly anticipated the airing of the Christmas special.
Boy was I wrong.
Because they threw her off a tall object and killed her.
The beginning of the episode, of course, gave no indication of the darkness that was to lay ahead. We got a brief glimpse of “Clara” — apparently Oswin’s full name — fulfilling her duties as a barmaid by day and the governess “Miss Montague” at night.
In this episode, we got to see even more of the brilliant, charming, somewhat irritating personality that is Oswin, and I have to say, I liked her a lot. She’s charming, intelligent, and has a wit and strength all her own, unlike a lot of the other companions. She also shows intelligence near to or even greater than the doctor’s — no “What is it, Doctor?” to be seen here — and that’s something I have to appreciate coming from the writers.
The one thing I did not like is the way in which she instantly seems to have fallen for him, because one of my favorite aspects of the Amy-Rory-Doctor trio was the lack of sexual tension that evened out once Amy and Rory had been married. Granted, this isn’t the first time this has happened (See: season five, when Amy tries to seduce the Doctor), but at the time Pond wasn’t exactly thinking straight.
All of this culminated in Clara being chucked unceremoniously off a cloud by a furious ice-woman. Of course, I was pissed, and most of the fan base was too (if my Facebook page can be seen as a representative sample of the Doctor Who crowd). We already watched two companions tumble off a building to their sort-of-deaths in the mid-season finale, “The Angels Take Manhattan,” and I wasn’t sure I was quite ready to experience the exact same scenario all over again. Of course, the writers redeemed themselves about two and a half minutes later with the conclusion of the episode, in which an adult Clara is seen staring at the gravestone of her doppelganger, sometime in the apparent 21st century.
Of course, what is to be made of this remains to be seen, but it’s fascinating stuff. And I do hope that Clara Oswin Oswald doesn’t don the crown of “shortest-lived companion ever,” because I quite like her. I can’t wait until next episode, when I can see what develops of the mysterious girl with three different timelines.