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Finally caught up

After having really no interest in watching DW for the past two weeks (well, new stuff, to be honest), we finally watched "Sleep No More" and "Face the Raven" yesterday. Part of the reason was that we didn't want to have to interrupt watching Jessica Jones to catch up with DW, and I also got spoiled on "Face the Raven" by a very poorly obscured email from a friend, so I needed to get that done.

Spoilers behind the cuts. (My cuts don't seem to be showing the episode titles. First is "Sleep No More", and the second is "Face is the Raven".)

This episode was surprisingly enjoyable. It wasn't great, but it was okay. I had to consciously ignore the stupid monster genesis explanation (no, really, DW, please stop trying to explain your science - it only destroys what little credibility you have).

I've seen people liken the episode to The Blair Witch Project because of the "found footage" camerawork, but as soon as the episode started and Rassmussen started saying, "Don't watch this," the first thing I thought was, "Wow, this sounds like Dead Air!" And then, well, it turns out to be Dead Air. Honestly, Dead Air is far better. That audiobook is proper creepy. Go out and get it now. (If you can get one of those "sign up for audible.com and get your first audiobook free" deals, you can choose it as your free book.) Then, listen to it with all the lights off. It's worth it.

Despite being another episode with a vanilla guest cast, a mindless shambling monster (despite Rassmussen's description of them being a highly intelligent evolving life form), and a main villain who turned out to simply be insane, the actual adventure was interesting. I very much like that the camerawork itself was incorporated into the plot of the episode - I had wondered who exactly was taking the footage, and that was explained.

It was a bit of a transparent plot point to make the selling point of the Morpheus sleep machines that "you'll now have 8 hours more time to work", so that the audience will feel horrified at the new technology and sympathize with Chopra's belief that the technology was evil. I could have done without the Doctor's morality speech about sleep being a blessing and all that, but, I suppose, this Doctor is all about making speeches and being high and mighty, so I guess they had to stick one in somewhere.

I did very much like that in the end, the Doctor basically had to destroy the station and flee without finding out all the answers - he never figured out what the final plan was, and knew that some vital piece in his understanding was missing, that he hadn't quite cleaned up all of the mess. It's nice to see that sometimes, things aren't quite tied up perfectly. (See "Bedtime Stories"...)

Ding! Dong! The witch is dead!

No, actually, I can't pretend to be that excited about it. I am pleased Clara is gone. I don't believe for a moment that she's the only reason I'm not enjoying DW, but she is a big part of it. I do not expect that the writing of this show will improve just because she's left, but at least I can hope that I will like the new companion. However, it's not like I'm celebrating.

I actually don't feel qualified to comment on her last scene, since I was not emotionally invested in it. Perhaps since the Doctor's obsession with her has always rang hollow for me, I really couldn't empathize with him and actually feel his despair. (To be honest, I've never felt that the Doctor was so shallow that he'd get that psychotically obsessed with one single person. Certainly that's a trait of the Moffat Doctors [and he's said as much, that he believes the Doctor is "besotted" with his companions, and that's his word] and it prevented me from feeling sad over his loss of Amy as well, and I like Amy a lot. Yes, Ten was devastated by Rose's loss, but that was a different kind of relationship and he dealt with it and moved on. And no, I don't feel he was that way over my favorite companion, Donna, either; I am very much of the camp that they were best mates, despite how much I enjoy reading their ship fanfics. :) I did feel that the scene and final speech lasted way too long - it felt like a regeneration scene - but that could just be my apathy talking.

One thing I really did like (and this is not sarcastic): I liked that Clara's death was a result of her trying to be tricksy and clever. Not of her being reckless, but of her trying to be the Doctor by formulating a plan but without all of the information she needed to make the plan intelligently. Even though I think that her obsession with trying to be the Doctor was a terrible character option (well, terribly developed and used; the trait itself could have been interesting), I think it was great that it was ultimately her downfall.

One thing I didn't like: Why didn't the Doctor offer to take the mark from her? Of course she wasn't going to give it to him, but he should have at least tried. It would have been fine to me if he'd made the offer and Ashildr had said that due to such-and-such plot device, it can't be transferred to him, but he should have made the offer at least once. What happened to the Doctor that would sacrifice anything to save his companion's life? Nine took the Bad Wolf out of Rose knowing that it would kill him. Five gave the queen bat's milk to Peri even though he didn't know if could regenerate from this death. And there are plenty of instances in which the Doctor has stepped in front of his companion (and other people) as a shield. I'm not happy about this new development in his character.

The rest of the episode? It was pretty good. The main conflict was interesting, and how it turned out that Ashildr had set it all up to trap the Doctor. I would like to see how Ashildr handles a general rebellion in Diagon Alley the Trap Street after the aliens find out that she had faked the murder of one of their most beloved citizens and toyed with them in order to enact a personal plot, but I'm sure that plotline will be dropped and there will be no lasting consequences for her. I'd also love to find out exactly what happened that caused a Cyberman and an Ood to flee their respective collectives as refugees.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 22nd, 2015 05:02 pm (UTC)
Good point about the Doctor not at least asking Clara to take the mark. He's sacrificed himself for his companions before, as you mentioned. Why not this time, even if he knew it wasn't possible? Also about Clara trying to be the Doctor again and, this time, it didn't pay off.

Ashildr setting this whole thing up just to trap the Doctor, and the irony of her trying to protect his companions after they leave him, only to have her actions cause Clara's death (with the irony of her trying to be crafty like the Doctor), was fascinating. I still wonder who it was that she was dealing with, where did she send the Doctor, and why she demanded his confession dial and tricked him into giving up his TARDIS key. I, too, am wondering about the aftermath of her deception; what will this do to the peace?

I guess at least Rigsy will be able to just go home now to his family.
Nov. 23rd, 2015 10:50 pm (UTC)
I laughed when I read your opening line of commentary on Face the Raven. I thought the exact same thing, honestly. Clara is my least favorite companion of the new Who era, I'm glad her time is over.

I thought her demise was actually far too graceful, considering she's the same person who would've destroyed every key to the TARDIS to save her boyfriend. Compared to other companions, Clara's outlook seemed to change very little while traveling with the Doctor, and she always struck me as immature and selfish. I kind of expected her to throw a bit of a tantrum when she realized she screwed herself over. But that's Moffat for you, waiting until he kills a character to change or develop their personality.

I do think this season has been more interesting than 8 was, though.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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