Now thatwas a good episode of Doctor Who. Deliciously creepy, funny, with a few jumps and scares, great character development, and nods to the fact that the Doctor isn't always the fabulous hero he pretends to be.
And, of course, Clara continues to be amazing.
Clara makes an excellent emotional center to the show, while also showing pragmatism, bravery, and a huge sense of fun and adventure. While the Doctor focuses on running around, having fun and solving puzzles, Clara takes the time to talk to the characters of the week and really see what's going on. Once again, the episode passed the Bechdel test with flying colors, as Clara spoke several times with the psychic, Emma -- about the Doctor, and about the professor-esque dude, but also about each other. And the episode made clear that Clara's approach is absolutely necessary. Without thinking about how people feel and really looking at the situation, the Doctor would never have figured out that it was not a horror story but a love story, and we would never have got our happily ever after.
Well, happy ever after for the monsters. Because Clara is seeing, more and more, the disturbing side of the Doctor's character. She was torn up about seeing the whole history of the world, of knowing that she's already a ghost to the Doctor, someone who has already been and gone, who he has picked out of time, but who he already knows will end up in the ground almost as soon as he can blink. And she was even more disturbed, it seems, by the fact that the Doctor didn't seem to be affected by it at all. She brings great emotional depth to the scene, and to her relationship with the Doctor in general... flirty and adorable, but always thinking, always analysing, always challenging him. It seems like this Clara is going to have some choice words to say to him when she finds out that he only sought her out, only brought her with him, because he'd met her before, because he wanted to puzzle her out. It seems like my initial fear that Clara would be a plot point and not a character was unfounded, because even if the Doctor may occasionally treat her like that (especially at the beginning), Clara herself isn't going to stand for that.
Yet it still unsettled me when the Doctor's insisted that Clara was "the only mystery worth solving." It seems like a lot of people have been interpreting the line as "humans" being the only mystery worth solving, but my gut reaction didn't read it that way. It seemed, to me, like he was saying that most of humanity are ghosts, things that pass by almost insignificantly, but that Clara, the woman who he has seen die repeatedly, and who keeps appearing, is beyond that. She's not a ghost, but a mystery, and she needs to be solved. There is something interesting in there, considering the fact that he has lost every one of his companions, and he must be getting rather emotionally drained with it all (the parallel between the monsters separated by dimensions and the Doctor and Rose illustrates that). If he picks up Clara because she was a "mystery," and then grows to appreciate her as a person, then that's a fairly interesting emotional plotline that shows that, as the psychic suggested, the Doctor can be a dangerous, messed up person, but that genuine emotion and connect wins out. As the psychic said, "She's an ordinary girl. Isn't that enough?" Perhaps the arc of this season is the Doctor relearning that yes, that is more than enough.
Of course, I doubt that Steven Moffat is going to allow that arc to continue. It's nowhere near twisty, nonsensical and dramatic enough. But it definitely gives me a lot of hope for the show, when a new writer (perhaps the writer of this episode?) takes the helm in the near future.