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Saturday, May 18, 2013

Who's That Girl? The Mystery of Clara Oswin Oswald

Doctor Who

And so it's come to this. Trenzalore, the Fall of the Eleventh, and the Question. Tonight the Doctor's biggest secret will be revealed, but that won't be all! We will finally learn the truth behind Season 7's most intriguing (and gorgeous) mystery. Just exactly who is Clara Oswin Oswald? In both "Hide" and "Journey to the Center of the TARDIS" we are told that Clara is just an ordinary girl. But we all know that she's not. She's "The Impossible Girl."

A while back I created a list of all the crazy rumors and theories running around the Internet (yes, believe it or not such things exist!) and this is the result:

Doctor Who
Tremble at my mighty geekery!
And so, let's throw the Clara Theorizer on maximum and see what we come up with:

1. Discounted Theories

Let's just get these out of the way, shall we? I don't believe that Clara is River Song, a Time Lord, Susan Foreman, a future version of the Doctor, the Doctor's "daughter" Jenny, or CAL (despite the return of River Song), or a manifestation of the TARDIS (like Idris in "The Doctor's Wife"). There's just not been enough to support any of those claims.

2. Connections Throughout the Series

Throughout Series 7 there have been certain things about and around Clara that have been present in almost every episode. Let's take a look at some now:

A. Memories

Memories have played a pivotal role in Doctor Who, but there has been a particular emphasis put on them during this current Doctor's run. And in terms of Clara, there is one phrase that particularly comes to mind:

It's even on Victorian Clara's gravestone! You'll notice, that although she's only said it 3 times, she accidentally enters "4" into the code. One of the trailers to tonight's episode has her saying the are we about to see yet another Clara go by the wayside?

Memories have been shown to hold a certain type of power throughout the Eleventh Doctor's tenure. In "The Pandorica Opens", the Doctor tells a Roman Rory (back from a little condition known as "being deleted from time") that "if you remember something, it's never truly gone." And in the next episode (the series 5 finale), "The Big Bang", the Doctor pilots the Pandorica into the heart of the exploding TARDIS, thereby resetting time, but erasing himself from history. However, at her wedding to Rory, Amy knows something (or someone) is missing. And then she remembers "something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue."

And, of course, the main villains of Season 6 were "The Silence", a religious order dedicated to stopping the Doctor from reaching Trenzalore, answering the Question, and fulfilling the prophecy that "Silence Will Fall". They are represented mostly by aliens who, when you look away from them, you forget who they are.

Because who wouldn't want to forget that face?
I'll explore their connection to Clara and tonight's finale a little later. In the recent Christmas special "The Snowmen", Clara and the Doctor face off against the Great Intelligence and "snow that can remember" and in "The Rings of Akhaten", it is memories that the parasite planet feeds off of, and what kills it is Clara's leaf, which represents all the possibilities of what could have been for her parents. And, ever since the end of Series 6, the Doctor has sought to erase himself from the memory of the universe (because he's gotten "too big"). In "Asylum", Oswin erases the Daleks' memories of their oldest enemy, in "Nightmare in Silver", the Cyber-Planner can't find any trace of the Doctor in the records of the Cyberiad.

So, considering how powerful memories are, and that might be multiplied for a Time Lord, could it be that all the Doctor has to do is remember Clara and she will reappear back into his life? This, of course, syncs up nicely with the next inter-series connection:

B. Nanogenes

Doctor Who
Ooh, Tingly.
Nanogenes have appeared multiple times in Doctor Who. During the Ninth Doctor episodes "The Empty Child" and "The Doctor Dances", nanogenes heal Rose Tyler aboard Captain Jack's ship, and repair injured humans in the image of a lost little boy wearing a gas mask. But, they also are present in the Series 7 opener, "Aslyum of the Daleks" (in which, you might remember, we first meet Oswin Oswald). When Rory, Amy, and the Doctor are sent down to the Daleks' prison planet, they have to wear special bands so that the nanogenes won't turn them into Dalek clones. But, in order to save Amy, the Doctor gives up his band. Could it be that the nanogenes stayed with the Doctor (and/or Clara) and allowed her to be reconstructed throughout time so long as he remembered her?

C. Clouds
Doctor Who
Her bag is also bigger on the inside. Time Lady?
It may be just a way to string together the Clara's, but did anyone notice that in "Asylum" we had the nanocloud, in "The Snowmen" Clara found that the TARDIS was parked on a cloud, and in "The Bells of St. John" Clara was uploaded "to the cloud"?

E. Connections to Rose

Perhaps one of the most pervasive connections to the Clara's throughout Series 7 has been the appearance of roses....and the reference to one of the Doctor's most beloved companions. When Oswin assists the Doctor in defeating the Daleks, she has a rose in her hair. In "The Snowmen", Clara works at a pub called the "Rose and Crown", and in "The Bells of St. John", the Doctor puts a rose on Clara's bedside table as she rests and recovers.

Doctor Who

But it goes much, much deeper than that. In "The Bells of St. John", Clara says that she was given the number to the TARDIS by the "girl in the shop". Now, this could be a one-off line, but not likely. When we first meet Rose Tyler, she is simply a girl working in a shop in London when the Autons attack her and she first meets the Ninth Doctor. As she says goodbye to the Tenth Doctor in "The End of the World", she tells him that in the parallel world she's found work in a shop. So, could Rose be that girl in that shop?

Speaking of parallel worlds, don't think that it's gone unnoticed that, at the end of "The Rings of Akhaten", when Clara exits the TARDIS she notes that her home looks different. Much like Mickey Smith noted when he and Rose accompanied Ten to a parallel Earth:
"Everything's the same, but a little bit different"
Doctor Who
Something that never changes: How much I hate Mickey Smith
Another interesting connection may have gone unnoticed by fans. At the end of "Asylum of the Daleks" we learn that Oswin Oswald has been turned into a Dalek. What many might forget is that when Nine and Rose faced off against the Dalek Emperor, he revealed that he was able to rebuild the Dalek race by capturing and converting the discarded dregs of humanity. Could that be a connection that Rose has picked up on?

And then there's the beautifully placed reference in "The Cold War". As Clara and Professor Grisenko search for Grand Marshall Skaldak, the Soviet doctor mentions that he likes to sing a song to calm his nerves. His favorite tune at the moment is Duran Duran's smash hit "Hungry Like The Wolf". Rose Tyler became The Bad Wolf to save the Ninth Doctor, did she do so again to save the Eleventh? After all, as the lyric goes

"I'm lost and I'm found...and I'm Hungry like the Wolf!"

3. So then, Who (or What) is She?

At the end of the day I keep coming back to two theories that make the most sense. So, here they are:

A. A Trap Set By The Great Intelligence

That Clara really is great, isn't she? She's brave, smart, witty, beautiful, loyal, and doesn't shy away from a fight. She's the perfect companion....maybe too perfect? The Great Intelligence has been a villain in both "The Snowmen" and "The Bells of St. John" (as well as a serial during the Second Doctor's run). We know from the trailers that we'll see Richard E. Grant reprise his role as Dr. Simeon/The GI. Could he be the leader of the Silence? The cause of the TARDIS exploding in Season 5? And could he, just maybe, be responsible for bringing Clara Oswin Oswald into the Doctor's life again and again? If so, to what nefarious end is he using her to defeat the Doctor?

B. The Bad Wolf

Doctor Who

For all the reasons listed above, it could very well be that Clara wasn't born out of the evil designs of the Great Intelligence, but out of the compassion of Rose Tyler. In "The Parting of Ways", when Rose looks into the heart of the TARDIS, she becomes the omnipotent being known as The Bad Wolf. Scattering messages throughout time, she "created herself" so that when the Doctor needed her the most, she was able to save him. Perhaps, as we head into the 50th anniversary and the return of Rose Tyler (maybe in the parallel world), we will see how the Bad Wolf plays into all of this.

The good news is, we won't have to wait long to find out!

See you after the finale!

- Joe

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