Doctor Who season 9 is over, and so is Clara’s time traveling with the Doctor. Let’s look back at our favorite Clara episodes.
Clara definitely had an interesting journey in the TARDIS. She was the longest serving companion in reboot Doctor Who history. Her trip in the TARDIS was a rocky one, filled with heartache and self-discovery. All-in-all, there were some truly fine moments.
The Hypable staff, who are Whovians, have picked out their favorite Clara episodes as a tribute to Jenna Coleman.
‘Asylum of the Daleks’ by Marama Whyte
Favorite Clara Quote: “Run, you clever boy, and remember…”
Favorite Clara Scene: Her heartbreaking realization in the final scene.
Oh, Soufflé Girl, it started out so promisingly.
Sometimes companions arrive with a bang, à la Donna Noble, and sometimes it’s more of a whimper, like the poor under-appreciated Martha Jones. And then sometimes we meet them in such spectacular fashion that nothing else they do can ever trump their introduction.
Clara’s Doctor Who arc has been ridiculous and, in my opinion, completely unwatchable, for several seasons now. But she didn’t start out that way.
In rewatching “Asylum of the Daleks” to write this summary, I discovered that I had forgotten how much time it dedicated to Amy and Rory’s relationship. The Soufflé girl had made such an impression that when I think back on the season 7 opener, she is all that I see. Clara (or Oswin, as she appears in this episode), was never better than this. How could she be? She was a genius — as clever and quick as the Doctor — with the quirky, off-beat personality that made you smile just watching her. Her chemistry with Matt Smith was utterly palpable and somehow refreshing, despite the two of them not appearing in a single scene together.
It helped that the episode itself was a ripper, with the classic Doctor Who villains, lots of running, twist and turns of the plot, and the curve ball that left you reeling (with enough clues to make you smack your forehead at your own stupidity). At the time it aired, Jenna Coleman’s performance was so astounding because we had no idea she was appearing in this episode. After rewatching, her acting stands up just as well. Her infectious personality reminds you that after Amy and Rory leave, it won’t be the end of the world if Clara is around. And her slow realization that she has become a Dalek still broke my heart.
In “Asylum of the Daleks” we saw peak Clara. Unfortunately, we never quite got her back again, but I am thankful to have made her acquaintance all the same.
‘The Snowmen’ by Laura Byrne-Cristiano
Favorite Clara Quote: “It’s smaller on the outside.”
Favorite Clara Scene: The very first scene where Clara chases down the Doctor, and lands on his carriage upside-down, and proceeds to ask the classic, “Doctor who?”
Sometimes you have to warm up to a companion, other times it’s a bit of love at first sight. In this case it was love at second sight. In “Asylum of the Daleks” Jenna Coleman had the advantage of no one knowing she was in the episode. Our jaws were dropped for a solid ten minutes while we played catch-up. She was the non-companion/companion of the episode. After such a rousing entrance, there was a lot for Clara to live up to in her official debut episode, which was the Doctor Who Christmas Special no less. Thankfully, she did not disappoint.
Clara was the mystery girl, the impossible girl, or maybe jut the girl who got the Eleventh Doctor out of his post Amy and Rory depression. She was smart, funny, and not inclined to take anything at face value. She also proved right away that she could do a historical Doctor Who episode equally as well as she had done a modern, outer-space one. She not only had chemistry with the Doctor, but she also held her ground with Strax, Vastra, and Jenny.
By the end of the episode, our new companion was dying. We were crying right along with the Doctor because we had grown attached to Clara, quite a feat in the Doctor Who Christmas Special when there is so much else going on. When Clara enigmatically popped her eyes open on her deathbed and said, for the second time, “Run you clever boy, and remember!” We were hooked. We wanted to solve the mystery and see more of Clara.
‘The Zygon Inversion’ by Karen Rought
Favorite Clara Quote: “I’m awake.”
Favorite Clara Scene: Her showdown with the Doctor and Kate
My love for Clara has been waxing and waning for some time now, but “The Zygon Inversion” not only made me appreciate Clara, but Jenna Coleman’s acting ability, as well. As interesting as Clara has been in theory, her story has been somewhat convoluted. Stagnant in some episodes and borderline ridiculous in others, this was the first time I’ve felt she was master of her own destiny.
Having been captured and stuffed (unceremoniously, I’m sure) into a pod, Clara not only found a way to control Bonnie at times, but keep her preoccupied long enough for the Doctor to catch up. Clara didn’t have the opportunity to outrun her enemy; instead, she had to out-think her. Lying wasn’t an option, so Clara had to use the truth to her advantage.
Jenna Coleman’s ability to play a version of Clara who is the complete opposite of the Doctor’s companion was fascinating to watch. She was unemotional and ruthless, on top of still being intelligent and snarky. It was a powerful version of Clara that I found I enjoyed more than I would have thought, and it gave a certain dynamic to the character and the actress that I hadn’t realized I had wanted. While I am looking forward to the Doctor’s next companion, Clara will always be a significant mark on his history, and this episode in particular showed me why.
‘Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS’ by Kristen Kranz
Favorite Clara Quote: “Good guys do not have zombie creatures. Rule one, basic storytelling.”
Favorite Clara Scene: The Doctor and Clara confrontation while standing on the cliff in the “snarl.”
Clara’s days with Eleven may not have lasted long, but they were most definitely memorable. “Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS” starts with Clara and the Eleventh Doctor talking about how she unwittingly insulted the TARDIS, and despite his insistence, she refuses to talk to it. The TARDIS is nothing more than a machine to Clara, that is until the ship is accidentally hauled in for scrap by some salvagers, and Clara is trapped inside.
While the Doctor runs around with the salvagers trying to get them to save Clara, and in turn to save the ship, Clara explores the TARDIS. She wanders and runs through room after room while trying to escape a mysterious creature that’s chasing her. We see the pool, the library, and miscellaneous other rooms full of the Doctor’s tchotchkes from his adventures. Clara’s discoveries while searching the TARDIS for a way out are some of my favorite Clara moments. She even reads from the History of the Time War book where she may have gotten a look at the Doctor’s real name!
Each companion has a unique experience with the TARDIS, as it’s not the type of ship that allows you to keep from bonding with it. This episode was where Clara learned how and why you shouldn’t mess with the TARDIS, as well as exactly what she is capable of. Clara collects bits of these lessons as she runs around on her own, but it isn’t until the Doctor saves her from the ‘zombie creatures’ that the real lessons begin. He leads them through a room with an exploding star, in the midst of which we learn that the zombie creatures that Clara was going on about is just a version of them from the future that burned in that room. Seeing the rip in time and how it affected the events of that day on the ship gave Clara a new perspective of what the TARDIS can do.
Clara may have ended the episode without all of her memories of their adventure in the TARDIS intact, but we got to see firsthand Clara learning more about her role in the Doctor’s life as well as how important her companionship is to him. We all know that Clara goes on to play a huge role in the past and future of the Doctor, but “Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS” is where we start to figure out what Clara’s role truly is.
‘Robots of Sherwood’ by Laura Byrne-Cristiano
Favorite Clara Quote: “When did you stop believing in everything?”
Favorite Clara Scene: When Clara has had enough of the Doctor and Robin Hood bickering and tells them to shut up
Let’s face it, everyone is an uber fan of something. There’s that one thing that makes us super geeky. It’s that one thing, that no matter how many years go by, it’s still with us. Maybe it’s love of Star Wars, maybe it’s devotion to The Backstreet Boys, or maybe it’s a figure of legend like Robin Hood. Clara basically got to live out every superfan’s dream in an ultra-immersive cosplay.
The transition to the Twelfth Doctor wasn’t as smooth as it could have been. Clara’s character that we thought we knew from the Matt Smith years seemed to now be a whole other person. After a season of seeing a moody Doctor and a really fed up Clara, it was a relief to have an episode that wasn’t ultra angsty and moody. Some of the fun had gone out of Doctor Who, and “Robots of Sherwood” brought the fun back.
One of the very best things that we see regularly on Doctor Who is companions who are not afraid to take a stand. The reboot era companions are not likely to sit idly by as the Doctor tackles whatever problems there are. The reboot companions dive right in. In “Robots of Sherwood,” Clara certainly embraced the Robin Hood atmosphere fully, and when it was threatened, she grabbed a pike staff ready to do battle.
Aside from companions not being afraid to take a physical stand, this was the episode where we saw Clara take verbal stand. She had reached her breaking point with being patient with the Doctor’s moodiness, and downright rudeness. She lets loose. When she screams “Shut up!” we are all there right with her. There were a lot of hushes, and shut ups in season 8, but this was the granddaddy of them all. The Doctor knows that Clara’s not going to take his nonsense any longer. There’s no mistaking her patience for weakness. It takes a strong women who is in it for the long haul to listen, understand, and stand up to a very troubled Doctor.