After an up and down Doctor Who series 9, the finale proved Clara’s story may have an ending, but it’s far from over.
I’ve not been quiet about the fact that I loved the Doctor Who series 9 finale. It finally gave us the Clara Oswald we deserved all along, and I was so proud of the show for how they handled Jenna Coleman’s departure. It was one of the more unique, satisfying, and emotional exits for a companion that we’ve seen thus far.
Clara stuck to her guns and wouldn’t let the Doctor change a fixed point in time for her. She was terrified of dying, but she also knew it was necessary in order to keep the universe together. She decided to go back to Galifrey, knowing what her fate would be. But she also decided to go the long way ’round.
Enter Ashildr and a borrowed TARDIS. Maisie Williams has been entrancing as the enigmatic character, portraying her over lifetimes and somehow bringing a different aspect of her personality to the surface each time. When we first met her, she was just a child with so much to learn. In the middle of her story arc, she became arrogant, bitter, and resentful. But by the time the time itself was at an end, she was a more mature an unbiased being than even the Doctor.
What better fodder is there for a Doctor Who spinoff? Currently in the works is a different Doctor Who spinoff titled Class. I’ll reserve judgment for the actual airing of the show, but so far I’m not excited. Many fans were down with the idea of Missy having her own TV show, and now BBC have announced one focused on YA audiences that may not even showcase a Time Lord at all.
The truth is, we know very little about the show at this point in time, but what we do know isn’t striking a chord with me.
You know what did strike a chord? That final image of Ashildr and Clara heading off in the TARDIS. Clara had a mischievous glint in her eye and Ashildr looked excited to live outside the boundaries of her current existence. The promise of adventure and something entirely new got me eager for Doctor Who’s future.
Granted, this Doctor Who spinoff will probably never happen, but think about it for a moment. Two women, neither of which is a Time Lord, taking the TARDIS for a spin across the universe. Where the Doctor has been running from his past, Clara is running from her future. Her time with Ashildr has to end at some point, but how much good can she do and how much adventure can she have in the meantime?
Ashildr, though we only had her for a few episodes, has become a complicated and interesting character in that short amount of time. Her experiences can never equate to the Doctor’s, but they far outweigh Clara’s. She is wise and worldly, and yet there is still so much she doesn’t know or understand.
Where the Doctor always seems to have a solution, Clara and Ashildr would have to fight so much harder to help those they’ve decided to champion. Each one of these women has a complex history coloring their decisions. Ashildr must continue to learn empathy, and Clara must rein in her tendencies to be reckless. They must balance each other out, much like the Doctor and his companion always have.
The story itself would post its own issues they must face. How well can they operate a TARDIS on its own? How will they help those in need without a sonic screwdriver? Will Clara have to avoid the Doctor for the rest of her life? When exactly will her story end, and what will Ashildr do after she is gone?
There is room for grand emotional arcs to be created anew, but also emotional moments driven by the pasts of these characters. What does Clara’s life look like without the Doctor to guide her? Does she have the confidence to do what he does without him? And can Ashildr put aside her fear of all the people in her life dying before her and learn to just enjoy the moment? Will she ever find someone who will stay with her forever?
One of the biggest — and most understandable — complaints about Doctor Who is the fact there’s never been a female Doctor. Most of the women on the show are the Doctor’s companions. Even platonic characters like Donna and strong characters like River are pushed to the sideline, either forced to move on without the Doctor or only cropping up from time to time when it supports the narrative.
There is precedent for such a show focused on a female character and not starring the Doctor. Just look at The Sarah Jane Adventures, which lasted for five seasons. But while Sarah had to stay on Earth to combat alien forces, Ashildr and Clara would be free to explore all of time and space.
I even have the perfect title for such a show: The Lost Adventures of Clara Oswald. Has a bit of a ring to it, doesn’t it?