Steven Moffat, once lauded for his near-iconic monsters (“Are you my mummy?” The Weeping Angels, and “Who turned off the lights?” all come to mind) now takes the brunt of quite a lot of criticism. Perhaps one-offs like “Blink” and two-episode continuations like “Silence in the Library”/”The Forest of the Dead” were more in his wheelhouse, because it’s become increasingly clear that season-spanning arcs and show mythology are not.
Another widely conceived weakness? His women. When River Song first came onto the fold, people huzzah-ed for her general badassery. Amy got a similar warm welcome – but after a spell, we began to realize a trend: his women are defined by their mystery (there’s something to be said about the male gaze here, but I’m not smart enough to do so). With Amy (AKA “The Girl Who Waited”), it was her wedding and pregnancy, and with Clara (“The Impossible Girl” – another problematic moniker) it was her reincarnations scattered throughout time and space.
The mystery surrounding her existence was solved a couple episodes ago in “The Name of the Doctor,” where we learn that she exists solely to save the Doctor time and time again, in infinite scenarios. Hrmph. I mean, the Doctor is great and all, but really? Really?
But with that out of the way, her character might be able to do more than serve as an enigma for Eleven: already in “The Day of the Doctor” and “The Time of the Doctor” we’ve seen her getting a little more play. Jenna Coleman does nicely with what she gets (I thought she was especially good in her final scenes with Matt Smith in the Christmas special), and here’s hoping we get to see Clara grow beyond her “Impossible Girl” status. It’ll be especially exciting to see how her relationship with the Doctor adjusts – will they remain an almost-couple with a creepy age gap (a la Rose and Nine), or will she stop “fancying” him?
It may be months away, but we can’t wait for season 8, problematic female characterization and all.