TV REVIEW: Doctor Who - Face the Raven


After one of their seemingly never-ending in-between-episode adventures, Clara and the Doctor receive a call on the emergency phone from Rigsy. He's had his memory wiped and there appears to be a tattoo on his neck counting down to something. Naturally, the Doctor and Clara arrive to investigate, finding themselves in an alien refugee camp in the middle of London (part Diagon Alley, part London Below). It's led by the returning Me, now styling herself as Mayor, and she's responsible for Rigsy's tattoo; it's a countdown to his execution for a murder he's not at all sure he committed. 

The idea of consequences has been threaded throughout the series, focused mainly on the Doctor. It's been a neat bit of misdirection because we all knew we should be worried about Clara (knowing Coleman was to leave the series), but we sort of forgot in the grand scheme of things. She's been increasingly reckless since the first episode, something that's been commented on by a lot of people she's met on the way. That she is entirely the engineer of her own downfall feels right for the character; one thing Clara has always been is in control, even when the Zygons tried to take her out. 

Clara's always been quite a divisive companion, even amongst myself and Jen. I've been on board with Coleman's performance from the start, her forthrightness and lack of mooning refreshing after the marital combination of the Ponds. She's also exerted an increasing amount of influence over the Doctor's life from weaving back through his timeline to her role in the Time War itself. I like that her final moments are spent doing exactly the same thing; keeping the Doctor on the right path and making sure he continues caring. Her final moments of accepting responsibility and commanding the Doctor to continue caring rather than avenging her was dignified to the last and beautifully performed by both Jenna Coleman and Peter Capaldi.

The structure of the episode is not as assured as it has been in the leading episodes, perhaps suffering slightly from acting as the build-up to Clara's departure (not helped by Peter Capaldi telling everyone it was going to happen either). The revelation that Me is preparing to send the Doctor somewhere in order to protect the refugee camp gets a little lost amidst those final moments and, given it's the impetus for the episode's events, feels a little clumsy. I did enjoy Capaldi's imposing dress-down of Me though. He's really quite terrifying when he wants to be.

Elsewhere in the episode, there's a lot of nice ideas floating around. After the pertinent Zygon two-parter, having a nod to alien refugees residing in London and not causing any harm was a neat touch. I always like the idea of worlds residing in worlds and trap streets are cool, the kind of places you see without seeing them. The timelessness of the trap street on which most of the action took place also added to the more universal themes of the episode. With its Tudor buildings, apparent gas lighting and assortment of individuals, the Doctor and Clara could really have been anywhere, allowing the focus to remain solely on the characters' actions throughout the episode.

There's an unevenness to Face The Raven that stems from its aim of getting rid of Clara and an event like that was always going to overshadow the proceedings somewhat. But, it was a fitting ending to one of the more influential companions in recent years and I don't know about you lot, but that last shot of the TARDIS painted by Rigsy as a tribute just about finished me off.

- Becky

You can read Becky's review of previous episode, Sleep No More, here.

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