Monday, November 30, 2015

Post Thanksgiving Post Mortem

Hi there and welcome to I'm So Glad My Suffering Amuses You, the blog most popular among banana slugs. I'm Dave-El and you've got a little something on, to your right...yeah, there you go. 

Today is the Monday after Thanksgiving. Time to get back to work or to school or to electro shock treatments, you know, whatever you have to get through today. 

Despite all the hubbub with the "holiday season" being fully underway, I'm hoping I get back into some kind of groove for the next few weeks. Stuff's been happening in fits and starts both at work and at home, in my professional life and my personal life. I just want to get go in to work every day, put in my 8 hours (perhaps even work 4 or 5 of them), go home and get a few things done and knock out a post every day on this, the most wonderful blog on the internet with the words "glad" and "suffering" in the title that is NOT an S&M site.   

There's a Nutcase Nathan's post from last week that I hope to actually post this week. And once you read it, I may hope that you will forget it. What's Nathan's business this week? It is a service that, sadly, everyone needs in the end.  But that doesn't mean you can't save some money with some INSANELY LOW PRICES!!!

This weekend, the El family ventured forth from the Fortress of Ineptitude to go see Mockingjay Part 2, the end of The Hunger Games movies. It was not quite as sad as I thought it was going to be. I'm gonna write up that experience this week. 

Caught up on some comic books this weekend and this week's comic book post addresses a question that's come up for me in during the current Batman storyline by Snyder and Capullo: when did Bruce Wayne become Tony Stark? 

The upgrades to the Fortress of Ineptitude has so far yielded superior TV and internet. The hours leading up to that upgrade did not go so smooth and I may still write about that. 

One thing I did not do over the past post-Thanksgiving weekend is do any Christmas shopping. Unless one counts purchasing new lights for the Christmas tree. I really have no idea what to give people for Christmas this year so I'm always on the look out for ideas. For example, this post from Twitter. 

Nov 26
I start watching out for deals before Christmas.
Embedded image permalink
10:07 PM - 26 Nov 2015 

Ass fragrance? Why didn't I think of that? No one wants their ass to stink! OK, I know what I'm stuffing the stockings with this year! Merry Christmas to all and to all, your asses won't smell! 

OK, that's all I've got today. Everyone be good to one another and I hope to see you back here tomorrow.  

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Doctor Who Is NEW!: Heaven Sent

Hi there, Whovians! Dave-El here about to put down in words a reflection/recap/review of last night's new Doctor Who episode, Heaven Sent

One word that could best describe this episode is...


Last night's episode was ground breaking in that it starred just one person, Peter Capaldi as the Doctor. Yes, there are a few exceptions (and we'll discuss them shortly), but for all intents and purposes, Capaldi carries this episode solo. How well did that go? And where does the episode's end leave us? We'll look at that and more after the spoiler caution.

And we'll begin in 5...




Heaven Sent
by Steven Moffat  

A badly burned hand pulls a lever then disintegrates as the Doctor appears in a teleporter, all filled with anger and hurt over the death of Clara Oswald. In case anyone is listening, he makes it known that whatever awaits him in this place, he will not be stopped. 

The place in question looks a standard issue castle with flat screen monitors here and there. The Doctor finds himself pursued by an ominous looking veiled creature swarming with flies (guest star #1 who will simply refer to as The Veil), the very image of grim death itself. The Doctor is actually scared of this being and says so which causes the creature and its attendant flies to freeze. It seems the Doctor can hold back death for a little while by making a confession, saying a secret he has never said before.  

The Doctor also works out some of the logic of how this strange place works but the Veil is always there. The Doctor escapes once with a reckless dive out of a window and...

He's back in the TARDIS. Well, not really. Let's steal a page from Sherlock and call it the Doctor's mind palace where he works out the very clever things he does. He patters on really fast, still talking to Clara as his audience even though she's not there. Back to the plummeting Doctor who survives his plunge into the ocean but, wow, that's a lot of skulls down there. Later the Doctor adds one to that collection when a skull he picks up in the castle gets knocked off a turret.  

Another encounter with the Veil is escaped with another confession: the Doctor didn't leave Gallifrey because he was bored. That was a lie. He left because he was scared. 

Other things about where the Doctor is come to light. The stars in the sky do not make sense. He hasn't time travelled yet the position of the stars are about 7,000 years in his future. 

Then there's the word "BIRD" written in the sand. What's up with that? 

Then the Doctor finds the wall made of substance like diamond but way, way much harder. Briefly in the diamond like wall, the word "home" appears. The Veil appears but the Doctor has only one confession he can give to same himself. But it's a secret he can never tell, the secret of the Hybrid, a terrible legend of the Time Lords. 

Back in the TARDIS/mind palace, the Doctor faces a crisis. He knows what he needs to do but he's tired of doing it. Can't he just lose this one time? But this is when Clara appears (mental image Clara but still...and guest star #2) and tells the Doctor to get off his ass. Or "arse". This is a British TV show. 

So back to the wall where the Doctor starts punching it with his bare hands. And it hurts but he keeps doing it until the Veil overtakes him and kills him. 

So here's the deal with Time Lords. Even when they're hurt so bad that they can't regenerate, Time Lords still take a long time to die. In the condition he's in, the Doctor has about a day and a half to crawl up the steps of the castle tower back to the teleporter room where the system has a pattern of the Doctor's body. Badly burned by the Veil's touch, the Doctor struggles back to the teleporter which he activates using his own electrified body as an energy source. 

A badly burned hand pulls a lever then disintegrates as the Doctor appears in a teleporter, all filled with anger and hurt over the death of Clara Oswald. In case anyone is listening, he makes it known that whatever awaits him in this place, he will not be stopped. 

Yes, this has happened before. And it will keep happening. Each time the Doctor works out how far the stars are out of alignment with his own time line, it's a bit further in the future. Tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of years. The years number into millions and then billions. Over and over, the Doctor goes through the loop, each time dying to bring himself back to life using the teleporter.  

But through all this, something else is happening. Back at the diamond wall part of this cycle, the Doctor keeps punching the wall and through each pass of the cycle, the Doctor gets a little bit farther. After 2+ billion years, the wall finally shatters. 

The Doctor walks through a portal and appears in a desert. On the ground is his confession dial. It appears the castle in the ocean was in the dial the whole time. He sees a small boy (guest star #3) and tells him to go to the city, find someone important and let them know the Doctor is here.      

So the boy runs off towards the gleaming spires of the capital city of Gallifrey. And the Doctor says the Hybrid was never a Time Lord/Dalek combination. "The hybrid," says the Doctor, "is me!" 

Back in the classic series, 4th Doctor Tom Baker got a story without a companion in The Deadly Assassin. And there's an extended sequence in the last two chapters of the 4 part serial where the Doctor is in battle with the Master inside the Time Lord matrix. There are long stretches where Tom Baker has to hold the screen on his own, fighting against surreal threats. And Baker makes it work.  

Heaven Sent repeats this concept with Peter Capaldi who is on screen virtually every step of the way and Capaldi delivers a tour de force performance in the process. Capaldi's 12th Doctor goes through a gamut of emotional states as he brings every skill and resource at this disposal to work out where he is and what he needs to do, not just to survive but to win. 

Still, it helps to have someone to talk to and in the case of the 12th Doctor, that's Clara even though she's not really there. Clara is still his audience to show how clever he is. But the Doctor's facade breaks down when he realizes the loop he's caught in and through it all, Clara is still dead. So that's when Clara turns up on screen with a mental kick in the pants from Ms. Oswald for the Doctor to do what he always does.  

It is very much a surreal episode but once all the pieces fall into place, the story is fairly easy to grasp. 

  • Where are the skulls coming from it it's the Doctor's private hell? Oh, they all belong to the Doctor!
  • Where do the dry clothes come from to replace the wet clothes the Doctor is in when he climbs out of the ocean? Oh, he left them there before. (Of course, one must then wonder if the Doctor was naked for part of his first pass through the loop.) 
  • Why is the Doctor punching a diamond-ish wall with his bare hands? Oh, over time...say, two+ billion years, those blows will bring the wall down. 

Steven Moffat's script, much like last year's Listen, ventures into new territory. It's good to see that after over 10 years writing for Doctor Who, 6 of which he's served as head writer and executive producer, Moffat is still capable of surprising us. 

So the episode ends with the Doctor back on Gallifrey. It also brings back the concept of the Hybrid we heard about in The Witch's Familiar and name checked in other episodes this season. And the episode ends with a particularly dramatic statement from the Doctor: 

"The Hybrid destined to conquer Gallifrey and stand in its me!" 

So what does that mean? We'll find out next week in the finale of Doctor Who Series 9, Hell Bent. And I'll be back here next Sunday to write about it. 

I'll be back with another post tomorrow. Until then, remember to be good to one another.  

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Some Days Are Harder Than Others

Hi there. 

I've got to be honest: sometimes its hard to write this thing every day. Now I don't expect anyone is anxious for me to post something every day and if I don't, their day, nay, their life may be ruined. But posting everyday is something I demand of myself. 

Because sometimes its not all jokes and gags and bad puns. There are times when I can't bring myself to write a word about Doctor Who or comic books. On occasion, I do not feel particularly driven to comment on something in the news.

Yet I make myself post every day because some days are harder than others. Those are the days I need to make myself say...something, anything. 

I've posted here in the past that my mom is old and in declining health. It has been the hope of myself and the rest of the family that she could live out the rest of her days...or better yet, the rest of her years, in the comfort of her own home. For awhile there, it looked like we hit some kind of rhythm in her life where she was managing, if not perfectly well then at least well enough. But time will always catch up to us and this is no exception. My mom is getting worse by bits and pieces, by inches and degrees. Age keeps robbing her of just a little bit more of her mind every day. 

So now it looks like she may have to leave her home. In home health providers would be the best way to go but the various medical programs and insurances she qualifies for do not allow for such options. They will pay for the higher costs of nursing home care but not for the more cost efficient alternative of living at home. While in home care is more cost efficient, unfortunately those costs would have to come out of pocket and that's something that I would have some difficulty sustaining beyond a limited amount of time.   

So that's the crossroads that I and the family who loves her very much find ourselves facing today. Not to worry, I know somehow or another, things will work out and a way will be found to make sure my mom gets the care she needs and the attention she deserves. 

But for today, this weighs heavily on my mind. Tomorrow, I'll get back to the other odd stuff that populates the majority of this blog. But for today, well, some days are harder than others.

Be good to one another.   

Friday, November 27, 2015

A Panthers Thanksgiving

Hi there! Dave-El here with another quick check in with the blog. I didn't have anything ready in advance for the blog on Thanksgiving and I thought I just might break that streak of a new blog post every day for 2015. But with just a few hours to spare, I kept my streak alive by creating unique and insightful post for the ages. 

Pictures of squirrels saying "nuts". 

I know. You're welcome. 

Now I know there are bloggers out there who have a schedule of posting everyday but they don't always do that, missing days, even weeks at a time. Later, however, magically appearing are blog posts going back over all that missed time. I say, that's just not fair. To preserve the sacred trust of being an influential and well respected blogger, I say thee nay to the practice of back dating blog posts.  

I know. You care deeply about that issue too. 

By the way, I wasn't the only one keeping a streak alive yesterday. The Carolina Panthers went down to Texas to give the Dallas Cowboys a whupping and ending Thanksgiving Day with a still unbeaten record, now 11 - 0. 

Interesting thing. OK, it's not interesting but it is a thing. I'm in North Carolina. So were all the other family gathered for Thanksgiving dinner. You would think that living in North Carolina, those assembled to dine on turkey and dressing in the state of North Carolina would be pulling for the professional football team from North Carolina. But no. Except for myself, my wife and daughter, everyone was united in hoping to see the Cowboys rise up and break the Panther's unbeaten record. The thing is, in the South, traditions don't just go away. And many a year before there was ever a Carolina Panthers team, my neck of the woods during my childhood in rural, southern North Carolina was pretty much Dallas Cowboy territory. 

Well, I hate to break it to you....actually, no I don't. The Cowboys suck. They suck with Tony Romo and they suck more without him. Maybe one day they can regain the glory of years gone but not this year. 

Meanwhile, there are those who have been pulling for our woebegone Tarheel State NFL team, not because the Panters were any good. God, no! The Panthers were better know for setting records for losing. It's been a long, long road of rotating coaches and quarterbacks. After a few years of getting a little bit better every season, this is the year its coming together. Although did anyone expect we add the words "unbeaten" in front of "Carolina Panthers"? Hell, no! But there it is and we need to ride this sucker as long as the ride will last, whether the ride deposits us safely on the other side of a record breaking season with a Super Bowl championship or the rides plummets towards the ground and crashes and burns with a first playoff game blow out. Yeah, let's ride this sucker and enjoy it for as long as we can.  

Anyway, I have a half-dozen things to do for Friday. Or Black Friday, if you will but I won't. Whatever deal you think you can sucker me, my desire to minimize human contact as much as possible is greater than any desire to save $25 on a new TV.  

So that's it for the blog post today. Something new tomorrow and the day after that is the weekly Doctor Who wrap up following Saturday night's new episode.

Until next time, remember to be good to one another, especially if you're out there in that frenzied mob of consumerism run amuck. 


Thursday, November 26, 2015

And Now...A Special Thanksgiving Message

And now, a special Thanksgiving Day message...

...from squirrels.

Squirrels, what are you thankful for?

And this has been a special Thanksgiving Day message from squirrels. 

I'm Dave-El and I'm so glad my suffering amuses you.

Another post coming up tomorrow. Until then, be good to one another. 

And don't forget....

Wednesday, November 25, 2015


Hi. There.

OK, that lacked energy. C'mon, let's get this blog post started right. Say "Hi there" with enthusiasm! 

Hi there with enthusiasm. 

And when you're being a smart ass to yourself, you know you're in a weird place. 

Dave-El here and we're a day away from Thanksgiving or perhaps you know it as "Practice Christmas" or "Holiday Dress Rehearsal". You know, work out the kinks of dining and communing with family and friends before we get too deep into December. 

Anyway, I've been real busy at my real job and I've got a trip to my mom's house to get ready for so the blog isn't particularly clever today.

In other words, it's a normal day. 

If you're struggling to get through this time of year with most of your marbles gathered in your skull, perhaps I should turn your attention to someone who is more pathetic than you, Jon Arbuckle from Garfield. But how much more pathetic can Jon be when he lives is a world without Garfield? 

Let's find out. 

Well, at least we end on a happy note. 

Jon has ice. Yay.  

Google Garfield Without Garfield for more surreal examples of Jon's life without his lasagna eating cat. 

And I'll be back here tomorrow with another post, hopefully with a bit more content from me. If not, I might be forced to post random pictures of squirrels. 

Until then, remember to be good to one another.  

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Greatest Superman Story Never Told?

As I’ve written here before, the super hero I followed closely early in my comic book reading days and later for a big chunk of my adult life was Superman. While my original captivation with the Man of Steel was the iconic costume and the cool super powers, it was the concept of Clark Kent that intrigued me most, the mild mannered man no one suspects of hiding a most extraordinary secret. When I was young and felt like an outcast, Clark Kent was as much my hero as Superman. 

After moving away from Superman for a few years, I returned to the character when John Byrne stepped in to relaunch the character and I stayed for nearly 20 years after that. The heyday of that time came under the stewardship of editor Mike Carlin with 4 interlinked monthly titles building story arc narratives and one of the most impressive supporting casts in comics. The mythology of Superman was being rebuilt piece by piece, classic elements of the Silver Age being restored with a modern twist.

I would say I drifted away from Superman about 5 or 6 years ago but in many ways, I felt like I was being pushed. The so-called “New 52” Superman did nothing to reverse that although I did following Grant Morrison’s run on Action Comics. 

As Superman struggled for a direction in the comics, there were similar conflicts on what to do with Superman as a film star.

The first two Superman movies are considered in their own ways as classics and Christopher Reeve was perfect casting as Clark Kent and Superman. But while Reeve continued to enchant as the Man of Steel and his mild mannered alter ego, the next two films suffered from diminished quality of writing and special effects. The Superrman movie franchise went from distinguished achievements in film to little more than life action cartoons.

In 1989, along came Batman. Directed by Tim Burton, it was a revelation to what a comic book super hero movie could be. It also scored a gazillion dollars so naturally not only would sequels be on the way but perhaps other comic book super hero movies. Perhaps Superman could soar once more on the silver screen?

So Tim Burton was handed the keys to the Superman franchise with Nicolas Cage on board as Kal-El, AKA Clark Kent, AKA Superman. And if Cage seems an odd casting choice for the Man of Steel, so too was casting Michal Keaton as Batman. Still, Nic Cage as Superman? Tim Burton directing? Who could imagine such a thing?

Apparently a lot of people did and we get to hear what they have to say about Superman Lives, the years in the making and ultimately doomed production in the form of a documentary called The Death of Superman Lives: What Happened? I’ve been meaning to see this for some time and had an opportunity to do so when I stumbled across it on Showtime this past Sunday.

Superman Lives began as a screenplay from filmmaker and occasional comic book writer Kevin Smith. A balls to wall fangasm of Superman’s comic book mythology brought to life on the big screen, Kevin’s script included Lex Luthor, Braniac, Batman and other heroes of the Justice League with the central conflict of the movie: Superman vs. Doomsday. Superman defeats Doomsday at the cost of his own life. But Superman comes back from the dead thanks to Kryptonian super science just in time to stop another menace to the Earth. When asked to suggest a director for Superman Lives, Kevin Smith suggested Tim Burton. Whether or not Smith had any influence on getting Burton on board, it did have the ironic consequence of removing Kevin Smith from the project. Seems Tim Burton didn’t care for the screenplay.

And from there the dramas behind the scenes continued. Burton brought in screenwriter and frequent collaborator Henry Strick  for another pass at the screenplay only to have to fire Strick due to pressure from the powers that be at Warner Brothers. And a third writer was brought on board. Despite the revolving door at the scriptwriter position, Superman Lives continued forward in fits and starts. Concept art, costume designs, storyboards were being drafted with strange new visions of Krypton, alien creatures, Superman’s foes and of Superman himself. It was all wild and wonderful, weird but enticing. Executive producer Jon Peters noted that Superman Lives would’ve been laughed off the screen or it would’ve been the biggest thing ever", there was no middle ground. 

But Warner Bros. remained nervous about this production. Yes, Tim Burton struck box office gold with Batman in 1989 but almost tarnished that gold with Batman Returns which looked more like a Tim Burton film than the first one but was less commercial. Yes, Michael Keaton had been an unconventional choice to play Batman but maybe Nicolas Cage was too out there. Meanwhile, Batman Forever restored Batman as a premium moneymaker under the guidance of the more mainstream director Joel Schumacher and the more conventionally handsome Val Kilmer as Batman.

Perhaps Warner Bros. could’ve toughed out their  bad case of nerves and let Tim Burton do his thing if not for all the bombs. A string of movies with high profile releases backed by massive budgets crashed and burned. Among the bombs Warner Bros. was reeling from included Batman and Robin. Yep, the super hero who had started it all back in 1989 brought it screeching to a halt a decade later. Warner Bros. was already nervous about Tim Burton and Nicolas Cage; now they were skittish of the whole super hero film genre.  

So the plug was pulled and Superman Lives lived no more. 

Watching the documentary, I was struck by the level of creativity and talent that went into developing the movie we never got to see. Would Superman Lives have succeeded if could’ve moved forward? Or did the studio execs at Warner dodge a very expensive bullet? It’s hard to tell. Sometimes the public embraces creative risks and sometimes it doesn’t. Still, loved or hated, Superman Lives would’ve been different, unique.

Instead when the Man of Steel did soar once more on our movie screens, it was the decidedly tepid Superman Returns. Bryan Singer who had successfully brought the X-Men to the big screen did not chart a new path with his next super hero project. Instead, he paid homage to the first Superman movies, staging Superman Returns as a defacto sequel to Superman II. Despite some strong performances from Kevin Spacey as Lex Luthor and the underrated Brandon Routh, Superman Returns gave us more of what we had seen before. Man of Steel from two years ago gave us a distinctive vision of the Superman mythos but one that was distressingly short on joy and wonder.  (Yes, I did describe Man of Steel as the best Superman movie to date here and here, but honestly people, that’s a really low bar to jump over.) Henry Cavill was perfect to play the Man of Steel; perhaps a bit too perfect.

Oh, what kind of offbeat path would Tim Burton and Nicolas Cage had taken Superman? Thanks to The Death of Superman Lives: What Happened?, we have a glimpse at what might’ve been. If Superman Lives had made to the screen, whether as a success or a failure, the results would’ve still been amazing. 

Thanks for popping by.  A new post is coming up on the blog tomorrow. Until then, remember to be good to one another.


I’m So Glad My Suffering Amuses You

Superman Lives would be director Tim Burton and Nicolas Cage during a costume test.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Doctor Who Is NEW!: Face the Raven

Hi there and welcome to I'm So Glad My Suffering Amuses You, the blog with an infinite capacity for goofiness and a very, very finite brain. I'm Dave-El and don't mess with me, I'm still emotionally fragile. 

So Saturday was the long awaited premier of the new Doctor Who episode, Face the Raven, an episode that reportedly would see the exit of companion Clara Oswald and not in a good way. So what happened? How did it go down? Will you need to put your therapist on overtime? 

We'll find out after the spoiler caution.

And we get underway in 5...




Face the Raven 

by Sarah Dollard

We have another episode open with the Doctor and Clara at the tail end of another adventure that sounds like it was ever so much fun. The TARDIS phone rings and it's Rigsy; we met him last year in Flatline. Rigsy has a tattoo on the back of his neck. And its counting down. Rigsy has no idea how it got there but assumes that whatever its counting down towards isn't going to very nice. The Doctor and Clara pick up Rigsy (who since last year has a wife and daughter now) to get to the bottom of this mystery. 

The Doctor determines that Rigsy's been near some alien stuff which is likely the source of the memory loss and the tattoo. The Doctor has heard told of a community of aliens in London, hiding in plain sight. Clara's dangling over the edge of the TARDIS doorway and laughing way too much at her dangerous predicament, scanning the city below with the Doctor's sonic sunglasses, looking for things that Clara cannot see. Finding some distortion hot spots from the scan, the TARDIS lands and our crew begins searching for the place you cannot see. With a little luck, the Doctor, Clara and Rigsy find Diagon Alley.  OK, it's Doctor Who alien equivalent. 

The residents here are all aliens in human disguise and they are not happy to see the return of Rigsy, the murderer. 

Wait! The who what now? Thankfully an old...acquaintance pops up to tell everybody what's up, the Mayor. Specifically, Mayor Me. 

Yep, Ashildr is back and she maintain peace and order with a dark force known as a Quantum Shade that manifests itself as a raven and brings death to those marked for it by a Chronolock, the tattoo on the back of the neck. We see an example of it in action and it isn't pretty. Rigsy was condemned to die for the murder of an alien on some very flimsy circumstantial evidence. It's clear that Rigsy is a scapegoat, being led to the slaughter to preserve peace. 

While the Doctor is gathering information to save Rigsy's life, Clara makes a proposal to Rigsy to have him pass the Chronolock to her. It was established earlier this is a thing that can be done. Rigsy says no but Clara points out that Rigsy has a wife and child and besides, Ashildr had promised the Doctor no harm would come to Clara. It's a win-win situation. Reluctantly Rigsy agrees. 

But things are not what they seem. The murdered alien is decidedly not murdered, but held in suspended animation. The Doctor can save her but only by unlocking a certain device, the key for which is his TARDIS key. Yes, it's a trap. As the Doctor frees the alien woman, the device slaps a cuff around the Doctor's arm. 

Ashildr enters and explains that powers above her who help keep the community safe and protected have asked for the Doctor in return. The cuff around the Doctor's arm is a teleport. Condemning Rigsy to die was merely the mystery to entice the Doctor into coming to this street. She has no intention of Rigsy dying and, as was revealed earlier, Ashildr can stop the countdown from taking Rigsy's life.

Except Rigsy doesn't have the Chronolock. Clara does. 

Ooh boy. 

Ashildr can't help her. When Clara took the mark from Rigsy, she invalidated Ashildr's contract with the Quantum Shade. Ashildr can only stop the clock for the person she has condemned. 

Rigsy can't help her. He can't take the mark back.  

The Doctor can't help her. He tries by threatening to unleash Time Lord hell on Ashildr and her community. 

But Clara will have nothing of that. She made her choice and now there's a consequence the Doctor cannot save her from. She has to accept that. But Clara makes it clear to the Doctor: even when she dies, the Doctor is not to take revenge. He is not to be a warrior. He needs to be a Doctor. 

So Clara Oswald walks out into the street to face the raven. 

And she dies. 

And the Doctor is teleported who knows where. 


To be continued.  


Even as you know its coming, even as you figure that Steven Moffat has a long range twist to undo all of this, watching Clara die is still one of the hardest things to watch that I've ever seen on Doctor Who.  

But we've been coming to this moment for awhile now, haven't we? Clara's increased risk taking and the Doctor's concerns over that have been at the forefront of this season so far. Clara either saves herself or the Doctor figures out how to save her. Time, ingenuity, luck: one or all would run out. 

In Face the Raven, Clara faces a fate that cannot be out-run or out-talked. It's a fate that she brings on herself when she takes on Rigsy's death sentence. She sees the maneuver as Doctor Strategy 101: using the enemy's assets against them. 

Clara once more is playing the role of the Doctor, invoking his boldness and cleverness. But the Doctor is a 2,000 year old Time Lord and she is not. Clara's role of being like the Doctor even carries to the moment of her death. As the raven strikes her, Clara spreads her arms out  as she tilts her head back, her mouth open wide in a scream. We've seen that pose before when the 9th Doctor became the 10th and the 10th changed to the 11th. It is a basic regenerating Time Lord pose. But there is no golden energy cascading out of her. No, only the dark cloud of death escapes her lips, an after effect of the raven's curse. Clara Oswald falls rumpled to the ground. 

Jenna Coleman acts the hell out of these scenes, showing just how much she will be missed from this show. And once more Peter Capaldi brings his A-game, especially with his angry threats against Ashildr and his heartbreaking anguish of watching Clara go off to die. 

A few more points to cover. 

  • I think I'm done with Ashildr. Like Clara, she's trying be like the Doctor, playing a long game of strategy to help keep the alien community alive and living in peace. But once more, we see Ahild brought low by forces beyond her comprehension. As she points out again this episode, she has an infinite lifespan but a finite mind. It's an interesting conceit but one that I've gotten a bit tired of. Maisie Williams is an amazing actress but I think Ashildr's story should end when Series 9 reaches its conclusion. 
  • Talking to Rigsy, Clara reveals that "Jane Austen was a great kisser". Make of that what you will. 
  • The Confession Dial from episodes 1 and 2 makes an appearance. (Kind of important to whoever Ashildr is working for.)  
  • Torchwood gets a shout out with reference to the drug RetCon. It was a drug used by Torchwood to preserve the secrecy of their organization. 
  • After complaints from certain quarters about the lack of female writers on the show, this is season has produced two strong scripts from two women new to Doctor Who. Sarah Dollard provides a very powerful story and hopefully will take another shot at writing for Doctor Who in the future. 

Next week will be an interesting experience. The Doctor will be well and truly alone as Peter Capaldi literally flies solo. (I think the voice of another character may be heard but it's just Capaldi on screen.) Given the intensity that Capaldi has brought to the screen this season as the Doctor, particularly in The Zygon Inversion and Face the Raven, Peter is definitely playing the Doctor at an even higher level that last year. If anyone can carry an episode sans any guest star, it would be Peter Capaldi. 

But after that? I assume that by Episode 12, the forces that have exiled the Doctor will be revealed and the Doctor will move heaven and Earth to stop them, particularly if...

Clara Oswald isn't really dead! 

OK, I don't know nothin' other than my instincts honed from years of following comic books and science fiction. And they tell me this story isn't over for Clara yet. But where will this go from here? I have to admit that Clara's death in Face the Raven feels different, like there was a real sense of finality to it. But consider that Steven Moffat didn't write the episode, Sarah Dollard did. Would Steven forego writing the end of his creation to another writer? Something is at work here. 

Maybe the Quantum Shade is not as fatal as we believe. 

  • Perhaps the victim is only in a death like state. 
  • Perhaps the victim is swapped out with a lifeless copy of their body. 
  • Or perhaps the body is dead but the person's consciousness is transported elsewhere.   

Maybe the Quantum Shade is as deadly as we think but Clara's unique nature as a time traveller comes into play. 

Or one of the echoes of her that were created back in The Name of the Doctor come into play. 

On that last point, I will dare say that if nothing else happens, the Doctor will see one of those somewhere in episode 12, just to twist the knife just one more time in his two breaking hearts. 

Whatever happens next, we're in uncertain territory and Moffat better have ready one hell of a twist.


Another new blog post coming up tomorrow. Hopefully, the next Doctor Who review/recap of next Saturday's new episode will appear on this blog next Sunday.  

Until then, remember to be good to one another.  

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