Going into Saturday night’s “Doctor Who” episode “Face the Raven,” the news was already out there: This would be the last installment for Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald. The question was just how the character was going to go.
This is a show that has never pretended that it is about happy endings, so we cannot say we are that surprised with the way in which things wrapped up Sunday, with Clara sacrificing herself for what she felt was the good of The Doctor, and in turn the good of the world. She faced the raven so no one else did, but in some ways, we feel like this was something she felt like she was waiting for eventually. Without Danny Pink or without another motive, she’s been running, seeking adventure, and throwing herself into dangerous situations. She wasn’t asking to die, but she was aware that it could happen and if it did, she would have to accept it.
The most powerful moment came near the end, as Coleman brilliantly gave a monologue to The Doctor about how he was not to seek revenge over what happened. He was to accept her fate, and not become the fearsome version of himself that he once was.
Was Clara’s exit powerful? Sure, but it also was a little more anticlimactic than we imagined that it would be. We would’ve rather it came during the finale, or in an episode that focused more on her and The Doctor rather than other characters like Rigsy or Maisie Williams’ Ashildr, who clearly still seems to have questionable motives judging from the mystery at the end of the episode and the Doctor’s rage towards her. We also wish Clara’s death was done in a little bit of a different way than a raven charging at her stomach. This was powerful, but no David Tennant regeneration into Matt Smith or anything. (We just get choked up thinking about it.)
Farewell, Jenna Coleman. This episode was strong, powerful, and emotional, but probably a step below the very best that the series has given to us. This is a season that has at this point developed a reputation for being very good, but we’re still waiting for something to truly blow us away in the way that “Listen,” the best episode of the Peter Capaldi era, did. Grade: B+.