Doctor Who: The Rings of Akhaten

Another week, another Doctor Who episode 🙂 Felt pretty epic this week, especially for just the “first trip” for the new companion. Of course, this is her fourth episode, so perhaps that’s part of it.

SPOILERS AHEAD! Hover mouse over text to read, or read on entry page:

I also liked the call backs to previous (New Who) companions second stories – Rose & Nine silhouetted against the exploding sun, Amy & Eleven finding a little crying girl and that hooking them into the story (the Space Whale one). So I had to look up some other companions second stories – Donna’s second (er, if you don’t count her Xmas special appearance) was the Fires of Pompeii, and I did think the market place was reminiscent of the start of that episode and there’s the priestesses in red with their god. But unfortunately Martha’s second episode was the Shakespeare one, rather than Gridlock (with the singing). Oh well. Lots of resonance with early trips with companions anyway. I think that’s part of what made it feel epic, it gave it a feeling of being part of something bigger without hitting you over the head with it.

I thought they did a good job at keeping Clara’s characterisation right there in front of you in a natural seeming way – she doesn’t walk away from people, not her new friend, not her prior obligations (witness going home at the end of the trip). I hope when she eventually stays on the TARDIS it’s because she takes care of those obligations, rather than an accident (a la so many Old Who companions).

On that note, is the “came here with my Granddaughter” bit referring to an actual story or is it just a reference? Doesn’t much matter which it is, tho. I’m just curious about it.

Back to Clara – also we saw the personality traits that are why she’s looking after her “friends of the family”‘s kids and why she was a nanny in Victorian times. Her response to the scared girl felt like someone who likes kids and knows how to deal with kids, and who can’t pass a child in distress by.

Those scenes also tied into the larger theme of the episode – which is a cliché really, but still a good one: True courage is being scared and doing it anyway. Or maybe it’s that everyone’s scared and at a loss for what to do sometimes, but the Right Thing To Do is to try your best anyway.

Some things that drew our attention to the season arc (in more subtle ways than the opening sequence) – the Doctor explaining to Merry how she’s unique and special (just like everyone else). But of course, there’s 3 Claras so far (or are the two we saw first later in her timeline – I don’t know that we’ve seen enough during those episodes to believe that it’s not someone who already knows the Doctor but knows he doesn’t know her). Also, we had that bit where Clara was trying to take Merry to the TARDIS to hide. I heard it one way (“I don’t think she likes me”), J heard it another (“I don’t think he likes me”) but either way the scene drew our attention to the fact that this Clara doesn’t have a TARDIS key – the Doctor doesn’t trust her quite enough yet (unlike the Victorian Clara), coz what on earth is going on here with the three Claras? Like I said, J & I heard it differently – so I was also wondering why the TARDIS didn’t like Clara. Not actually sure who’s right (this week we didn’t have subtitles, last week they were stuck on coz we’d paused live TV and that seems to make our PVR put the subtitles on).

Also of note – lots of dead mothers/mother-type-things. Clara’s mother is dead, she’s nanny to a family whose mother is dead, Victorian-Clara is nanny to a family whose mother AND nanny are dead. Oswin’s mother wasn’t dead – wonder if that’s significant. And Merry was chosen when the last Queen of the Years was dead. Which feeds into me wondering about “Oh my stars!” as an expression – awfully odd, and first Ellie (Clara’s mother) uses it, then Clara herself. And Clara has inherited her mother’s travel book. Not sure where that’s going though. “Oh my stars” is still odd tho. So maybe significant? I liked the leaf/parents/origin story. Tho I was a bit surprised the leaf was “used up” quite so early in the story arc for the season.

And re-reading all of this – I really don’t watch Doctor Who for the plot, do I? 😉