Doctor Who 'Face the Raven' [TV-EPISODE REVIEW]

Moving on to the second female writer in this season of 'Doctor Who', Sarah Dollard makes her debut in an episode that is sure to break several hearts and also get those people to shout "showrunner material!". 'Face The Raven' is shocking, poignant, incredibly heartfelt and so utterly spectacular.

Obviously the main thing people are going to point towards with this episode is the final 10-15 minutes but there is still a story to be invested in here. One that does deserve to be talked about as the ideas are quite inventive. I really liked the idea of the trap streets and how there is one in every city. I hope we get to see more of these in the future but considering the events that takes place in THIS trap street, revisiting this one might be a bit too risky for the Doctor's sanity. Ashildr's return to the show is great though and expected considering they were totally not just going to drop her after where they left ended it in 'The Woman Who Lived'. Maisie Williams' performance is again great, although naturally she does not get as much to work with here as she did in her previous episode but I can definitely say that her character is one of the most interesting we have had in years.

We see the return of Rigsy and while I did initially think (back when he was first announced to be returning) that it was a bit lazy - oh boy was I wrong. It is absolutely essential that he was brought back here instead of getting a whole new character. Near the end when the Doctor is going all Malcolm Tucker on Ashildr (or Mayor Me) you know he is not going to burst out has anger on Rigsy - because he knows him very well at this point. If it was a new character then he would be killed on the spot. We also need a character we already know so we can skip all the character development that is needed so really, bringing Rigsy back was a stroke of genius on their part.

Justin Molotnikov returns after 'Sleep No More' and it is pretty safe to say that he gets a lot more to do here and he certainly flexes some muscles throughout (especially of course near the end). The way the shots are framed, the way the shots are lighted, it is just beautiful to watch and it is perfect for an episode were we are supposed to say goodbye to a leading character. There are a couple of things that I feel could have been executed better but I will never forget that this is still a television show that still does not have the best budget in the world. It is amazing what they are able to accomplish now and the actors just sells it.

If there were things I had to say I disliked... it is mostly tiny things that I feel could have made way for something of more significance. Like making the kid with the two faces a girl disguised as a boy for seemingly no reason (also why are all the other aliens disguised as humans - but her and her mother) and also not even acknowledging their existence after our heroes have saved her mother. My problems are so small though that they barely make an impact on me after the episode has ended as the good stuff are just so good that I do not even remember the things that bothered me during my first viewing.

Now to the final 10-15 minutes. As someone who is not that scared by possibly getting spoiled I was aware that this would be Clara's final episode (I mean Peter Capaldi himself bloody said it on the Graham Norton show). It is in true BBC fashion that they announce when a main character will be leaving the show so of course this is no different as they are simply trying to get more people to tune in. I can imagine though for the people who were not aware of this might just feel like they have been slaughtered by emotions as Jenna Coleman and Peter Capaldi deliver absolutely stunning performances in their final moment together. It is clear that this departure is not just something that breaks the characters' hearts - but the actors playing the characters too. If you have been reading my previous reviews for this show you probably know that I have been mentioning Clara becoming more and more like the Doctor quite a lot ever since 'Flatline' in Series 8 and I am so happy to say that I was more than satisfied with the conclusion to it. In my opinion Clara NEEDED to die in order for this to truly hit home. It was very clear she was changing as a person and the death of Danny Pink last season really was what pushed her over the edge and made her no longer fear her own mortality. In 'Under the Lake' she said she was "fine" and acted like she really had gotten over Danny's death. I did not buy it for a second there and now we know she was lying and also finally accepted that his death had influenced her more than she originally thought. There was no way she was going to get away with what she had become and I am so glad that the writers did not puss out and truly ran with it. Ultimately, it all came down to one silly and almost anti-climactic mistake she made because of how reckless she had become. The whole universe was not at stake and the plot was not even about anything that important or significant in the grand scheme of things. She tried to be the Doctor and it cost her her life. This is the best companion exit of the new series and possibly even the better than the exits in the classic series too. I do find it really fitting too that Rigsy appeared in the story here too as he was a guest character back in the episode that truly started this whole "Clara is becoming the Doctor" arc.

Overall, what can I say. This is a stunningly beautiful conclusion to one of the best and most interesting companions the show has had - while also being a very interesting and narratively inspired story in its own right. One that I hope we will revisit again albeit probably not for a couple of years. Sarah Dollard's debut in 'Doctor Who' is nothing short of masterful as she takes all the things Steven Moffat wisely put on her shoulders and just ran with it. 'Face The Raven' is yet another standout in what is now no doubt the best season of the new series and might even be a strong contender against even the best Hinchcliffe season. What is happening...


- Lucas


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