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Doctor Who’s Clara Oswald: What We Know So Far

by  in TV News Comment

Clara Oswin Oswald has had her first four adventures with the Doctor (six if you count her two other incarnations), but we still don’t know much about her. Emma Grayling, 1970s psychic, claimed in last week’s episode that Clara is “just an ordinary girl.” But this is Doctor Who, so I think we all know better than that.

No ordinary girl

We know Clara has died twice. We first met her as the junior entertainment manager aboard the Starship Alaska. Unfortunately, she didn’t realize that she had also been turned into a Dalek. Her second death was at the hands of The Great Intelligence, whose evil ice-governess pursued Clara and dropped her from a height. Twice, her final words have been “Run, you clever boy, and remember.”

“Run” is a big theme of the Steven Moffat years of Doctor Who. From River Song’s line in “The Forest of the Dead” – “You and me, time and space, you watch us run! — the Doctor’s adventures have been about “running” from something. The crack in time and space, the Silence, the Doctor’s own death. Is Clara’s order to “run” a simple callback to River Song’s line, or is it something more?

Clara doesn’t appear to have any special abilities, but she was able to call the TARDIS by dialing a number she received from “a girl at the shop.” There has been speculation that this “girl at the shop” is a former companion, either Amy or Rose. If so, why would former companions want to get the Doctor mixed up with Clara? Why is she important?

The first four episodes were painfully slow to reveal any information about Clara’s past or her future. We know she had real parents, and was raised relatively normally, because the Doctor creepily stalked her in “The Bells of St. John.” We know she’s good with kids, has always wanted to travel, and is loyal to her friends. Thus far, this is pretty generic backstory stuff. There’s nothing to indicate Clara is anything other than what she appears to be.


But then again, so ordinary …

This is, for me, the frustrating part about Clara. In an effort to make her appear so utterly normal, Moffat & Co. have made her somewhat generic. The first incarnation of Clara (in the future) loved baking soufflés and spoke so fast I had to rewind several times to get all of her dialogue. The second Clara led a double life as a barmaid/governess, with two different accents to match. This current Clara is pretty bland by comparison, just another bored girl with a big imagination.

I’m eager to get on with the mystery so I can feel better about Clara. Theories abound online, everything from Clara being the great-grandchild of Rose and alternate-universe David Tennant (seems a bit hopeful on the part of Rose/10 fans) to her being the TARDIS incarnate.

But imagine if we didn’t have a mystery about Clara at all. Imagine she was just a really cool go-getter who was curious and energetic and bright. Would we even need this whole business of “Who is Clara?” I’d rather see a terrific character with no mystery than a bland one with a gigantic question mark floating over her head. While I love Clara’s wit and spark, I can’t really differentiate her actions and opinions from Amy quite yet.

What the future holds

Moffat has said we will get to find out what Clara is all about before the Doctor Who 50th anniversary episode. The answer to the mystery, for better or for worse, is coming soon.