The moment we’ve either been dreading or waiting for has arrived – Clara Oswald, the smart, brave companion to The Doctor – has died. Over the past several years, Clara has been both the companion we always wanted to see and the problem the show didn’t need when it changed hands to Peter Capaldi’s incarnation. But this year was one of the best for the character, as she regained her wits and her inner Doctor, puzzling out solutions to some of the most difficult quandaries. In the end though, this is what ended up costing her the life she had ahead.
Cut down in the prime of her life, she was taken in order to spare Rigsy, the graffiti artist that she befriended last year in the episode “Flatline.” Somehow, Rigsy was set up to take the fall for a crime he didn’t commit in a secret pocket community of London, where some of The Doctor’s greatest foes were hidden in refuge. With a quantum shade threatening to kill him, Clara took Rigsy’s burden upon herself, in hopes that she would be able to worm her way out through a technicality – as Ashildr / Me guaranteed her safety. Sadly, the terms and conditions of said exchange prohibited Clara from being spared, and as a death was guaranteed to the force behind the quantum shade, Clara “faced the Raven” and died an honorable death. Her last words were, “Let me be brave.”
As mixed as I’ve been on the character throughout her run, Jenna Coleman’s portray of Clara Oswald has always been exemplary. Even when the writing would fail her (particularly during Season 8, where the character was turned into a lovesick mess), Coleman still imbued the role with the humanity that we knew The Doctor needed to keep him in check. Her introduction to the show was certainly one of great surprise, as the first time we saw Clara was in “Asylum Of The Daleks,” the episode where Amy, Rory, and the Eleventh Doctor stumbled upon Oswin Oswald – a human female who found herself converted into a Dalek after a crash landing stranded her on a remote planet.
This fate, as it turns out, was only the beginning for Clara though – as it turns out she was born out of a series of coincidences aligning to serve one purpose: she was born to save The Doctor. And save him she did, as her reappearance in “The Snowmen” was the only thing that brought Eleven out of his gigantic slump of depression, brought on by the loss of Amy and Rory to the Weeping Angels in “The Angels Take Manhattan.” It wasn’t long before the errant crisis that was stealing human consciousness all over London reunited them, and set the two on a journey neither would ever forget.
If it wasn’t for Clara Oswald, The Doctor might never have tried to save the world again. His trust and companionship with her is something that’s not easily won or willfully replaced. Despite his promises to his dying companion, there’s still a good chance that the Twelfth Doctor might still go rogue and embrace his warrior side, especially depending on where it is Ashildr / Me sent him, in accordance with the bargain she made to save her community. This deal had better have been worth it though, as The Doctor is now far away, without a companion to reign him in. As we’ve seen in the past, this is when he’s a most dangerous adversary.
It is with a heavy heart that we bid a bittersweet farewell to Clara “Oswin” Oswald, as her watch has drawn to a close. Her sacrifice will not be easily forgotten, but it is hoped that The Doctor can maintain his sanity, and his empathy, in such a dark hour of the soul. We don’t know what to expect in the two-part finale, which starts this Saturday, but we’re already afraid for our favorite Time Lord.
Doctor Who airs on BBC America, Saturdays at 9 PM EST.