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01 April 2013 @ 01:38 pm
in which I am slow on the uptake  
I watched the prequel again to see if little Clara is wearing red (I figured she would be, and yes, she is: you can see her red hair clips, and a red collar beneath her coat; she's hidden in plain sight), and I realized: aww, the Doctor took her advice! I was puzzled by the retreat to 1207, in the episode, but he's done exactly what Clara suggested - he's gone into a quiet room and had a think about where to find her. I am a puddle, because - as previously stated - one of the things I love about Eleven is that he doesn't just pay children lip service; he takes them seriously, and he recognizes good advice when he hears it, even if it's from someone we traditionally don't value in that way - like children.

In retrospect, I think it took a rewatch of the prequel for me to put the pieces together because last year's prequels were fairly extraneous, weren't they? They might have filled in some emotional gaps (like Amy's heartbreaking phone call to the Doctor about Melody), but nothing happened in them that we needed in order to understand the episodes. Here, though, we've got two key things happening in the "Bells of Saint John" prequel, at least if I'm understanding that leaf in the episode properly: did Clara save a leaf from the day she met the Doctor? (Does that mean that she's lying - or at least that it takes a while for her to remember him - when she says she doesn't know who he is? She won't remember him from the times he remembers *her*, of course - from the Dalek Asylum or Victorian London - but does she remember the "sad man" she talked to on the swings? Or is the leaf a misdirect, and Clara's "page one" is something else entirely?)

I really like Clara's canniness and forthrightness: for whatever reason the little exchange between her and Angie caught at me ("You're not my mum" "And I'm not trying to be. Okay?"), because Angie's not angry, just kind of annoyed, but Clara is still firm about that fact, even though she could have brushed it off or played it lightly, because Angie needs to hear that and know it. And I liked the echoes of this Clara talking to the Doctor from her window, just as Victorian Clara did - and I loved both the openness of Clara's smile when the Doctor agrees that he's guarding her, and the Doctor's tender but almost formal solicitousness about Clara in that scene. (I love that he leaves her flowers and biscuits and tucks her into bed - and then retreats to a safe distance, letting Clara open her window if and when she wants to. And the nervous preening with which he straightens his bowtie when she says she's coming down to him - oh, my heart.) I also really enjoy the way Clara discomfits him, and loved the "come back tomorrow" thing - after all, it's a time machine, and if you never have to wait for breakfast, you also never have to wait for an answer - but it gives Clara the chance to process everything that's happened, and on her own terms. I feel like we haven't seen that yet, quite, in New Who: Rose makes that split-second choice in the alley, and Martha has a day to think about the Doctor after he leaves, but she has just as little actual time to make her decision, when he comes back. Donna is ready and waiting, of course, that second time, and Amy's been waiting for years. But this is the first time the Doctor has extended the invitation and the other person has said, "Let me think about it for a second." Clara's teasing him, too, of course, but in the context of the discussion, and not running out on the people she cares about ("Wish I was more like that" - oh, Doctor. I love it when you see yourself clearly and acknowledge your flaws), it feels like she might want a bit of time to put things in order, too.

I haven't really processed the plot yet, although the Great Intelligence stuff worked much better for me here than in the Christmas special, and the ending allowed me to feel real sympathy for Miss Kizlet (sp?), in a way that should have happened - but didn't - in "The Snowmen": we really see that she was just a child when she was manipulated and warped, and she becomes understandable and pitiable instead of...an ice zombie or whatever. The whole idea of people being downloaded reminded me of River Song in the Library, which can't be a coincidence, can it? But it makes it worse that all the people who no longer had bodies just...died? Couldn't they have been housed elsewhere, too? Or, if letting them die is "the best thing" that Miss Kizlet can do for them, then what does that do to our understanding of River's ending? I've always been of the mindset that it's less a good ending for her than the best that can be done under bad circumstances, anyway. And certainly, River has friends, and all the stories ever told to keep her company, plus there is some kind of world in the computer, and the suggestion that new worlds can be created (once CAL isn't trying to convince people that they're *not* inside a computer, there's a lot more she can do than just the suburbs). And the problem with this episode's downloaded people is that they're trapped and terrified. I guess I just wish that they could have been "saved," too. They must have still been capable of thought and reason - the opening shows us an individual trying to *warn* people, so he's been able to recall what happened to him and think about a course of action, so even if he's on some kind of running loop, that's still *something*, isn't it? Or is he just a data ghost?...I don't know. I just feel like you oughtn't to drop terrifying existential problems into an episode and then fail to deal with them, perhaps. It left a bad taste in my mouth, at the end of an episode that I otherwise liked.

Also: aww. I got home from my trip yesterday to find a lot of mail, including a manila envelope from my mom. She often sends me mail addressed to me that's been sent to her address, so I figured it was that. But instead I opened it to find a copy of last August's issue of Entertainment Weekly, the one with Matt Smith on the cover! I don't know where she got it from, but it's adorable that she sent it to me - she *so* doesn't care about Doctor Who, so this wouldn't have meant anything to her.
stoplookingupstoplookingup on April 2nd, 2013 03:53 pm (UTC)
Now I have to go watch the prequel again, too. You make so many good points. My favorite: "I just feel like you oughtn't to drop terrifying existential problems into an episode and then fail to deal with them, perhaps." So true. But dealing with them is so much harder than just dropping them in, isn't it?
tempestsarekind: eleven is awkwardtempestsarekind on April 2nd, 2013 06:32 pm (UTC)
It really is! I can see how it happens, too: you think, "ooh, wouldn't it be cool to write a story about downloading people?" and then just forget to think about what it really means.

I really love the prequel - little Clara is adorable, and I love the way Eleven and Matt Smith interact with children.