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07 April 2013 @ 12:52 pm
The Fires of That Kind of But Not Really Egyptian Place  
Not much to say about the episode itself, but on the meta level:

1. Clara is good with children - that's why she's a governess/nanny: for her modern self, certainly, it's not so much that she wants to be a nanny as it is that - like a certain Time Lord - she can't stand to watch children in trouble, and wants to help. But Eleven relates to children as though he is a child - remember the way he says to little Amelia, "You know how grownups always say 'Everything's going to be fine'" or gets affronted by the idea that he might be lumped in with boring old "people" - and no one would make that mistake with Clara; her way of reassuring children is subtly different, and I hope to get more ways of thinking about that difference as we see more of Clara.

2. This is an episode about the Doctor and Clara making promises they might not be able to keep, from keeping Merry safe, to not seeing someone else when the Doctor looks at Clara. (And how much did I love Clara recognizing the *world* of emotional danger in the Doctor's behavior - even though she doesn't have all the facts - and putting her foot down about competing with a ghost? So much.) The Doctor's response is pertinent - that only Clara could have saved the day in the way she did - not *just* because of the bitter, wretched companion transfer between Rose and Martha (yup, *still* mad about "Rose would know"), but because no matter what the secret of Clara turns out to be, only *this* Clara had that mum and dad, and those memories. If every life is made up of a million, billion possibilities that had to turn out in just one way to get the people and the lives we wind up with (the story of the leaf); if the whole universe had to explode and contract and ripple in just the way it did in order to create every unique one of us (the story of Merry), then no matter how many Claras or Oswins there are, there is still also only ever one of her, because she is always herself alone.

2a. This is an episode about the stories we tell - and Clara spends it carrying around a favorite childhood book. ("We're all stories in the end. Just make it a good one, eh?")

3. "The Beast Below." Both that episode and this are about the Doctor being unable to make the perspective switch that saves the day, when the companion can see it clearly. In both, he says, "this is what I am, this is what I do" (I make the hard choices, I lose myself; this is what I've seen and known and lost), and in both cases he's wrong because he fails to see what really matters: not what has been, but what can be or could have been. I will always love "The Beast Below" because in it, Amy gives that new Eleventh Doctor the grace to be a different man from the one he's been - to be the one she saw in him, not the one she never knew. I don't think this episode will earn the same tender place in my heart, but what it might force the Doctor to realize is that the long life he's led, full of so much pain as well as joy, is still just so small when compared to possibility, even just the possibilities of one small human life, and all the ripples it can make or didn't make.

(I didn't intend to quote the Doctor talking to the House in "The Doctor's Wife" - you are just so small - but I like the echo, so I'm leaving it. Because that episode, too, is about how the seemingly small and finite is so much bigger on the inside.)

4. "Victory of the Daleks." Both that episode and this show us the Doctor getting the part that matters wrong. In both, he goes for pain and loss, thinking that the magnitude of those emotions is enough, that those are the things that make us alive: "It hurts because you feel it." But it's not the universes he's seen die that count, or the knowledge no one else must know, all that weight - no, it's the lightness of a leaf. It's Dorabella's eyes, Clara's parents' hands holding hers - and yes, there's grief there, and loss, because those are human, but they don't work as the only definition.

Oh, Doctor. One thousand years, two hearts, and still so much to learn about being alive.
Mrs Darcy: Amy/11 hug by kathyhelisi on April 11th, 2013 08:11 pm (UTC)
Hi! Saw that you'd friended me, and thought I'd come say hello. And then found lovely meta. <3
tempestsarekind: eleven and amytempestsarekind on April 12th, 2013 04:23 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I came across your journal through who_daily and wanted to make sure I keep up with *your* meta.