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09 November 2014 @ 08:06 pm
reconsidering my previous post  

There are a couple of things making me feel dissatisfied by the finale. There are your basic "this is not a thing I like" elements: I don't like arch-nemeses, so I've never been interested in the Master (although actually, to be fair, I liked the fact that everything Missy did was to prove that she and the Doctor weren't so different after all), and I don't like Cybermen, so… Then there were your "wait, what?" elements - like, wait, where was Danny at the end of the episode, and what happened to all those other harvested souls that had inhabited Cyber-bodies?

But those aren't the big problems for me. And here's where there's one thing that I think does have to do with expectations set up in previous episodes, and one that's just me going "boo, thing I didn't want to happen happened."

For the first: this season has been so much about the fact that Clara was becoming more and more like the Doctor, and that this wasn't a good thing. So I expected that this would have some sort of payoff at the end of the season. But it doesn't, really. Clara seems to stop traveling with the Doctor because she thinks he's found Gallifrey and isn't going to be traveling anymore, not because she's come to any realization that it's something she shouldn't do. And nothing happens to Clara because of her Doctor-like tendencies; the terrible thing that happens, Danny's death, has nothing to do with her or the Doctor - just the fact that he was unlucky enough to get hit by a car. His subsequent conversion into a Cyberman also has nothing to do with Clara or the Doctor, since everyone who's ever died (apparently) becomes a Cyberman. I'm not saying that I wanted to see Clara punished for being like the Doctor - but such a big deal was made of it that I expected it to come back in some way.

Because it doesn't come back as a positive, either: like, someone has to make the hard choices so others don't. The world gets saved not because Clara is rational enough or flinty enough to do what has to be done, or because the Doctor is, but because Danny is principled enough and loving enough and protective enough to do it. And this is where so much of my reaction is in many ways just an unthinking Did Not Want - because if I look hard enough, Danny is exactly what I've loved about Moffat Who in the past. He saves the world because he knows how to keep a promise, even beyond death. (And his telling Clara that she'll sleep safe tonight - ouch, that's Danny taking on the role of "Dan the soldier man," keeping people safe from the terrors that keep them from sleeping - and being a soldier who doesn't need a gun.) And his saving the boy he killed, at the end: of course Danny saves the boy and not himself; Danny always puts the children in his care first. More than even that, though: I've talked a lot in the past about Moffat Who and comedy and miracles, and Danny gets the miracle here, being able to undo the terrible thing that he did. That is a special kind of grace.

But it's a miracle without the comedy - without the "Everybody lives" part. When Rory dies, and then almost kills Amy at the end of "The Pandorica Opens," he is granted the "ridiculous miracle" of her life, and the universe's, and his own in the bargain: laughable, overabundant, joyous, carried about by a fool with a mop and a fez. Danny - with the strength of will to override his programming as Rory can't quite do (because Roranicus might be a soldier, but Rory is not, and Roranicus was only ever the cover story) - saves the child, but not himself. And of course Danny would make that choice, without regret even if he makes it with sorrow - but the fact that he has to make the choice is indicative of the way in which the world of Moffat Who has grown a little colder, after all - there was room for one miracle, but not more. And I think this is why the Doctor's realization that he was not a good man, or a bad one, but an idiot, rang hollow for me: I'd been waiting for this Doctor to reach that point - or hoping that he would - but it could only feel like a muted realization when Danny was gone, and Osgood had been brought back just to be disintegrated, when she had more faith in the Doctor than just about anyone...

If season 5 ends with the myth of Pandora's box - as I said back then, "a box full of monsters and hope," so very like the TARDIS - season 8 ends with the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. If Amy is Sleeping Beauty inside the Pandorica (though waiting for her own childhood self, not the kiss of a prince), the promise of that story is that Sleeping Beauty eventually awakens. And Amy and Rory have always had "Tam Lin" echoes for me, because Amy loves and claims Rory so stubbornly that nothing can take him from her, not even time. But Orpheus and Eurydice is about the fact that the dead cannot return, no matter how much you try to win them back. The Ponds are miracle-makers, even if those miracles are sometimes imperfect (Amy and Rory do get to raise Melody in some way, even if it isn't the way they wanted), but there's no miracle for Eurydice. Clara doesn't get Danny back.

I can see wanting to tell a different kind of story, to be able to take your story to places you haven't gone. I get it. But I don't have any other TV shows that have been comic for me, in the way that I mean it here, the way that Eleven's run was comic. And that's why I wrote in my previous post that I missed him and the Ponds more than ever - because for now, at least, I don't have that comic story any more.