“I will always come and find you. Every single time.”
Fun fact: no one knows how to spell the title of this episode. Seriously, look around on the internet: I’m on the verge of keeping a tally of how many different ways I see “Akhaten” spelled.
Semantics mix-ups aside, Clara is the coolest. She’s trying alien fruit before being told whether it’s toxic or hallucinogenic, she’s saving princesses, and she’s using pure intuition to solve puzzles that stump the Doctor.
At first, this episode looked like it was setting up a paternal relationship between the Doctor and Clara. He picked the location they went to, he told her what was what on an alien planet. Clara’s mother’s promise to “always find her” seemed to apply to the Doctor and his obvious adoration of Clara.
But that’s not how it turned out. The Doctor could never have saved Merry alone, and he could never have defeated the God without Clara.
The Doctor thought through the problem, and his solution was to bare his soul to a monster. It wasn’t enough.
And then Clara came back for him, and found him on his knees, defeated, before a God. And that’s when I realized that the Doctor has never managed to find Clara. Clara finds him. She speaks to him before he speaks to her. She follows him through time and space. And she saves him, again and again.
Some people are complaining that the ending of this episode is sappy and anti-climactic, but I disagree. I think that Clara, adrift on an alien world, trusted her intuition when it led her to Merry, and she trusted her heart when it led her back to the Doctor. Giving the God an infinite number of unlived stories was a stroke of genius, and it saved everyone.
Clara doesn’t rely on the Doctor; he relies on her. She finds him across space and time. And when Clara is with him, the Doctor seems a little less sad. The weight of his soul seems a little less heavy. His memory and guilt seems a little easier to bear. And he gets out of his damn box more.
Clara could so easily have become a mystery who looked like a girl, a woman with nothing to her character beyond her relationship with the Doctor. But just like the Doctor encourages Merry to make her own decisions, to not let fate rule her life, so Clara is not letting anyone else write her story. Clara is the arbiter of her own fate, the writer of her own story. And you heard it here first—I think Clara chose to be reborn again and again.