“Oooh ‘The Repulsive Red Leech!’ Nah, on balance I prefer the Crimson Horror”

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“I’m the Doctor, you’re nuts, and I’m gonna stop you”

That was just lovely. It wasn’t a great piece of drama because it didn’t want to be. It was a just a lovely story of the Doctor and his friends saving the world. And in the end, what else is Doctor Who about?

So, how did this episode come off with its treatment of ladies? In sum, I think it did a pretty good job. The Bechdel test was left in the dust: I don’t think any of the women in this episode talked about men at all, except for the Doctor (and him only a bit).

Clara and the Doctor

Clara and the Doctor seem to be in a nice groove here: comfortable with each other, dual confronting the villain—“chairs are useful”—and generally delighting in each other’s company.

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Victorians aren’t allowed to touch like that in public, guys

The subtext of romance is becoming less subtext with these two: they certainly seem to touch each other a lot, don’t they? And the Doctor got to be very manly and heroic smashing bell jars (pause in awe at the metaphor). Although he followed that by watching in astonishment as a girl half his size fought off three men, so it didn’t take.

When I contrast this Clara with the girl we met in “Bells of St. John,” it’s really amazing how she’s come into her own. She’s not shocked by anything anymore, she never hesitates to run at danger: in short, she carved out her role at the Doctor’s side, and she rather likes it.

The Paternoster Gang

To find him she needs only ignore all keep out signs, go through every locked door, and run towards any form of danger that presents itself.
Business as usual, then.

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It’s not like she was fooling anyone with that veil anyway…

Geez are they fun! Jenny gets some great character development here, and Strax is even more firmly established as the subordinate of the trio. As he should be, when he gets that freaked out after eating jelly sherbet fancies.

Victorian Values

I"m sorry I ate the cookies grandma! Please don't dip me in prehistoric parasite venom!

I”m sorry I ate the cookies grandma! Please don’t dip me in prehistoric parasite venom!

For such a lighthearted episode, there were actually some fantastic bits of social commentary in this episode. The relationship between the only family on the show, a family made up of two “morally upright” women no less, is perhaps the most dysfunctional family ever. Utopia comes at the cost of the planet, and is ruled by a woman and her worm baby. I don’t really blame Clara for being done with it at the end…

Also, anyone who reads a lot of Victorian literature (and has no life) knows that women fainting is a regular trope. That’s why the dude fainted dead away so many times, and the only time a woman fainted she was faking it–subtle subversions. Thank you Mr. Gatiss!

Die, you freaks!

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Because all it takes to disguise a lizard woman is see-through black lace.

We all want to think we’d be the same in any era we found ourselves in, and this episode actually gave a really good twist on that idea. The Victorian era was at the crux of the plot, with its forced charades—Clara and the Doctor have to pretend to be married, and Jenny and Madame Vastra have to pretend not to be—it’s lovely costumes, and it’s crazy melodrama.

The episode was about how people who are trapped in this society operate. Sure, Clara was the damsel in distress. But the Doctor was far more of a damsel before her. He was first saved by Ada, whom he then saved in return. And then he had to be saved by Jenny, who had to rely on Vastra and Strax to back her up. Once Clara was saved, she figured out where the rocket was being kept and destroyed its controls. Vastra and Jenny sabotaged the rocket while Strax provided backup. And the Doctor and Clara tag-team confronted Mrs. Gillyflower.

Oh, haven't you heard love? There's trouble at the mill. She's a lizard.

Oh, haven’t you heard love? There’s trouble at the mill.
She’s a lizard.

In the end, this episode is about how those marked as “different” deal with a world which wants only to fix or kill them. None of our heros fit into traditional roles: the closest are Clara and the Doctor, but Clara has a well-established trait of hating boxes people try to put her in, and the Doctor will always be an alien. The characters react by relying on one another, by saving one another. By operating together, by saving each other and supporting each other, they can save the world and themselves.

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Clara’s the Boss

“Clever Clocks” Clara Mystery Update: Well we’re no nearer a solution, but the holding pattern is finally over. The Doctor seems to have decided he can take whatever the answer to the mystery is, at least, based on his smilingly telling Jenny that he hasn’t explained Clara. He also tried to take Clara to London just a few months after the other Clara died. Maybe he wanted to show her Clara’s grave? Either way, he can’t keep it secret much longer, because Clara’s going to want answers to that photo.

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3 thoughts on ““Oooh ‘The Repulsive Red Leech!’ Nah, on balance I prefer the Crimson Horror”

  1. Pingback: Gaimaning: Nightmare in Silver | Remember the Ladies
  2. Pingback: “The name I chose is ‘The Doctor.’ The name you choose is like a promise you make”: The Name of the Doctor | Remember the Ladies
  3. Pingback: The Impossible Girl, the Writer of Her Own Story: A Look at Clara Oswald’s First Year | Remember the Ladies

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