Let’s start at the beginning. As a viewer, I knew something heart wrenching was coming and felt apprehensive even before the episode started. It was wonderful seeing Clara and the Doctor so happy and carefree at the top of the episode. That last moment of joy and seeing again that they are the best companions for each other.
I was so happy that they brought back Rigsy. He was a great character and someone I’d like to see as the Doctor’s companion. We didn’t get to see him interact much with the Doctor last time, but this time you could feel the instant chemistry. Of course, now that he has a wife and kid, the hopes of him being a companion are gone, but it was sweet seeing a bit of his new home life. I also loved his tribute to Clara at the end, using his artistic skills that we knew about from before.
The mystery itself struck the right balance of being intriguing enough to draw you in without overpowering the main point of the story. Memory loss, apparent murder, a secret world, multiple aliens, deception, and a ticking clock - what more could you want? The more I see of Ashildir, the more I dislike her (in a good way). I guess it shows what being immortal and living too long alone can do to you. It’s like the Doctor if he didn’t have companions to keep him in check. What’s interesting is that Captain Jack never seemed to have too much of a problem remaining a “good guy,” but maybe he hasn’t lived long enough yet.
Now for the big moment. For me, the best, most emotional moment wasn’t the actual death but the last moments Clara and the Doctor had together, underscored by the brilliant music of Murray Gold. The Doctor’s reaction to finding out that her end was coming. Clara’s knowing that the Doctor will overreact and her determination to save him even when she’s gone. And of course, their sweet goodbye, each expressing their love and gratitude without having to say it, each being as brave as they could be. Watching it a second time, I still cried when the Doctor asked her to stay with him. Then Clara’s last steps, seeing her fear but willing herself to be brave as she faced the raven. It’s how we all hope we can react when facing fear.
It was a touching end fitting of a wonderful companion. Regardless of Clara’s ultimate ultimate fate in Doctor Who (speculate all you want for the next couple of weeks), this episode did her justice.