THE ONCOMING STORM
Steven Moffat frequently asks the audience to think one thing about a character and then turns around to put it into question.
We are asked to laugh about Miss Evangelista and her lack of intelligence. It’s not an unsympathetic portrayal, but in the end comments like "couldn’t tell the difference between the escape pod and the bathroom - we had to go back for her… twice" are meant to incite amusement. But in the moment of her death, it comes back to haunt us: "Don’t tell the others, they’ll only laugh." There couldn’t be a more poignant reminder that this was in fact a person with thoughts and a person who suffered under the treatment of others at that.
Similarly, with the exception of a few glimpses which belie her perceptiveness and wit, Elizabeth I spends much of TDotD as comic relief and romantic conquest. It connects seamlessly to the caricature presented during the RTD era. But by the end of the episode, "the arrogance that typifies their kind" does not only apply to the Zygons, men in general or the Doctor in particular. It becomes a reminder of a misjudgement by the audience. Because Elizabeth not only defeats the Zygon disguised as her, but she figures out the Zygons’ entire plan and contributes considerably to saving her kingdom.
The Impossble Girl arc represents this scenario on a grand scale. "Right then, Clara Oswald. Time to find out who you are." - With The Snowmen at the latest, Clara’s story becomes a guessing game. The Doctor views Clara as a mystery and the audience is there alongside with him. But not only is this approach challenged repeatedly throughout the series, from Emma’s admonition ("She’s a perfectly ordinary girl… isn’t that enough?") to the Doctor’s behaviour scaring Clara in JttCotT, the final reveal is nothing short of a subversion. Because Clara wasn’t a mystery to be solved, wasn’t someone else’s daughter, wasn’t a trap or a gift… but just Clara, an ordinary woman, whose choice saved the Doctor’ life.
Ultimately, I think there are reasons to dislike these creative decisions. They play a deceptive game with the audience, after all, and while I personally enjoy that, I’d understand if it wasn’t everybody’s cup of tea. But critiques I’ve seen of these characters almost exclusively ignore that this reversal is even taking place. And that’s wrong.
i don’t think it’s ignoring so much as unreliable narrators and subversions are too complex for the rtd crowd
that missy lady we keep seeing shots of from the doctor who footage is the master, i’m calling it now
the internet is an astounding, baffling place
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