Rigsy contacts Clara through the TARDIS' phone, asking for her and the Doctor's help. They arrive at Rigsy's flat in London, finding he has settled down with a wife and newborn daughter. He has no idea of the origin of a tattoo on the back of his neck that is counting down towards zero, and lacks any memories of the previous day's events; his mobile phone is also cracked and data from the previous day wiped. Assuming the presence of aliens hiding in London, the three look for a trap street where they might be hiding. They eventually come across it, aided by a flood of memories that Rigsy recalls once the TARDIS is able to restore the data on his mobile. The aliens are led by Me (who the Doctor and Clara previously knew as the now-immortal Ashildr), who acts as mayor among the group. Me explains the aliens here are refugees, and that Rigsy had been sentenced to death for killing Anah, a two-faced Janus female; he was injected with Retcon to forget what happened, and then given the time to say goodbye to his loved ones; the tattoo is a Chronolock that leads a Quantum Shade, appearing normally as a Raven, to its bearer anywhere they might flee to kill them when the mark reaches zero. The Doctor and Clara believe that Rigsy had been set up for murder, and Me allows them to investigate the case but tells them they have to convince those that live on the street of Rigsy's innocence to keep the tense truce between the various alien species that live there.Clara learns that the Chronolock can only be removed either by the person that placed it, or transferred willingly to another. Believing she is protected by Me's assurance of her personal safety, Clara takes Rigsy's Chronolock without anyone else's knowledge. The Doctor discovers that Rigsy had called for the Doctor when he was found in the street the previous day, and believes that Me was trying to contact him and lead him here. The Doctor comes to believe that the TARDIS key will unlock the stasis chamber to prove Anah, and proceeds to use the TARDIS key on the keyhole: the panel traps his arm temporarily to place a metal band on his arm while Anah is released, alive and well. Me arrives, and explains that the band is a teleportation device, a means to send the Doctor away to keep the peace on the street, and asks him for his confession dial before she activates it.When Me goes to remove the Chronolock from Rigsy, Clara's transfer is discovered and Me regrettably warns her that she had arranged the first Chronolock with the Quantum Shade, assuring it of a soul which only she could break with no intent of anyone dying. By accepting Rigsy's Chronolock, Clara broke the terms of that contract and there is nothing that could be done to save Clara. (Wikipedia).
This episode really made up for last week’s episode. I really enjoyed the reappearance of Me and Rigsy - though I don’t have Bayana’s memory and didn’t remember Rigsy or Flatline until after the episode. I love the Doctor’s interactions with babies and I’m glad we had that moment of levity before they head to The Street. I would like to take this time to point out that both of my favorite episodes this season have been written by women and include Maisie William’s Ashildr/Me. In “The Woman Who Lived” we were able to see how complicated Me has become throughout her long life (though why can’t she age) this continued in this episode. Me is essentially The Doctor’s creation but also his antithesis in many ways. Her morals center has been skewed by her extensively long life and her unfulfilled hope of traveling the universe has led her to the position of Mayor. Like everyone, I was very interested to see how Clara’s run would end but I was also very shocked that she actually died. Clara is the first companion in New Who to die while traveling with the Doctor and I think this was a worthy conclusion to her storyline. Especially, this season as she has been seen taking more and more risk and feeling invincible, it was a harsh lesson but she ultimately learned in the end that she was human. I also must admit to shedding some tears during her final scene with the Doctor. I hope she is reunited with Danny Pink in Heaven, though without Missy.
This episode definitely made up for the last one. It fit in so much more with the rest of the season, whereas “Sleep No More” felt separate and inconsistent. Here, we were given characters we already care about as well as an interesting storyline and plot. “Flatline” was one of my favorite episodes in Season 8, so I was really excited to see Rigsy again, even if under tragic circumstances. Initially it’s confusing as to why he of all people would be set up for murder of an alien, but then we learn that the entire plot was a way for Ashildr to get ahold of the Doctor for some mysterious people (who we still don’t know). I really liked The Street. It strongly made me think of Diagon Alley, an entire London street that was forced to disappear after the Statute of Secrecy was instituted. There was some kind of perception filter over it so that humans couldn’t see, and it was created to help refugee aliens from being seen, which was all very Harry Potter to me. The lurkworms that allowed the aliens to look human also reminded me of the chameleon circuits on the aliens in “Vampires of Venice” in Season 5, so I thought that was a nice touch. The fact that Ashildr is now helping all of these aliens is an interesting character development; I like how we see her every few centuries and every time she has some new development. Here, it is consistent with her wanting to see the stars in “The Woman Who Lived.” Because she can’t go to space, she takes care of the space refugees that come to her. I also like how she’s become an antagonist to the Doctor, even if she isn’t evil; this plays more into the friend/enemy theme of this season in a way that is way less heavy-handed than it was in the premiere with the Doctor and Missy (and Davros). We find out, though, that she is working for someone else, and I wonder who that is. I loved how this episode was a standalone, but still had a slight cliffhanger as the Doctor is teleported to some unknown place.
This was also Clara’s goodbye episode, and I thought it was really well done. The entire season has been building up to this; she has basically taken on the attitude and persona of the Doctor while conveniently forgetting that she is human. After Danny died, it seems like she’s basically become an adrenaline junkie; the Doctor has been worried about this, but it comes to a head here. I already knew that when Clara decided to take the chronolock from Rigsy that this was it for her. I like that she didn’t exactly choose to die for Rigsy, she honestly didn’t think she would die. Once it was time, though, she was ready to take it. I think one heartbreaking line was when she asked the Doctor, “Why can’t I be like you?” While there are obvious answers to this question, I think underlying it is Clara’s grief over Danny and her attempting to thrust herself into traveling in the TARDIS and saving the world so that she doesn’t have to face it. While I hated the Danny storyline in Season 8, I think Season 9 has largely helped it, especially in regards to Clara’s character development, which I feel has gotten better every season. I love that they show Clara still being a badass, as she is the only one not to run from the raven, she actually faces it. This is also the first companion we see die on screen: Rose, Martha, and Donna are all presumably still alive, and Amy and Rory just live the rest of their lives in the past, dying before they were actually born. While all of their goodbyes were heartbreaking, I think that this one was especially because we actually see Clara’s death on-screen. I thought that this was a really good farewell episode for a character that we’ve all had a difficult time really connecting to (until, for me, recently). This episode (and really this entire season) also makes it clear that Clara was the Twelfth Doctor’s Amy (or the Tenth Doctor’s Rose). He is going to wreak havoc on whoever is responsible for putting them in this situation, though technically it is Clara’s fault (and a bit of Ashildr’s) that she is dead.
Some quick thoughts:
I love how they’re ALWAYS surprised when the TARDIS phone rings. I get that not a lot of people have the number, but it’s happened enough in the series now that it’s kind of funny when they stare at it like “what is happening?”
Rigsy’s daughter is adorable. I love how the Doctor is terrible with humans, but loves “new humans.” He almost has Rigsy bring her along, but I’m glad he decides not to.
The raven lowkey reminded me of a Dementor; the way it pulled out people’s life-forces was creepy af.
“Sometimes Jane Austen and I prank each other. She is the worst, I love her.” While we’ve been building up to this, this is the moment where it’s clear to me that Clara’s trying to be the Doctor is going to get her into real trouble.
WHERE IS THE DOCTOR GOING?
Rigsy’s painting the TARDIS as a memorial to Clara is ridiculously sweet and while I know it won’t stay, the sentiment is beautiful.