It really warms my heart to see all these posts about how much people love Clara. Really, as a Martha fan, I’m so happy to see that people can love the Companion that comes after Amy. But I’ve also seen a lot of people who say that they aren’t sure if they’re okay with Moffat going the whole Doctor/Clara route. I never minded. At first I thought it was just the multi-shipper in me that wanted it. But the more I think about it, the more I’m sure there’s more to it than that.
Let me start this off with a disclaimer: I’m a hardcore Amy Pond fan. (I know, big surprise, right?) I’m not sure how many of you knew me back when I first started Doctor Who, but for those of you who did, I’m pretty sure you remember me as that one crazy Eleven/Amy shipper. But as much as I love them, I know that Amy choosing Rory was the right decision, not only for her as a person/character (which is a different meta altogether), but for Steven Moffat’s era of Doctor Who.
You see, season five was the first season of Doctor Who I ever saw and I immediately fell in love. So, while I waited for season six to start, I went back and watched the first four seasons of new!Who. And maybe it’s because I started with Amy, but I couldn’t help but notice some interesting similarities between Moffat and RTD’s first Companions.
When we first meet Rose Tyler, she’s this pretty nineteen-year-old girl who feels stuck in this boring dead-end place. She has this sweet boyfriend, Mickey Smith, who she’s known her whole life, but he isn’t particularly exciting. At the end of her first episode, she leaves her boyfriend behind and runs away with the Doctor. We spend the next season and a half watching her fall in love with the Doctor, but still sort of hold onto Mickey at the same time. In the end, she lets Mickey go and chooses the Doctor.
Flash forward a couple of seasons to Amelia Pond. Hell, flash forward about fifteen or twenty minutes into The Eleventh Hour to Amy Pond. She’s not the seven-year-old child we first meet anymore; instead she’s nineteen-years-old and feels stuck in boring Leadworth. Sound familiar? But wait, then we’re introduced to Rory Williams, her “sort of” boyfriend who she’s known since she was a child. Rory, a plain, normal, average boy. And, surprise surprise, nineteen-year-old Amy decides to leave her entire life behind and run away with the Doctor.
Except that doesn’t happen, now does it?
The Doctor leaves without Amy. He leaves the nineteen-year-old girl behind with her boyfriend, and doesn’t come back for another two years. But why? Moffat didn’t need to skip another two years there. He very well could have introduced Amy as a twenty-one year old engaged girl. The Doctor could have very well just left for another eight hours and come back the same night. It would have been trickier, but the Doctor could have met Amy and not realized she was engaged to Rory. She could have still had the same trust issues without the Doctor running off on her a second time. But that’s not what Moffat does. He makes a very conscious decision to introduce nineteen-year-old Amy and her average boyfriend. I think, in his own way, Moffat is reconsidering RTD’s era of Doctor Who.
After all, just like Rose, we spend quite a bit of time watching Amy sort of try to balance the Doctor and her sweet, devoted boyfriend. But Amy’s story doesn’t play out the same way as Rose’s. Nineteen-year-old Amy doesn’t run away with the Doctor like Rose does. An older, twenty-one-year-old Amy does. She doesn’t pick the Doctor like Rose does. Amy chooses Rory. I don’t know if enough people realize that if Amy hadn’t chosen Rory, if she had left him for the Doctor, her story would have been the same as Rose’s. But she doesn’t. Moffat changes that. The Doctor “doesn’t get the girl.” The devoted, loving, boyfriend does. Doctor/Rose/Mickey doesn’t give us the same message as Doctor/Amy/Rory.
Of course, that doesn’t mean the Doctor doesn’t love Amy. You can argue what sort of love that is all you want, but he does love her. And she loves him. They still share that very tight, close connection, sort of like the Doctor and Rose did. After all, both Rose and Amy were the first people the respective Doctors ever saw. Rose came to the Doctor after the Time War; Amy boarded the TARDIS after the Doctor swore he was done with Companions. They both play very important roles at the first and “most beloved” Companions.
But if Rose and Amy are the first and “most beloved” Companions for their respective Doctors, then Martha Jones and Clara Oswin Oswald are the clever girls that follow. (That does not, in any sense, mean that Rose and Amy aren’t clever, because they are in their own ways. But Martha was studying to become an actual doctor and Oswin Oswald was smart enough that the Daleks wanted her.) They both find the Doctor in a time in his life when he’s heartbroken over a “true love” type of Companion. Donna tells the Tenth Doctor that he needs someone, and Amy tells the Eleventh Doctor not to be alone. Neither of them listens at first, but Doctor Who isn’t Doctor Who without a Companion, so they have to change their minds.
Except even the biggest Tenth Doctor fans agree that he didn’t exactly treat Martha right. He makes her feel second best, he sort of leads her on, and he never looks at her twice. Martha, even though she seems like the perfect match for the Doctor, gets overlooked because she’s not Rose. But if we go under the assumption that Moffat’s era sort of reboots RTD’s era, we are going to see a significant difference in his relationship with Clara.
We’ve already seen how brilliant she is and, in her own way, she takes care of the Doctor after Amy leaves. She follows the basic formula for RTD’s second Companion (with an insanely Moffat-esc twist), but just like we saw Rose and Amy diverge, I think we’re going to see Martha and Clara’s stories differ. I think, if Moffat does it carefully (because we still do have River in the picture), a relationship between the Doctor and Clara could not only be absolutely beautiful, it could be a beautiful tribute to Martha’s time in the TARDIS. This time, the second girl isn’t going to be rebound who has to walk away, because of how she’s treated. This time, I think the second girl is going to get the respect and love she deserves.
Rose/Doctor/Martha showed us that you shouldn’t live in the shadow of someone else. That when someone treats you like crap, you don’t stay for it. You get out. But I think Amy/Doctor/Clara will show us that while the first love matters and it hurts when it ends, you can recover.
I think Doctor/Clara will show us that you can learn to love again