Siding with bugs is praxis

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Jane Campbell


  1. ScarvesandCelery
    October 1, 2015 @ 6:42 am

    “I wonder if this season we’ll see her becoming Missyish, as suggested at the beginning of The Witch’s Familiar when she asks for her own pointy stick.”
    This is the possibility I find most intriguing – it seems that lots of fans want Clara to die in her departure from the series (that may just be my skewed perception of fandom), but this episode has the aforementioned “Pointy Stick” line and the line “You are the last person I would ever kill”, which by implication suggests there are people Clara would kill.
    The show’s creators are saying Clara’s departure will be heartbreaking, but I don’t see why that has to mean death for her – what if she kills someone else, or does something that she considers “going too far”, and leaves to protect herself and/ or the Doctor?
    I mean, personally, I’m clinging onto the hope of a happy departure, but I think something like that would be more interesting than “Companion Death”.


  2. Frezno
    October 1, 2015 @ 7:12 am

    I like this a lot, and not just because I picked up on the mirror symbolism in Series 8 on a rewatch and then wouldn’t shut up about it. That series was all about Clara becoming a mirror of the Doctor, and it was all a scheme from the original mirror of the Doctor (at least when she first showed up in the 70’s). Clara becoming a mirror of Missy? Now that would be a fall from grace, and though I adore Clara now I can’t say it wouldn’t be interesting to see.

    I really like the reading about Clara hiding her face, not with a hug but with a Dalek casing. That makes up for my biggest gripe with the episode, which was that Clara did jack shit and existed to be Missy’s “familiar”/punching bag for 45 minutes. I like the proactive Clara from Flatline, and sidelining Clara don’t sit right with me.

    As for the sunglasses… well, they’re both silly and rad. Your reading is in stark comparison to a friend of mine’s, who simply yelled “Fuck Moffat” over and over in review space. So yeah. Rad.


  3. Simon
    October 1, 2015 @ 8:16 am

    Ok, elephant in the room time. I know this site can’t be arsed with any “hero’s journey” readings, but what about the villain’s journey? I think Moffat has shown us too many parallels this time to then politely sweep it under the carpet.

    Davros is Vader. “But of course he is!” say both fandoms at once. Yes, but he’s totally borrowed wholesale from Lucas in writing his origin story.

    The “1138” reference in The Magician’s Apprentice set off some major squeeing on Tumblr.
    The child in the desert, we eventually learn is rescued by his future “enemy”. He’s born into conflict in this case, Skaro’s endless war. As Anakin is born into slavery. Both are shown “another way”, specifically by being shown the value of mercy (that’s slightly a stretch, but the way of the Jedi is merciful). Both Davros and Anakin will have to rely on life-sustaining pods and “armour” to function. Their eyes will both be shielded or closed. They will raise unstoppable armies to forge their own empires, that aren’t really their own. Their worst enemies will be their own friends.

    Oh, and if the point wasn’t hammered home enough, Davros paraphrases Vader with “I want to see with my own eyes”.


  4. SeeingI
    October 1, 2015 @ 8:53 am

    I was intrigued by the vampire / cannibalism references in these episodes. You had vampire monkeys (seen only as glowing eyes), the Doctor accused Davros of “vampiring” off his creations, and then Davros exults that his Daleks “shall drink the blood of Gallifrey.” The Dalek remnants emerge from the catacombs, and the hand mines thrust up as if from graves. Then of course Missy implies she may very well eat Clara, and Clara is, in a sense, eaten by the Dalek shell as well. And we already know from “Into the Dalek” that Daleks eat people. And of course, the whole story was a cannibalization of various bits of old Dalek stories!


    • Ger of All Trades
      October 1, 2015 @ 9:49 am

      Combined with the stuff about ancient Gallifreyan legends of a terrible hybrid creature, this makes me wonder if we’ll see the Great Vampires return in some form. It could all get a bit Faction Paradox.


      • SeeingI
        October 1, 2015 @ 10:28 am

        Oh, YES please!


  5. UrsulaL
    October 1, 2015 @ 9:01 am

    Some random bits:

    The hand mines might be considered a mirroring of the birth process – not expelling something into life, but drawing something down and in to death. An interesting attribute for a matricentric symbol.

    Missy’s “pointy stick” does seem rather like a magic wand, doesn’t it?


  6. Jane Campbell
    October 1, 2015 @ 9:21 am

    Another interesting bit: Missy’s story functioning as synecdoche. The first half of the story is about how to teleport away from danger, which is how she and Clara escaped. The end, on the other hand, involves falling into the Underground and confronting “vampires” — which is how the Doctor describes Davros’s feeding on Dalek heartbeats. And of course, Missy and Clara end up in the Underworld, too. 🙂


    • Azure b
      October 1, 2015 @ 12:00 pm

      Another point about their inverse arrivals/positions in pt1 and pt2. When Missy and Clara first arrived in pt1 the is camera peering down on them but then we see they’re actually on high ground above the Doctor who is ‘down low.’
      Later Clara has a moment when she meets him, saying “This isn’t you.” Mirroring the moment in pt2 when The Doctor finds her in the Dalek and he is looking down on her.


    • Azure b
      October 1, 2015 @ 12:07 pm

      Oh, and both the Doctor and Clara appear to each other from their underworlds on, or in, a kind of “Tank”, hiding their faces, and having inverse expressions of emotional catharsis. Both while trying not to do harm while being egged on to kill or do battle.


  7. Anton B
    October 1, 2015 @ 9:34 am

    Loving ‘The Alchemist’s Pupils’ as an overall title. Guessing the pun on pupils as both students and eyes is deliberate. I’m racking my brain for a chance to use the phrase ‘eyes as big as sorcerers’. Oh, I just did.

    The Dalek gun is nothing if not a high tech pointy stick isn’t it? “Don’t get emotional it fires the gun!”. What a perfect encapsulation of the Dalek’s dillema. Daleks are (contrary to opinion and some lesser writers) not emotionless beings but creatures of strong emotions. Indeed they almost display signs of being what used to be called ‘highly strung’ and is now accepted as signnifiers of the autism spectrum. Their propensity to wave their arm around, scream and spin on the spot when distressed. Horrifically, their only outlet for those emotions is to lash out with deadly force.

    I suppose this touches on the whole ‘ableist’ debate. Was the Doctor right to tip Davros out of his chair? Is he right to mock, as he always does, the obviously mentally deranged Daleks? Why has the “my vision is impaired” line now become a recurring jokey meme?

    I’m not interested in a ‘political’ debate around this but I’d certainly like to hear opinions (Jane and anyone else) on the symbolic significance of the ‘disabled’ as both other, monster and magical entity.


  8. Azure b
    October 1, 2015 @ 10:52 am

    I love these interpretations. This stuff is like candy for my brain, thank you!
    Couple of thoughts: Missy essentially calls Clara a pet, in Pt. 1, which of course foreshadows her role as the “Familiar” in Pt2. A ‘Familiar’ was believed to be demon or animal spirit that assists the Witch by changing it’s shape to divine information for her and act as her spy (thus any old lady with a black cat, frog or stray dog as a pet was suspected of being a Witch). Clara the ‘pet dog’ in pt 1, becomes the Dalek in pt2 to help Missy get to The Doctor.
    This transformation only occurs after they’ve gone below ground, after Clara attempts to threaten Missy.

    Further thoughts on the meditation theme: In pt1, The Doctor says, “It’s my party and all of me is invited…” then we hear him enact a number of different accents while confronting Davros. As “Davros remembers” so does The Doctor, by literally conjuring up past selves in this conversation. Meditation is acceptance of the whole self, dark, light, etc.


  9. SeeingI
    October 2, 2015 @ 10:31 am

    More mirroring – Clara is “a good Dalek.”


  10. 5tephe
    October 12, 2015 @ 1:17 am

    Alright Jane – so you like the sonic sunglasses, because they are mirrors. I get what you are saying, but think that unfortunately sunglasses themselves have far too much semantic weight of male, cool, aloof, bluster to let them be used subversively by the Doctor.

    So a question: If the sunglasses go, and a screwdriver is too obviously phallic, then what should we have? What will Tamsin Greig wield during her tenure? Would a sonic wrench be still too “wave aroundy”? Matron Cofelia used a sonic pen, what does that say about her?

    You’re going to go for a Sonic Mirror, obviously. Is that what Missy is holding in that top image?


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