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Excellent review. I always value your insight (and Sean's on the podcast) into what must be one of the most complex, yet human, relationships on TV in the last few years.To answer one of the plot questions you felt was left in the air, the Raven's mechanics were explained at the very end, when you're clearly being swept up in the emotion of Clara's impending demise; the Raven is a shade that Ashildr uses to police the street. Once she marks someone with it, either they die or get someone to willingly take the death sentence for them. You can only pass it on once, however, as that is all the contract allows for.Also, praise must be given to Steven Moffat for almost stepping back a little bit and allowing the series arc to develop naturally over the season instead of being squeezed into his arc-heavy episodes. Sarah Dollard wrote Clara's (his character, in effect) departure episode, and whilst I'm sure Moffat had a hand in both this and every other story this season, it's shown him at his strongest as a showrunner, I feel. This season feels like a single authorial whole, moreso than even Series 5.
Great review! However, the cynical side of me and many episodes of Doctor Who (closing in on all) tell me that Clara isn't really permanently dead. I guess it remains to be seen if Jenna Coleman shows up in the last two episodes of the season, regardless of the incarnation of her character, if that will partly ruin this episode on future viewings.
I think Clara is dead, but that we will see her again in the finale. It would feel wrong for her not to be there, in one form or another. If the last scene of the season isn't Capaldi and Coleman, in one last exchange, it would feel wrong to me. Time travel, time lord technology, flashback, dream, something - I think this season needs to end on the two of them. But I think she'all stay dead, and I don't think that will cheapen this episode. The emotions are still pure. If they bring her back to life, yeah, that would suck. But I don't see Moffat rolling that way. Anyway, just my two cents. Glad you enjoyed the review!