Pink-Colored Glasses: Looking Towards the Future
Well wasn’t that an exciting episode, folks? Dark Water has certainly given us a lot to think about, especially in regards to what the future of Doctor Who might hold. In some ways though, nothing has changed a bit: there are infinite possibilities of where the show can go from here. I can think of nothing better to do than discuss them all right now…ok, I’m being told by our editor that I should definitely not do that. So fine, we’ll stick to some of the more plausible ones.
There has been a great deal of debate as to whether or not Clara will be leaving after this season. Jenna Coleman is keeping her lips sealed on the matter, so we won’t know for sure until next week, and if not then, Christmas. Personally, while I think this is possible, which is why I’ll be discussing it below, nothing that has come before indicates that it’s what we’re getting. It’s no secret that the decision to make Clara a teacher at Coal Hill School and then introduce Danny Pink as her love interest, coupled with an older Doctor, even, was done in an attempt to replicate the structure of the first season of Classic Who. There are so many arguments for or against Steven Moffat, but there is no denying that he is a true fan, through and through, and I highly doubt he would pass up this writing opportunity, especially after such a set up. My money is on us seeing the Doctor, Clara, Danny, and a student, most likely Courtney or Maebh, in the Tardis for Series 9.
But, contrary to what I like to shout loudly at parties, I’m not psychic. So what else could we be seeing? There’s a chance that one or both of our Coal Hill teachers could not be returning. If Danny truly remains in the land of the dead, it could provide a new level of character development for Clara, having to live with this terrible loss. Depending on where the Doctor ends up with the return of his arch foe, it very well may be that the Doctor and Clara will need each other more than ever. Or maybe Danny does come out of this ok, but Clara hands in her Tardis key(if there are any left!), finally having to go the way of Martha Jones and get out when she can.
Now picture for a minute a third option: Moffat pulls a switcheroo on us. After so often being put first by the man she loves, Clara takes the reigns and puts Danny first for once, exchanging her life for his. A distraught Danny thinks long and hard on how he can move on, and decides that what Clara would have wanted would be for the Doctor to keep having a companion; someone there to keep him in check and save him from himself. The Doctor initially refuses, still distraught himself, but can’t deny Danny’s argument. He opens the door for Danny, but tells him he’s there strictly on a temporary basis, until he finds someone else. Danny says that’s fine, but in Clara’s memory he’s not going to pull a single punch with the Doctor. We spend Series 9 seeing the two former-soldiers slowly soften to each other, maybe with the addition of a third team member to balance things out a bit, with them ultimately developing a begrudging respect for one another, if not a proper friendship. A little out there as far as predictions go, but it feels very Moffat to me, and really, what would the BBC be to do if Jenna Coleman wanted to leave this season and Samuel Anderson didn’t? If we don’t get our Barbara-Ian-Susan parallel for Series 9, I would find this to be a chilling and massively compelling runner-up.
My final idea is perhaps the most radical. Something that Moffat has proven in recent years is that he is very plugged in to the Doctor Who fandom. He reads message boards and the comments on interviews; he pays attention to how we react to things. If there’s an idea we push for that has the potential to get tied up in political red tape, he’ll try a compromise. A female Doctor still a little too out there for some people? Why look at that, a female Master! (My ego is telling me to refer you lovely people to my past article on everyone’s favorite psychotic Time Lord. No, not the Doctor!) Maybe we could be seeing that attitude towards fan input twofold in this finale. It has long been said that the Doctor should have a non-human companion; something not seen since the days of Classic Who. Maybe a human-adjacent companion would do? We see the dead are being downloaded into Cyberman bodies. What if Danny lives on as one of them? His flesh expired, Clara sees this option as the only way to save her beloved. Would Danny object? Would Clara let him? And what would the Doctor have to say about all this? It would make for a shocking twist that may even rival that of Missy’s identity, and could make for a brilliant, unique dynamic for Series 9 that would do justice to Moffat’s writing and the legacy of Doctor Who itself.