Doctor Who and Clara "Face The Raven" (Series 9 Episode 10 Review)

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Doctor Who Face The Raven BBC Peter Capaldi

Doctor Who Series 9 - Episode 10 – Face The Raven

Writer: Sarah Dollard

Director: Justin Molotnikov





  • The Doctor - Peter Capaldi (Twelfth Doctor)
  • Clara Oswald Jenna Coleman (Clara Oswald)
  • Joivan Wade – Rigsy
  • Maisie Williams – Ashildr/Me
  • Naomi Ackie – Jen
  • Simon Manyonda – Kabel
  • Simon Paisley Day – Rump
  • Letitia Wright – Anahson
  • Angela Clerkin – Alien Woman
  • Jenny Lee – Elderly Woman
  • Robin Soans – Chronolock Guy
  • Caroline Boulton – Habrian woman

Quick Synopsis:  The Doctor and Clara get a call from Rigsy, a street artist they met back in the episode "Flatline".   Rigsy woke up one morning with no memory of the prior day and a mysterious tattoo on the back of his neck, which seems to be counting down.   Investigating this tattoo leads the Doctor and company to a hidden alien refugee camp right in the heart of London.  Rigsy has been accused of murder and when the countdown on his tattoo (called a chronolock) runs out, Rigsy will be killed by a creature called a Quantum Shade, unless they can prove his innocence.  This camp was set up by Ashilda.  As the Doctor pieces everything together, it turns out this was all a trap by a mysterious enemy to steal his TARDIS key and place a teleporter band on the Doctor.  Ashilda agreed to do this to keep the refugee camp safe.  Ashilda claims shee didn't think anyone would be hurt, but in a misguided attempt to try and cheat the system, Clara took the chonolock from Rigsy and the Quantum Shade kills Clara in the end.


  • We all knew Jenna Coleman was leaving at the end of the season.  And there have been plenty of hints this season that her recklessness was going to lead to her death.  All that said, it was still a surprise when and how she died.  The Quantum Shade seemed to be a relatively minor threat, and I assumed she would be around until the end of the season.   This all played real well off of "Flatline", when she was pretending to be the Doctor and considered Rigsy to be her companion.
  • The scenes where Clara realizes she's going to die are very well done.  Jenna Coleman is a great actress and these scenes ended up really carrying the episode, especially when she is determined to face her death as bravely as Danny did.  I also liked that she forced the Doctor to promise not to seek revenge.   It really felt like Clara's entire character arc led to these moments, and they were performed brilliantly.
  • Peter Capaldi's performance was also great.  I often think that Capaldi is by far the best actor to play the Doctor.  And nothing is scarier than the Twelfth Doctor when he's angry.  You don't often see the Doctor in this state, but Capaldi always makes those scenes extremely powerful.
  • I loved the idea of an alien refugee camp hidden in London.  I kept thinking of Diagon Alley from Harry Potter, though even more disturbing when you have Cybermen just hanging out in the middle of London.  I was also reminded of the comic series Postal.  Postal is about a town of criminals who have their own laws and rules to prevent chaos from destroying their secret community.    That said, I am not sure they used that potential to its full extent here.  We get a hint that the Doctor has many enemies here, but nothing comes of that.  I hope they do more with this refugee camp in a future episode.
  • The biggest problem with this episode for me is that there just really wasn't enough of a plot here to sustain the episode.  You have a murder mystery...but there really isn't much to investigate, since in the end we find out that the victim isn't even dead, just in stasis.  In fact, if the Doctor had done what Ashilda asked him to do in the first place (checked out the body), the episode would have been done in minutes.  I also thought that the Doctor gave up his TARDIS key way too easily.  Not to mention, it seemed like he should have been able to deactivate the teleporter.   It just seemed to me that with a little more thought and planning, the Doctor could have avoided all of the traps that were laid out for him here.  Especially once he realized Ashilda was lying about not knowing the connection between himself and Rigsy.
  • I did enjoy this episode as the "surprise" beginning of a 3-part finale.  Doctor Who has used this to great effect in the past with "Waters of Mars" and "Utopia", where we had no idea that these episodes were going to be so important towards leading to the season finales.  That said, "Face the Raven" wasn't quite as strong as those episodes.  "Waters of Mars" and "Utopia" both stand alone as great episodes of Doctor Who, and "Face the Raven" was good, but not quite great.
  • I did think the Quantum Shade was a cool "villain."  The setup here was genuinely creepy and the image of the raven flying after its target, which could not escape no matter where it hid, was really well done.  I also loved that the Doctor wasn't able to come up with a quick fix here.  Clara's death happened, and there was nothing the Doctor could do to stop it.  Powerful lesson to be learned here.  The Doctor doesn't always win.
  • I also liked seeing Rigsy again.  He's not all that memorable a character, to be honest, but I love when Doctor Who has some reoccurring characters.  Too often, the guest stars are all single-serve, so seeing Kate Stewart, Osgood, or even Rigsy makes me feel more connected to earlier episodes. 

Next Episode:  Heaven Sent –  BBC really needs to stop giving spoilers in the episode descriptions" “Trapped in a world unlike any other he has seen, the Doctor faces the greatest challenge of his many lives. One final test. And he must face it alone. Pursued by the fearsome creature known only as the Veil, he must attempt the impossible. If he makes it through, Gallifrey is waiting…”   So much for the mystery of where did the teleporter send the Doctor.  This promises to be a real unique episode with the Doctor as the only person in the cast.  No companions, no guest stars, just a silent creature called the Veil (played by Jami Reid-Quarrell  who played Colony Sarff in the season opener).  I love experimental episodes.  Hopefully, it will play out better than "Sleep No More."

3.5 / 5.0