It has been highly speculated that this episode, "Face The Raven", will see the end -- in one way or another -- of Clara Oswald. Either way, we see her reunite with graffiti artist (and former young offender) Rigsy, as Maisie Williams' Ashildr also pops back into the fray.
Like a lot of great episodes, we start with The Doctor and his companion running back into the TARDIS in post-adventure rush. The TARDIS phone rings, and it turns out Clara had given Rigsy the number without permission. He's concerned because he suddenly has a tattoo (Note to self: The Doctor will not take you back in time to stop yourself from getting a regrettable tattoo.) which seems to be counting down.
We have the theme sequence back! Wee-ooo-ooo!
Rigsy has a family and a baby now, who is super cute. Even The Doctor is smitten. Rigsy says that he left the house yesterday as usual, but no one saw him during the whole day. He has no memory of it at all. His phone screen is cracked and wiped, despite never remembering dropping it. He gets a quick TARDIS scan, and he has been in close proximity with (abducted by?) aliens recently -- I guess, non-Doctor aliens. The Doctor has a hard time delivering the news that Rigsy is about to die (said to Clara -- noteworthy). Rigsy says that The Doctor can stop it from happening, and he agrees!
They head to the map room in the Great British Library to look for evidence of hidden streets in London. There should be a map that has a street that doesn't exist anymore. Clara has been showing off her knowledge a lot this series; she's showing her worth in time to leave us. This time, she tells us about "trap streets" used by cartographers to tell if their work has been stolen. The Doctor pulls a great 'silly humans' face when saying that an entire street on a map doesn't exist, and we just assume it's to prevent copyright infringement.
Flying high in the TARDIS, they make a sonic map of the area. When walking around and counting aloud, if you get close to a trap street, you will lose count even if you're trying to focus. The problem is that the confusion seeps into your brain (just like if you had to read this sentence a few times to understand it).
Clara is sent back to the TARDIS to pick up The Doctor's 'most annoying stuff' and notices that Rigsy's phone data has been restored. He got a call the morning before, and suddenly he remembers a body and some a vampire-looking creature.
The trap street is immediately visible to Rigsy, and soon they can see it, too. They step on a circuit that freezes them in place, and folks who have digital monster-y costumes (or digital-y human costumes!) start surrounding them. It's a refugee camp, and it appears Ashildr (she remembers! Kind of...) is in charge. She doesn't remember Clara but has read their conversations many times. The Doctor lost track of her after their last meeting.
Ashildr says that Rigsy has committed a crime and has been sentenced, but she was kind enough to let him go home to say goodbye to his family. She has a sweet new tattoo around her neck and chest which moves as she breathes. The Doctor requires that no one else will be endangered; she ensures that Clara will be under her personal protection. She really goes by Mayor Me now, not Ashildr, and Rigsy is whispered to be a 'murderer' by one of the digital men.
This street looks quite like Diagon Alley -- maybe it is! -- and Me says that everyone there is under a peace treaty, as we see an Ood helping a Cyberman. Me takes them to see the body of a Janus woman and says Rigsy supposedly killed her. There is a raven in a cage -- clearly the one that will need to be 'faced'. When we see the countdown on his neck again, it's obvious that it's happening in real time (or close, anyway). Clara is convinced that Rigsy was called to appear there over the woman's body as a patsy.
We get to see Me hand out some more justice; a man has stolen from the community, so she will not remove his countdown. As her tattoo (the Quantum Shade, says The Doctor) seems to fly away, the raven dissipates from the cage and chases him as he runs away. The raven catches up to the man and enters his body, and he breathes out the raven smoke, falling dead. Me explains that choosing to break the peace means choosing to face the raven. They have to prove Rigsy's innocence to the community, not just her, for his sentence to be removed.
Rigsy chats with his partner on the phone and tries to calm his baby. Clara chats with one of the guys about the Quantum Shade and learns that it can be given to another being if it is taken willingly. Clara has a plan, suddenly, that she doesn't want The Doctor to know. She will take his sentence, as she is under the absolute personal protection of Me; Me won't kill her, which buys them time to find the real killer and clear Rigsy's name. They figure out how to transfer the countdown, and Clara mentions how much she loves Jane Austen again (tiny wolf whistle).
They start interviewing the community. Anah (the murder victim) was beloved in their street. The Doctor speaks to a man (he said "they always run" when the raven appeared) who remembers that Rigsy shouted aloud, very scared, begging to see a doctor when he was standing over Anah's body. Everyone heard him shouting, so Me heard him and knew he was asking for THE Doctor.
Clara finds Anah's son -- he is actually a she, and her mother dressed him as a boy to avoid anyone knowing her abilities as a female Janus. She can't tell them what they need to know because she can't tell The Doctor's past from his future. There's just too much. She pronounces that Me lured him there because she needs him; he can't resist a mystery. He realises that Me lied to him, too -- the Janus don't bury but burn their dead, so she wasn't sending Anah's body to be buried.
Anah is actually alive! There is a keyhole on the machine holding her in stasis. Me wants The Doctor to use his TARDIS key to release Anah, and he is willing to do it to help. He is instantly locked with a metal bracelet. Me shows up and explains that she had a deal with the people of the street -- they want him. It's a teleport bracelet, not a restraint. She also wants his confession dial, and he hands it over.
She offers to take Rigsy's countdown tattoo off his neck, admitting he's innocent. Clara reveals that she has the countdown now; Me looks very distraught. She can't protect Clara anymore; she made a deal with the Shade, and she has to deliver a soul when one is sentenced. Clara cut her out of the deal. I'm not sure what she was going to do with Rigsy since she said she was taking his sentence away.
Clara says they can fix it. The Doctor says that they can't -- but Me can! The Doctor will bring EVERYONE he's ever met, good and bad, to her street, and he has never been stopped before. Clara is taking ownership of her decision. She's been with him all along, really. She doesn't want to see him for the last time like that. The raven is on its way, and she must face it. Me says there's nothing she can do at all.
Is anyone else feeling a little guilty about "Me" being responsible for this? It's like when someone you read a short story written in second person -- YOU feel very guilty about something you had no part of doing.
Clara invokes Danny Pink. If he can die right, looking it right in the face, so can she. Everyone has their regrets -- The Doctor is less breakable, Rigsy didn't know what was going to happen -- but she won't hear any of it. She warns The Doctor not to change because of her death. "Don't be a warrior. Be a doctor [...] Don't become a monster." She knows him too well.
He wants her to stay until the end, but she wants to face the raven on her own. She wants him to be proud of her.
I'M NOT CRYING. YOU ARE.
Gragh, I didn't even like Clara for most of her run. This is not okay.
She walks out into the street, and the raven appears. She walks slo-mo toward it, and The Doctor is totally not listening to her instructions and follows her outside. She begs to be brave and lets the raven enter her.
IT'S JUST THE MUSIC. THAT'S CLEARLY WHY YOU'RE EMOTIONAL.
She takes her last breaths, and the raven smoke comes out. She falls to the ground, and The Doctor goes pale. There was nothing he could have done. His last companion chose to be brave, too. I know there's a lot of criticism about the companions being waify women recently, but they are getting stronger, too.
The Doctor returns to Me, and he threatens her. "You'll find that it's a very small universe when I'm angry with you." The bracelet starts to glow, and he disappears in a white light.
After the credits but before the 'next time...', we get a lovely little memorial to Clara. Rigsy has decorated the TARDIS to be covered with flowers. He included a photo of Clara on the front and walks away without his spray paint can.
Were you prepared to see Clara go? Were you prepared to invest in Kleenex stock? (If you're an Adele fan, too, it must be a tough weekend for your emotional well-being.) What's the remainder of this series going to be like without a companion? Where is The Doctor now?
Okay, I have an extra little bit of theory to work through here. Let me know what you think. I've been hypothesising practically all series that #ClaraIsDead (you know, before this episode), but I think even more now that this episode happened long before we think chronologically. I have been thinking that The Doctor has already seen Clara die before (at least most of) this series took place. Now, we have a new piece of the puzzle -- has anyone been paying attention to the way he has been dressing? At the start of Series 8, he was dressing very formally. He eventually added the star-gazer jumper to the ensemble. This series, he's mostly been seen in graphic t-shirts with his hoodie under the jacket. He wore the t-shirt/hoodie combo pretty consistently through Episode 8 of this series; in the last episode, he was wearing his star-gazer jumper again, and, in this episode, he is back in a velvet suit with a proper shirt. Do you think we're actually moving backward to see when Clara died, and the adventures of this series are when he goes back to grab her from the past? He already knows she goes, but he just can't let her go yet. Judging by this episode, I would guess that it happens not too long after she meets Rigsy (she's not so surprised by his call) and mentions Danny after not talking about him since Christmas. I could be WAY off base (it's happened once or twice before), but I think we are, at least, picking up bread crumbs that were intentionally left to tease us.