While it would be so much easier to provide recaps rather than critiques of episodes of Doctor Who, particularly because I fancy myself a great fan of the series and have trouble being objective in my observations of the show, it is my bounded duty to be clear about what I thought.
To be honest, “Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS” was not all I had hoped it would be. However, it did raise some necessary questions.
It was probably a mistake looking up the writer for the episode before watching. I was unknowingly forcing myself into high hopes when I learned that Stephen Thompson was responsible for writing three episodes of Sherlock, one of which was the finale of the second season of the show – a real cliffhanger of an episode and one that has kept me guessing for months.
There was something that didn’t quite strike me about this episode of Doctor Who however. It had the potential for greatness, I thought. Certainly a lot of interesting moments, particularly with the tension built as the Doctor searched around the TARDIS for Clara, convincing the men helping him that they were on a timed schedule – 30 minute before the ship self-destructed.
Unfortunately, the characters following the Doctor around almost seemed incidental. They didn’t contribute too greatly to the story. Their subplot, however mildly surprising, was not particularly intriguing. I found myself waiting ever-patiently to see Clara and the Doctor reunited because the Doctor without a companion just didn’t entertain half as well.
The end of the episode relaxed my misgivings however. Instead of being a particularly gimmick-y episode, it returned back to the ever-present question of “Who is Clara Oswald?” While there might not have been solid answers, there was some exploration of where her story could lead.
“There’s no point now, we’re about to die. Just tell me who you are,” the Doctor asked.
“You know who I am,” replied Clara.
“No I don’t. I look at you every single day and I don’t understand a thing about you. Why do I keep running into you?”
Eventually, we learn that even Clara doesn’t know why it is she’s popped up so many times in so many different places along the Doctor’s time stream. If she is some anomaly, then it’s unbeknownst to her as much as it is to the Doctor. And for us, that leaves a world of questions unanswered, which is really a major part of our interest in Clara.
Overall, I wouldn’t say that this episode kept me on the edge of my seat in the same way that a lot of episodes of Doctor Who do. It was interesting, weird, certainly filled with surprises. But it didn’t have that spark that some episodes manage to have. Maybe it’s because the Doctor and Clara were separated for so much of the action. Maybe it was that the guest actors weren’t particularly engaging. Maybe it was the story itself. I couldn’t be sure, but I know that there is promise for the next few episodes, for the rest of the season and for our continuing exploration of the question: Who is Clara Oswald?