Warning: contains spoilers for Doctor Who: Flux ‘The Halloween Apocalypse’
“Nothing’s as it should be, Yaz. Too much out of the ordinary tonight.”
Between The Flux, the dog, the new Companion, the Sontarans, the Swarm, his sister, the Outpost, the Doctor’s hunt for information about the Division, and the TARDIS malfunctions, ‘The Halloween Apocalypse’ barely paused for breath. One sequence though, slowed things down and created a much-needed moment of hushed intrigue amid all the noise and rushing about.
Outside Anfield Stadium on the trail of Karvanista, Yaz is busily telling the Doctor off for refusing to confide her secrets, when a woman runs up to the TARDIS. She knows the Doctor, but the Doctor doesn’t yet know her. “I didn’t expect to see you here, not tonight,” says the woman, astonished to happen upon the TARDIS in this way. Yaz asks if they’ve met before and she tells her not yet, but they will do, in the past “if it’s true”. She introduces herself as Claire.
“I didn’t even know you’d be here,” says Claire, and with her next words, a realisation dawns across her face, “I was just taking the long way home… because it’s Halloween.” In that moment, we later understand, Claire appears to have understood something grave: this will be the day it happens. After the Doctor and Yaz have bounded off in search of the Lupari, she’s left alone in the street and steels herself saying “You’ve got to go home now, Claire.” The sense is that Claire knows what’s waiting for her at home – a Weeping Angel, and the end of her life as she knows it. Annabel Scholey’s performance is quietly intense and makes this brief sequence and one of the episode’s most stirring moments.
What follows is a horror sequence in which Claire attempts to escape the Angel by following instructions. “Mustn’t blink. If you blink, they’ll move. Don’t blink.” The instructions are there for any newcomers to Doctor Who’s Weeping Angels – a quantum-locked species that can only move when unobserved, and who zap their victims into the past and feed off the time energy of the life they now won’t get to live – but also to tell us that somebody has already introduced Claire to the concept of these creatures. Was it the Doctor?
Knowing the theory is one thing, but putting it into practice is another, and the Angel gets what it came for. Claire disappears, sent backwards in time, and her front door is left swinging on its hinges. So… what was all that about?
It seems likely that the Doctor and Yaz will meet Claire in the past where she’s been trapped by the Weeping Angel. Perhaps that past will be the 1960s, as the technology and outfit of the below image from a future episode, might suggest. But who told Claire that was going to happen to her and how was she able to recognise the Doctor and Yaz ‘before’ meeting them in the past? It seems as though Claire was told a prophecy of sorts, that perhaps involved the words ‘Halloween’ and ‘take the long way home’, as they seemed to be her trigger for realising what she was about to face.
On that last point, a few fans have spotted a similarity in Claire’s “take the long way home” and the phrase “take the long way around” associated with the Twelfth Doctor and Clara. That’s what Clara said she was planning to do on her way to Gallifrey in the stolen TARDIS with Ashildr before returning to take her final breath in Series Nine’s ‘Hell Bent‘. Claire and Clara both being versions of the same name (meaning ‘clear’ or ‘bright) and actors Jenna Coleman and Annabel Scholey sharing a certain look has led some to wonder if Claire could be one of the splintered selves Clara scattered through the Doctor’s time line when she saved him in Series Seven finale ‘The Name of the Doctor’, just with a different appearance. It’s a theory.
Another similarity might be noted to the Doctor’s first meeting with River Song, in which she recognised him but he only saw her as just a pushy archaeologist in a particularly well-fitted spacesuit (in Series Four’s ‘Silence in the Library‘). Could a future/past of time-hopping meetings along the Doctor’s timeline be on the cards for Claire too?
Any more for any more? Perhaps she’s a lost Companion from a forgotten regeneration after the Division memory wipe, with a timeline more complicated than most. Perhaps the Doctor and Yaz will rescue her from her Weeping Angel fate, and bring her back to modern day Liverpool, creating a paradox that would have the TARDIS cloister bell ringing its head off? Perhaps she’s destined to play a part in the Doctor’s next regeneration. Perhaps there’s a particular reason the Weeping Angels targeted her to send back in time? Is she connected to Sally Sparrow, from the Weeping Angels’ debut episode ‘Blink’? Or perhaps Claire is just an ordinary human whose life intersects with the Doctor’s, like any other guest star. Doctor Who: Flux has five episodes left to explain…
Doctor Who: Flux continues on Sunday the 7th of November on BBC One, BBC iPlayer and BBC America.