NOTE: The following post contains minor SPOILERS for Season 9 of Doctor Who.
Over the last half century, one of the only reliable truisms for the world of science fiction has been that Doctor Who will always evolve. Through a constant stream of human companions as well as the titular Doctor’s regenerations, the tone and direction of the legendary BBC series is ever changing, keeping things fresh and new year after year, decade after decade. On the show, as with life, change is the only constant.
After a 16 year hiatus, Doctor Who was brought back in 2005 to critical and fan acclaim the world over. During its present 9 season run, fans have mourned the loss of Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant, and Matt Smith in the role of The Doctor (currently portrayed by Peter Capaldi). Additionally, fans have also endured the loss of human companions. While we’ve known for some time that current companion Clara Oswald (Jenna Coleman) would be ending her tenure with The Doctor at some point in season 9, we now know that her exit may not be a particularly happy one.
On the tails of this week’s announcement that Peter Capaldi would remain in the starring role for at least another season, and Doctor Who would continue on the air for a least another 5 years, Metro reported on an appearance current showrunner Steven Moffat made at a convention in Italy last weekend. After a screening of this season’s premiere episode, “The Magician’s Apprentice,” Moffat along with Doctor Who writer Jamie Mathieson participated in a Q&A with fans, and were asked about the upcoming fate of Clara.
Moffat is typically guarded when talking about upcoming events on the show but his response may not bode well for the current companion.
“Clara is gone and will never return. I can only say that what will happen will shock, surprise and terrify. Strictly in that order.”
Doctor Who has never been a series that shies away from emotionally impactful departures. Clara’s immediate predecessors, Amy Pond (Karen Gillan, Guardians of the Galaxy) and her husband Rory (Arthur Darvill, Legends of Tomorrow) left Whovians worldwide with tears in their eyes and lumps in their throats - when the pair were sent back in time by Weeping Angels unable to ever see The Doctor again. After such an emotional send-off, it would be hard to top the recent departure, but from the sound of things, Moffat and company are certainly aiming for something shocking to cap off Clara’s run (which began midway through season 7).
For some viewers, Clara's presence remains a divisive issue - and many fans expected Clara’s departure to come as early as last year’s Christmas special. Still, while the end of Clara’s run has been met with a general sense of relief for some, no one is anxious to see her story end on a sad note. Similarly, Moffat remains equally divisive but the showrunner's leadership has seen the series reach new heights - both in terms of story quality and overall emotional impact.
That is to say, while we don’t know the details of Clara’s “shocking” departure, fans can bet the writer will pull no punches, leaving fans - and The Doctor himself - emotionally gutted in the process.
There’s no word yet on when to expect Clara’s departure, but it’s a safe assume that it’ll happen before River Song (Alex Kingston) reappears for the 2015 Christmas Special. We’ve already crossed the halfway point this season, and giving The Doctor a new sense of anger and direction would be a great way to cap off the season and move the Time Lord into new territories. We’ll keep you posted with more information as it develops.
Doctor Who airs Saturday nights at 9pm/8 central on BBC America