Character death and the Return of [Spoiler]   Leave a comment

In the past The Moff has often been accused of rampant character murder. I suppose it has to do with Rory getting killed all the time, or River, or Clara on her first two appearances. However it’s an accusation I little understand. No major character killed in a Moffat ep has stayed dead, and a large share of the supporting cast is similarly favored. For example, the RTD era:

  • ‘The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances:’ Every zombified human, including the boy who died before the episode began, is restored to health and wholeness – in some cases better than they were before. Jack is saved from certain death by bomb.
  • ‘The Girl in the Fireplace:’ This is the one exception. However, since Madame de Pompadour died young in real life, it’s only logical that she should do so on Doctor Who. As ‘Vincent and the Doctor’ demonstrated, the Doctor’s influence does not spare historical figures their fate. However, her name lives on in a 51st-century spacecraft. Her legend must have been something – and that’s a kind of immortality.
  • ‘Blink:’ Kathy Nightingale and Billy Shipton do die – Billy on screen – but only after living long, full lives. Letting a character in their 80s pass away peacefully hardly counts as murder. The same can be said for Amy and Rory at the end of their run: yes, they die, but only after having fully lived. It’s quite unavoidable.
  • ‘The Doctor’s Daughter:’ Not a Moffat ep, but having Jenny come back at the end was reportedly Moffat’s idea. Kind of a great one, both for twisting the irony knife in the Doctor’s emotional arc, and for setting up a brilliant spinoff/comic/audio story opportunity.
  • ‘Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead:’ Every character killed is restored in the data core simulation, where they may presumably live long and happy lives.

Of course the trend has continued in his own era.

However, now the complaint seems to be that Moffat instead refuses to kill anyone, AND that the lack of final consequences damages the validity and effectiveness of his storytelling. I suppose that such an argument could be made, although there are plenty of perfectly effective stories out there in which no one dies; more likely, it’s just the latest hill for the anti-Moff crowd to die on. (Keep in mind I say this as a non-Moffat fan.) It’s perfectly fine to not prefer his storytelling choices; it’s silly to pretend they’re inherently bad.

With that out of the way, let’s move on to what’s really important:

She's back!

She’s back!

Osgood’s death in ‘Death in Heaven’ was rather pathetic. She just stood there and got shot: she wasn’t fighting back, or running, or racing the clock to perform some task that would have saved her. There are a thousand better ways it could have been done. (Ask a Star Trek fan about Generations and you’ll get what I mean.) It’s beneath the character to die like that, and beneath the writer to let it happen.

Moffat spoke about her death after the fact. He seemed to think it was necessary; that in order for audiences to feel something about the Master, she had to kill someone those audiences cared about – and he’d already saved Kate Stewart. I don’t buy this argument. Making Cybermen is vile enough, particularly when Danny Pink’s mortal remains are drafted to this end. I almost feel that Moffat killed Osgood in response to complaints that he wasn’t killing anyone. He seems almost too reactive to fans that way sometimes. And then of course he went and obviated the whole point by bringing her back anyway.

Not that I care. Osgood is a great character: a possible descendant of the UNIT family, a scientist, a nerd, a fangirl, head over heels with admiration and asthma and yet capable of taking care of herself. Killing her was never much more than pointless. I look forward to having her back.

As far as the Watsonian means and reasons for her return are concerned, I prefer not to speculate. The Zygons are involved, so of course fans are wondering again whether it was the Zygon Osgood killed (Moff has said no, but Moff lies) or whether it’s Zygon Osgood coming back – supposedly impossible, as Zygons need a living model in order to maintain a replica. (Again, possible that Moff is ignoring this piece of canon – no one observed that the surviving Queen Elizabeth would have to have been the human version if the other were in fact killed.) Probably it will be something else far more nonsensical and timey-wimey. This is Moffat, after all.

Still, I don’t care. I’ll be happy to see Osgood again in whatever form.

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