*** NOTE: SPOILER ALERT *** If you have not yet watched the first half of season 7, or the Christmas Special, watch those first.
When we meet The Doctor (D11) in Victorian England, on the verge of meeting The Snowmen, he is sulking about, withdrawn and bitter, and has been hiding out atop a cloud above London for some time, brooding his loss of Amy and Rory. His friends (Vastra, Jenny, Strax) are unable to engage him in any of their work and investigations, so why is he on Earth at this time? He seems to be waiting.
He says he’s spent “Over 1,000 years of saving the world Strax, here is the one thing I’ve learned – the universe doesn’t care.” We can deduce that some significant amount of time has passed since the departure of Amy and Rory, since a number of years have lapsed from his point of view. Given that he’s been on Earth, bitter and withdrawn, we can also assume it’s been a long while since he spent any time with his wife, River Song (RS), who’s locked up in Stormcage Prison.
When we last saw the D11, after Amy & Rory were zapped into an inaccessible past by the Weeping Angels, he was in the TARDIS, morosely commiserating with RS. It would have been safe to assume that his further adventures (the second half of the 7th Season and beyond) would include RS making more frequent appearances as his companion, except that we viewers had already been told to expect a new companion, played by Jenna Louise Coleman. We were introduced to Oswin as a Dalek in the Asylum of the Daleks, and now to Clara as a Victorian-era governess. In attempting to resolve the discrepancy and discover the true identity of Clara Oswin Oswald (COO), I’ve compiled some brief notes:
D11 is seemingly on Earth deliberately and intentionally seeking her. He communicates to Vastra that he encountered her, but she did not say “the two words“; suddenly, COO drops in through the roof of his carriage and says, “Doctor? Doctor Who?” which apparently are the two words he was waiting to hear.
The question “Doctor Who?” as we know from Dorium Maldovar is “The first question! The question that must never be answered, hidden in plain sight. The question you’ve been running from all your life… Doctor who?” The question which will be asked on “the fields of Trenzalore”, followed by “the fall of the Eleventh.” After this, COO has other moments where she seemingly has similar – if not completely the same – memories of her “previous” incarnation at the Asylum:
- During her “one word” test, the word she uses to get D11 to become involved in events is “Pond”.
- “Run you clever boy, and remember” both Oswin and Clara’s last words.
- Her incredible intellectual brilliance – she understands why D11 gave her the umbrella.
Given these tidbits, and knowing that by necessity, COO plays a vital role in D11’s identity (both past and future), I’ve come to the conclusion that COO may very well be a new (perhaps old) incarnation of River Song. Her intelligence, her strength, her cheekiness are all strongly reminiscent of RS as well. Alex Kingston is getting along in age, and even though she remains a fantastic part of DW, it’s inevitable that her age will catch up with her. It may be that COO is one of RS’s past or possible future regenerations, but I also think that it is possible that perhaps RS found a way to escape The Library as a data ghost following her self-sacrificing “death” in order to save the Doctor, knowing that The Doctor would eventually figure out a clever way of saving her. If so, it’s a way to write Alex out, while keeping River in.
The Doctor once said that Captain Jack Harkness was a fixed point in time. It is possible that River / Clara is also, and the universe has figured out a way to allow her to escape, so she can fulfill her purpose at Trenzalore. Oswin is seemingly the person who got “the question” going by altering the Dalek hive mind’s memories, compounding D11’s actions after he faked his death to fool The Silence. D11 may spend the entirety of the season working on bringing up her memories as RS so that they can continue where they left off. Or, of course, I may be completely and utterly wrong and Doctor Who lead writer Steven Moffat may have thoroughly tricked me yet again. He’s done it before.
I’ll update this post as events (episodes) warrant. Keep running.