Since Death in Heaven a month ago, I’ve been super excited for the Doctor Who Christmas special, Last Christmas. While others have been counting down days to the holidays, I’ve been counting down days to Doctor Who. So after presents were opened, unboxed, and played with, I changed into my black “twelve jacket”, grabbed my new sonic screwdriver (Thanks honey!) and settled in to what was the real highlight of my Christmas day.
Last Christmas: Trust Nothing
Last Christmas capstoned many of the themes of series 8 involving the relationship between Clara and the Doctor, specifically addressing the lies they told one another at the end of Death in Heaven. While lying became a big part of Clara’s character in series 8, I believe that the events of Last Christmas closed that theme by showing that all falsehood should be stripped away. With the Doctor and Clara struggling to throw off the webs of the Dream Crabs deceptions, the plot of the entire episode literally became – discover the truth or die.
Only 13 seconds in and we see the yellow lights on the banister. Yellow lights appear throughout the episode, like dream crab spider webs weaving and hanging from every surface. Every dream sequence has them and they don’t disappear until the very final scene. In the “mirror” discussion threads on Gallifrey Base it is largely accepted that often times in Doctor Who, yellow is used to signify death. (On a side note, generally the Doctor is blue, Clara red, and this season yellow was often Danny’s color (especially in In the Forest of the Night). Foreshadowing perhaps?) Anyway, so here we have Clara waking up in a house that has the yellow Dream Crab webs of deception and death. Oh, and a chair lift.
Enter, Santa. Santa is wearing red. Please note that we don’t see the doctor’s red lining this entire episode, the Doctor is wearing black/blue and Clara is wearing blue (usually the doctor’s color). Clara tells the elves to “shut up” – very doctorish.
The polar base is also full of yellow lights, not just Christmas lights and Christmas trees, but random yellow lights on the consoles and wall, even their head cams when they are activated. The lighting in general on the polar base is fantastic!
Notice that the crab face people on the beds are covered with sheets. If this were a infirmary you would expect to see blankets (especially on a polar base that is obviously cold), but instead there are sheets, like a morgue.
Now back to the lying theme.
Clara: So we’re dying then
Doctor: Oh, it’s complicated (Notice the vague answer. That comes into play later)
Clara: How long do we have
Doctor: No idea.
Clara: Just, Doctor, give me something to do.
Doctor: Trust nothing. Accept nothing you see. Whatever happens – interrogate everything.
Clara: In case it’s a lie.
Doctor: In case it’s a lie.
So to live, to combat the dying, they must not trust lies.
The Doctor later talks about the Dream Crab keeping you in a relaxed state, they keep you happy. He even describes it as merciful, as they dissolve your brain. The lies told in Death in Heaven were like this. Both Clara and the Doctor wanted the other to be happy; they were trying to be merciful. But in the end they hurt each other.
The scene where Clara is attacked by the dream crab is both beautiful and heart breaking. The lighting is incredible. The white light coming from above as she hides from the table and the illuminated crab slime is perfect! And here we get to the very core of Clara. She’s sorry. She’s sorry for all the lies she told Danny. Her lies resulted in his death. She’s not concerned for her own life as much as in her last minutes she is seeking forgiveness for the lies.
In Clara’s dream state there are yellow circles on the curtains and Danny enters wearing red. Danny is Santa and Santa’s roll in the dream state is to provide salvation. This is fitting for Danny. He is no longer in yellow; He is now wearing the red of the martyr.
There are more yellow dream crab webs of deception and death, handing akimbo from the ceilings and walls. Can I just add that the sound editing, is fabulous when the doctor’s voice, distorted, is trying to break through, and then it all fading away into Clara’s theme.
Entering Clara’s dream, the Doctor talks again about how the dream crabs deception is an “antiseptic”. Lies are an antiseptic to mask and cover pain and hurt. Lies don’t prevent it; they just cover it while it gets worse.
After waking from the Danny dream there is a great eye shot of Clara. Looking someone in the eye is a metaphor for seeing the truth. In this shot Clara tells us that she is not okay, truth, and also she sees that they are still in a dream, truth.
The manuals they read that predict their death are what color?
And the flare that Ashley lights?
Now in the sleigh the dominant colors are blue and red: the Doctor and Clara. It is also where they are reconciled. They see the truth more clearly now.
In Old Clara’s home the dream crabs web of deception and death are still present. The Doctor put a yellow paper hat on Clara’s head. Old Clara is close to death. The Christmas cracker is yellow and reminiscent of Clara opening a cracker with old Eleven before he regenerated.
In the last and true wakening, The Doctor wakes up In a sea of red (the volcano?), and Clara’s bedroom is blue. There are no yellow lights. Clara asks for a mirror. She wants to see herself clearly. She wants to see who she truly is with all the lies swept away. She smiles and declares it “good”. She is redeemed.
The episode ends with Clara and the Doctor running off hand in hand. Clara is in white, the doctor black, the Yin and Yang together again. They are light, and happy, unburdened finally from all the deception and lies. The Doctor talks of second chances, and isn’t that what redemption is after all?