Doctor Who: Who is Clara Oswin Oswald?

Posted Sunday, December 30th, 2012 05:25 pm GMT -4 by

It’s been a few days since Christmas when Doctor Who dropped a bombshell about that new companion we’ve all been waiting for, and I think it’s time to start figuring out who she is.

I’ll admit that when I saw that the new companion was going to be named Clara and played by the same actress that played Oswin in Asylum of the Daleks, I was sort of annoyed. I thought it was going to be another case of reusing actors with a hastily explained “this is why they look the same”! And yes, I’m referring to you, Martha’s identical cousin who works at Torchwood.

Instead, they revealed that Oswin and Clara are one in the same. If that’s not a plot twist ripe for crazy theories, I don’t know what is. So, since it is Doctor Who, and Steven Moffat’s Doctor Who at that, I’d thought I’d try out one of my crazier theories, which is:

Clara Oswin Oswald is River Song.

Does this sound wilder than Spatial Genetic Multiplicity to explain why Gwen (Torchwood) and Gwyneth (Doctor Who) look the same? Yes, and admittedly so, but let me explain myself anyway.

1. “Watch me run.”

For me, one of the most potent moments in River Song’s long and incredibly complicated history is when she makes a speech in Silence in the Library. There, before her “death” we hear her say “you watch us run”. Then, when her data ghost is transferred to The Library, she has a beautiful monologue about “running with The Doctor” as way to describe her time with him. In saying “watch me run,” it’s almost as if The Doctor realizes that this is another beginning for he and River, and he makes a reference for only himself to understand. In other words, he realizes he may still have one Pond left.

2. One Word: Pond

In The Snowmen, there is a great scene where Clara is only allowed to explain why she needs to talk to The Doctor by using one word at a time. When asked what word can sum up everything that she needs to tell The Doctor, she says “Pond”, which after the traumatic events of Angels in Manhattan would be exactly the right word to choose. However, let’s pretend she didn’t know anything about this. “Pond”, then, is probably the most useless word she could have chosen. Divorced from Rory and Amy, “pond” doesn’t convey any of the urgency that she needed to get across. It doesn’t even explain why the pond that hold the evil ice monster is important. A few more pertinent words come to mind, really, like “children” and “nightmares”. But, then again, I probably would have failed that test, and The Doctor would be descending to a planet full of ice people much to his shock and dismay.

Still, despite it not being the most sensible word to use to describe danger, somewhere in her, Clara knew that “Pond” was the right word to say.

Now, it may seem like I’m stretching with this association, but Moffat is not a writer of convenience. He wouldn’t write this scene as just a way to get The Doctor interested in what’s happening around him by sheer happenstance of the homophonic “pond”. That’s more of a Russell T Davies way of writing. Normally, I would concede that this is just me reading far too much into this, but then I remember that it’s Steven Moffat, and he doesn’t write a word without it meaning something important later on. Even if Clara isn’t connected to River Song, I’ll wager she is connected Rory and Amy in some way.

3.  The Data Ghosts

The people who had been saved in The Library in the episode Silence in the Library, and The Forest of the Dead, rematerialize at the end of the episode as living flesh and blood. My supposition, then, is that Clara, by showing up in various different timelines despite dying in two of them, is actually River Song, manifesting through the transcendental consciousness of The Library.

Now, why she always physically manifests as Clara, and not the River as we know her, is another story altogether.  I would suggest that Clara is what River would have looked like if her genome wasn’t temporally messed with to have regenerations; that Clara is the little girl that regenerated in that alley way in the episode Day of the Moon.

Long story short, though, is that we don’t really know all the rules to The Library. There may be a way for River to exist outside of it.

4. The Kiss

I’m unabashedly a fan of the relationship between River and The Doctor, so I was initially shocked when Clara kissed him. “But he’s married!” I shouted at the screen. Then I came up with my crack pot theory that Clara was River, and everything was all right.

The Doctor can't help but have woman all over him in New!Who.

Yes, I was a bit mortified at first, but then I became aware of the fact that the way she flirted with him was definitely the way River always flirts with him, which made me realize that if Clara was River at a different time, there is probably something there that he’s reacting to. After all, Time Lords, no matter their regeneration, can always recognize one another. The principle may not completely apply to River seeing as she’s not really a Time Lord, but there could be something there that he sort of knows. It could also explain why he’s not totally uncomfortable with him flirting with her.

A more workable theory:

Clara is actually Captain Jack Harkness in disguise, which explains why she keeps coming back to life. Then, he keeps taking RetCon for some reason, which explains why she doesn’t remember things.

Okay, so it’s all pretty crackpot. I get that. My other theory is a complicated mess about Gangers, so I think it’s safe to say that there aren’t enough clues to figure out just who Clara is, though that obviously hasn’t stopped me from trying. I am, however, very excited to see what this new companion brings, be she River Song or not.

  • Hmm, The Doctor’s wife is the Tardis, yet he married River Song. Sounds to me like the Doctor follows the path of polygamy.

    • I’m not sure it counts as polygamy if you haven’t consummated either relationship.

      • anon

        According to River they have multiple times and once with two Doctors

        • Mamamew

          hey hey hey. You people are moffat people, people forget the doctor is centuries old, and was once married before, he had children and grandchildren. This concludes Susan Foreman, his grand-daughter from the first ever series. I know this has nothing to do with the subject, but River Song isn’t his first wife, and I don’t think he will ever love her as much as some of his other lovers. His TARDIS, Rose, and of course his original Family. Stop moaning polygamy, because its the 50th anniversary and this is no where near the first time. Make theories and don’t moan, its a science fiction story, not a soap opera/ sitcom.

          • Flashman

            You lost me at Rose :/

  • I don’t have any idea if that’s the case or not, but I love the theory. I’m a big River fan too, and had the same reaction when she kissed the Doctor. Your theory would make everything okay again :)

  • Rohan Pascall

    I don’t know about clara being river, i thought that I saw mels in the graveyard in the preview. She would be a time lady like Romania.

  • Aiden Rockwell

    The part with Clara being Jack could be expanded on. If you recall, in the episode where they were all put in game shows, there was a channel that said the Face of Boe had a baby named Boemina. That could be Clara.

  • Lisa0527

    I wonder of Clara is River’s attempt to create a self that the Doctor can remember? He can’t remember River, because they haven’t met yet. Sort of a time line synced version of River. Based on CAL, but with a specific mission to get the Doctor to remember River and save her from the library.

  • Sennarrion

    Clara Oswin Oswald is the doctor’s daughter.

    • Daniel Jacobs

      The doctor’s daughter kissed him. That seems a little odd to me.

      • Manwho Picksattinydetails

        It’s not an actual daughter; it’s his clone.

  • Jay

    I just watched Silence in the Library. The last words from Cal are “I’m a clever girl aren’t I?”. I would tend to believe that Clara is either a projection of River or Cal (Cal because she can go ‘anywhere’). Another funny thing is, that in that episode, there is a lot of talk about ghosts and ‘ghosting’. Clara’s last words in the graveyard was, “I’m not afraid of ghosts.”. I thought about Captain Jack being her, but, can not make the connection. What do you think?

    • I was mostly joking about the Jack connection.

      But yeah, I also noticed the “clever girl” line, but didn’t include it because it was a bit of a stretch seeing as it was CAL that said it. Though, thinking about it, River would need CAL to manifest, wouldn’t she? Hmmmm…..

      And i hadn’t considered the ghost thing. That is a really good point.

  • CJ

    Remember the Tardis key. I think when River saved the Docter with her remaining regenerations(Let’s Kill Hitler) it nearly mortally wounded her. The River who’s timeline has been reverse to the Doctor’s has been a ganger. That’s why the Doctor never sensed that River was a TimeLord. The River who died in the Library was a ganger as well. When the Doctor met Clara in London he felt something special. The Tardis Key glowed, and he insisted that even though she had fallen from great heights she would be all right. The fact that she appears to die in multiple timelines and always has the same form, makes me think that she is in fact Prisoner Zero using a sleeping TimeLord (i.e.River Song or Donna Noble) as a surrogate.

    • Mercy Reborn

      that is a clever theory

  • powerstaark

    Clara Oswald is the most beautiful companion in Doctor Who history in my opinion. I fell in love with Jenna-Louise Coleman in Asylum of the Daleks. She had more of an effect on me in one episode than Karen Gillan had in over two series, and that’s saying something because I actually do like Amy Pond. My admiration for Jenna increased even more in The Snowmen. I don’t think Clara is River Song, partly due to the fact that River’s popularity has been decreasing recently (I still like her but a lot of other people don’t). Most likely, Clara has been split through time somehow with the same person living different lives at different times in different parts of the Universe.

    Whoever or whatever split her through time, assuming that is how she can keep dying and coming back to life in a different time, is most likely an enemy of the Doctor. The Silence have a habit of using the Doctor’s companions against him so that is exactly the sort of thing they would do. However they think the Doctor is dead.
    My theory, which is most likely wrong but I’m going to say it anyway, is that the Master might have split her through time, possibly as a way of getting out of the Time War after he was pulled into it with Rassilon and the other Time Lords in The End of Time. The Tenth Doctor noted that the only way to breach a Time Lock, apart from Emergency Temporal Shift by Dalek Caan, is to use something that is already in the Time War but also in the Universe; in the Master’s case it was the drum beat inside his head. If the Master kidnapped or seduced Clara and took her to Gallifrey before the beginning of the Time War and then split her DNA and scattered it through the universe before the Time Lock was activated, resulting in multiple Clara’s at different points in time, that would serve as a link, or several links, to allow the Master to bust his way out. John Simm has stated that he would like to play a darker Master and the Master has shown that he considers Humans to be little more than animals; if I remember correctly he said Humans were a “mongrel species” in The End of Time. Kidnapping an innocent girl, splitting her DNA and forcing her to suffer the horrors of the Time War is very dark.

  • I had the exact same theory and I’m so glad I’m not alone. Even if it’s not true, and a clever way to mislead us, so much of Clara reminded me of River. We don’t have a Matt Smith/River Song resolution and this would be a grand way to accomplish that. Even if they’re not the same, the two had to significantly intersect in some way.

    I sincerely hope the gangers are NOT involved. They have to be one of my least favorite storytelling creations. Need a fast way to explain something? Woosh the character turns into a puddle of goo. Can’t wait to see Clara and learn more.

  • Daniel Jacobs

    I thought River said one psychopath per TARDIS. Anyway, this isn’t a bad theory, it just seems like a bit of a stretch. Then again, so does a woman dying twice in two seperate eventualities, hmm….

  • My first thought was that Clara is the TARDIS attempting to project a physical presence. You’d have to jump through some hoops to get that narrative to work, though.

    • William

      We had that episode already, when the Doctor had to rebuild the TARDIS from the scrap heap.

  • Jenny, the Doctors daughter, Remember her comment after she steals the spaceship at the end of the episode (from the Wiki) “Cline asks her what she is doing over the intercom and Jenny laughs if
    he is going to tell her dad on her, saying she is has a lot to see,
    planets to save, rescue civilizations, monsters to defeat, and AN AWFUL LOT OF RUNNING TO DO.” I believe it’s Jenny reincarnate, torn across time when the Universe was condensed and redone by Amy’s remembering. That’s my vote for who Clara Oswin Oswald is.

    • Daniel Jacobs

      I will once again point out that it is odd that the doctor’s daughter would kiss him.

      • stephen

        I agree with Daniel.

  • Fionixx

    Couple more correlations for your River/Clara theory:

    Clara says in Asylum of the Dalek the exact same words that River says in The Library: “You clever, clever boy”; Clara falling on top of the doctor in exactly the way River did in Time of the Angels; both Clara and River ‘die’ (but not exactly) in their first meeting with the doctor; There’s a pretty strong resemblance between Clara and the little girl who played CAL. River is now part of CAL and there’s interesting continuities with the end of River’s monologue in the Library: “sometimes, everybody lives”; The doctor’s comment: “I always know who” may also be turn out to be significant (Would River now be Mrs. Who?).

  • TC

    I think Clara is either some sort of manifestation of post-Library River Song, or she springs from something in Old Who. The reason I think it could be something from Old Who is that it was said somewhere that this half of the season will be all about heralding back to Old Who so as to celebrate the anniversary (case in point look at new “blended Tardis interior” that looks like a combination of all the prior interiors and new/old opening credits).
    Only someone who is an expert on Old Who could figure that out.

    But two options are out because I think that Moffat would not be stupid enough to touch on the squickiness of Luke-Leia relationships on his show. No matter how much sense they could make. So no, Clara can not be Jenny and Clara could not be the Doctor. Far to squicky for a family show like Doctor Who.
    Finally I think the Clara/River Song connection should not be overlooked. The twist on Pandorica took me by surprise. I expected the Doctor to be inside the Pandorica when he opened it, not that he would be put in the Pandorica when he opened it. But then the theory that River Song is Amy’s daughter was obvious and I guessed it a few eposides prior, but discounted it because it felt too obvious. I kept expecting a twist.

  • TimeBase

    Clara is a construct of the TARDIS, or even Gallifrey. She was created to enthuse the Doctor & help him out of the depressive doldrums following the death of the Ponds.

  • Peter Wilkinson

    Its obvious that Clara Oswin Oswald is really a timelord chef sent back throughout time and space to bake and make the doctor remember the taste of delicious souffles made mysteriously without any milk.

  • liz

    Moffat stated that Clara would have no connections with previous characters! that means no river.

    • Maria

      I hope so! I’m not a big fan of River or her “romance,” with the Doctor.It was awkward to watch and rushed. Clara and The Doctor seem to work much better. Also Moffat stated that Clara is going to responsible for “the maturation,” of Matt Smith’s Doctor. This Doctor is probably going to grow up a bit. We’ll see.

  • Carrie Stevens

    You guys who think Clara is River Song need to read the other article on this site about why she’s not. Blows this one away!

  • drfan

    About the kiss…well she can’t be River because then,when she died in the snowman,she was supposed to regenerate instead of ,,reborn”

  • Interesting theory, I screamed at the TV as well when Clara kissed the doctor. I think she might in fact be Jack’s daughter.

  • Savannah

    I completely support your River Song theory!!! Furthermore, she calls him a “clever, clever boy”! just like river does!!!

  • Fergal Monster

    Oswin did something big in Asylum of the Daleks, she was very very smart and resisted being converted into a Dalek (mentally at least) and hacked the Dalek Pathweb, their shared information system. Now Daleks have time travel, cloning, and all sorts of crazy tech. It is theoritically possible that her mind survived in the Pathweb and the Oswalds in the universe throughout time and space are projections/versions made by the Oswin in the Pathweb.

    She could even be a Mobius person making herself, the version of her that became a Dalek could have been a version made by the Pathweb.

    Ultimately this is unlikely but an interesting idea behind her possible origin. It would make an interesting conflict.

    Other possibility is that she exists within the Great Intelligence and it has imprinted a version of her somewhere within it, and this keeps expressing itself.

    Mobius stories are often used in time travel plotlines, and I think that it is an interesting direction.

    Ultimately this is just a theory that I created to try something different to the River/Jenny ideas.

    Whatever Oswin is, I think she will be something new, (although her being the Master would be hilarious and fan confusion would be amazing)

    Anyway loved the article (and that episode), keep it up

  • whovianCourt

    OR, their daughter

  • whovianCourt

    It’s their daughter! River & The Doctor’s daughter.. I’m sure of it.

    • William

      Let’s not forget that kiss…

  • “Oswin” (friend of god) is a variant of “Oswald” (power of god or rule of god), and both are boys names …

  • kedward777

    “I’ll admit that when I saw that the new companion was going to be named Clara and played by the same actress that played Oswin in Asylum of the Daleks, I was sort of annoyed. I thought it was going to be another case of reusing actors with a hastily explained “this is why they look the same”! ”

    The problem is, Alison, that you got this back to front so had no reason to be annoyed in the first place. When Jenna-Louise Coleman was announced as the new companion Clara, it was said that she would be making her debut in the 2012 Christmas Special. The fact that she then appeared as Oswin in Asylum of the Daleks was the surprise, which amazingly was kept secret by all concerned including preview audiences.

    It wasn’t laziness of reusing actors at all – it was about putting a bombshell of “hang on, that’s the new companion, what is she doing here, and why is she a Dalek?” and ties into Steven Moffat’s grand plan for the 50th anniversary year: there’s plenty more Clara confusion as the Doctor tries to work out who and what she actually is. If you take a look at the “coming soon” trailer you’ll see something appearing to be set in a mediaeval monastery where there is a drawing of the Victorian Clara and the phrase “run you clever boy and remember” underneath it…

  • Bill Stec

    At the end of “Snowmen” when Clara is standing next to her grave. I could swear the friend whe was with called her River or Revere. Did anyone else notice this?

  • Colin

    It can’t be River because River would know how to fly the Tardis. Oswin did not know what was going on when she encountered the Tardis for the first time. River said in Let’s Kill Hitler that the Tardis spoke to her. Clearly not the case for Oswin. We could say that it is a pre-melody (as in the black girl) version of River but I just feel like it would be a stretch for the writers. Like the whole Pond family dynamic is something that is too soon to return to. I foresee Clara being something totally shocking and out of the blue that nobody will see coming.

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  • cityjun

    Clara Oswin Oswald is Pond’s mother.. and beginner of silence group..

    • William

      That would make sense since we never actually met Amy’s parents because of the crack.

  • insanelyapple

    I really hope she’s River but One Word: Pond doesn’t convince me. It was just a simple trigger for Doctor to run again and fight with danger.
    For now i don’t know who she is and any theory doesn’t satisfy me. But I’m excluding the family connections – they are too simple and naiive. She might be very important, but she’s completely new companion and her “purpose” will be revealed at end of season 7 for sure.

    And one more thing: since 5th season, there was no direct references to past four seasons nor cameo’s. Tennant era is for now closed – just like Rose in alternate universe.

  • Two words: DEMON’S RUN! I think the Clara storyline chronologically follows a Good Man Goes to War. The Doctor leaves in the Tardis and tells Madame Vastra to follow. When we see Vastra again, in London, she is with Strax (who supposidly dies in at Demons Run, but here he is alive) and we see Clara. Now we get to the girl from the Gamma Forest, Lorna and her Clara/River connection. A few things to note (b/c everything matters in a Moffet episode) A. She says as she dies “you don’t remember me.” Oswin always tells the Doctor to remember her. B. When the Doctor gives Clara the key to the Tardis, she sheds a tear. Why is she overcome with emotion? Remember Lorna went to Demon’s Run disguised as a fighter b/c, more than anything, she wanted to run with the Doctor again. C. The single tear- Lorna and Clara have it when they die. D.River says she cannot be at Demon’s Run till the very end. She shows up right after Lorna dies and you never see Lorna with Amy’s baby as well- possibly b/c being together would form some kind of paradox. I think Lorna is Clara/Oswin is River. Because Lorna was brave, I think Vastra recovered her and Strax from Demon’s Run. Strax was healed and Lorna somehow regenerated (maybe?) into Clara. I still haven’t worked out the connection of her dying and being in the same form (although 10 was able to regenerate into the same form once). Also, is she is River, she is also Rory’s daughter and may have something genetically from him that keeps her alive. Remember Oswim and Rory had a quick rapport in Asylum of the Daleks. Even if Vastra left Lorna, she still could have regenerated into Clara, but since we see Clara in London i think she got their via traveling with Vastra, If River’s Timeline is backwards, we could continue to see adventures of her and the Doctor. River is young child in the 70′s, Mel (amy’s friend) as a child in the ’90′s but she may also have regenrated as Clara and Lorna at some point. Also, who says Clara dies in Asylum of the Daleks? And, it is not beyond Moffet to take a semingly obscure character and turn him/her into someone important.

  • Autumnleigh

    I think Clara is the Face of Boe’s daughter. How else would she be able to have died twice and come back to life? Also, in season 1 episode 7 “The Long Game” the news on Satellite 5 announces that the Face of Boe is pregnant with “Baby Boemina”, who is obviously a girl. I don’t think it would be that far fetched to speculate she’s Jack’s daughter.

  • William

    The book! Summer Falls. Clara prefers the Eleventh chapter to the Tenth. Do I see something coming where Clara will have to choose Doctors?

  • Riversong 2

    I think in the episode Name of the Doctor we will find out who she is and I am only guessing myself. I’ve seen the pics for Name of the Doctor, and some of them are very interesting. She says she was born to save the doctor in the recent trailer. There is a room in the Tardis, that has a weird red energy thing in it. I am not sure if it is a part of the time vortex, or the doctors timeline, she is about to put herself in there when River appears warning her not to. I think she splintered herself in the doctors timeline shes like a ghost and I think she might possess peoples bodies but im not sure. I have a feeling that River knows who she is, she could be Rose or Rivers daughter. she then appears in different time periods dressed in different clothes (that’s why I thought she was possessing bodies). I think Rose could have when she was a goddess have manipulated timelines to ensure that clara was born to the right people. I am not sure if her plan was to have her throw herself in someones timeline though. Clara will know all his history and I think her mothers ring is the key. I have a feeling she could be Patience the doctors first wife I might be totally wrong and she is really Rose, I guess we will have to wait one week to find out

  • ana

    There is no way clara is a future regeneration of river because river used all her remaining regenerations to heal the Doctor in the episode, Let’s Kill Hitler.

  • ellie

    Well impossible girl and impossible astronaut… Tbh Clara’s mum is gonna be important I think

  • ellie

    Also books. There’s rivers diary, 101 places to see, summer falls and melody melone