Movies Watched 2017

As is tradition. Just don’t ask me why I started my year with Assassin’s Creed.

  1. Assassin’s Creed (2016)
  2. Silence (2016)
  3. La La Land (2016)
  4. T2 Trainspotting (2017)
  5. La La Land (2017)
  6. Moonlight (2017)
  7. Beauty and the Beast (2017)
  8. Get Out (2017)
  9. Logan (2017)
  10. Alien: Covenant (2017)
  11. Wonder Woman (2017)

Lyrics from 2016 that I want to write down over and over again

A few years ago, I spotted my sister writing down the lyrics of Mumford & Sons’ “Little Lion Man” on a post-it note, something that I had also found myself doing previously. We had a discussion then, about how, sometimes, a song’s lyrics are so beautiful and moving that you feel the need to – as she put it – “do something with them”. Write them out, type them down, to make them tangible, anything but copying and pasting from Genius.

It’s something I can’t quite explain, but it’s exactly why handwritten lyrics line her sketchbook and entire pages in my diary, and why I occasionally find old notes on my iPhone with a single verse from a song I had painstakingly typed out, letter for letter.

These were lyrics that made me want to do that in the past year, inspired, in part, by Pitchfork‘s favourite lyrics of 2016.

 

“The Anchor” – Bastille

Let those fools be loud, let alarms ring out
‘Cause you cut through all the noise
Let the days be dark, let me hate my work
‘Cause you cut through all the noise

Bring me some hope
By wandering into my mind
Something to hold on to
Morning, noon, day or night

You are the light
That is blinding me
You’re the anchor that I tie to my brain
‘Cause when it feels like I’m lost at sea
You’re the song I sing again and again
All the time, all the time
I think of you all the time

“Gemini Feed” – Banks

And to think you would get me to the altar
Like I follow you around like a dog that needs water
But admit it that you wanted me smaller
If you would have let me grow
You could have kept my love.

“All Night” – Beyonce

“Our love was stronger than your pride,
Beyond your darkness I was your light,
If you get deep, you touch my mind,
Baptize your tears and wipe your eyes”

“Fake It” – Bastille

Melt me down,
I’m like wax to your jokes.

“On Hold” – The xx

“And every time I let you leave
I always saw you coming back to me
When and where did we grow cold?
I thought I had you on hold”

“The Sound” – The 1975

Well I know when you’re around
‘Cause I know the sound
I know the sound of your heart

“2Shy” – Shura

Let’s go find a corner we can sit in
And talk about that film instead of us
Even though throughout it I was thinking
I was gonna say I love you afterwards

“Glory” – Bastille

You make me laugh until I die,
Can you think of a better way to choke?

“Worry” – Jack Garratt

You came around to say that you’ve been away, as if I hadn’t known
As if I don’t wake up every day, not seeing you go
As if this moon of ours only shines a half to make me feel whole
As if I haven’t felt your breath in every step I take when the wind blows

 

*Sorry the list is, as expected, very Bastille-heavy. If Mumford & Sons had released an album this year, it’d be a very different story.

Things I enjoyed in 2016

I really struggled to put this year-end roundup together this time around because I was really, very busy for much of the year. 2016 was a massive blur, and I can’t remember if I either consumed too much or not enough media hence the kind of shit list. But tradition is tradition, and if you’re willing to stick around for another year, 2017’s will be undoubtedly better.

Movies: SpotlightEx Machina, Dr. Strange

Oldies: Magnolia, American Psycho, The Deer Hunter, Shakespeare in Love

TV: Mr. Robot, The Leftovers, Atlanta, Marvel’s Luke Cage, Stranger Things

Albums: 

Honourable mention aka the album I forgot to include in my tweets: The Hamilton Mixtape

Singles (in no particular order): “Final Song” – MØ, “Love on the Brain” – Rihanna, “On Hold” – The xx, “Best to You” – Blood Orange, “Breathe Life” – Jack Garratt, “Cliff” – Lapsley, “Black and White” – Regina Spektor, “Friends” – Francis and the Lights feat. Bon Iver and Kanye West, “Dear Theodosia – Reprise” – Chance the Rapper, “Satsified” – Sia feat. Queen Latifah and Miguel, “One Dance” – Drake feat. Wizkid and Kyla, “Temporary Love” – The Brinks; “Boyfriend” – Tegan and Sara, “I Feel It Coming” – The Weeknd feat. Daft Punk, “Tilted” – Christine and the Queens, “Something For Nothing” – Rationale, “Bad Blood” – Nao, “Multi-Love” – Unknown Mortal Orchestra”

Great jams I listened to on repeat posthumously: “Space Oddity” – David Bowie, “Purple Rain” – Prince, “September” – Earth, Wind and Fire, “Careless Whisper” – George Michael

Gigs: Beyoncé @ Wembley Stadium,Chaos Planet (Bastille) @ Courtyard Theatre, Florence and the Machine + Kendrick Lamar + Jamie xx @ BST Hyde Park, Bastille @ The O2. Honourable mentions: The 1975 @ The Roundhouse, CHVRCHES @ Royal Albert Hall

Books: Ready Player One by Ernest ClineSalt by Nayyirah Waheed

Nights out: Lemonade by BLESS @ Birthdays, Breaking Bad-themed bar @ ABQ London

Places I randomly found myself in: Calais, France; Essex, England

Cities: London, New York, Taipei

Newly found appreciations: Hamilton, dogs

Articles I’m still thinking about:

Pieces I wrote:

Videos I made/took part in:

 

 

 

2016 Christmas Gift Guide

Aka my actual wish list. Updated as I continue to do my Christmas shopping.

Go Haim Or Go Home T-Shirt

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$25 from the Haim merch shop

The Secret History of Twin Peaks by Mark Frost

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£16.99 from Waterstones

The Altar by Banks

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£9.99 from Amazon

Drink a Diamond Glass Set

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£24 from Urban Outfitters

The Holy Meme Bible

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$9.99 from the Meme Bible

Mochithings 2017 Planner

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$31.95 from Mochithings

J. Crew Signet Bag in Italian Leather

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£128 from J. Crew

Handmade Whale Mug

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£22.85 and up from Etsy

Lemonade Dad Hat

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$36 from Beyoncé merch shop

Concert Review: Rihanna at Wembley Stadium, London, England

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Opening a concert with “Stay” sounds like an odd choice for a singer known primarily for her pop bangers, but Rihanna captivated Wembley Stadium with the sheer power of her vocal through her haunting live rendition of the 2013 ballad.

And in a way it was very much a move that showcased the evolution of pop princess Bad Gal RiRi to a fully rounded creative artist.

Ending on the line “I want you to stay”, the Barbadian singer triumphantly removes the hood of her white boxing robe and treats the cheering crowd to the first verse and hook of “Love the Way You Lie (Part II)”, the song that saw her in tears just a few days earlier.

No tears this time, and it’s back on with the hood as she swaggers up and down a moving suspended glass platform, launching into Anti numbers “Woo” and “Sex with Me” with her trademark attitude and finally ascending the minimalistic stage to properly acknowledge her Navy – “London!” she yells, grinning – and to sing “Pour It Up”, “Numb” and “Consideration”, which are almost psychedelic in their execution.

“Ain’t no party like a Rihanna Navy party.”

For an artist famous for her don’t-give-a-damn attitude, Rihanna is a rare combination of nonchalance and energy; she alternates between smiling contentedly at the audience, dancing casually and singing along whenever she pleases, yet somehow managed to retain command of the stage in spite of her laid-backness. And you know better to mess with her, especially witnessing the high energy “Bitch Better Have My Money”.

White strobe lights, the crowd roaring along, the highlight of the night came with the albeit short-lived medley of some of her greatest hits of “Live Your Life”, “Run This Town” and “All of the Lights”, fading effortlessly into each other. By the time “Umbrella” is ringing across the stadium, it’s as if the crowd had found themselves not at Wembley but inside a club, partying with RiRi herself.

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“I only want you on your phones if you’re taking pictures of me!”

Riding off an impressive solo performance of “Desperado” and the incredible energy of “Man Down”, Rihanna proceeds to reel off a string of her most recognisable hits, from “Rude Boy”, which featured a sexy glittery one-piece and dance moves to match, Drake collabs “Work” and “Take Care” (sadly without the 6 God himself, who Rihanna is rumored to be again dating) to a mash-up of her biggest single with Calvin Harris “We Found Love” with the Scottish DJ’s “How Deep Is Your Love” that is basically a fan singalong. As the seated crowd leaps off their seats to scream along to the lyrics of “Where Have You Been,” the lights turn off and the pace slows down as RiRi does an atmospheric cover of Tame Impala’s “Same Ol’ Mistake”, building up to the iconic “Diamonds”. Wembley is lit – quite literally and figuratively – flashlights and a dancing Navy, a vision of ecstasy.

“Thank you for inspiring us to do what we want to do,” she says, visibly moved in a moment of emotion, before remembering herself and declaring, “We’re fucking up our reputation in London with this soft shit”. 

“Enough with the soft shit!”

And “soft shit” her performance of the catchy “FourFiveSeconds” is not. Juxtaposed against the song’s simple acoustic line, her vocal prowess is on full display now, with the R&B Princess triumphantly belting out the final verse in true diva style.

Those who were expecting of her most popular bangers for an encore would have certainly forgotten that they had gone to see a Rihanna gig. The songstress ended the night not with “Only Girl” and “What’s My Name” – both noticeably missing, although hardly to blame for a megastar who, at 28, already has a whopping eight albums to her name – but two of her personal favourites from Anti. “Love on the Brain” gets the full treatment it deserves: as a majestic ballad that has the audience swaying in unison, indulging in the music, lost in the romance of the moment. Concluding with “Kiss It Better”, RiRi, smile on her face, takes her victory lap – striding up and down the length of the stage, waving and blowing kisses at the audience, who for just 90 minutes escaped the surprise, shock, and in some cases, horror of waking up to the news of Brexit just earlier that day.

As Rihanna takes a bow, it’s clear just how far she has come as an artist, but that’s not to say that she can’t have a good time while doing it, which she did, and London certainly did too.

Setlist

  1. Stay
  2. Love the Way You Lie (Part II)
  3. Woo
  4. Sex with Me
  5. Birthday Cake
  6. Pour It Up
  7. Numb
  8. Bitch Better Have My Money
  9. Consideration
  10. Live Your Life / Run This Town / All of the Lights
  11. Umbrella
  12. Desperado
  13. Man Down
  14. Rude Boy
  15. Work
  16. Take Care
  17. We Found Love / How Deep Is Your Love
  18. Where Have You Been
  19. Needed Me
  20. Same Ol’ Mistakes
  21. Diamonds
  22. FourFiveSeconds
  23. Love on the Brain
  24. Kiss It Better

2016 Oscar Predictions

I’m really late this year but here goes. I know I probably say this every year, but this year’s race is probably one of the most competitive in recent history; almost all the major categories could go any possible way, which is somewhat terrifying. Thanks to the most WTF nominations – for lack of a better way of putting it – it seems the Oscars are just getting whiter and wider (open, I mean). As usual, images are of my personal picks, not of the ones that will win because my blog, my rules.

Best Picture

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What will win: The Revenant
What I want to win: Spotlight

Spotlight is such journo porn, and as a journo I of course loved it, but all biases aside because I’m a journo and #objectivity, Spotlight may not be an All the President’s Men but it sheds light on some important issues including the power of religion and institutions and the crucial role of journalism in holding those in power accountable. The only downside to this movie is just how long and sombre it is, but that can also be said of The Revenant. The Revenant is a good film, but I’m not a fan of the whole man vs. nature story, and to cut a really long film short, this is NOTHING compared to Iñárritu’s Birdman, a tour de force. A part of me also really hopes underdog Mad Max: Fury Road wins because it was easily one of the best films I watched all year.

Best Director

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Who will win: Alejandro Iñárritu, The Revenant
Who I want to win: George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road

Where is Ridley Scott? It’s hard to forget this egregious snub as I would have loved to see him finally take home a long overdue Best Director trophy (no he shockingly doesn’t have one and is the Leo of the Best Director world). Ridley aside, out of the nominees, I’d pick George Miller, but as one critic put it, Iñárritu is a force to be reckoned with.

Best Actor

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Who will win: Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant
Who I want to win: Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs

I THOUGHT THIS DAY WOULD NEVER COME, AND I WOULD NEVER TYPE THE WORDS: LEONARDO DICAPRIO IS GOING TO WIN AN OSCAR. Except it’s for the wrong movie. Leo was dedicated all right, I’m not going to dispute that (or the bear), but The Revenant is probably one of his least powerful performances to date. A win for any other performance, in particular a Scorsese collab (The Aviator or The Wolf of Wall Street) would have been so much more significant. Fassbender, on the other hand, displayed depth and versatility, morphing into a character that not only demands the audience figure out whether they really root for but also makes them forget they’re watching Michael Fassbender (of all people). Sadly, that same versatility and perhaps a lack of a trademark may be part of the reason one of the most talented actors of our generation is often overlooked by the public. ALSO I CRIED OK.

Best Actress

Jacob Tremblay and Brie Larson in "Room" from EPK.tvsource

Who will win: Brie Larson, Room
Who I want to win: Brie Larson, Room

It was so refreshing to see for once such three dimensional female characters that made this category so much more competitive than the Best Actor and Supporting Actor races. All these actresses are amazing, but through process of elimination – Cate Blanchett’s performance in Carol is no Blue Jasmine, I can’t with Charlotte Rampling after her reverse racism comments, J. Law’s already got her Oscar, and I haven’t seen Brooklyn but Saoirse Ronan hasn’t won an award this season – both my head and heart say Brie Larson deserves this.

Best Supporting Actor

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Who will win: Sylvestor Stallone, Creed
Who I want to win:
Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies

This category is historically known for being the most competitive, and it’s surprising to see that it’s probably the most boring one this year. I’ve only seen two of the five movies, so whatever, Sly’s gonna win (much to my chagrin) because the Academy is sentimental and loves a comeback. I don’t really want anyone else to win except for Idris Elba, and I’m honestly still made he wasn’t even nominated but critics loved Mark Rylance so I’ll just go with that.

Best Supporting Actress

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Who will win: Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl
Who I want to win: Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl

The Academy could really go either way with perennial favourite Kate Winslet or newcomer Alicia Vikander. Kate was good in Steve Jobs, so I wouldn’t be too upset if she won, but Alicia Vikander is the true star in this category. Her work in The Danish Girl was a leading performance – truly great one at that – and honestly this is her year; not only is she everywhere, she was great in Ex Machina, which she really should have been nominated for in this category instead.

Best Original Screenplay

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What will win: Spotlight
What I want to win: Inside Out

To me, Inside Out is a truly ‘original’ movie. The concept in itself – what if feelings had feelings? – is so out-of-the-box, and the story and characters only made it even better. I’m guessing Spotlight will take this though as it deserves some form of recognition.

Best Adapted Screenplay

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What will win: The Big Short
What I want to win: The Martian

I have yet to watch The Big Short so this is an educated guess based on reading multiple reviews and predictions. I’d love for The Martin to win though; it was so refreshingly different and optimistic.

Best Animated Feature

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What will win: Inside Out
What I want to win: Inside Out

Duh.

2016 Movies Watched

I do this every year for my own record (and yours, if you’re interested).

  1. The Hateful Eight (2015)
  2. Spotlight (2015)
  3. The Revenant (2015)
  4. Steve Jobs (2015)
  5. The Danish Girl (2015)
  6. Ex Machina (2015)
  7. Room (2015)
  8. Magnolia (1999)
  9. Zootropolis (2016)
  10. The Deer Hunter (1978)
  11. Captain America: Civil War (2016)
  12. Shakespeare in Love (1998)
  13. Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (2015)
  14. X-Men: Apocalypse (2016)
  15. Z for Zachariah (2015)
  16. The Nice Guys (2016)
  17. The Legend of Tarzan (2016)
  18. The Neon Demon (2016)
  19. Layer Cake (2004)
  20. American Psycho (2000)
  21. Bridget Jones’ Baby (2016)
  22. Deadpool (2016)
  23. Doctor Strange (2016)
  24. Finding Dory (2016)
  25. Moana (2016)
  26. Rouge One: A Star Wars Story (2016)

Best Things: 2015

My year in media. More to come in the final days of 2015.

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Movies: Birdman (2014), Boyhood (2014), Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014), Whiplash (2014), Mad Max: Fury Road (2015), Inside Out (2015), The Martian (2015), The Lobster (2015)

Oldies: Before Sunrise (1994) / Before Sunset (2004) / Before Midnight (2013), Strangers on a Train (1951)

TV: Doctor Who Series 9, Hannibal, Twin Peaks

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Books: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera, The Secret History by Donna Tartt, Lolita by Vladmir Nabokov, I am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes

Singles: “Hotline Bling”, Drake; “On My Mind”, Ellie Goulding; “Eventually”, Tame Impala; “King”, Years & Years; “Still Want You” Brandon Flowers; “High by the Beach”, Lana Del Rey; “La Lune”, Madeon feat. Dan Smith; “Hangin'”, Bastille; “Powerful”, Major Lazer feat. Ellie Goulding; “I Bet My Life”, Imagine Dragons; “Jungle”, Drake; “Greek Tragedy”, The Wombats; “Happy”, Marina and the Diamonds

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Albums: Mumford & Sons, Wilder Mind; Disclosure, Caracal; Halsey, BADLANDS; Florence and the Machine, How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful; CHVRCHES, Every Open Eye; Jamie xx, In Colour; Kendrick Lamar, To Pimp a Butterfly

Concerts: Too many! Bastille @ Taipei International Convention Center, Mumford & Sons at The O2. Honourable mentions: Disclosure @ Ally Pally, OK Go @ National Taiwan University Sports Center

Nights Out: Dance Rock Taipei @ Revolver, FKJ @ The Wall, Pomo @ Korner, Darius @ Barcode, “The Owls Are Not What They Seem” Twin Peaks-themed bar by Lemonade and Laughing Gas

Articles:

People I’ll miss: David Carr, Leonard Nimoy, Jonah Lomu, Catherine Coulson, Omar Sharif

Breakup I may never get over: Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield

Places: Czech Republic, Austria, Taipei (because I was sad to leave), Yunnan

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Artists: Gustav Klimt, Alphonse Mucha

Things I wrote/created/made:

I Refuse to Believe There Isn’t More to Clara Oswald’s Death

Okay, so after the events of “Heaven Sent”, in which the Doctor ‘creates’ his confession dial, things are starting to look more and more like I may be correct in speculating that some (or the entirety) of this series takes place after Clara Oswald has already died in the Doctor’s timeline.

It looks as if this whole series may have been reversed in one big wibbly wobby timey wimey swoop. Chronologically, it may look something like this: “Face the Raven”, “Heaven Sent”, “Hell Bent” and then “The Magician’s Apprentice” and so on.

Regardless, I am writing because I refuse to believe that this is the last we will see of Clara, whether imaginary, in real life or in flashback.

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While her death in “Face the Raven” seemed very Clara – of course she would sacrifice herself for someone like Rigsy and try to outwit everyone only to have it backfire in her face – and caught us all of guard, but it was just too abrupt.

Surely the impossible girl deserved a better exit and not something that happens in the last five minutes of an episode. Surely it must have more emotional impact, and the repercussions should have been felt more strongly. Surely the tears should not have stopped for at least half an episode, which didn’t happen.

No tears were shed for Clara in “Face the Raven”; it was a moving scene, but it was too sudden, which we can assume is the ‘surprise’ part that Moffat was hinting at.

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That means “shock” should be next, but there was no shock related to her death in “Heaven Sent”. Unless you count the ‘shock’ of her actually dying in “Face the Raven”, but if that’s it, then Moffat’s losing his touch. Clara and the Doctor have been through so much together, and that send off just isn’t going to cut it.

We did get a more moving scene in “Heaven Sent” when the Doctor has an imaginary conversation with Clara à la Eleven with Amy in “The Time of the Doctor”. There were some tears then, but fangirl here still ain’t feeling quite satisfied yet.

Based on what the Doctor says in “Heaven Sent” – “If you were played any part in killing her…”, I’m sure we will find out this week in “Hell Bent” that something or someone was responsible for Clara’s death, and that revelation will shock us, then terrify us, which shouldn’t be a problem; the episode name sounds promising enough already.

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There’s got to be a bigger arc, a story behind it all; It’s Doctor Who – there’s always a running thread that often doesn’t make itself clear until the very end.

And just to further support my non-speculation that we will see Clara in some form again, Jenna Coleman is credited in “Hell Bent”. Thanks Wikipedia, ruining TV shows since 2015.

All this just goes to say that Clara deserved a WAY better death than the one in “Face the Raven”, and at Moffat’s hands too, because a) I am a snob and b) he was the one who created the character; he who creates should also be the one who taketh away. Here’s hoping “Hell Bent” will blow us all out of the water and give us a satisfactory exploration of the repercussions of Clara’s death, which this writer hasn’t really been feeling since Clara supposedly died two weeks ago.

All images via the BBC

Is Clara Oswald Already Dead? A Wibbly Wobby Timey Wimey Theory About Jenna Coleman’s Doctor Who Departure

With only three more episodes of this series’ Doctor Who to go, the internet is rife with theories about Clara’s exit, from genius to borderline conspiracy theorist. So what’s a fangirl to do but to throw in her own probably non-too original theory about how the longest-serving companion in New Who will depart?

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At the end of “The Zygon Inversion”, there’s a mysterious little exchange between Clara and the Doctor.

Clara: So you must have thought I was dead for a while.
The Doctor: Yeah.
Clara: How was that.
The Doctor: Longest month of my life.
Clara: Can only have been five minutes.
The Doctor: I’ll be the judge of time.

Based on this, my theory is that Clara is already dead in the Doctor’s timeline.

In other words,  the recent adventures –  “The Zygon Invasion / The Zygon Invasion” and perhaps all episodes thereafter and maybe even a few before – depict the Doctor going back to a time before Clara’s death, knowing full well what was to come.

The Clara in these episodes doesn’t know what her future holds, nor is she aware of the fact that she’s travelling with a Doctor from her personal future.

This theory is further backed up by an exchange at the beginning of “The Zygon Invasion”, when the Doctor arrives at a random point in the 21st Century without Clara – unlike the usual episodes when the Doctor and Clara arrive together to a certain point in time – then proceeds to call her up to see if she’s around.

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We have no idea when the Doctor has come from, meaning – like at the end of “Blink” when post-Blink Sally Sparrow meets pre-Blink Doctor – that Clara and the Doctor could potentially be in different points of their respective timelines. When Clara and the Doctor are together, their timelines are progressing in parallel motion, but this time, the Doctor appears to arrive at a haphazard point in Clara’s timeline, and knowing that she’d be around, calls her up to see whether she’d be up for an adventure.

This suggests that from their respective perspectives: Clara is travelling with a Doctor from her future who has seen her death, while the Doctor is travelling with a Clara from his past before her death.

This isn’t entirely new for the Doctor; he’s known for going back in time to visit old companions – Ten goes back in time to meet a Rose that has yet to meet him in “The End of Time”. And the concept is similar to the reversed timelines of the Doctor and River Song.

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In addition, Peter Capaldi and Moffat have hinted that Clara’s departure happens over a number of episodes, saying that it will shock, surprise and terrify (in that order), according to the Moff, and be “sad over a number of weeks“.

According to this, the events of the recent episodes, maybe of the whole season and even going back several seasons, are not a chronological progression of the Doctor’s timeline. Thus is the nature of episodic TV, but viewers tend to assume chronology as it’s the only definition of time we non-time travellers know/will ever experience.

Remember, time is complicated, a big ball of wibbly wobbly timey wimey stuff. As Ten says at the end of “Blink”, things don’t always happen in quite the right order, and in fact, they don’t have to, especially not for a show about time travel, of all things. In fact, assuming chronology is probably the last thing we should be doing.