The Bells of Saint John
Original Air Date: Mar 30, 2013
Maria – Associate Staff Writer
Do not trust the wifi. It’s invisible, silent, and surrounds us. It’s everywhere. Recently, a new network has been popping up. Those that have been clicking on it, exposed to it, simply collapse and they’re transported elsewhere. So many people.
In the 21st Century, Clara Oswald is a live-in Nanny for the Maitland family, but she can’t get the internet to work. She calls the helpline, only to cause the Bells of Saint John to ring, back in 1207. She’s gotten through to the TARDIS telephone, through to the Mad Monk, who isn’t really a monk. She may not remember the Doctor, but he sure remembers her.
New companion, new clothes. The Doctor ditches his monk robe because monks aren’t “cool.” He also ditches the tweet and has a new, snazzy jacket. Gone is the TARDIS blue or red bowtie to indicate whether he’s from the past or future, and he opts for a darker bowtie instead. New clothes donned, it’s time for the adventure to start.
He goes to see Clara and pleads with her to listen to him, but it’s too late. A child comes downstairs, a child from a book (written by Amelia Williams). The child repeats what Clara asks her, then turns it’s head 180 degrees to reveal a computer interface and begins the process of uploading Clara into the network.
There are several humans maintaining the network, and the woman in charge seems to be Miss Kizlet (Celia Imrie). She’s tough on her employees, even willing to hack them to get them to change their minds. The client wants Clara, but she’s not fully uploaded yet and the Doctor is on the case. It’s a battle of the keyboards, and the Doctor wins, for now.
Whilst Clara is still recovering, unconscious, the Doctor takes the opportunity to check out her room. He gets her a glass of water, a plate of jammy dodgers (after taking a bite of one) and peruses an adventure book she’s had since she was a little girl. Then, he sets up camp outside the house. She recognizes that he’s protecting her, and brings him a cup of tea.
Bad move, going outside. The network hacks into everybody around Clara and the Doctor and switches on their lights, whilst the rest of the city switches off theirs. Everything is under the control of the network, including that airplane which is heading for the our heroes. A quick jaunt in the TARDIS fixes that though.
Moffat certainly does know how to test his companions. Clara running down an airplane that’s about to crash and not spilling a drop of tea certainly means she passes the test for me. The Doctor is able to disable to wifi and return control of the plane to the pilots. Clara and the Doctor don’t stop running though.
The Doctor uses the TARDIS to travel to the morning, landing in public and explaining it as magic. Then, he produces a motorbike. They ride to a cafe and the Doctor tries to track down who is using the network to upload people’s consciousness. Clara insists she can do that. She wasn’t too clever with computers before, but almost being uploaded seems to have increased her knowledge about these things. Handy.
Clara is left to do some computing whilst the Doctor gets coffee. The cafe scene is rather creepy, as ordinary workers, and a child, are hacked and spoken through. Miss Kizlet warns the Doctor that he will fail. Doesn’t look likely, as Clara is able to determine all the employers work at the Shard. She tells the Doctor this… a creepy Doctor, who just repeats what she says and then turns his head around 180 degrees.
Clara has been uploaded into the network, and Miss Kizlet won’t let her go because she’d have to download everybody and the Client wouldn’t approve. So, the Doctor uses his anti-gravity bike to ride up the Shard and crash into her office. When asking nicely doesn’t work, the Doctor’s head rotates 180 degrees. It turns out he’s an interface and he’s uploaded Miss Kizlet.
The Doctor convinces the hacked humans to release all the consciousnesses, and although not everybody will be saved at least they’re no longer trapped. Clara is safe though, so the Doctor lets UNIT handle the employees at the shard as he promises to find out more about Clara.
It’s left unclear as to whether to Doctor stuck around to find out the real villain of the piece. Something that feeds off human minds, uses people like puppets and repeats what is spoken to them? Of course, it’s the Great Intelligence. UNIT was originally created to help deal with the threat all those decades ago, but after consuming all those minds it’s strong and I doubt we’ve seen the last of it.
Perhaps one of the most horrifying things is the realization that Miss Kizlet was just a little girl before she was taken over by the Great Intelligence, but it’s unclear if the Doctor realized that. He’s preoccupied by the mystery of Clara Oswin Oswald.
I really love this episode. It’s full of visual gags, old references, contemporary references, action and character establishing moments. Moffat is bringing back old villains, old TARDIS designs and making them new again. He’s looking at the world around us, and making it more magical, more frightening and infusing it with possibilities. I love it.
Did you suspect the Great Intelligence? Have you noticed Clara’s arc number? What do you feel about her as a new companion? Do you miss the tweed jacket? How do you feel about Miss Kizlet? What do you think Doctor Who season 7 part 2 will bring? Please, leave a comment with your TwoCents about the show.