Dr. Who / Geek / Tube

Steal the Rhythm While You Can: A Belated Doctor Who “The Bells of St.John” Recap

A shot of Earth, shots from around the world with people connecting to WiFi, scrolling white text, and a message from one man who says that sometimes you see a connection that looks odd, but that you must never click it because “they” will upload your soul. Remember they say “soul” here. Shots of people unconscious all over the world, and then people on screens lamenting in the same rhythm that they “don’t know where [I am]”. Then the man in the video admits he doesn’t know where he is and we pull back to show that he is one small part of all of the trapped people’s faces on a wall of computer monitors. Cue opening titles. The only part of this opening that I really like is that Matt’s face isn’t all solid like the titles of Classic Who. He’s elusive, eleven is. I like that.

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We’re in Cumbria 1207 and a monk is banging on a monastery door declaring that the bells of St. John are ringing. The abbot decides to call on “him”. Calling on the mad monk, you say? Not really a monk, eh?  Has to be the Doctor and it is. The young monk and the abbot stare at his painting of the late Clara Oswin Oswald and the abbot declares that if the monk is mad it is she that is his madness. I would say obsession, but pohtayto, pohtahto, abbot dear. Cut to modern day, where a version of The Woman Twice Dead is on the phone and yelling after a girl named Angie. Clara, who is again looking after children,  is surprisingly having trouble with her internet access. Clara takes a look at a book from the brother, Artie, entitled Summer Falls by one Amelia Williams. Oh god, Moffat, is that comforting or just plain mean? She tells the boy that Chapter Eleven is the best and that he will cry his eyes out. Hee. Then I hear a Dreamlord-like chirping subtly in the background, much like I did in that scene between Vastra and Clara in The Snowmen. I don’t know what to make of that. Moffat, what are you up to you clever boy?  You better run. Oh no, am I Clara, too?

Clara still can’t get the WiFi to connect. Cut back to 1207, where the Doctor answers the phone on the front of the TARDIS. It’s Clara in 2013 asking for help with the internet because she claims its missing. No Clara, Jen has it. Moss and Roy gave it to her. Clara asks if she is “in a different time zone”. The Doctor amusedly answers that she kind of is. Clara wants to know if this will show up on the bill and the Doctor verbally shudders over the financial implications. He asks her where she got the number and she says the woman in the shop said it was the best helpline in the universe.The Doctor wants to know who the shopgirl is as do we (Sally? River? Rose?), but Clara doesn’t know. This version of Clara oddly doesn’t know a lot. The Doctor increasingly frustrated by this inane conversation even though inane conversations are usually his thing, asks if she has clicked on the WiFi. Clara asks Angie for the password and then she says the clever boy catchphrase which she uses as a mnemonic device. The Doctor is awake now. Clara decides to click on the evil code as her doorbell rings. She answers the door to the Doctor, who is still dressed like a monk and sporting some serious emo band hair. He calls her Clara Oswin Oswald and she tells him there is no Oswin to it. More on that later. He asks if she remembers him, the Doctor, and then she asks Doctor Who?. He then asks her to repeat the question, twice. I don’t know if I am going to like Season 7B Eleven as he is already a bit insufferable. Clara must be thinking the same thing because she shuts the door on him.

Cut to the office where the monitors of death are located and a woman talking to one of her underlings about whether Clara is clever enough to upload permanently. The man tells her he will need a Spoonhead. I have Soundgarden in my head now singing “save me, come together with a plan”. That will be apropos soon, I think. Miss Kizlet walks away from him and to a spectacled underling, saying she is fond of Alexei, but that they should kill him. Ouch. Another reason to not work for this firm. They walk into her office and discuss being exposed for uploading people too quickly. She responds that they are preserving human minds on the data cloud (there was a nano cloud in TAoD, and the Doctor on a cloud in The Snowmen and did she just say “minds”, not “souls”?), while she uses her tablet to access Specs’ compliance so she can manipulate him into doing her bidding with the swipe of a scroll bar.

Back to Clara who talks to the Doctor on the security camera.  He tells her she phoned him looking for the internet and that he just happened to be in the neighborhood on his mobile phone, as he sweeps his monk-robed arm toward the TARDIS parked behind him. She asks why he keeps pointing to that box when he says mobile phone and he tells her it is a surprisingly accurate description. And I thought mobiles were chunky in the mid Nineties. Next we hear a door slam and ominous creaking as it becomes apparent that someone is in the house (even though everyone has gone). Turns out it is the girl from the cover of Clara’s book. Clara steps back when she figures this out, as the girl’s head starts to turn. Where the back of her head should be is a spoon-shaped indention that is buzzing and bleeping. Even though they were convex and not concave this Spoonhead kind of reminds me of The Library’s robots with human faces.

The Doctor, changing clothes in the TARDIS decides on his Aubergine tailcoat and bow tie ensemble from his time in Victorian England. Yay! Back to Clara’s door, where it quickly becomes apparent that something is up because she starts repeating “I don’t know where I am”. The rhythm of the repetition reminds me of when Oswin was turned into a Dalek and also of the “ghosting” of people in Moffat’s Season 4 two-parter. *Shivers* The Doctor uses the sonic to get in, and finds her passed out , with her image and voice on and coming out of the Spoonhead. He zaps it and we see Alexei informing Kizlet that they have a problem. The Doctor then zaps the Spoonhead and shows us its true form. He grabs Clara’s laptop and begins working furiously to hack her back. Kizlet asks Specs if it is possible for someone to get her back and since Clara has not been fully integrated, he says it is. Cuts back and forth between the two locations, with much speedy typing and bleeping. The Doctor checks Clara’s pulse and the Spoonhead laser beams her soul or mind (Which is it?) back into her body. The Doctor kisses her on the head.

Cut to angry, pacing Kizlet who eventually talks to “the client” but we don’t see him. Cut back to the Doctor setting up a glass of water, flowers, and Jammie Dodgers for the sleeping Clara He really loves him some Jammie Dodgers as he takes a bite out of one and savors it with relish and a sweeping arm movement before putting the cookie/biscuit on the plate along with the others. Bad form, Doc, she isn’t a child waking up to see if Santa has come. The look on Eleven’s face while he is doing all of this is so sweet you forgive him. He then reaches for a vintage book on her shelf, 101 Places to Go, and finds a Maple leaf tucked between the pages and a column where Clara’s name is written along with every age except 16 and 23. Does that mean she didn’t own the book those years? Does that mean she lost those years? Are those the years she was Oswin and Clara O. O.?  Moffat!!!  And now the Doctor is licking Clara’s leaf with a weird flick of his head. Loves a good lick, the Doctor. The whole time some new sweet-sounding incidental music has been playing and continues into the next scene.

Clara pops her head out her window and talks to the Doctor who is sitting on the curb by his TARDIS dismantling the Spoonhead. The Doctor then gives her a cute rundown of things she missed including his accidental invention of the Quadracycle. Hee. Even though there were hints of romance between the Doctor and the previous Clara, his approach to this one is quite fatherly. Bless. Cut to the Trinity of Evil who are watching; Kizlet tells them to do something creative. Somehow I don’t think she wants Alexei and Specs to take up decoupage or knitting. Clara sits with the Doctor in the driveway and they talk about something being in the WiFi soup trapping people forever in a desperate situation. Clara compares this to Twitter because it’s a convenient way to let us know she now has knowledge of the internet (seriously, how can this be taking place in the present and Clara is a twenty-something and knows nothing about the internet?) and it’s a convenient way for Moffat to get in another jab at Twitter. Clara realizes she knows all about computers and the Doctor states that he doubts she will be allowed to keep that knowledge. He spots another Spoonhead across the street and orders Clara to get in the box. Clara not having seen it, is reluctant to do so, thinking it’s a come on and calling the TARDIS a snog box. Hee, I like her. They then notice lights going on all along the street. The Doctor claims the WiFi is switching on the people. Creeeeepy. The Doctor realizes these Spoonheads could be everywhere as they notice other lights in the City going off. Kizlet then decides to crash a plane. As you do. The Doctor pulls Clara into the TARDIS and as he flies them to a new location, Clara gives the Doctor his favorite pay-off as she swirls around the console declaring that it is bigger on the inside. But the Doctor is too busy to enjoy it and opens the doors onto the crashing airplane. He and Clara stumble down the aisle, and all the while Clara, good English girl that she is, is still balancing her cup of tea. He keeps the plane from crashing, blocks the WiFi and everyone wakes up.

They exit the TARDIS onto the South Bank where The Doctor holds out his fez and collects money for breakfast like a street act. Clara and The Doctor then speed through London on a motorbike with zippy music bopping them along. He claims he doesn’t take the TARDIS into battle even though we have seen him do just that in the past. I think he just fancied a ride. Ooh, I love Clara’s studded red leather gloves. Cut to Kizlet exclaiming that she loves London because there are so many cameras. Their scope is larger than we thought.

The Doctor and Clara on a balcony. He says he can hack their lower level systems but can’t figure out where they are located. The Doctor asks her how long she has been helping out with those kids. About a year. Every one of these Oswald’s has been doing something for about a year. Weird. Assuring the Doc that she has the skills to find the villains in five minutes, Clara sends him off after a small exchange about the Victorianess of nannies and Clara declaring “Os for the Win, Oswin”, thus giving herself a hacker handle. While she hacks into the employee’s social network files, the Doctor is in the cafe dealing with Kizlet speaking to him through the cafe patrons. Again, their scope is vast. It is both creepy and funny watching these people imitate Celia Imrie’s accent and speech patterns. Meanwhile, Clara is taking photos of the employees at the Headquarters of Evil through their webcams and cross-referencing them with social media. Cut back to Kizlet and the Doctor talking and she is telling him that her client likes to feed on free-range minds. Clara discovers the baddies are at the Shard which is conveniently visible from her vantage point.  Also convenient that all of the employees at the Shard are idiots who posted their location on Facebook. You would think a secret evil organization that has control of the WiFi (and people) to the extent that they do would crack down on their employee’s social media activities at work. Just sayin’ .

The Doctor comes out of the cafe but turns out he’s a Spoonhead and Clara gets uploaded again. Real Doctor catches up, but Clara is fully integrated this time. Alexei declares that The Doctor is coming as we then see him speeding to the Shard on his motorbike with his jaw and helmet making him look like the Dread Baron.  He stops at a light and Kizlet uses a fat man to talk to the Doctor about the building’s security. He informs her that getting in won’t be a problem. Amusing cuts back and forth between Kizlet and the Fat Man as her astonishment overtakes them because the Doctor is riding up the side of the Shard. He crashes through the windows  and demands she put Clara’s mind back into her body. She refuses because she would have to download the entire data cloud and we find out that Dick Dastardly Doctor is actually a Spoonhead who then motivates/uploads Kizlet into the data cloud. Kizlet demands that Specs download the cloud to get her back and he refuses, but the Spoonhead Doc, under the real Doctor’s control, motivates Specs with his control bar on Kizlet’s tablet.  Kizlet is really freaking out and I am loving it. They release everyone and Clara returns to her body.

Kizlet informs her client, which is revealed to be the Great Intelligence in Simeon form on a monitor, that UNIT have arrived.  He instructs her to reduce. She does so with a tap of her tablet and all of the Shard employees revert to their previous clueless identities. Kizlet is found in her office, curled up on the floor asking for her Mummy and Daddy. Oh, the conflicting feels, Moffat! Now we are at Clara’s house  and we find out Clara is with this family because she was going to travel, but came to visit them and their Mum died.The Doctor invites her to travel with him but she asks him to come back tomorrow. He asks her about her leaf and she enigmatically declares it isn’t a leaf, but page one. Well thanks for that Clara. Now I have to go online to try to decipher the meaning of it. She exits. The Doctor declares it’s time to find out who she is and somehow I think it won’t be. Next time, they visit a planet where a girl is in serious peril. Episode rating, B+.

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