TARDIS Thoughts: April 2013


Series 7, Episode 8: "The Rings of Akhaten"


Sorry this is a bit later than I promised the posts would be...but here's my analysis of the latest episode of Series 7, "The Rings of Akhaten."

Basic plot overview of this episode:

The Doctor finally picks up Clara for her first adventure (after doing a little not-so-covert spying on her past first, cause...well, he can) and asks the usual question of what she wants to see. After some hesitation, she says, "Something awesome."

The Doctor is more than happy to oblige this request (there's nothing he likes better than impressing people), and takes her to probably the most awesome place we have seen on the show: the Rings of Akhaten. Which is a big massive system of planets all lit by this really bright star. And it just so happens that they're there just in time for the Festival of Offerings, a big festival that takes place every thousand years "or so" when the Rings align.

They head down to the planet (they initially landed on an asteroid for some reason) to check things out, and land in a big bazaar full of aliens of all sorts, where the currency is not money but things that are precious to you. Meanwhile, Clara gets separated from the Doctor and meets this little girl named Merry, who we learn is the Queen of Years, an important part of the Festival because she must sing some really important song to a god. And in fact, the reason she's in the bazaar is that she's really afraid she'll get the song wrong, so she ran away from her guardians. Clara reassures her, then takes her back to the priests that were looking for her.

The moment Merry is supposed to sing comes, and all seems to be going well...until Merry gets caught in some strange energy ball and pulled toward the strange pyramid floating on a asteroid in front of the arena. The Doctor and Clara trade Clara's mother's ring for a speeder bike (which, ironically for being alien technology, looks kinda dated, like it belongs in the original Star Wars or something, or even the much-lower-budget Classic Who) and go to try to rescue Merry, but aren't able to reach her before she is pulled into the pyramid. A sequence ensues where the Doctor uses the Sonic to get the door open (and some funny bits where Matt has to keep holding the Sonic up to the heavy door to keep it open, even if he has to squat...which cannot have been good for his fragile back) and we meet that creepy mummy thing we saw in the promo photos that was behind glass. Oh and there are also these aliens called The Vigil, who are supposed to feed the Queen of Years to the mummy thing if she refuses to voluntarily sacrifice herself, and who look kinda like the Ood in my opinion. Well either the Ood or some creepy monster from a risqué anime (the ones with nasty-tentacled monsters). And the Vigil are pretty powerful...they knock both The Doctor AND Clara down, as well as knocking the Doctor's Sonic out of the way. When the two come to, the Doctor asks Clara to toss him his Sonic and the fight resumes. Clara talks Merry into singing a song which opens a secret door (one wonders why she didn't sing it earlier), through which she and Merry escape while the Doctor remains to finish off the baddies before following them.

They find their way back to where Clara and the Doctor parked the speeder bike, but the Doctor quickly realizes that something even more serious is going down, and that the mummy thing isn't the real "old god" (or "Grandfather" as the locals call him), but just an alarm clock for the real god. And now the real "old god" is awake, and really hungry, and that is not a good thing. The Doctor decides to remain behind to deal with this hungry deity while Clara returns to the planet on the bike with Merry.

The next scene is really intense. The Doctor has some words with the voiceless god (as Clara, Merry, and a bunch of aliens watch from the arena) before offering his memories to the god as nourishment. (This scene actually reminded me a lot of the Doctor's big speech to the Devil in "The Satan Pit," though it lacked the swagger Tennant gave that speech and was instead a much more desperate speech, which is okay because that is more befitting the scene anyway). I was actually scared for the Doctor in that moment, thinking he would actually lose all his memories. Which would NOT be good.

But thankfully, he is not alone. Merry decides to help him by leading all the aliens in a song. Clara just watches, but remembering her mother's words to her as a child ("And I will always come and find you. Every single time") and the Doctor's words to her from earlier in the episode ("We don't walk away"), finally decides to go rescue The Doctor. She speeds back to him on the speeder bike and offers the leaf from her 101 Places to See book to the god, saying it is full of history. The Doctor (who had been on his knees when Clara arrived) recovers and dares the god to eat the leaf, but it ends up exploding due to the leaf being full of an infinity of days that should have been but never came.

After this, The Doctor takes Clara back home (not sure why though) and tells her she reminds him of someone who died. Clara, however, takes the defensive:

Well, whoever she was, I'm not her, okay? If you want me to travel with you, that's fine. But as me. I'm not a bargain basement stand-in for someone else. I'm not going to compete with a ghost.

This is somewhat like the end of Series 3, when Martha realized she was always going to be second best to Rose in the Doctor's heart and decided to leave:

DOCTOR: Of course not. Thank you. Martha Jones, you saved the world.
MARTHA: Yes, I did. I spent a lot of time with you thinking I was second best, but you know what? I am good. You going to be all right?
DOCTOR: Always. Yeah.
MARTHA: Right then. Bye.
(Martha leaves, then goes back inside.)
MARTHA: Because the thing is, it's like my friend Vicky. She lived with this bloke, student housing, there were five of them all packed in, and this bloke was called Sean. And she loved him. She did. She completely adored him. Spent all day long talking about him.
DOCTOR: Is this going anywhere?
MARTHA: Yes. Because he never looked at her twice. I mean, he liked her, but that was it. And she wasted years pining after him. Years of her life. Because while he was around, she never looked at anyone else. And I told her, I always said to her, time and time again, I said, get out. So this is me, getting out. 
Anyway, The Doctor gives Clara back her ring (the people of Akhaten wanted her to have it back) and she leaves the TARDIS. The Doctor then closes the door, with a serious look on his face.


So, why did I start with a plot overview instead of analyzing the plot as I went along?

Well, mostly because I wanted to get the plot out of the way before I went on to say something I want to say about this episode.

Okay, so a LOT of people, I've noticed, have been going on online, saying that this episode is "bad" and has a "weak plot." Not everyone, mind you; there are people who, like me, liked the episode a lot. But it does seem like a large majority of people did not like it.

I'll admit -- like with "The Bells of Saint John," the villains sort of took the back seat here. Also, for all the worry Merry had about singing the song, the moment where she actually did so was kinda underwhelming.

But I would not say that this episode had a weak plot. It did have a simple plot, but that's not the same thing. Someone pointed out in one discussion I read -- and I agree with this -- that the Classic Who episodes also usually had simple plots. Of course, that may be because they had a much lower budget back then. Also, because the episodes aired as multi-week serials (the different "parts" of the episode airing over several consecutive weeks), they didn't have to cram a ton of stuff into one episode.

The plot did not have the suspense and impact of "The Bells of Saint John," to be sure. It starts out simple enough - typical first Companion adventure with the Doctor introducing the Companion to what life is like traveling with him and trying to impress the Companion along the way. As Doctor Who episodes often go, The Doctor then discovers that something's awry and goes about figuring out what it is and fixing the problem/defeating the enemy. This is a simple plot, typical Doctor Who formula.

But I don't think this means it's weak. You have to remember too -- the guy who wrote this, Neil Cross, had never written for Doctor Who before prior to writing this episode (as well as "Hide," which airs in a couple weeks). He's primarily known as the showrunner/creator of Luther, a psychological crime drama that has, like Sherlock, been released in short seasons of a few episodes each (6 in the first season, 4 in the second, with a third season on the way). So, being new to the writing team, he was probably counseled to stick to a tried-and-true story formula.

Also, Series 7 has, as a series, been produced very differently from other series/seasons of Doctor Who. Instead of using a season-wide story arc like before, Series 7 consists of standalone adventures styled, as Moffat put it, like blockbuster movies. You had a big Dalek episode, an episode in space with dinosaurs, a Western, a kinda Wild Card episode ("The Power of Three"), and a sad, dramatic episode. Then came the traditional Christmas Special, which played out much like a movie as well (one could almost say it has a three-act structure, one of the most well-known story structures; I'd have to sit down and analyze it properly to say for sure).

And then came Series 7 Part 2. Again, we have episodes that look like they are meant to be blockbusters: a Bond/Bourne-influenced techno-thriller ("The Bells of Saint John"), an episode that is a bit Indiana Jones and a bit "old school sci-fi flick" (this episode), another thriller/adventure type of episode that's clearly influenced by The Hunt for Red October (this weekend's episode, "Cold War"), a ghost story ("Hide"), a sci-fi adventure probably influenced (and clearly named for) A Journey to the Center of the Earth ("Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS"), a Gothic-style horror story set in Victorian Yorkshire ("The Crimson Horror"), a creepy story involving a theme park and Cybermen ("Nightmare in Silver"), and an equally creepy (and also potentially Gothic) finale with waxy Silence-esque villains called The Whispermen, and suspense via a plot about someone stealing all The Doctor's friends, the return of River Song, and the revelation of a "big secret" about The Doctor ("Untitled Finale"). Not to mention the 50th Anniversary Special (also as yet unnamed) which the finale supposedly will lead into (per Matt Smith) and which we don't know much about the plot of - other than that it involves Ten, Rose (yep Tennant and Billie Piper are in it...yay!), Eleven, Clara, UNIT, Zygons, and some intense scenes like Eleven hanging from the TARDIS over Trafalgar Square (as shown from recent filming photos).

So I think people need to give these episodes a break. Just saying.

One thing that DID bug me a bit about this episode was this whole thing of The Doctor going to the past and basically spying on Clara (and her parents). I'm not really sure why that whole subplot was even necessary, though it wasn't random to be sure because of how it tied in with the rest of the episode through the leaf and through Clara realizing at the end of the episode that the Doctor was there watching when she and her dad were at her mother's grave 8 years prior. I guess it might come into play later in the big grand scheme of things that is the ongoing "Clara's identity" mystery. Still, it kinda feels wrong to me that he did that. I mean, ok, I get it, he has a time machine, but seriously, Doctor? Even if it was for the sake of unraveling the mystery about Clara, there is such a thing as privacy!

Lastly...there was a nice little nod in this episode to a certain Classic Who character:

DOCTOR: ...Do you know, I forget how much I like it here. We should come here more often.
CLARA: You've been here before?
DOCTOR: Yes, yes, yes. I came here a long time ago with my granddaughter. 
Of course, anyone familiar with Classic Who will recall that the First Doctor traveled with his granddaughter, Susan Foreman (not her actual name, just one she took while she and The Doctor were on Earth; one of the novels reveals her Gallifreyan name to be Arkytior). So, I took this line to be a reference to her. This is the first time I have seen Susan referenced in New Who, so I'm glad Steven Moffat decided to acknowledge her existence, especially with this being an anniversary year. Also, if the Festival of Offerings happens every 1,000 years or so, then most likely the Doctor's last visit there would have been within the First Doctor's lifetime, since the Doctor is currently 1,200 years old (he told Clara he was 1,000 but I think he was rounding, so I'm going off the number he gave in "A Town Called Mercy") and was somewhere in his 200s when he started traveling around in the TARDIS. (Then again, since he can time travel, this might be a moot point).

Okay, so that's my analysis. Next up: "Cold War," an episode clearly influenced by the famous Tom Clancy novel The Hunt for Red October and its equally famous film adaptation starring Alec Baldwin and Sean Connery. I haven't read the book, but I did see the movie at some point. The main difference? Ice Warriors of course! This episode will mark the Ice Warriors' first appearance since The Monster of Peladon in 1974. Forty freaking years ago. (Well, 39 if you want to get technical). And several hundred years ago from The Doctor's perspective. The episode is written by Mark Gatiss, who has wanted to bring the Ice Warriors back for ages but was only able to now because he talked Moffat into it while on the phone with him to talk ideas for Sherlock. Which just goes to show how awesome Gatiss is. (Also, a post I read on Tumblr today quoted Moffat as saying he really likes this episode too, that it's his favorite...so that should tell us something).

Also, the episode guest stars well-known actor David Warner, primarily known for roles like Sark/Dillinger/MCP in the original Tron and Spicer Lovejoy in Titanic, as Professor Grisenko. He is joined by Liam Cunningham, currently known for his role as Davos Seaworth on Game of Thrones, as Captain Zhukov and Tobias Menzies (Brutus in the miniseries Rome) as Lieutenant Stepashin. The episode is directed by Douglas Mackinnon, who directed a few episodes of Moffat's miniseries Jekyll and also directed the Doctor Who episodes "The Sontaran Strategem," "The Poison Sky," and "The Power of Three."

As I did last time, here's some trailers to whet your appetite before the episode airs! First ones are BBC, last is BBC America, as before.

Also, you can get some hints about the episode here. If you want. 

Oh, and in honor of the Susan reference, I'm tagging this with her tag as well as Clara's. :)

Well, till Saturday! Cheers!

Quotes from The Doctor Who Transcripts. "Last of the Time Lords" quote from this transcript.


Series 7, Episode 7 (Series 7 Part 2 Premiere): "The Bells of Saint John"


Major spoiler warning here, obviously, if you haven't watched it yet. I think it gets a re-run on the BBC this weekend, plus it's on iTunes and Amazon Instant Video now. If you want to go watch it.

So....Series 7 Part 2 is finally here! After months of waiting! Huzzah! Or, as Matt would say, Geronimo!

First, let me say...it's best if you avoid spoilers before watching this. I did, and I'm so grateful. It's kind of like when Deathly Hallows came out. There were so many spoilers and leaks it was not even funny. But I avoided them all. Plus, I wasn't able to pick up the book (which I'd pre-ordered) from the store until the Monday after it was released, which meant that I had to avoid spoilers during release weekend too, which was really freaking hard. (If you are a Potterhead or were one when DH came out, you know exactly what I'm talking about).

Second of all, it's a great episode! However, it's very different I think than the typical Doctor Who episode. There is much more focus on the Doctor and his Companion than there is on the villains. Then again, this seems to be a trend throughout Series 7 (with the possible exception of the Christmas Special). I think this is because Series 7 is made up of standalone movie-style stories, as opposed to episodes with an ongoing theme running throughout like previous seasons/series, such as Series 6. And in movies, you can focus more closely on small stuff. Honestly, I don't like the trend these days of cramming as much as you possibly can into a single TV episode. Some shows, I swear...you'd be surprised how much they can cram into an hour. Once Upon a Time is guilty of this, also Pretty Little Liars. Doctor Who, thankfully, does not seem to do this (instead stretching their longer stories out into two-parters).

So...anyway, the episode.

The episode starts with a voiceover over various clips, talking about wi-fi and telling people not to click on a wi-fi network whose name is in weird alien letters (which, for some reason, make me think of Aurebesh, the writing from Star Wars). Basically, this is the same as the "Nabile's Warning" preview video that BBC One released prior to the premiere last Saturday:

But there's a twist. The video of Nabile zooms out...and we learn that Nabile, the very person warning people about the alien wi-fi, is in fact a victim of the alien wi-fi himself. Whoa!

And then we go into the wonderful awesome new opening sequence with the cool remixed song. Which I ran back (I was watching a DVR recording, because I was at work when the episode actually aired) so I could hum along. Cause I'm weird and becoming this big Whovian geek. Did I mention I watched this episode wearing my bow tie from work and drinking from a white mug?

And...now all the sudden we're in 1207 Cambria. Where, once again, contrary to the orders of both Amy and River, the Doctor is off hiding by himself. Though this time he's not just brooding and mourning, like he was in "The Snowmen." He's gone into isolation and contemplation in a 13th-century monastery to think about Clara and to "divine the meaning" of her Famous Last Words ("Run, clever boy, and remember"). Why exactly he felt the need to do this, I'm not sure. Couldn't he do it just as well in the TARDIS? Then again, if he is as despondent about finding Clara in this episode as he was in the "Bells of Saint John" prequel, maybe he needed to go somewhere to clear his head.

Anyway, a couple monks go to the Doctor to tell him "the bells of Saint John are ringing" (the source of the episode title, in case you couldn't tell). He leaves to prepare, and the monks stare at the painting he has done of Clara. Who knew the Doctor was such a good painter?

From the painting of Clara we go straight into the life of modern-day Clara. Clara was so great in this episode; I love her even more now. Jenna-Louise Coleman is just so great!! Anyway, it turns out that this Clara is living with some family and taking care of the kids. Her main concern right now though: she can't get the internet to work on her computer.

Another thing worth noting in this scene: the book the kid in Clara's house has:

Did you notice the author's name??


Huh. Who has that name in Doctor Who? Oh, yeah, AMY POND. "Amelia Williams" is her formal married name, and the name we know she went by after being displaced in time, as indicated by the Afterword in "The Angels Take Manhattan."

So, I guess Amy became an author? We know as of "The Angels Take Manhattan" she was a journalist, and River clearly wrote a novel at some point in her life cause she wrote that Melody Malone one, so maybe Amy took a cue from her daughter or something. (Hey, why not? She unknowingly named her daughter after her daughter. Cause Mels was actually River). The styling of the cover does also seem very typical of the '30's or '40's, which is the time period Amy and Rory got sent back to.

There has also been some fan debate about Clara saying "11 is the best. You'll cry your eyes out...the good kind of crying" regarding this book. Some people think this is a reference to the Doctor, basically saying that Eleven is better than Ten, and a slight to Whovians who "cried their eyes out" over the Series 7 Part 1 finale. Honestly, I don't think the line is supposed to mean anything else than its face value - that Clara thought Chapter 11 of the book was the best, and that it made her cry. But then it's hard to know with Clara - even when you think she wouldn't remember things from her "other" selves, she does (like with the "soufflé" comment in "The Snowmen," a throwback to Oswin). Anyway, BBC Books is actually releasing that book for real as an e-book this weekend, so maybe I'll get it and read it to see what Chapter 11 is like.

The episode now switches back to 1207, where the Doctor has hidden the TARDIS away in an unassuming place in the middle of nowhere - in this case, in a cave in the middle of a forest. Which is not unlike what he did in "Human Nature," where he hid the TARDIS inside an unassuming little hut while he was human:

The "bell," it turns out, is the phone on the front of the TARDIS, which isn't supposed to ring. (The "Saint John" part is probably due to the "St. John's Ambulance" sticker on the door opposite the phone). The Doctor is confused as to why it could be ringing, but picks it up anyway.

And...he ends up talking to Clara, who thinks she's called tech support for help with her computer but has somehow called the TARDIS's police box phone instead (she claims some woman at a shop gave her the number). A rather funny conversation follows, where Clara claims she can't find the internet, that the wi-fi's not working for her, etc. Basically, this Clara, unlike Oswin, is clever but has zero computer skills. I found it weird that she had zero computer skills; I mean, don't they have to teach you computer skills in school now? Maybe it's different in England.

Then, Clara decides to try the family wi-fi router network, and asks one of the kids for the password, which like any good computer password is a random string of letters and numbers. The less-than-computer-savvy Clara decides to invent a mnemonic phrase to remember said password, which happens to be "rycbar123."

She then says this phrase aloud to herself, unaware the Doctor is still on the other end of the phone line. The phrase? "Run you clever boy and remember...1, 2, 3."

The Doctor has an a-ha moment at this point, realizing that he is talking to Clara. Once again, she has gotten his attention with words she had no clue meant anything to him (like in "The Snowmen" with "Pond"). He hangs up and prepares to leave. Meanwhile, however, Clara, desperate for wi-fi that does work (distracted by the Doctor, she typed the password wrong, so the family one won't work), sees the mysterious alien wi-fi pop up on her network list and innocently clicks it...making her a victim of the bad guys.

Clara heads downstairs, only to be greeted by someone banging on the front door. She opens it, and it's The Doctor, still in monk robes. He addresses her by name and asks if she remembers him, but she doesn't, and even with all his efforts to talk to her, she slams the door in his face.

After this we finally travel over to the Mighty Villain Lair, which is basically a high-rise office building. Here we meet Miss Kizlet, who seems to be in charge of everything, and learn a bit more about the evil plan in this episode, which is to capture human souls/minds via their evil wi-fi and trap them in the internet. There is also a reference to "Spoonheads," and we learn that Kizlet can "hack" her employees to make them have less conscience and such. Which I have to admit is pretty creepy.

Now, back to Clara. She's still by the door, trying to process her encounter with the Doctor, when she hears noises upstairs. All the sudden, a young girl starts walking down the stairs. Clara thinks she looks familiar, but can't quite place her. Then we see - the girl looks like the one on the cover of the Amelia Williams book. Clara asks the girl if she is a friend of Angie's (one of the kids Clara takes care of), but the strange girl seems to be only able to mimic what Clara says. And then...creepiness alert...her head turns around, and it's only half a head! The other side is concave, like a spoon - hence the "Spoonheads." On the other side is some weird screen thing, and it turns to Clara menacingly.

We then realize (from a brief flash over to Villain Central) that Clara is being uploaded to the bad guys' big Data Cloud of souls. Uh oh.

Meanwhile, the Doctor has popped over to the TARDIS to change clothes, thinking that maybe he turned Clara off by showing up as a monk. This prompts probably one of my favorite lines in the episode:

Right. Don't be a monk. Monks are NOT cool.

For once, we get to hear Eleven say something is NOT cool. Cool.

By the way, those of you who, unlike me, were able to keep up with all the teasers and trailers for Series 7 Part 2 will probably recognize this scene of the Doctor. It's the same scene shown in this teaser from the BBC:

I also noticed that the angle from which we see The Doctor enter the TARDIS in this scene is a different angle than what we usually see. We usually see The Doctor and/or other characters enter the TARDIS from outside and then have a follow-shot of them walking in in a side view, with the door behind them and the console and other environs front and center. In this case, we're seeing the TARDIS set as if the camera was on the opposite side of the room, looking toward the door from the inside. It's an interesting change.

This is actually our first look at the inside of the TARDIS in this episode, come to think of it. The overall look of it hasn't changed. The "wardrobe" of the Doctor's clothes seems to have moved, now being comprised of deep cupboards located on the same floor as the control console. However, this may just be a small stash of clothes the Doctor keeps close at hand, and not his full wardrobe, which we know from "The Christmas Invasion" is quite large. Or maybe it IS all he has left; Ten's TARDIS basically blew up, after all, when he regenerated, so who knows how many clothes were saved when the TARDIS rebuilt itself in "The Eleventh Hour"? I'd guess though that the original wardrobe still exists to some extent; even a future version of River in the special "Last Night" (from the Series 6 DVD) is seen wearing a dress said to come from The Doctor's wardrobe.

The Doctor goes through various clothes before finding a proper outfit, and in perhaps the fastest changing of clothes ever done, he's now changed into a somewhat Victorian outfit, though NOT the same one he wore in the Christmas Special, with a frock coat and fancy trousers to go with his usual off-white button-down shirt. Apparently, he's also had time to fix his hair, because it's suddenly back to "normal" as well (not the messy, unkempt cut we saw him with a moment before). He buttons up the last button on his shirt, looking overly pleased with himself, then returns to the cupboard and digs out a box. He opens the box, and...lo and behold, THE BOW TIE HAS RETURNED. (As has the fez, as we see earlier in the scene and also in the background of this shot, on the floor).

Happy with his new outfit, he heads back to Clara's door, thinking she'll talk to him now that he looks more presentable. He tries to talk to her via the video intercom, but all he hears is her saying she's scared and doesn't know where she is.

He rushes in, only to find Clara collapsed and the weird girl still on the stairs. He begins to piece together what's going on, uses the Sonic to reduce the girl to her real robot form, and rushes upstairs and grabs Clara's laptop (or netbook? Seems more like a netbook given the size). He then engages in a serious hacking war with one of Kizlet's men (whose IQ she upgrades so he'll be equal to the task), but ultimately wins and manages to undo Clara's uploading, which has only reached 50% or so.

I was a little confused by this part. How is the Doctor such a good hacker all the sudden? And if he has always been that good, then why did he use Mickey to hack things for him in Series 1 and 2? At any rate, he apparently is a crazy good hacker, and also has a typing speed off the charts.

The Doctor checks to see if Clara is all right, then sends a stern message to Kizlet, reading "Under My Protection --The Doctor." Kizlet dismisses her subordinate so she may confer with their "client," a.k.a. the real boss of all this. She tells her unseen boss that "he" is here, the one she had been told about.

The Doctor takes Clara up to her attic room and puts her in bed, while setting out some tea, flowers, and cookies on the bedside table. (Fans have confirmed that the cookies are Jammie Dodgers, a popular type of British cookie which Eleven previously showed an interest in...of course, being an American, I did not recognize them). He takes one of the cookies and bites into it, and it's clear he enjoys it very much. Then, rather oddly, he places the bitten-into cookie back on the plate.

He then looks around the room and finds a book entitled 101 Places to See, which he looks at. (Jenna-Louise Coleman stated in an interview that Clara's mother gave her the book). One page has the words "Property of Clara Oswald" and then a series of numbers, most of them crossed out, which I assumed were meant to be her age throughout the years she's owned the book. Fans have noted, however, that the numbers 16 and 23 are missing from the list. No one's quite sure why; though I read one good theory that pointed out that, if Clara is meant to be 24 in 2013, then when she was 16 it would have been 2005. Which, of course, was when the New Who series started. I built on this theory, saying that if she is 24 in 2013 then she would have been 23 in 2012, which is when Clara's character was introduced on the show. Not sure if there is any credence to either of those theories yet. But we've already seen some "meta" stuff going on with Clara before (Victorian Clara was born on November 23, the same day Doctor Who premiered on TV in 1963, and when she died she was 26, the same amount of years Doctor Who was on hiatus between Classic Who and New Who), so it's totally possible.

Opposite the page with the numbers lies a maple leaf. The Doctor examines it, and, as he is fond of doing, licks it. He has a strange reaction to the taste. It's not clear whether he likes it or not; his facial expression is a bit vague and seems to show both interest and possible disgust simultaneously.

He then puts the book back and leaves, just as Clara wakes up.

Time passes, and Clara opens her cool little attic window (I've always wanted a window like that!) and peers out, where she finds the Doctor camped outside, with a little table and chairs set up outside the TARDIS. They have a conversation and Clara asks The Doctor if he's guarding her, which he says he is. He also rattles off the things he's done, which include: he took a message from Angie, who says she's staying over at Nina's; he took yet another message from Clara's father, which was apparently about politics and on which The Doctor has "several pages" of notes; and he fixed some noise the washing machine was making.

Clara then comes down and joins the Doctor outside. He tells her about the sentient wi-fi that appears to be what attacked her before, which then leads to this exchange:

DOCTOR: Imagine that, human souls trapped like flies in the world wide web, stuck for ever, crying out for help.
CLARA: Isn't that basically Twitter?
I took note of that, because in a recent interview at a London Apple Store, Matt Smith had said the episode would have Twitter-bashing in it. Apparently Steven Moffat himself is not fond of Twitter. And this is hardly the first time the Doctor has mentioned Twitter - as anyone who has, like me, seen the famous "New to Who" hashtag promotion commercial BBC America blasted at you every five minutes last year can attest. If you haven't seen that commercial, basically it was one that aired leading up to the Series 7 premiere and encouraged people to write about their first Doctor Who experience on Twitter, using the hashtag "#newtowho." The primary tagline of said commercial was this one from The Doctor:

I bring you to a paradise planet, two billion light years from Earth, and you want to update Twitter.
Ironically, I thought this was just a line they made up for the commercial. Apparently, it's not. It's actually a real line, said by Eleven to Amy in "The Girl Who Waited," the 10th episode of Series 6.

Anyway, the Doctor realizes something at this moment. As far as he knows, Clara doesn't know a thing about the Internet...

...and she just made a joke about Twitter.

Apparently, when Clara was downloaded back into her body, she brought something extra back with her. And now she and the Doctor have huge targets on their backs. So much so that the villains drain most of metro London's power and remotely hack Clara's neighbors to threaten them, not to mention they send both a Spoonhead and an out-of-control plane after them! The Doctor tells Clara to get in the TARDIS with him, but she's suspicious, flirtatiously asking him if the TARDIS is a "snog box." Now, I knew (from reading Harry Potter) that "snog" is British slang for "kiss," so basically I guess she's asking him if it's some box that couples secretly hide in to kiss/make out. He denies it, obviously. And when the plane shows up, he basically grabs her hand and forces her to follow him in, her mug of tea and all. After the TARDIS experiences some turbulence, he flips some switches, and the two then exit the TARDIS, which for some reason is now onboard the out-of-control plane. I don't quite understand why he did that; it does seem a little weird. Anyway, The Doctor and Clara make their way down the plane (Clara clutching her mug tightly the whole time) till they reach the cockpit, where the Doctor reveals he can't fly a plane. Clara says she can't either, so he says they'll learn together and takes the controls, somehow managing to stabilize the plane. He then disables the plane's wi-fi with his Sonic, waking everyone up, including the pilots. After which he and Clara bid adieu and head back to the TARDIS, where Clara finally gets to drink her tea.

The Doctor then time-travels to morning and declares they are going to go get breakfast. He lands somewhere in London and he and Clara emerge in broad daylight, where The Doctor produces his famous fez and collects "donations" for their breakfast as Clara looks on. He then heads back inside the TARDIS and hunts through the garage for something, before emerging on a nice (and somewhat retro-looking) Triumph motorbike, his helmet already on. He gives Clara hers and she climbs aboard. The Doctor gives his fez to a kid, and the two speed off across a bridge headed toward Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament.

But...little do they know, they are being watched, over back at Villain HQ. Via tourists taking pictures, among other things. Kizlet delights in this, saying she loves London because there are so many cameras.

Along the way, Clara asks The Doctor why they're on a motorbike at all:

CLARA: If you've got a flying time machine, why are we on a motorbike?
DOCTOR: I don't take the TARDIS into battle.
CLARA: Because it's made of wood?
DOCTOR: Because it's the most powerful ship in the universe and I don't want it falling into the wrong hands.
I found the fact that the Doctor says he doesn't take the TARDIS into battle weird, because I think he has taken it into battle in a sense before. Plus, we know from the Expanded Universe of Doctor Who that "Battle TARDISes" did indeed exist at one point and were used by the Time Lords during the Time War. 

Clara's response "Because it's made of wood" might mean a couple things. It might just refer to the fact that it's a police box, and the police box model the TARDIS resembles was made of wood (or, rather, wood and concrete, according to the blueprints). Or - and this is what I thought - it might be an in-joke referring to how the Doctor's Sonic doesn't work on wood. But I guess that's a long shot. (Plus, I think the TARDIS prop is made out of wood as well anyway).

The pair stop by a cafe for breakfast, where the Doctor tries to figure out why Clara's spending her time being a nanny. Clara eventually turns the conversation over to the matter at hand, and asks if he's figured out where the enemies are operating from yet, and he says he can't pinpoint their location. She volunteers to do so, since she basically has a computer in her brain now. He protests, but after some back-and-forth banter and trying to grab Clara's laptop, he finally gives in and leaves to get them more coffee.

A couple things about this scene: there are references to "The Snowmen" and maybe "Asylum of the Daleks" in the dialogue that a clever ear can catch. The Doctor's line, "I can't tell the future, I only work there" reminded me of a line from Star Trek IV, where Kirk tells Catherine Hicks's character, "I'm from Iowa. I only work in outer space." And oh, let's not forget what happened to the last person who left to get the Doctor's party coffee... ("The Angels Take Manhattan," anyone?)

The next scene is very weird, with the Doctor confronting the enemies openly for the first time and Kizlet communicating with him by using the people in the cafe. It's weird and unnerving. And also a glaring reference to the Series 2 ep "The Idiot's Lantern" (and not the only reference to that episode in this episode), particularly Kizlet speaking through the lady on the TV. Despite their threats, however, the Doctor vows that "the people of this world will not be controlled" and declares that he will stop them. We also learn here the purpose for the bad guys harvesting human minds - they're necessary nourishment for their "client."

Meanwhile, Clara is still outside, hard at work using her newfound computer knowledge. She does some clever hacking and gains access to an employee roster from the building where the villains are operating. She then uses a face-matching program to pull up the social media pages for each of these people - Facebook, Twitter, etc (what looks like a Google+ profile is seen at one point also). The people back at Villain HQ realize what's going on and try to stop it, but are unable to. This leads to a funny scene where the main guy asks all the staff who's on Facebook and other social networks, and did they put on there where they work. Which of course they did. We all do that. That's part of the story/lesson of this episode, really -- about how much we depend on the Internet and how, in a way, parts of us are already on there, just not as souls sucked into the Data Cloud by Spoonheads.

Using these profiles -- and the employees' stupidity in all putting where they work on their profiles -- Clara realizes they all say they work at "The Shard." Clara looks out over the city and sees the building they're talking about.

Now, something I didn't realize watching the episode is that...The Shard is actually a real place! They didn't make that up for the episode. It's an actual skyscraper in Southwark, London, and is the tallest building in the EU. It's very new; it just opened to the public on February 1 of this year. Which means that the Doctor Who crew probably got to go into it before practically anyone else, since they assumedly filmed this episode before then. Here's what it looks like:

The Doctor returns, and Clara excitedly begins to tell him what she found out. But, strangely, he only looks at her blankly and can only mimic what she says. And then his head turns around...


In the recording of the episode I watched, they placed this moment right before a commercial break, probably for maximum impact. I remember seeing it and saying aloud, "Oh my God, they did not just do that." That was totally out of left field. I thought they'd like turned him into a Spoonhead or something, but then I remembered the Spoonheads take on a form based on something in your subconscious, like how the Spoonhead Clara met earlier took on the form of that girl from the book Clara was reading. So, in this case, it took on the form of The Doctor instead.

Anyway, Spoonhead-Doctor wastes no time in uploading Clara back into the villain's evil Data Cloud, and fully doing it this time. By the time the real Doctor finally shows up, it's too late - Clara has been fully uploaded. All he can see is a collapsed Clara and his Spoonhead doppelganger, but, hearing Clara's cries for help from the screen on the concave part of the Spoonhead, he is able to figure out what's going on and spring into action.

We now switch to the streets of London, where the Doctor's back on the Triumph. He finds The Shard, and a man in front of him (who is being used by Kizlet to communicate with the Doctor) mocks him, saying a motorbike "isn't like him." The Doctor boasts that he rode it in the first Anti-Grav Olympics (although he came in last). (I missed the reference here, but some fans have pointed out that the line about the "Anti-Grav Olympics" here is a throwback to the beginning of "Tooth and Claw"...in the opening of that episode Ten happens to mention an Anti-Grav Olympics in passing). The man taunts the Doctor, saying there's no way he's going to break into The Shard, but the Doctor responds, "Didn't you hear me say, 'anti-grav'?" He then pushes a button and rides the motorbike up the side of the building (a really cool shot) before crash-landing in Kizlet's office.

Kizlet enters the office to see what's going on. The Doctor has already made himself comfortable, in a chair with his feet on the table. (This is somewhat similar to how he is in "The Snowmen" when he and Vastra go to confront Dr. Simeon). Notably, he still has his helmet on. (Pay attention to that - it's important). He threatens Kizlet, telling her to download Clara back into her body. She says that the only way that can be done is to download the whole cloud - or basically, send all the souls back into their bodies - and that she won't do. He tells her she will, and that he will give her very good motivation to do so. She asks him how he will do so.

He removes his helmet...and we see he only has half a head.

IT'S NOT THE DOCTOR IN THE OFFICE. In fact, he never left the cafe; he's still there, sipping his coffee out of a demitasse and watching over Clara's body. He sent Spoonhead-Doctor instead. Somehow (in a way that is not really explained, but may have to do with Clara's laptop, since he is seen sitting in front of it), he is controlling Spoonhead-Doctor remotely and speaking through it and everything. (Hey, the Doctor does have pretty strong mental powers, right?) That was a pretty crazy reveal. Was not expecting that. Clara/Oswin's right; the Doctor is a "clever boy." :)

Using Spoonhead-Doctor, he uploads Kizlet herself to the cloud. Needless to say, she is not happy to be there. She tries to get her second-in-command to free her, but he refuses, for the same reason Kizlet did - in order to free her, he'd have to free everyone.

But the Doctor still has some tricks up his sleeve. Remember how Kizlet was able to "hack" her employees and change their attributes (conscience, IQ, etc)? Well, Spoonhead-Doctor, under the real Doctor's control, finds the tablet she uses for that, and cranks up Mr. Second-in-Command's Obedience level. Which basically makes him change his mind and tell his associate to "download" everyone back to their bodies.

Time passes, and as of the next scene, UNIT has shown up and is dismantling the whole operation. Kizlet, now back in her body, reports her failures to her "client." And here comes the kicker...addressing her client, Kizlet says:
Then I appear to have failed you, Great Intelligence.
Aha! So The Great Intelligence was behind this! That was another double-take moment for me, similar to the "Amelia Williams" popping up on the book cover. The Great Intelligence (which has apparently retained the appearance/consciousness of Dr. Simeon from "The Snowmen," even a century later, since Richard E. Grant, who played Simeon, is credited as playing the role in this episode) informs her that he has fed on many minds and grown, but now it's time for her to reduce. Basically, he's giving her the "You Have Outlived Your Usefulness" talk.

Kizlet reluctantly complies with this and grabs her tablet. On it is a large button that says "Restore to Factory Settings." I had to laugh at that, as such a button is part and parcel of most, if not all, Apple mobile products. Not sure if it's meant to refer to that, but that's what I thought it was.

This causes everyone to have a terrible headache and suddenly remember who they really are. Which I'm sure didn't help UNIT out one bit in their investigation. ^_^

We also find out Kizlet has been helping Mr. GI for a LONG time. Her first words after being restored to "factory settings" are "Are you my mummy and daddy?" She basically has the mind of a child. (Also, I picked up the question as being a reference to another episode Moffat wrote, "The Empty Child," which features the famous-among-Whovians quote "Are you my mummy?").

We go back to The Doctor and Clara now, on the TARDIS. He tries to invite her along, but she's not quite ready and tells him to come back tomorrow. As she leaves, he asks her why there was a leaf in her 101 Places to See book, to which she replies:

That wasn't a leaf. That was page one.

What does that mean, I wonder? Even the official BBC Doctor Who Twitter account wants to know, apparently, since they posted this tweet asking fans about it:

Personally, I think it's a play on words. A leaf can be a leaf from a tree, but the word can also refer to a page in a book. One of the definitions of the word "leaf" is "a unit generally comprising two printed, blank, or illustrated pages of a book, one on each side." 

But maybe we're not meant to know yet.

Anyway, she leaves, and the Doctor heads up to the gallery, looking expectantly toward us, and saying:

Right then, Clara Oswald. Time to find out who you are. 

And...that's it. Episode over.


I did like this episode a lot. Like I said, it's different. Moffat said in interviews it would be like James Bond and/or The Bourne Identity, and it definitely has that feel, and that type of action. More Bond than Bourne IMO. The Doctor IS very Bond-like in this episode, even if Clara doesn't fit the typical Bond Girl role here. The plot of the bad guys using the wi-fi to capture people is the type of plot that would fit a Bond movie as well. Plus Miss Kizlet struck me from the very first trailer as looking very like M as played by Dame Judi Dench. Some reviews I've seen, though, have complained that this enemy plot kinda takes the back seat to the task of re-introducing Clara. And it's true, more focus is put on that than on the dangerous plot the enemies have going. But I think it's kind of necessary given that it was the premiere, and The Doctor finding Clara needed to happen in this first episode to set things up for the rest of Series 7 Part 2. To be honest, the same was true of "Asylum of the Daleks," the Series 7 Part 1 opener; the interaction between the characters and the mystery of Oswin took center stage over the plot the Daleks had of blowing up the asylum planet, which was almost not even a plot point half the time.

This episode also featured a lot of throwbacks to other episodes, and not just the ones Clara has been in before. Maybe because this is the first episode of the 50th anniversary year? The James Bond film Die Another Day, which was both the 20th film in the series and also marked the Bond franchise's 40th Anniversary, did that too.

I loved Clara before this episode, but I love her more now as a result of this episode. Jenna-Louise Coleman is such a gifted actress. It's gonna be real fun to see her character aboard the TARDIS, I think!

Surprisingly I am warming up to Eleven now too. I never thought I'd actually say that. His very alien look always kind of creeped me out, which I guess is unfortunate, because - all things considered - Matt Smith is a darn good actor. He really is. Will see what I think by the Series 7 finale.

Moving on into the rest of Series 7 Part 2...Moffat has stated that by the end of these episodes we will know who Clara is. Seriously, he said that. Honestly, I'm a little disappointed. I was kind of hoping they'd spread it out a bit more. I mean, we had like a season and a half to guess who River Song really was, so why not give us lots of time to speculate? Not that there aren't like a gazillion theories out there already, but...I don't know. I don't feel ready for that revelation to come so fast.

Matt Smith also confirmed that the Series 7 finale will lead directly into the 50th Anniversary Special, which will air on November 23, 2013 (the actual anniversary). And we know from Moffat that River Song is confirmed to appear in the finale, so I imagine River will be involved somehow in the special too. Oh, and it was just confirmed that David Tennant and Billie Piper will definitely appear in the Anniversary Special, as Ten and Rose! They'll be in it along with John Hurt (Ollivander from Harry Potter), Welsh actress Joanna Page, Ken Bones (Lord Halifax in Upstairs Downstairs), some newbie actor named Orlando James, another actor named Marshall Griffin, and of course Matt and Jenna.

So...there's a lot to look forward to!

Speaking of which, to hold you over till next Saturday, here's some trailers for next Saturday's episode, "The Rings of Akhaten." Which, despite the name, is NOT set in Ancient Egypt, which I seriously thought it was because the name "Akhaten" sounded very Ancient Egyptian. I mean, doesn't it? Nope, apparently it is set in space, and somewhere pretty awesome to boot. The first two trailers are from the BBC, the last from BBC America. The BBC ones have more clips.

By the way, "Something awesome" has got to be the most awesome answer to that "Where do you want to go/what do you want to see" question EVER. You rock, Clara.

Well, till next week! (If I don't post sooner...I have some older posts to catch up on too). Hopefully next time, I'll have the analysis up closer to when the episode aired...

Quotes from my memory, Democratic Underground, or consulting trailers. "The Girl Who Waited" quote from The Doctor Who Transcripts. "Summer Falls" pic from The Nerdist; bow tie pic screencapped by me from this clip; "Human Nature" pic from Sonic Biro.

Thanks also to Anglophenia's recap of the episode; I consulted it to refresh my memory on some points, since in my excitement over watching it I had forgotten some of what happened.

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