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Doctor Who recap – “The Bells Of Saint John”

We open with a very slick montage showing how WiFi connectivity dominates our planet and how we are all connected to it. Apparently, the rest of the world doesn’t have Metrocast, like I do here in Podunk, which is, at best, temperamental. Sorry. I digress.  Interspersed are cuts of a young man trying to warn people of a hotspot name that suddenly appears on your device that has a much more cryptic name than the usual “Tedd’sWiFikeepoutbeyotch!” He warns us all not to click it. Don’t click it. DO NOT CLICK IT! Which is, of course, the best way to get someone to click something.

He says that once you click the strange characters, you will be found by “them.” Within 24 hours you will die, and your soul will be uploaded. And he knows this, because, like the others who have been claimed, he doesn’t know where he is. And he is begging for help. We pull back from his screen to see that he is trapped with hundreds of others, and none of them know where they are.

My boyos and I conduct the opening theme music as it swells, and I take time out to again complain that it is not the orchestral majestic version that accompanied the Tennant years, which my family puts up with good naturedly. Sort of. My boyos point out Matt Smith’s face in the credits as the TARDIS swoops around as she is wont to do. The episode was written by Steven Moffat, so, of course, I shake my fist at the screen and shout, “MOFFAAAAAAATTTT!” because of all he has put me through. (Side note? The other thing I am prone to shout is “WHEEEEEDONNNNNN!” For obvious reasons.)

The TARDIS opens to reveal Cumbria in 1207. We are in a monastery and a cute little monk is pounding on a door. (Yes he is cute. Nothing like wanting a guy you can’t have. ‘Cause he is a monk. And lived 800+ years ago. And is fictional.) He tells everyone to “Wake the Abbott! The bells of Saint John are ringing!” (Episode title alert! My boyo #2 is satisfied, after wondering why the episode is not called “The WiFi Ghosts Are Coming To Kill Us All.”) The Abbott comes, saying that the monks must go to him. And by him, they mean our wonderful Raggedy Man, who has been pretending to be a monk. The Doctor is sitting in front of a painting of Olde Tyme Clara, which is imprinted with her catch phrase, “Run, you clever boy. And remember.” Eleven tells the Abbott he needs a horse and dashes off. The Abbott and Cutie Monk ponder over the mystery of Clara, the woman twice dead, and her final message.

Cut to modern day Clara, who is once again a nanny to two adorable charges, Angie and Artie. She is computer clueless, wondering why the internet doesn’t work and trying to get help from tech support, who will undoubtedly tell her to turn it off and turn it back on again.  Angie and Artie’s dad swoops out, preparing to take Artie to some engagement. Artie is reading a book, “Summer Falls” by…AMELIA WILLIAMS, and then I am crying and missing Amy and Rory and it isn’t pretty. My boyos are unamused and a little repulsed. “What chapter are you on?” Clara asks Artie. “Ten,” he says. “Eleven is the best. You’ll cry your eyes out,” Clara says. Ain’t that the truth. Clara goes upstairs to try her computer, and the glyphs of Spookynet are there. DO NOT CLICK IT!

 

Back in Cumbria, the TARDIS phone rings. It is Clara. She thinks the Doctor is Tech Support, which I suppose he kind of is. She asks where the internet has gone, and there is witty repartee. Apparently a woman in a shop told Clara to call the TARDIS because it is “the best help line in the Universe.” I can’t help but wonder and hope it was Sally Sparrow who told her to call. The Doctor tries to tell Clara to click on the WiFi button that she recognizes. She needs the password, which Angie supplies. It is “rycbar123.” Cutie Monk asks the Doctor if he is talking to an evil spirit. “It’s a woman,” the Doctor replies, nodding knowingly as Cutie Monk blesses himself.

Clara, talking aloud, tells us all what the letters in the password stand for. “Run You Clever Boy And Remember. One. Two. Three.” The Doctor immediately flashes back to the two dead Claras he has already known, and is stunned. Clara mistypes the password and, of course, when she tries again, clicks the glyphs of Spookynet instead of “Maitland_Family.” Really? Okay. I’ll go with it. She suddenly appears on a computer screen somewhere on Ship Ominous. “They” are going to download her.

Clara is interrupted by a series of frantic pounding knocks on the door. Of course, it is the Doctor, still in his monk’s robes, who is thrilled and shocked to see her. “Clara Oswin Oswald!” he says. “Just Clara Oswald. What was that middle one?” she replies. She doesn’t remember him, even if his hair is particularly foppish and cute. “The Doctor!” he clarifies. “Doctor who?” she replies, natch. He makes her ask it again and again, grinning unbelievably adorably and dancing a little as she does. And just like that I am in love with him again. “Do you know I never really realized how much I enjoyed hearing that said out loud. Thank you,” he breathes. And she slams the door in his face.

On Ship Ominous, “they” are trying to lock onto Clara. “They” are led by Miss Kislet, who tells her lackey, Alexei, that since Clara has no computer skills they will need to splice in a computer skills package after they upload her. She then informs her second in command that Alexei should be killed. After his holiday. “Let’s not be unreasonable.” Her second in command thinks they are uploading too many people too quickly. Kislet disagrees, telling him that they are preserving people’s intellects. “It’s like immortality. Only fatal.” Ha! Also, their “client has his needs.” Kislet then hacks into him to make him more obedient. And he knows it.

At the Maitland house, the Doctor persuades Clara to talk to him over the intercom. Where he still looks adorable. He tells her he is on his mobile phone, and points to the TARDIS, which, he says, “Is a surprisingly accurate description.” This cracks my boyos up to no end. She cuts him off, and then the boyo laughter dies as a creepy robot looking girl who looks exactly like the picture on Artie’s book comes down to get Clara. Robot Girl turns her head 180 degrees, and instead of a skull, she has a cut out electronic…thing…that is set to zap Clara. The boyos are pretty freaked out. But not as much as they were by the Weeping Angels.

The Doctor runs back to the TARDIS to change. “Don’t be a monk. Monks are NOT cool!” he says. He goes through his clothing to find an outfit, briefly donning his beloved fez, which makes us all cheer. He eschews his traditional brown overcoat in favor of a longer, flashier purple one. And then, here it comes. The beloved bowtie. And once again I am singing, “My bowtie’s back, and you’re gonna be in trouble!”

The Doctor runs back to the Maitland’s house and finds an unconscious Clara body, hearing her panicking voice shouting, “I don’t know where I am!” over and over. Her soul, it seems, is trapped in the Robot Girl. The Doctor uses the sonic and sees that Clara is 57% downloaded, and the number is growing fast. He stops the download, and the Robot Girl just becomes a Robot. She is a walking WiFi way station, the Doctor says. “Hoovering up information. Hoovering up people.” He grabs Clara’s laptop and begins to reverse the upload, much to the consternation of Miss Kislet and company. He is not about to lose Clara a third time.

Clara’s soul is beamed back into her body, and the Doctor kisses her forehead. Better watch it, Doctor, or River is going to be pissed. Side note?I miss River. Other side note? Alex Kingston just turned 50 and she looks amazing. Anyway, he sends Ship Ominous a message: Clara is under his protection. Kislet says she has to speak to the client. She has been warned about the Doctor, and she reports him to “Sir.”

The Doctor puts Clara to bed, leaving her flowers and water and Jammy Dodgers (cue more cheering from the boyos!) He can’t resist eating half of one, and he looks borderline sexual, which I understand because I make that face when I eat Key Lime Pie. He finds a book of Clara’s, called “101 Places to See” and it lists Clara’s current age of 24. There is a tree leaf in the beginning. He licks it to try to identify it. Of course. 

Clara awakens and looks for him. He is sitting outside with his old girl, using her laptop, and they have an adorable conversation, reconnecting. The Doctor has been busy, taking calls, fixing things, etc. He even repaired the quadracycle in the garage. Clara doesn’t think he did. “I invented the quadracycle,” he says, pleased with himself. The Doctor promises to care for her and guard her, and tells her to go to sleep. Instead, she comes down to talk to him.

On Ship Ominous, they are stumped by Clara. They are gonna get her. Creatively.

Clara brings tea to the Doctor. She tells him she is a governess for the Maitland family. Just like….never mind. The Doctor talks to her about what’s going on. How people are stuck in the system forever, crying out for help. “Isn’t that basically Twitter?” Clara asks. Ha! The Doctor suspects that Clara has been hacked, since she made a Twitter joke. “That’s weird,” Clara says. She knows all about computers now. The Doctor very much doubts that she will be allowed to keep this bonus gift.

The neighborhood starts getting weird, with lights going on and off systematically. The people are all robot way stations, now. The Doctor tries to get Clara in the TARDIS but she thinks it’s a “snogging booth” and won’t go. We cut between Ship Ominous and the Maitland’s, and the tension grows. The Doctor and Clara look up. They are being pursued by a WiFi equipped plane. The Doctor drags Clara into the refurbished TARDIS (which the boyos love but makes me sad, because I miss the more steampunk version) and tells her yes, it’s a spaceship, yes, it’s bigger on the inside, no he has no time to explain. She is stunned, of course. They leave the TARDIS and are on…the plane! Didn’t expect that! “It’s all very sciencey!” The Doctor explains. Problem, though? “I’m the Doctor. I’m an alien from outer space, I am 1,000 years old, I have two hearts and I can’t fly a plane. Can you?” Of course, Clara cannot. The Doctor manages to figure it out, even without blue stabilizers, and turns the plane back over to the pilots. And Miss Kislet wants her lackeys to FIND THAT BOX!

The Doctor and Clara land, earning money for breakfast by pretending the TARDIS is a magic trick and passing the fez for change. It works, ‘cause it kind of is, actually. The Doctor goes back into the TARDIS to the garage (it has a garage, apparently) to get…a motorcycle. My boyos are practically jumping at this point. They keep the money, but sadly, the Doctor gives the fez to a child, and I think that’s the last we’ll see of that. Whomp whomp.  They take off, zooming through London. Miss Kislet loves this because there are so many cameras in London to track them.

 

Clara is drinking a milkshake for breakfast, which I support. She and the Doctor chat while he uses the laptop. He confesses that yes, he is an alien, and Clara is fine with that. She asks what will happen if they find Kislet and Crew. “I don’t know. I can’t tell the future, I just work there,” says the Doctor. Ha! I love it. The Doctor tries to learn more about Clara, but she demurs. The Doctor knows Kislet and crew are in London, but can’t break through their security. Luckily, with her skills splice, Clara can. After a witty tug of war, she shoos him off the get coffee while she hacks like a maniac. I suspect this will come in handy later.

The Doctor is stalked by Kislet, who keeps taking over humans to talk to him, threatening him and the world in general. The Doctor promises to stop them cold. He goes to check on Clara, who is suddenly in need of a username. “Clara Oswald for the win!” she says cheerfully. “Oswin!” she says, inspired. Of course, the Doctor flashes back to Oswin the Soufflé Girl Dalek. Kislet keeps showing off to the Doctor, displaying how very much power she has. The Doctor is unimpressed. He will stop her. Even though she has sent a WiFi waystation bot to stop him.

Clara has hacked into the system using peoples Facebook pages that list where they work. Uh oh. Kislet tells the Doctor that her client loves humanity. In fact, he can’t get enough of them.  “No one loves cattle more than Burger King,” she purrs. I explain that to the boyos. They are disturbed. And who is the client? Kislet won’t say.

Clara figures out where they are. They work at The Shard, floor 65. Unfortunately, she has just told this fact to a DoctorBot. The boyos don’t like that at all. And neither does Clara, who has been uploaded. Fully.

The Doctor comes out and sees his bot with Clara’s panicking face in it. He pulls the sonic on it. He doesn’t care that Clara has been uploaded—he’s going to get her back.

He heads out on the motorbike. Kislet scoffs at his choice of transport through a heavyset biker. “I rode this in the anti-grav Olympics, 2074,” the Doctor says. The Bikerbot says the building is in lockdown. “Did you even hear the word? Anti-grav?” he asks. And he proceeds to drive up the side of the building to rescue Clara. According to my boyos, “This. Is. AWESOMMMMMMEEEE!!!” Also? It is “EPPPPPPIIIIIICCCCC!”

The Doctor crashes into Kislet’s office, demanding she download Clara back into her body. Kislet can’t take her out of the cloud. She is integrated now, with all the other souls. Release them all, then, the Doctor says. Those with bodies to go back to will wake up, and those that don’t will at least be released from a living hell. “Give the order,” The Doctor demand. “Why would I do that?” Kislet asks. “Because I’m going to motivate you,” he says with a Dark Doctor grin. “Why did you even come here?” Kislet asks. “I didn’t,” the Doctor tells her calmly. “I’m still in the cafe. Lovely spot.” And he takes off his helmet to reveal that Kislet is, in fact, looking at DOCTORBOT! Surprise! And “motivation” comes in the form of uploading Kislet and so she will make her crew release the cloud, which, after a few hacks into their obedience levels by the Doctor, they do. Everyone is free, in one way or another. Including Clara, whose still unconscious head is stroked lovingly by the Doctor.

Back on Ship Ominous, UNIT takes over. Kislet talks to her “client” whom is the Great Intelligence. He is going to withdraw and return Kislet and the crew back to their original minds. Kislet reverts to the mind of a little girl. Apparently she was taken to run Ship Ominous a long, long time ago.

Back at Maitland house, Clara looks out the window and sees our beloved old girl. She goes inside to talk to the Doctor, who is reading, wearing Amy’s old reading glasses, which chokes me up anew. The Doctor still insists she doesn’t seem like a nanny. “I was going to travel,” Clara tells him. “I came to stay for a week and during that week…” “She died,” the Doctor says, obviously referring to the Maitland kids’ mom. She insists she will still travel, but the Doctor knows her heart. “You don’t run out on the people you care about,” he says wistfully. “I wish I was more like that.” He tells her that the great thing about having a time machine is that you can still run away and be back in time for tea. He gives her the “all of time and space” speech and she laughs. “Does this work? Do you just crook your finger and people jump into your snogbox and fly away?” “It’s not a snogbox!” The Doctor insists. Somewhere out there, River vehemently disagrees. Clara tells the Doctor to come back tomorrow and she might agree to travel with him then. As she leaves, he asks about the lickable leaf in her book. “That wasn’t a leaf. That was page one,” she says gently, shutting the TARDIS door behind her. And the Doctor is intrigued. “Right then, Clara Oswald. Time to find out who you are,” he says, as he vworp vworps off to wherever he will go until Clara says yes.

Coming next? Clara says yes. And cool new aliens and danger and the Sonic and monsters and maybe Earth will explode. To quote the boyos, “AWESOMMMMMMEEEE!!!!” See you then!

Barbara Sirois Doyle is a writer for Sweatpants & Coffee and an avid Whovian.

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