Who Review: The Bells of Saint John
Greetings Evil Geeks and welcome to our new weekly review of all things Who! In my section of the Evil Lair, Doctor Who has become appointment TV whenever a new series starts. Saturday nights everything comes to a halt for that one glorious hour of television, so I figured why not take the opportunity to write a weekly about everyone’s favorite Galifreyan. After a bittersweet farewell to Amy and Rory at the mid-series finale and a Christmas special that saw Clara Oswald die for a heart-breaking second time, it goes without saying that there’s a great deal of anticipation built up as we start this second half of the series. So how does the Doctor find another incarnation of the “Impossible Girl” and how does she do on her first official trip out as a companion? Let’s get the discussion underway and we’ll all find out!
Just exactly who is Clara Oswald? Well we still don’t really know, but one thing is certain: the more the Doctor finds out about her the more it becomes apparent there is something incredibly special about her. How can she exist, seemingly as the same person, completely across the spectrum of time. We first met her as the entertainment director for a space ship that had crash landed on a Dalek asylum planet. She helped steer the Doctor, Rory, and Amy towards safety and eventual escape using her exceptional computer skills, but unfortunately for her it was too late to be rescued. She’d been fully converted into a Dalek and the girl who’d been speaking with Rory and the Doctor (or as she called them, the Nose and the Chin) was merely a remnant of who she used to be. The Doctor next encountered her in Victorian England, where she was a barmaid who slyly changed her clothes and accent to work at her day job as the governess to some wealthy school children. She and the Doctor seemed to click instantly with her being sharp enough to be able to verbally spar with the Doctor on equal footing. Clara and the Doctor helped fend off an alien invasion of sentient snow beings along with Strax the Sontaran, Madame Vastra and her wife Jenny. Just as her incarnation was in the future, Victorian Clara was smart and quick-witted but unfortunately those talents weren’t enough to save her. Clara dies tragically, just as the Doctor had given her a key to the TARDIS and asked her to be his companion. If you saw the brief prelude for this new episode which had been released earlier this week, you know that the Doctor was on an all out quest to find Clara again; his determination towards finding out who she only bolstered by his two initial tragic meetings with her.
The Doctor has been spending some time in a monastery during the early 13th century, pondering the mystery of the Impossible Girl. In the future on present day Earth, a modern Clara Oswald (who is also a nanny to some children) seems to be having some trouble with her internet service. Little does she know, the interference is being caused by a nefarious wi-fi based entity. The alien is infecting not only computers, but their users as well, downloading them into a computer prison from which they can not escape. Not knowing much about computers, Clara decides to call the help line for her service provider, when suddenly (800 years ago) back at the monastery the phone on the TARDIS begins ringing. When the Doctor answers, somehow the universe drops another Clara Oswald right into his lap, as she is the person on the other end. As the Doctor is trying to help her and figure out what exactly is happening, Clara connects to the alien wi-fi network which means she’s a marked woman. Shortly after anyone connects to the network, they are downloaded into the system and seemingly killed. It’s up to the Doctor to make sure he doesn’t lose Clara for a third time.
I have to say I really dug Clara the Third’s first adventure aboard the TARDIS. The dynamic between her and the Doctor is incredibly interesting as it seems to be approaching an almost romantic level. Clara is super smart and can quip just as fast as the Doctor. The Doctor points out that when he first met this incarnation of Clara, she knew nothing about computers, but within hours of their first meeting, she’s become an expert. Clearly she has some special abilities, it’s just not clear what they are yet, which of course intrigues the Doctor. Beyond that though, there seems to be a reciprocal flirtiness between them. Although Dalek Clara seemed to favor Rory, she still got flirty with the Doctor. Victorian Clara was overtly flirty with the Doctor as she kissed him on the lips at one point. Even though the various version of Clara have no recollection or each others lives, Modern Clara also seems to share that same torch for the Doctor as the other ones did, but what’s shocking is that the Doctor seems to be just as enamored with her. At one point in The Bells of Saint John (a reference to the bells on the TARDIS’ telephone), the Doctor narrowly keeps Clara the Third from becoming yet another dead Oswald. As she is unconscious and recovering from the incident, the Doctor goes to great lengths to make sure she awakens to a pleasant environment, going so far as to place flowers and Jammy Dodgers by her bedside, as well as fixing several things around her house (and inventing the Quadracycle!). To me it almost seemed like he was trying to impress her. He tells her he’s there to guard he and protect her, although she accuses him of using the TARDIS as a “Snog box”. He feels SOMETHING for this girl, which seems kind of odd given the painful experience he had with Amy and Rory’s departure. Speaking of Amy and Rory, when we first meet Modern Clara, she is talking to one of the children in her charge about a book he is reading. As they are talking, the cover of the book is shown and the author’s name is listed as Amy Williams. It’s kind of comforting to know that even though she and Rory were displaced in time by the Weeping Angels, things probably still worked out for them in the end. Amy was still able to become something of a noted author, so things couldn’t have been all that bad for them! As far as the Clara / Doctor dynamic though, there’s another x-factor at play in this situation that hasn’t been addressed yet and that factor is River Song. The Doctor’s a married man, how is River going to feel about him getting all cozy with Clara? I’d like to see River make an appearance soon, just to see how that would play out. If a time and space spanning cat fight between River and Clara were to break out, I certainly wouldn’t be disappointed.
At the end of the episode, the Doctor makes Modern Clara the same offer he also made to Victorian Clara; a chance to travel with him on the TARDIS. Surprisingly though, she doesn’t agree to it. She doesn’t outright refuse the offer, but it’s clear that she’s going to need a little more persuading before she’s ready to traverse time and space with him. Overall this was a fitting return for the Doctor and a fantastic start for his new companion. I was a little disappointed there was no preview for next week’s episode, but thankfully we’re only six days away from learning some more about the impossible Clara “For the Os-Win” Oswald. Stop back again next week for an all new Who Review!
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