‘Doctor Who’ 7.07 Episode Review and Recap: The Bells of Saint John

The Doctor is back, and there’s something haunting the Wi-Fi on this episode of Doctor Who!

There may be something in the Wi-Fi, but at the beginning of this episode, it’s definitely not Clara Oswald. She’s acting as the nanny for a family friend, and isn’t quite computer-savvy enough to connect to the home network (odd, considering she’s lived with them for a year). She calls the “helpline,” which connects her straight to the TARDIS, which is hiding in Cumbria in 1207. The Doctor doesn’t recognize her voice until she creates a mnemonic for the Wi-Fi password, “Run You Clever Boy And Remember.” The Doctor shows up at her front door almost immediately afterwards, but coming down the stairs is something completely different.

Using the Wi-Fi has put Clara on the radar of a mysterious organization that’s using the network to identify food sources for “The Client,” and Clara fits the bill nicely. The corporation, headed by Miss Kislet, sends a “Spoonhead” to capture her and upload her consciousness to the cloud. The Doctor manages to get into the house in time to keep Clara from being entirely uploaded and consumed by The Client. He stations himself outside her home to keep an eye on her through the night. It’s working well enough until Miss Kislet “activates” the entire neighborhood to bring both Clara and the Doctor in, including a plane that happens to be flying overhead.

Once they’ve saved the plane, and thereby the rest of the neighborhood, the Doctor and Clara skip ahead to the next morning to find whoever is looking for them. Clara uses her new, fancy computer skills to hack the company’s network and find their physical location via Facebook. It would have worked, but that she gets fooled by a Spoonhead disguised as the Doctor and finally fully uploaded to the Client’s cloud.

The Doctor storms Miss Kislet’s offices and demands that Clara be downloaded back into her body. Kislet says that it’s impossible without downloading everyone and refuses. Of course, the Doctor always has a trick or two up his tweed sleeves. He isn’t there at all. He’s sent his Spoonhead clone instead and makes it upload Kislet herself. Once her own skin is on the line, Kislet gets everyone re-downloaded right quickly. UNIT comes in to take over and finds an office full of people who have no idea what’s been happening for the last several months. Miss Kislet herself has evidently been under the influence of the Client, who we now know is the Great Intelligence, since she was a little girl.

Danger averted, the Doctor takes Clara back home, but not before making the offer that every Whovian wants to hear. She turns him down, but only temporarily. “Ask me tomorrow,” she says, and it looks like the Doctor is more than happy to oblige.

It was a long hiatus, but after this episode, I have to say that it was certainly worth the wait. Clara looks like she’s going to be a brilliant companion. All the sass of Donna, the (admittedly implanted) intelligence of Martha, and the flirtation that we saw with Rose. I really think we’re going to enjoy solving the mystery of Clara Oswin Oswald. It’s shaping up to be the kind of mystery I wanted to explore with Amy Pond. I have faith that this one will turn out more, well, coherent.

The UK-based first episode is a long-standing tradition for new Doctor Who companions, and for good reason. Clara is going to be a handful all on her own, and I appreciate the chance to get to know her a little better before throwing in exotic locations in time and space. Moffat also has a penchant for making us afraid of everyday things (admit it, statues startle you just a little now, don’t they), and in our hyper-connected society, making the Wi-Fi dangerous is just his style of mean. Well done, sir. Well done.

Can’t wait to see how the rest of the season shapes up! What are your theories?

Best Quotes:

Miss Kislet: “Actually, he’s about to go on holiday. Kill him when he gets back. Let’s not be unreasonable.”

Doctor: “Human souls trapped like flies in the World Wide Web. Stuck forever, crying out for help.”
Clara: “Isn’t that basically Twitter?”

Things to Ponder:

  • Two episodes with both Clara and the Great Intelligence, hmm? Think the Great Intelligence has some sort of deeper involvement with the Woman Twice Dead?
  • Did anyone else think that the “woman in the shop” who gave Clara the TARDIS number was probably River Song? Given the news about who’s coming back for the 50th Anniversary, I’m also willing to entertain the idea that it was our favorite shop-girl, Rose Tyler.
  • Speaking of previous companions, nice touch having one of Clara’s favorite books be written by Amy Williams!