Sunday, March 31, 2013

My Review of Doctor Who's 7x07: "The Bells Of Saint John"

Written by Steven Moffat
Directed by Colm McCarthy

Clara: “Come back tomorrow. Ask me again.”
The Doctor: “Why?”
Clara: “Cos tomorrow I might say yes.”

Three episodes in and it’s nice that Clara Oswald continues to be something of an enigma for the Doctor and for those who are tired of Moffat’s growing trope of mystery women, sorry but you really are going to have to wait until he leaves before you get another ‘ordinary’ companion once again, though you could just give Clara a chance before writing her off already.

As for the enigma bit – it’s not that she’s the woman twice dead or that all it took for the computer rubbish girl to become computer savvy was nearly being uploaded into a data cloud by the sinister Miss Kizlet and those Spoonheads. No, the thing that really intrigued me about Clara in this one was that she didn’t just jump into the TARDIS (or snog box) with the Doctor. Instead she asked him to come back tomorrow.

It’s rare in this show that we’ve seen someone actually think about being a companion. Most have either leapt at the chance, being inadvertently kidnapped or were stowaways and some flat refused before later changing their minds. Clara clearly wanted to take the Doctor up on his offer but she needed a day to think about it. I reckon by that logic it might make her one of the smartest people the Doctor’s encountered over the last eleven incarnations that he’s travelled with in his little blue box. Or is about to travel with.

The story itself however felt like a departure for Steven Moffat as a writer. For those clamouring for a time when Moffat could write a story that wasn’t timey wimey or overly complicated, this episode should’ve been a godsend for them because the plot was incredibly straightforward and easy to follow.

The idea of a sinister force in the Wi-Fi that we all use was definitely a fantastic idea to play with and Moffat certainly had fun using this episode as a not too subtle commentary on our overreliance of the internet and the information we so often freely post about ourselves as well as Miss Kizlet’s organisation began to trap people with a certain logo and upload their souls all for a Client that you kind of wish the press hadn’t spoiled before this episode aired to be honest.

I quite liked Celia Imrie in the role of Miss Kizlet. She won’t go down in history as the greatest of female antagonists the show has had but her joyfully dark sense of humour over her staff, the people whose lives she was willingly endangering for her client and her relentless needling the Doctor about Clara only served to justify the desserts she got at both the hands of the Doctor and even the Great Intelligence.

I knew that after the events of the Christmas special that we’d get another encounter of the Great Intelligence but seeing it here briefly and in Simeon’s body before reverting Kizlet and her staff to their original states was a pretty interesting turn of events. I’m guessing somehow this won’t be the last time this series we’ll be seeing the Great Intelligence and I’m also guessing that somehow Clara also factors into the baddie’s overall scheme, whatever that may be.

As for the Doctor and Clara – it’s been a challenge for Matt Smith and Jenna-Louise Coleman to redefine their relationship each time but here, it does seem we’re finally getting somewhere. We know that every version of Clara we’ve seen is virtually the same one, even if this one doesn’t remember the Doctor and while this episode draws that link up once again, it’s not at the expense of the overall plot with the sinister Wi-Fi and the Spoonheads. Still, like the Doctor himself, it really is time to find out who Clara Oswald really is now.

Also in “The Bells Of Saint John”

The theme music got a tiny bit of tweaking but nothing too distracting from the last episode.

Nabile: “Once you’ve clicked it, they're in your computer. They can see you, if they can see you, they might choose you and if they do, you die.”

There were a lot of familiar elements in this episode, especially from past ones like “The Long Game”, “The Idiot’s Lantern” and “Blink” to name a few.

Paul (re Clara): “Is that her?”
Abbot: “The woman twice dead and her final message.”

The Doctor: “Do you remember me?”
Clara: “No. Should I? Who are you?”

Nice way of getting the episode title in with the actual phone on the TARDIS ringing as well as having ‘run you clever boy and remember’ (rycbar123) as the Wi-Fi password and Oswin as a username too.

Miss Kizlet: “I’m ever so fond of Alexei but my conscience says we should probably kill him.”

The Doctor (to himself): “Right, don’t be a monk. Monks are not cool.”

Clara’s working as a nanny for George Maitland, looking after his kids, Angie and Artie and also wants to travel and seems to be 24, according to her book, though 16 and 23 are suspiciously missing from the countdown and there’s that leaf as well as well as Clara being a fan of an 11 chapter book called Summer Falls by Amelia Williams.

The Doctor: “You, me, inside that box now!”
Clara: “I’m sorry?”

The Doctor: “I’m the Doctor. I’m an alien from outer space. I’m a thousand years old, I’ve got two hearts and I can’t fly a plane, can you?”
Clara: “No!”

This episode really felt like a love letter to London with Kizlet’s organisation being on the 65th floor of the Shard, the plane sequence as well as the Doctor and Clara on an Anti-Grav bike on Westminster Bridge.

Miss Kizlet (to the Doctor, re Clara): “She is rather pretty, isn’t she? Do you like her? I can make her like you too if you want.”

Miss Kizlet (to the Doctor): “The abattoir is not a contradiction. No-one loves cattle more than Burger King.”

Who was the woman in the shop that gave Clara the number for the Doctor? I would say River but we also know that Rose is coming back too in November. Maybe it’s neither.

Great Intelligence: “Goodbye, Miss Kizlet.”

The Doctor: “You didn’t answer my question.”
Clara: “What question?”
The Doctor: “You don’t seem like a nanny.”

Standout music: Rizzle Kicks “Mama Do The Hump” as well as Clara’s Theme from Murray Gold and the breezier music in this episode.

The Doctor: “Right then, Clara Oswald, time to find out who you are.”

Chronology: London 2013 for the majority of the episode, a reference to the 2074 Anti-Grav Olympics and 1207 Cumbria for the monastery scenes.

Surprisingly lighter than expected but perhaps it’s why “The Bells Of Saint John” worked so well. Certain fans might have become weary of Moffat’s repeated tropes but I do feel that at least he’s trying to be a bit different with Clara’s mystery in comparison to Amy and River’s from the previous two series. Besides, now it really does feel like the anniversary year has finally begun and the episode was fast paced and enjoyable.

Rating: 9 out of 10

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