Josh gives us a recap and shares his thoughts on the exciting mid-season return of Doctor Who, while Violet provides some commentary (look for the pink font). As River Song would say, “Spoilers!” If you don’t want to read spoilers, do not click it!
This episode opens up a warning: “Do not click it”. The person we are introduced is talking through a monitor, where he says that a mysterious wifi link is taking people’s souls. And how does he know this? He is one of the taken. We are then led to believe that dozen, perhaps hundreds of people have been taken, as the scene pans out to reveal many monitors of people also trapped.
After the intro, we are brought to the past, to 1207 in Cumbria, England to be exact. What appears to be a monk brings a message: “The bells of St. John are ringing,” which seems to alarm another monk, who feels that they must tell, “him”. Him can only be one person, our favorite time traveling, bow-tie wearing man. What are the bells of St. John though? We find out soon enough. As the monks proceed down a corridor to tell, “him”, one monk refers to him as, “The Mad Monk.” This is definitely the Doctor alright. When we meet, “him” he is hooded, but dramatically removes his hood, after being told the about the bells of St. John. Fairly epic music I also might add, to his big reveal. Interestingly enough, there is a large portrait of Oswin, that the Doctor must have painted. Upon hearing the news of the Bells of St. John, the “Mad Monk” states his need for a horse, and leaves. The monks continue their discussion of the Doctor, which revolves around the painting of the “twice dead” girl. They inform us that he had retreated to the monastery in hopes to use the solitude to work out who this girl is, and refer to her as the source of his madness. They don’t know the Doctor very well do they?
Don’t forget her other nickname, “The Impossible Girl.”
If we remember the way the season took its break, we left the Doctor with the mystery of the twice dead girl, Clara Oswald. And we all know that the Doctor loves a good mystery. I guess a monastery would be a good place to meditate about a thorn in your side. We move to the present, where we find the “twice dead” girl, Oswin, who is babysitting some children. Oddly enough, she seems completely void of any technological skills. This is surprising, considering her skills in “Asylum of the Dalek” at hacking, if we remember the beginning of the season. And why is there now a third Oswin in a completely different time period? We have Oswin of the 1800s, Oswin of the future, and Oswin of the present. Very intriguing. A very exciting part I did not realize until after the episode was over (with the assistance of a friend): The book the little boy is reading was written by Amelia Williams. Hopefully most Doctor Who fans remember her true married name! I enjoy these throwbacks (more so when I am the one who can pick them out!), and hope for more, and maybe some guest appearances by the two (despite their somehow impenetrable timeline). We leave Oswin’s scene to her on hold with someone yet to be identified.
We transition to the past with the Doctor climbing down into a small cavern, hearing what sounds like an old school phone ring. The Bells of St. John? No , it’s the TARDIS! Why is the TARDIS being called the Bells of St. John? Shouldn’t that be a church bell or something? As we pan to the front of the church we find out–The TARDIS has a “St. John Ambulance” insignia on the front. The very perceptive probably realized this right away. I had known it was going to be the TARDIS, but had not put the correlation of the Bells of St. John and TARDIS together. Anyway, as the Doctor approaches the TARDIS, he is baffled as to why it is ringing, saying,” This should not be happening!” Any guesses as to who is on the other line? That’s right, Oswin. How you make a long distance, long-time period call is beyond me, but hey, It’s Doctor Who!
Yeah, we should be used to people randomly calling up the Doctor by now, as it has happened several times before! I thought you would make a reference to when the monk asks if it’s an evil spirit, and the Doctor says that it’s a woman, and the monk crosses himself. We’re not evil, we swear! 😉
Oswin seems to think she is calling an internet technical support line. The Doctor hasn’t figured out who she is yet, and is trying to figure out what is going on. He starts by asking where she got the number. Her response is was that, “the woman in the shop” told her it was, “the best help line out there”. Who is this woman in the shop? My conspiratorial side would think maybe River? This is per speculation though, but it seems to me this woman may be of some importance in the show. Hilarity ensues as the Doctor begins to protest that he isn’t a tech support line, but then immediately caves and goes into “tech support Doctor” mode. He has her click on the wifi button of the laptop she has sat down at, and she begins to enter the password. “Run you clever boy and remember”, she says, using it as a pneumonic device to help remember the letters of the password. The scene flashes to the Doctor who appears in pleasant shock. Why? Because these are the last two phrases the other Oswins spoke to him as their final worlds. And if you had picked it up earlier, the Doctor was clearly obsessed with these phrases, and they were scrawled on the painting from 1207.
I’m really not sure who the woman in the shop could be. Who would be freely handing out the Doctor’s phone number? (And why is his number apparently just another regular phone number? How often do people call the wrong number by accident and reach the Doctor?) Presumably it is someone who is purposely trying to lead Oswin to the Doctor, but whether it’s someone we’ve already met, or have yet to meet remains to be seen. Could it be yet another Oswin, perhaps at an older age?
Unfortunately due to the Doctor’s shock, he shouts in her ear, and she typos the password. For some odd reason, she chooses to click the second wifi hotspot, which is the dreaded soul trapping wifi. We find that she is being tracked by an unknown enemy. The Doctor whisks away in his TARDIS to the present-day Oswin’s house. Still dressed as a monk, he pounds on the front door. He expects her to remember him, but he doesn’t. There is a funny reference to the show title, and apparently the doctor finds some jolliness in being asked, “Doctor Who?” Anyway, as one who doesn’t know the Doctor would do, Oswin assumes he is crazy, and shuts the door in his face.
Quite a change in attitude toward being asked “Doctor Who?” as compared to the final episode of Season 6 when the head of Dorium asks him the same question.
We receive the first look at this episode’s antagonist, Miss Kizlet. During this scene, Kizlet hints at being able to provide certain skill sets to people as a sort of software integration, similar to The Matrix from the sound of it. The lady that appears to be in charge instructs another to upload Clara with Tech skills (ah, so that’s where her skills came from). Interesting enough, it appears most of the people in this lair (for lack of a better word) seem to be under some sort of control, as the head lady is able to control aspects of their personality with a tablet device.
It’s almost as if Miss Kizlet was playing a real life version of The Sims computer game!
Back with the Doctor, Oswin and he have a conversation defining the TARDIS as a mobile phone (get it?!). A creepy girl proceeds down the steps within Oswin’s house. Oswin then pieces together that she is the girl on the cover of the book the little boy was reading earlier. As Oswin stands there perplexed, the creepy child becomes creepier, twisting her neck completely around, revealing a strange satellite dish-like device. This device causes Oswin to collapse.
Meanwhile, the Doctor comes to the realization that, “Monks aren’t cool!” (sorry monks out there). He breaks out the snazzy bowtie, and he is back to his normal-ish self. As the Doctor re-attempts to convince Oswin to allow him inside, we know that something has gone awry. The Doctor finds her collapsed, and realizes the voice is coming from the creepy child. The Doctor reveals the robotic nature of the “child”, and begins a cyber battle with the antagonists of the episode. Clearly outmatching then, he is able to save Oswin with relative ease. When Oswin recovers, she has an exchange with the Doctor. The most important piece of the conversation: The Doctor invented a quadracycle! The doctor explains to the Oswin his theory of the “mind extractor” in the wifi. We also find that whatever was downloaded to Oswin, stayed. The Doctor finds that they are being targeted again by the group after Clara, and the Doctor realizes that they had knocked out the pilots of a nearby plane. I think they may have been planning to use it to crash into Oswin and the Doctor? I wasn’t clear there. Regardless, the Doctor decides to save the plane by using the TARDIS to land aboard the plane. He blocks their wifi, thereby awaking the pilots, and saving a ton of people.
Yes, it looked like the plane was headed toward them for awhile with the intent of crashing into them. You forgot to mention Oswin’s reluctance to step into the TARDIS because she thinks it’s a “snogging” booth, and accuses him of being too “keen.” I wonder how many Americans were able to understand those Brit words, and how many needed a translation!
The Doctor then decides it’s time to ride a motorcycle (because motorcycles are cool?). Interestingly enough, the Doctor goes to “tomorrow”, with the intention of tiring out the enemy (assuming they were up all night looking for them). Then using super-speed hacking skills, Oswin begins hacking for their location. We find that the enemy group has taken control a good number of people, and communicates to the Doctor through her “puppets”. She continues her threats from afar, flexing her power. Meanwhile Oswin has made progress, taking pictures of all of the mindless workers at the antagonist’s base. Silly enough these mindless workers have all tweeted where they are working from, however (dun dun dun!) another robotic wifi station (disguised as the Doctor) begins to take Oswin again. The real Doctor begins one-man invasion of “The Shard”, the name of the enemies hideout. Using a motorcycle (apparently equipped with “anti-grav”) scales the wall of the high-rise where the Shard is located. After meeting the leader, and she denying his demands of re-downloading everyone back to their bodies (if they had them), it is revealed that the Doctor did not in fact come to visit at the Shard–the creepy robo-wifi Doctor did. The Doctor uses their own technology against her, trapping her the same as way as the others. And to free the people, the Doctor simply turns up the obedience meter on one of the controlled. Since the leader is pleading for her freedom, and since freeing 1 person requires freeing everyone, everyone that is controlled becomes free. Unfortunately as indicated earlier by our antagonist, those without bodies would die. Lucky for Oswin, she had a body to go.
Very importantly, once Oswin is successful with her hacking, she coins her own nickname, saying “Clara Oswald for the win — Os Win!” So we see that this is Oswin where everything originated — her name, the catch phrase “Run you clever boy and remember,” and the acquisition of her tech skills. What does this mean for the other Oswins? Earlier, the Doctor also commented on the fact that she is a governess, just like she was in the 19th century. Why the parallel to her other life?
We finish the episode with Unit taking control of the building. As they are locking down the area, our main antagonist is talking to a monitor that seems to be perhaps the true lead antagonist, a sort of cyber-intelligence. He has Miss Kizlet deactivate all of the controlled minds. We find that this cyber-intelligence has been controlling people for a long time, as Miss Kizlet reverts back to a childlike state. Back at home, Oswin is safe with her family. She finds the TARDIS is still around. The Doctor seems to feel Oswin is not living to her potential. As expected, the Doctor invites her on the trip of a life time. She says to, “Come back tomorrow, and she might say yes!”. What a tease Oswin, What a tease.
The cyber intelligence is specifically referred to as the Great Intelligence, which we can only assume is the same as the one from the previous episode, “The Snowmen,” wherein the Great Intelligence controlled the snow and nearly took over London in the 1800s. Apparently it can evolve into different forms as technology and the world evolves, and always has the same goal of taking over the world. It looks like the Great Intelligence is not going away anytime soon.
As for my feelings of this episode, I really enjoyed it. I enjoyed what appeared to be a poke a humanity’s reliance on technology and our pervasive social media that seems to invade every aspect of our life. The full message I get from this episode is, “technology is great, when used right and in moderation”. I can’t wait to unlock the mysteries of Oswin however, and figure out who this crazy blue headed cyber intelligence is though! Until next week!