Was there ever a more poorly named episode of Doctor Who?
The series 7b premiere of Doctor Who introduces us (or re-introduces us, depending on how things shake out) to Clara Oswald, the Doctor’s latest companion in the TARDIS, and indications are she’s going to be a cracker.
People’s minds are being stolen and uploaded to the Internet.
Meanwhile, if “meanwhile” is a meaningful term in a story about time travel, the Doctor is in 13th century Cumbria, in seclusion as a monk, contemplating how to find the twice dead Clara/Oswin Oswald. (in The Snowmen/Asylum of the Daleks respectively.)
The titular bells are nothing more than the phone in the TARDIS door ringing. It’s Clara (21st century version) calling for tech support on the Internet – having been given this number by a mysterious woman down at the shops telling her this number was for the “…best help in the Universe.”
The Doctor arrives but is too late to stop Clara’s mind from starting to be uploaded. He saves her and now discovers she’s been upgraded with super computer skills.
The rest of the episode is spent in a cat-and-mouse game between the Doctor and his enemies, both seen (Miss Kizlet) and unseen (the Great Intelligence.) Along the way we see, very clearly spelled out, that there is some uncanny connection between the various incarnations of Clara, but is this Clara projecting onto the others, or are they projecting onto her?
Overall it was an enjoyable episode. The nuggets about the mystery of Clara pepper the story nicely and the concept of “harvesting” minds for food, if ludicrous, is diverting enough.
Although it should be no surprise after The Snowmen, the reveal that the Great Intelligence was behind the plot was disappointing. First because Richard E. Grant was acting as the voice of the Great Intelligence and not Ian McKellan and second because it’s now certain that we’ll be stuck with this rather uninteresting Doctor Who villain for the rest of the series.
It was good to see UNIT back, if even in a periphery capacity. Did the Doctor tip them off, or were they working on the problem, too? Will we see one more pitched battle between UNIT and the Great Intelligence? (see Web of Fear, the first battle between the Great Intelligence and the precursor to UNIT.). Might the Yeti come back for a surprise visit?
Finally, who was the mysterious woman who gave Clara the Doctor’s phone number? It seems obvious, but oh-so-depressing that it was probably River Song. Time travel what it is, will we ever be rid of this troublesome woman?! With the loss of the folks, the Ponds, it’s time to seal this chapter of the Doctor’s life.
All-in-all, I was happy with the episode and enjoyed it. It’s good to have the Doctor back on our screens.