3 months after "The Snowmen", we get some new Doctor Who. Of course, the question on the minds of Whovians everywhere was how would the Doctor meet Clara again? What exactly is the secret of The Girl Who Died Twice? No spoilers here to tell you that last one does not get answered; remember, this is Steven Moffat we're dealing with. Those answers will be awhile in coming, I'm sure.
But the first question is answered in fine form with "The Bells of Saint John". In true Moffat fashion, there are clever quips in desparate situations of heightened menace with lots of twists along the way.
I don't intend to give a detail review of the plot, just post some thoughts about certain parts. However, in the course of this, some episode specifics will be mentioned so......
At the start, we're given a overview of the sinister goings on with Wi-Fi all over the world from a young man who seeks to send a warning to everyone about the danger that lurks everywhere from...whatever-it-is in the Wi-Fi. Then we see the situation the guy is really in and yeah, it's not good.
Still loving this new opening title sequence and theme music, a very creative merging of the modern and classic Doctor Who.
So the Doctor took the advice of the little girl (a very young Clara Oswald but he doesn't know that) from the short released last week to find a quiet place and think a bit on the problem of finding his friend. But who knew that would take him to a monestary in the year 1207, where we find the Doctor has holed up as a sort of "mad monk". ("Don't call him that! He's most certainly not a monk!") practicing his painting skills with a lovely portrait of Clara. Then the titular "Bells of St. John" are heard (and when you find what they are, you are going to slap your forehead silly that you didn't think of it earlier.)
We meet Clara who is in the role of caring for children again (1) and, oddly enough, totally clueless with computers. (We saw Oswin Oswald from "Asylum of the Daleks" play the computer like a symphony.) This Clara needs tech support just to find the internet. Thankfully, a woman at a shop gave her a number(2) for someone who could help her and....yada yada yada...Clara gets zapped by the whatever-it-is in the Wi-Fi and it looks like we might be heading for Clara death #3 but the Doctor is there and sonics things, bringing Clara back to life. (And BONUS, Clara comes back with an unexpected detailed understanding of how computers work.)
The Doctor is being his usual self which means, yes, he's being weird and Clara tries to make sense of who this guy is. But no time for that! The whatever-it-is in the Wi-Fi is coming to get her. If you saw in the previews that a crashing jet liner is involved, this is where THAT comes in.
Then the Doctor and Clara go off on a motorcycle ride (Woo-hoo! London, baby!) to a cafe where the Doctor meets the person behind the whatever-it-is in the Wi-Fi face to face...er, faces. The Doctor is dealing with an enemy who can be anywhere. (Spooky.) Meanwhile, Clara's using her new found skills to pinpoint the central location of the whatever-it-is in the Wi-Fi and a good job she does of it too but she gets zapped again and this time, it looks like it might really be the end for Clara. The next thing we see is the Doctor charging into the veritable den of evil to stop the whatever-it-is in the Wi-Fi. But all is NOT what it seems.
Yet with all this action and drama, the Doctor brings about the end of the whatever-it-is in the Wi-Fi in classic Doctor Who fashion, with wit and intelligence. Oh, and Clara's fine so there's that.
By the way, the whatever-it-is in the Wi-Fi turns out to be (and remember, I did say SPOILERS up above) the otherwordly menace of The Great Intelligence, first confronted by the 2nd Doctor and most recently by the 11th Doctor in "The Snowmen". While the menace is defeated by the Doctor, I suspect it's not gone for good and Steven Moffat has plans for this classic foe in future episodes.
And we come to the end. As expected, the Doctor invites Clara to join him to explore all of time and space; we've seen this bit before with other companions. But what Clara says in response to the invite sets this whole bit on its ear. Suffice to say, Clara is coming along...but on her terms.
"The Bells of Saint John" is a rollicking episode with lots of clever twists and once again, Matt Smith and Jenna Louise-Coleman work really well together. I look forward to seeing The Doctor and Clara finally take that journey thru time and space...together again for the first time.
Coming up next week: "The Rings Of Akhaten"
(1) Notice the author of the book the young boy shows Clara? Amy may be gone but not forgotten.
(2) OK, what woman would have the number to the Doctor's TARDIS? River Song, maybe? We know she's going to be back for a forthcoming episode and this seems like a thing she would do. Also, since we are reminded of her by that book, maybe we should consider the possibility of Amy. And with the 50th Anniversary special coming up, we cannot count out any seeding that Moffat may be doing for that episode. And we know Billie Piper is going to be in that special. So could it be our original shop girl turned companion, Rose Tyler?
Dave-El can also be found on Twitter at https://twitter.com/DayWayLo