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Doctor Who Recap - 7x07: "The Bells of Saint John"

Ruling: C+


The Doctor meets a third version of Clara, this one hopelessly awful.


We open on an image of the Earth, with red-lines criss-crossing the globe, like flight paths. People all over the world are logging onto their wifi connections, and computerized text flashes over the screen. Moffat, your Sherlock is showing. Funky techno music plays as a man speaks to the audience about the dangers of the Internet. This idea would be more effective if every Doctor Who fan didn’t already live on the Internet. I digress. Montage, montage, montage of people online. Man on screen who shall henceforth be known as George, because why not, tells us that if you see some sort of alien font under your aiport, you shouldn’t click it. This is all very “blink and you’re dead” but honestly I still don’t find this unnerving at all.

If you do click the crazy alien text, “they” are now in your computer. We don’t know who they are, but we'll find out soon enough. If they can see you, they can choose you and if they choose you, you die. A little less fun, but still, life on the Internet does seem pretty enjoyable. Maybe that’s just me. Anyway.
Then he starts talking about how the Internet is stealing people’s souls, and this metaphor is so heavy-handed I feel like I have a red slap mark on my face. We get it. Technology = vampiric levels of life-sucking. In any case, ghosts are in the wires. Turns out, this guy is stuck in the purgatory of the online universe. We pull back to see a wall of screens all of people screaming that they don’t know where they are. I can tell them: you are all in a really lame premiere. Credits.

The credits are super spinny, but incredibly colourful and pretty so I’ll excuse the nausea it induced.


Cumbria, 1207. A monk tells us that “the Bells of Saint John are ringing.” Hey, that’s the title of the episode! How funny that it has nothing to do with the actual episode! The monks gather in front of another hooded man, whom the abbot refers to as “definitely not a monk.” Gosh, the suspense is killing me. The hooded man is told about the bells and we get our reveal: the hood is pulled back to reveal our hero. Also, the Doctor needs a horse.

Behind him, a painting of Clara is on an easel. So there’s that. She is referred to by the monks as “the woman twice dead” and her final message of “run, you clever boy, and remember,” is scrawled across the canvas. I don’t know, but I find the idea of calling a 1000 year old alien a boy a little bit patronizing. Maybe because I hate getting called hun by anyone I don’t know. I digress. The Doctor has come to the monastery to divine the meaning of her words. Why Cumbria in 1207, I have no clue. That’s never explained either. MOFFAT!!!! *shakes fist*

Present. Clara 3.0 is on the phone and she’s dumb as a box of bricks, asking where she can find the Internet. If she continues like this and doesn’t become the soufflé girl we all know and love, God help us all.

Anyway, she seems to be a nanny, or a 21st century governess yet again so at least there’s that bit of consistency. Her female ward is just as irritated as me at Clara’s inability to bea normal human with any kind of computer knowledge. The boy she takes care of is looking at a book which she takes and lo and behold it’s written by one Amelia Williams, and it warms my frigid heart that Amy took Rory’s last name. Yes feminism and all that, but I always found her kinda disrespectful of him so I found this to be a nice gesture. Anyway, Clara makes a comment about chapter eleven (*ding ding ding* could that be an allusion? I’m practically tripping over the fiveshadowing) and how it’ll make you cry. Good grief, if everything in this episode is going to be so obvious (other than the plot, because I still have no fucking clue how this story fits in with anything) I’m going to get petulant.


Cumbria. Bells are ringing, just like we were told they were. And where are they coming from? Our trusty companion, the TARDIS. The Doctor complains that “that is not supposed to happen” and we get a nice shot of the St. John Ambulance sign on the door, again, just in case we’ve all lost our innate ability to infer anything anymore. They may as well just start spoon-feeding me. The Doctor picks up the phone and who could it be? Why, it’s Clara, calling from 2013! OMG!

Anyway, she babbles about not knowing where the Internet is and I want to stab her through the screen, and then the monks make some crack about women being demons and I want to stab them through the screen, and where is Rory’s Roman sword when you need it? The Doctor is all, how did you get this number, and Clara says it was given to her in a shop by a woman, and that’s all we hear about from that. Let’s add that to the list of things we will not get answered in this episode.

The Doctor is just as exasperated as me about Clara’s ridiculousness, and honestly I’m only 7 minutes into this episode and this is getting old real fast. Anyway, she finds out the password for the Internet is RYCBAR123. Well, how is she supposed to remember that, when she doesn’t know where the Internet is? I half expect Roy and Moss to show up and tell her that if she types Google into Google the whole Internet will explode. Turns out, the password is an acronym. Hmmm... what could it stand for? Oh yes, Clara’s parting words of course. The Doctor hears this and promptly flips his shit.

In any case, she still can’t get onto the Internet even with the password so she clicks on the alien text. She joins the wall of screens but seems to not have been sucked in like everyone else yet. Someone knocks crazily on the door. Clara goes to get it and finally The Doctor is there with her and he’s all ZOMG we meet again, and Clara 3.0 is all heh?


He calls her Clara Oswin Oswald, and she shakes her head at the middle name. The Doctor plows on through asking if she remembers him. Nope, sorry Doc, this girl has no freaking clue who you are. And of course, we get about 80 mentions of “Doctor... who?” which The Doctor admits he actually loves hearing. Mmmmkay.

Which is what Clara says cuz she promptly slams the door on the Doctor’s monk-robed self.


Back in screen-wall land, we see an Asian man looking at Clara through a computer screen. He tells an older woman, with an impressive broach whom I assume is the boss, that she’s clever but has no computer skills. The older lady tells him to upload her anyway and “splice her a computer package,” whatever that means. He says he’ll upload her to a “spoonhead.” OL says they call them servers, not spoonheads. Alright.

OL goes up some stairs and starts talking to a guy in glasses and says she’s not fond of Alexei (I guess, Asian guy?) and that they’re going to have him killed. Well, that seems like a bit of a drastic measure for using a derogatory term, but what do I know. Guy in glasses says that won’t be a problem but OL says to wait til Alexei comes back from vacation, “they’re not unreasonable.” I guess that’s what going to pass for humour in this episode.

OL asks GIG what he wants. He says they’re uploading too many people too quickly. “We’re going to get noticed.” By whom? Or I guess I should say by who, since The Doctor is practically fellating himself. Anyway, OL says GIG’s conscience is getting in the way and to think of it this way: they’re preserving minds in the “data cloud” and giving these people immortality. She scrolls through pictures on her iPad or whatever tablet this is supposed to be and finds GIG’s page. There is a listing of traits underneath his picture: conscience, paranoia, obedience, IQ. Honestly, why there’s a paranoia trait is beyond me. Anyway, it seems that GIG’s conscience levels are WAAAAY up so OL brings it down. OL tells GIG that their client has needs. Paranoia levels go up. I still think that’s stupid.

GIG turns to go, but then stops. He turns to OL and asks if she hacked him. She said it’s because he changed his mind. He doesn’t seem particularly bothered by this and leaves. She brings his paranoia level down. Then raises it. Meh.


Chez Clara. The Doctor is still trying to get back into the house. Clara turns on the video intercom and sees The Doctor smiling away at her. I’m amazed she knows how to work it, what with her Victorian sensibilities. Clara asks why he’s still there and the Doctor tells her that she phoned him about the Internet. Clara is all how’d you get here so fast and The Doctor responds that he was in the neighbourhood and got there in his mobile phone and indicates the TARDIS. Okay, hee, that’s pretty clever. “It’s a surprisingly accurate description,” he snarks when Clara asks why he pointed to “that blue box” when saying mobile phone. This is too much for her, so she turns the vid-com off.

She then hears a door slam upstairs. She calls for Angie, who I’m guessing is the girl from before. No response except for ominous music. A girl in a modest dress and milk-maid hairstyle comes down the stairs. This doesn’t seem to bother Clara, so once again I feel murderous. Clara asks if she’s Angie’s friend and our new friend says that she is. Clara’s starting to find this a little odd and then states that she knows the girl. The girl is all, yeah and Clara realizes that it’s the girl from the cover of Amelia William’s book. Then the girl’s head casually spins around to reveal, well, what I assume Alexei was referring to as a spoonhead. The girl has a screen on the back of her head, making all sorts of technological noises. Clara stares in fear.

TARDIS. Doctor complains about being a monk, and finally sheds his robes and puts on his normal clothing. “Monks are not cool,” he opines and we finally see the new TARDIS. It seems waaaaay bigger on the inside than usual. We get a nice little Fez throwback and then the Doctor opens a wooden box with what he does find cool: his bow-tie. We’re back in business.

The Doctor goes back to the door and tells Clara he’s “de-monked” and that she should let him in now. Clara’s all, ? and then she says she doesn’t know where she is, just like all the other people, so now we know there’s trouble, but is it bad that I don’t care? Clara’s cute and all, but I’m not warming to her like I feel I should. The Doctor sonics the door and finds an unconscious Clara on the floor. He sonics her (hee!) but still hears her kvetching about not knowing where she is. We get it. If everyone on Lost had done this, ABC would have blown up The Island by the second episode. He looks up to see the “server” but now Clara is on the screen. The Doctor sonics the screen and we go into the airwaves all the way back to Alexei’s computer where he’s getting an error on uploading Clara.

The Doctor sonics the server to the point that it loses it’s glamour and all we’re left with is a shiny metal robot. He calls it a “walking wifi waystation” (try saying that five times fast) that’s sucking people up. He finds Clara’s computer then proceeds to tap at it repeatedly, though I guess it’s successful because the upload on Alexei’s computer starts to go down. Alexei tries to fight it but the Doctor is determined that Clara 3.0 won’t die on him like the first and second. Terminate. They’ve lost Clara and the server beams her back into her body.


OL’s office. She paces while GIG tells her that their hacker left them a message: “Under my protection,” - The Doctor. He assumes this is in relation to “the girl” and OL tells him to get out. She’s going to speak to the client. GIG leaves and OL touches her TV screen. It lights up, but of course we’re not going to see who it is, because that would be too easy. She tells the client “he’s here” and we all know who she means, but she tells us anyway, just in case we didn’t die from the other anvils in this episode.

Chez Clara. She’s still knocked out, so The Doctor plays nanny and gives her cookies and tea. He looks on her bookshelf and notices that there is a book called “101 Places to See” with nothing in it except a sad looking maple leaf, which The Doctor promptly licks, because why not. He leaves, and Clara awakens with a mighty fine headache.

She looks out her window and sees The Doctor typing away outside. He relays her messages, which I won’t repeat because *yawn* but then she asks the important question of, hey, dude, like what happened to me? She says she remembers being scared and how she didn’t know where she was and uggghhhh that line is driving me crazy. The Doctor tells her that she’s safe now and then she asks him if he’s guarding her. He decides that he is, and I don’t know, I’d feel way more weirded out by this if I were her, but we’ve already established I don’t think much of her brains so I guess this behaviour makes sense. She decides she’s going to even further enable possible kidnapping by going downstairs to him.

Big Brother’s or I guess, OL’s headquarters. There’s a camera trained on the TARDIS. OL turns up future assassinated Alexei’s IQ up to deal with the situation.


Chez Clara’s. Actually, we find out, obviously, this is not her house but she is a “governess, just like...” and The Doctor is about to say like Clara 2.0 but that would confuse poor Clara 3.0 into raging oblivion, so he drops it. She asks again what happened to her, and The Doctor goes on a rambly tangent about Wi-Fi and soup and blah just get to the point. He believes something is living in the wifi, harvesting human minds. Clara makes a dumb-ass comment about how that’s just like Twitter, and now that I think about it, it’s pretty astute but still mergggg, why can’t I warm to her?

The Doctor gets his, “OMG I’VE DEDUCED SOMETHING IMPORTANT” face, and figures out that Clara’s been both hacked and has had knowledge uploaded to her brain. That’s clearly the only way she could have made that Twitter remark, so we can only blame OL for that. Clara realizes that she’s now a computer genius, which will hopefully transform her into my personal favourite Clara, Original Clara, but she can’t figure out why, and didn’t we just fucking tell her? The Doctor doesn’t think that whoever gave Clara these super-special abilities to joke about social media will want her to keep this new knowledge then notices another spoonhead across the street checking them out.

The Doctor tells Clara to get in the TARDIS and now she decides to object to him, and GOD DAMMIT, STOP BEING STUPID! She makes some dumb remark about how it’s a “snogging booth” and what I wouldn’t give for Amy to whack this chick over the head with a frying pan.

Lights on the street start coming to life, and this for whatever reason is freaking everyone out, and Clara continues to ask question after question, and I don’t know if Moffat thinks the audience is dumb and is using her as a gateway to exposition, but it’s not helping me like this character one bit. Anyway, lights go on there, lights go off in the city.  That’s basically what happens.


OL’s Headquarters. GIG wonders if they need another London activation as they “can’t always pass it off as a riot.”

Chez Clara’s. The Doctor realizes that if all the lights on their street are on, and all the lights in the city are off, all those wifi planes are gonna crash-land into them pronto. They finally go into the TARDIS, and The Doctor breezes through the usual “Intro to TARDIS” pleasantries and of course Clara babbles along, not getting anything, and finally The Doctor actually tells her to shut up, and there is a God.

And... we’re now on the plane that was hell-bent on squashing our beloved heroes, and kudos to The Doctor because for one hot second there I thought he was just gonna let that shit careen out of existence, but no, he’s here to save the day. In there, there was also about of introductory stuff about how he’s The Doctor, alien, blah blah blah, Clara’s still an idiot.

OL’s Headquarters. OL’s confused about the TARDIS and tasks everyone to find it.

TARDIS. Clara 3.0 and The Doctor walk out into mid-day London where somehow everyone’s convinced he’s just done a magic trick and I’ll forgive it because the Fez shows up again as his peddler’s hat, and it’s kind of hilarious. The Doctor pops back into the TARDIS and grabs a spiffy looking motorbike VERY reminiscent of the one 10 and Rose drove around in “The Idiot’s Lantern” which is a nice throw back. In the foreground a chipper girl takes a picture in front of the TARDIS which...

... is now on the screen up at OL’s Headquarters and they’ve established that it’s at Southbank.

Back on the bike, jaunty music plays as The Doctor and Clara 3.0 make their way into the city. She, rightly, asks why they didn’t take their spaceship? The Doctor replies that he doesn’t want it falling into the wrong hands. Another picture of some random person is being taken and of course, Clara 3.0 and The Doctor are caught in it which...

... uploads directly to OL’s Headquarter where she swoons about her love of London. “So many cameras.”


Now we’re on a rooftop cafe with Clara asking why they jumped to the morning. The Doctor has the good sense to be short with her and says that whoever is looking for them will have been looking all night and they must be exhausted since they had to go through the night at the usual speed of living.

The Doctor clack-clacks away at his computer, saying he’s trying to hack into OL’s system but it’s security is too high. Clara keeps blathering on about how he needs a plan, but The Doctor senses this might be his opportunity to get some real information about HOW HE’S RUN INTO THE SAME WOMAN THREE TIMES NOW! He asks her how long she’s been a nanny, why they would have chosen her and... Clara changes the subject and says that she’ll find out where OL is and FUCK we’re never going to get any information this episode.

She’s all like, I have computer stuff in my head, I can do this now, and for once, I agree with her, she can do it, and does.

The Doctor turns to leave to go get coffee but gives Clara one final look. She asks why he’s looking at her like that and he states that isn’t she a bit young to be a nanny, and does a hilarious little dance because that’s what young people do and then Clara makes an erection joke, and The Doctor is shocked and goes off to get their caffeine.

Downstairs in the cafe, The Doctor orders their drinks but the server (ha, it works in both ways) tells him that he won’t be able to save his “little friend” and then the voice switches to a female waitress behind The Doctor saying that it’s just using “whatever’s at hand.”

OL’s Headquarters. We see that it’s OL speaking for these drones.

Back up on the roof, Clara’s busy tackling her hacking and The Doctor races up to her to make sure she’s okay. She says she’s fine and says that she needs a username. She suggests “Clara Oswald for the win,” then shouts “Oswin,” and the whole fandom including The Doctor gasps, and we get a short flashback to Original Clara introducing herself as Oswin.


The Doctor goes back into the cafe and the waitress/OL tells him how “impossible [his] situation is.” She then proceeds to possess a little girl who tells him she’s going to show him all that the wifi can do for him. OL is now in the news anchor on the TV who tells The Doctor that they can hack anyone who’s exposed for long enough, so that means everyone of my generation would be dead right now. The Doctor states that that means there must be a server close, and OL replies that there’s always someone nearby.

OL’s Headquarters. Webcam’s start flashing, and I didn’t know they could do that, but that’s kinda cool. Alexei tells GIG that there’s something up and they both look appropriately freaked out. And who is controlling the cameras?

Why it’s our good friend Clara, who I’m finally enjoying after 32 minutes of watching this wretched episode.

The Doctor continues talking to news anchor/OL and he goes on his usual tirade about how the world will not be harmed and OL tells him that no one is in any danger. She shows her hand by saying that her client requires healthy, human minds and that he loves humanity.

OL’s Headquarters. Alexei states that their webcams are being hacked so GIG tells everyone to check them.Clara puts everyone’s pictures into this app called “face-match” and then we switch to GIG freaking out that pretty much everyone in the office has been on some kind of social media TELLING EVERYONE WHERE THEY ARE. You’d think they’d screen these people better. Turns out they’re at The Shard, so a million points to Clara 3.0, you may win me over yet.

The Doctor says he’s going to end this, and OL cockily asks him how since he doesn’t know where they are. GIG comes into OL’s office, who’s name is Ms. Kizlet, but fuck that, and tells her that they have a problem.

Back on the roof, Clara pants as The Doctor approaches her quite creepily and tells him that she did it. He repeats what she says and we realize he’s gone all spoony, which is no good for anyone. He uploads Clara...

... which Alexei confirms to OL and she smiles like a giddy schoolgirl.

The real Doctor comes out to see his spoonhead self and hear’s Clara whinging on about how she doesn’t know where she is and FUCK I thought we’d left all that garbage behind.

OL’s Headquarters. OL explains to GIG that Clara can’t be downloaded again, so The Doctor is essentially fucked. Except he’s not, because Alexei’s all, “he’s coming” and OL’s all, say whaaaaaat?

Motorbiking to intense music now as The Doctor makes his way to The Shard. OL trackshis movements through the CCTV and GIG says that they could stop him. OL says why would they, since it’ll be humorous.

The Doctor stops outside The Shard when another drone comes up to him, looking at his bike in disdain. The Doctor says that he participated in the Anti-Grav Olympics, 2074, and fuck if that doesn’t sound awesome. The Doctor speeds off and...

... Alexei is all WTF? and OL is all WTF? and random drone on street is all WTF?...

... and The Doctor is fucking scaling the building on his motorbike and I have to say it’s quite incredible because the effects just keep getting better and better on this show.

There’s a crash and OL straightens herself up and meets The Doctor in her office. The Doctor wastes no time with pleasantries and tells OL to put Clara back this instant. She’s all, nope, she’s part of the cloud now, she can’t be extricated, so The Doctor says to download everyone from the cloud and OL says that can’t be done.

She says people will die and The Doctor says, at least they’ll be free, which is an odd thing for him to say but whatever, and OL says she won’t do it, but The Doctor believes he can persuade her. OL asks him why he even bothered to come, and The Doctor says he didn’t and it’s all PLOT TWIST, he’s still actually at the cafe with the comatose Clara in the foreground.

Spoonhead!Doctor turns his shiny head around to face OL and promptly uploads her, despite her pathetic screams not to. Now she’s in a screen herself, and isn’t she selfish, she wants to be put back! Huh, what a strange turn of events. GIG says that they can’t download the cloud, but The Doctor hacks him and he promptly changes his mind. The screens start to turn themselves off and the world is back to normal, thank the heavens.

The Doctor leaves Clara on the rooftop, which is kinda mean, but I can’t imagine it’s forever, so whatever.

Back at OL’s Headquarters, GIG is yelling at what looks like a SWAT team and telling them they have no right to be there. Turns out it’s UNIT, and now The Shard is under their jurisdiction.

In OL’s office, she turns on her screen and we see her client. She tells him that The Doctor’s friends, UNIT is there, and therefore she must have failed. She calls the client Great Intelligence, so do with that what you will. Anyway, he says that he’s chowed down on plenty of minds and now it’s time to “reduce.” OL says that she doesn’t know what she was before him, but GI simply tells her goodbye. OL looks at her tablet and scrolls to the restore button. She clicks it and suddenly everyone in her employ gets a massive headache and starts screaming.

When they recover, no one seems to know where they are and how they got there. GIG says that he’s there to fix the toilets. Heh.

UNIT bashes into OL’s office where she’s reverted to a child. It’s actually kinda sad, but performed in a pretty silly way so I can’t feel too bad.

Chez Clara’s. She looks out her window and lo and behold, there’s a big blue box waiting for her. She goes in. The Doctor asks her again why she’s a nanny, since she doesn’t seem like one and Clara reveals that she was going to travel but her mom died and put her plans on indefinite hold. Anyway, it all comes down to Clara being very loyal and not running out on people who care about her and who she cares about, but The Doctor says that they can run away together and still be home for tea if she wishes. She says to come back tomorrow and leaves, not before telling The Doctor that that leaf in her book was not just a leaf, it was “page one.”

The Doctor turns to us and says now to find out who Clara Oswald actually is.


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