The Doctor has well and truly returned.
After months of speculations and anticipation, Doctor Who has finally come back to our televisions screens of another heavy dose of Matt Smith’s energetic antics and Steven Moffat’s contrived storylines. However, they are now joined by Jenna-Louise Coleman’s innocent charms and airy nature. As creative as Moffat is with his plots, much of his created characters have felt very samey. It sort-of worked with River Song and Amy Pond because they were actually related. Concerns over Clara’s character creation arose after The Doctor appeared to meet Clara as a young girl on a swing set, marking the second time in as many companions that The Doctor has met his future associate as a kid.
Granted, this little prequel wasn’t actually shown in the episode so not everyone may be aware that The Doctor even met Clara as a child. Maybe we can over look it but it still seems like rather lazy writing. It was a relief then than Clara and Amy weren’t so similar. They were both flirty but Clara seemed more light-hearted, like she was just teasing the Doctor. Amy’s aggressive flirtation actually appeared to be a reaction to her pending nuptials to Rory but we can see the same aggressiveness in River song. The difference is River was actively pursuing the Doctor, whereas Clara is kind of being chased.
And she is being chased, albeit in the only way one could imagine the Doctor ever chasing a woman. He dresses up as a monk, takes to solitude and paints pretty pictures (Paintings?!). If this were any other show, we would have labelled him as a demented stalker and UNIT would be attempting to lock him up. Of course, nothing happened between the pair and I don’t really want it to. The complete mushiness of the Rose era followed by the Martha aftermath has really put me off the idea of the Doctor ever having another fully fledged romance.
Although there was no kissing in the TARDIS this time around, there was plenty action. And the series really needed a more mindless, action orientated episode after the rather depressing exit of the Pond’s and Clara’s second death in the Christmas episode. It was just nice to have an episode where no one died. Unfortunately, it seems that Steven Moffat took the mindless part of the concept to heart. The story just didn’t really make much sense.
Finding that their internet connection has failed, people around the world attempt to connect by clicking on an unknown Wi-Fi source. The result is that robots take an image from their subconscious and appear within twenty four hours to download the mind and soul of the user. This is then uploaded to a data cloud for the benefit of the ‘client’. The show just never explains how they manage to download minds and souls. Even with alien or advanced technology, how does the Doctor manage to not only cancel a download but to reverse it into an upload? Even for Doctor Who this is stretching the concept of timey-wimey stuff.
Let’s say the viewer can over look the strange, inexplicable science. It is actually rather easy to do with charming leads like Smith and Coleman. What is harder to do is tolerate the more annoying villains in this episode and how flawed the organisation was. The leader, known only as Miss Kislet goes about making speeches and demands of the Doctor and employees alike. She was clearly told about the Doctor by the client so it’s curious that she never thought to investigate the man. By this point, she could throw a stone into the street and hit someone who has met the Doctor.
Even if the client was using the same app to control Miss Kisnet that she was using to control the others, if he wanted to continue his mission covertly it seems like some kind of plan would have been useful. What actually happens is that the organisation continues uploading people into the cloud and just sort of hope that the Doctor will leave if he can’t do anything. Except he can and does do something and the back-up plan is restoring everything back the way it was.
The big twist reveal in this episode is that, spoiler, the client is The Great Intelligence, previously seen in The Snowmen. Was it really that much of a shock though? I wondered if the client was The Great Intelligence about half way through the movie and it didn’t even really require any great deduction. If there was ever going to be something in the Wi-Fi, the most likely culprit would be a disembodied sentience. The better questions is why because, as noted, there didn’t really seem to be an end game plan here. The Great Intelligence knew the Doctor would get involved but when he did nothing was done about it. It simply just evaded being caught which makes me believe that something else was going on here. This was likely only one step in a grander scheme that will come to fruition later in the series. Just how intricate Clara is the scheme remains to be seen.
Overall, this was a good returning episode. Not great but it was fun and a good change of pace for the Doctor. I think Clara came across interesting too despite this being her third introduction, although if I had one critique I would say that she perhaps needed saving a little too much. When she wasn’t in a data coma, which happened twice, she was an assertive, independent female character but for her to be caught by the organisation in the same way more than once was just another lazy piece of writing. And that is really more of a criticism of the story writing than the character herself.
So that is that for the Doctor Who return; a light episode that set up some interesting questions and possibilities for the future. And, if you need any more Doctor Who news, then the announcement that David Tennant and Billie Piper will be returning for the fiftieth anniversary should keep you thoroughly excited.