Winter is Coming! Wait, which show am I recapping?
It’s time for the only thing I look forward to on Christmas Day besides new socks. Doctor Who! Filled with confusing story lines that will be totally relevant for the second half of this season!
Caution: excited spoilers!
England, 1842. They just love that Dickensonian crap. A lonely boy builds a snowman and his mother frets. She’d probably worry even more if she knew the snowman he’s building was telling him what to do with the voice of Ian McKellan (aside: did not realise he was in this and I may have squealed with glee a bit).
Fifty years later, a rather Scrooge-y looking man watches as people pack up totally realistic snow. He brings a jar to a snow globe with the same Gandalfy voice as his snowman. He looks down upon some workers as they are consumed by abominable snowmen. Just like SkiFree!
At a cheery, cosy pub called the Rose and Crown, Oswin serves beer to the patrons. She steps outside and sees a snowman appear, and then a man walks by. She comments on the snowman to him- it’s the Doctor. She tries to be friendly, introducing herself as Clara, but he’s not having it. (Reminder: the Doctor never actually saw her in Asylum of the Daleks, which I admittedly sort of forgot about.) Pissed off, she runs after him, fairly sprightly in high heels and snow-covered ground.
Intro! The time vortex is looking very explode-y today. The font theme is snow.
Our Scrooge (his name is Dr. Simeon) reflects upon someone who died in the pond (no pun intended) and how the ice remembers. Creepy.
We learn that Sir Arthur Canon Doyle based Sherlock Holmes and Watson off our favourite lesbian alien Madame Vastra and her wife Jenny. Vastra talks about memory snow and Simeon tells us that winter is coming because all my favourite shows had to be shoved into the same scene.
Strax, our Sultaran friend, is watching this more nefarious doctor (again with this “other doctor” theme). He unsurprisingly recommends violence. The Doctor seems apathetic to the whole problem. He calls Strax a psychotic potato dwarf. The Doctor is sick and tired of saving the universe. Clara sneaks up on them (okay, “sneak” is being generous) and Doctor sends Strax to get a memory worm (ew), but he manages to wipe his own memory instead because he forgets the gauntlets.
There’s some classic “Doctor Who?” banter between Clara and the Doctor (we can’t lose the series theme!) when another snowman appears- then another and another. Her thinking about them is what makes them appear. He has her think of them melted in order to defeat them. Ah, the power of positive thinking!
The Doctor sends her off with Strax, though no one managed to wipe her memory at any point. He then walks creepily down the street whistling Silent Night. Totally inconspicuous, man. He looks around and, sure he’s not being followed (he totally is), he pulls down a ladder from what I assume is his hidden TARDIS. Clara follows him, and after leaping a bit like an idiot, also finds the ladder. At the top, she realises she’s invisible and that there’s a spiral staircase leading up even further. She climbs to somewhere in the upper atmosphere (I know she’s got a lot of layers, but isn’t she cold?) where indeed the TARDIS lies in wait atop a cloud. She knocks on the door but hides before the Doctor can see her and then runs down the stairs, leaving her shawl behind. How very Cinderella.
Gandalf talks about how winter is coming some more and something about snow. Meanwhile, Clara wakes up and grins at her satchel. She’s heading off! She changes into a more Downton Abbey-approved outfit. Turns out, she’s not some bar wench, she’s a proper governess. She comes to see Captain Latimer. His daughter is having nightmares. Also he definitely has a thing for her. She goes to see the children. They ask her to speak in her secret voice, which is apparently Cockney. Francesca explains that they aren’t nightmares, just dreams. Her brother tells Clara about the woman who died in the frozen pond. The dead woman is upset and appears in Franny’s dreams to tell her she’s coming for her on Christmas. The boy suggests she needs a doctor. Idea!
Clara runs to where the ladder was, calling for the Doctor. Jenny finds her and brings her to chez alien. Vastra is drinking blood. She asks Clara why she wants the Doctor. She’s permitted only single-word answers, but does well with this and asks for help. Vastra says the Doctor isn’t into “helping” so much anymore. “Kindness” isn’t his deal. Vastra allows her to request help, but again, she’s given just one word to convey why his help is needed.
The TARDIS phone rings. Vastra tells her the word. “Pond.” Oh snap, pun definitely intended!
Ian McKellan alerts Doctor Simeon to danger. His assistant says Sherlock Holmes is here. It’s Matt Smith in a stovepipe hat with a pipe! Wow, Moffat, really? The Doctor tries to figure out what’s going on with the Ian McKellan intelligent snow globe- calls him Moriarty and everything. The Doctor tries to figure how snow could have DNA and finds an article about a governess frozen in a pond. So, bingo.
He investigates the offending pond. Strax makes fun of him for being Sherlock Holmes, and Doctor yells at him for trying to be clever. Strax leaves and the Doctor notices Clara in a window. Despite telling himself not to come visit, you know he can’t resist a pretty lady, especially one asking for help.
Down the street, the alien brigade sees some suspicious stuff going down with Simeon.
The kids ask their Miss Montague to tell them about who is coming to help them. She tells them of the Doctor, and says he helps prevent bad dreams. But instead of the Doctor walking in, the frozen corpse of a governess walks in. Clara tells Franny to melt her with her mind, but the girl can’t do it. The kids freak out, asking for the Doctor. He shows up via hand puppet and sonic screwdriver, which apparently has an anti-freeze setting.
Meanwhile, Simeon activates an intense helping of sentient snow.
The Doctor says this isn’t his thing anymore. Yet he looks in the mirror and is surprised to see himself in his bowtie. Clara says, “It’s cooler.” She’s referring to the snow, not his bowtie, but let’s not ruin the moment for him. Ice Governess starts to refreeze and everyone bails.
They run into the captain on their way down. The backyard is run over by snowmen. Alien brigade comes to help, which is predictably unsettling for the humans. Strax recommends blowing them up, which won’t do any good because snow is already just tiny pieces of water. Ice governess is coming down the stairs, but the Doctor makes a force field to contain her. He’s clearly sort of stoked about this whole ordeal (psychopathic yet lovable as usual). He’s being all Doctor-y again! Time to save humanity.
Clara follows the Doctor out of the room in order to make out with him a bit. Simeon is at the door. He demands the return of the Ice Governess, who I guess is somehow crucial in the building of an unstoppable army of ice wraiths. Clara and the Doctor run up to the roof. She’s pretty cheeky for a Victorian girl. They escape via ladder/staircase/TARDIS. As they climb, the Doctor tries to figure her out, though with little success. Meanwhile Clara calls him out for moping.
To shut her up, he activates the TARDIS’s interior, which has been upgraded substantially. Don’t worry; it’s still smaller on the outside. It’s also a lot more minimalist. Clara says something about making soufflés, which triggers the Doctor’s memory banks. She asks why he gave her the umbrella; he doesn’t need it to reach the ladder. He gets all smiley and gives her the key and gets really stoked about new beginnings. Everything is all hopeful and positive- until she’s snatched by Ice Governess, who pulls her backwards off the cloud.
Clara lands on the ground- the captain wants to save her, but Vastra’s scanner shows that she’s already dead. Never fear. The Doctor materialises the TARDIS around her. So, with the magic of science, Strax goes to work trying to save her. While he works, Vastra goes to the Doctor and asks if he’s figured anything out. He is upset about Clara’s “death,” though he maintains that she’s going to live. Indeed, when he steps out, she’s semi-coherent. He hands her the key and asks her to come away with him. It’s very romantic. Are we erasing River? Is that what we’re doing? Because that could make for some awkward episodes in the future.
The Doctor heads out. He says he’s got a lunchbox of the London Underground filled with information on how to make ice people. He goes to Simeon’s room and sonics Ian McKellan. Turns out, Simeon’s loneliness and sadness was projected into the snow, giving it its terrible sentience. He opens the lunchbox, which actually contains the memory worm (ew). The sentient snow cannot survive without a mirror, and thus without Simeon’s memories should be destroyed.
Except, snap, it isn’t, because Gandalf does what he wants. The snowmen appear all over- the dream has become the dreamer and can control Simeon’s body. He promptly attacks the Doctor, attempting to freeze his face off while yelling, “Winter is coming!”
Strax is trying to save Clara, who is concerned about the captain’s children. He’s not great with kids I guess, even if they’re his own. She sheds a tear.
Meanwhile, Vastra and the Doctor see that the globe is filled with water. It’s mirroring something new, something that’s drowning everything else. It’s raining instead of snowing- but the rain is salt water. Because it’s tears. Get it? The family is crying over nearly dead Clara and this is apparently powerful enough to overcome the evil of isolation.
The Doctor kneels at Clara’s side and explains that she’s inadvertently saved the world, and him as well. As she dies, she says, “You clever boy. I remember.” Oh, snap?
Later, everyone’s at her funeral. The Doctor looks at the business card of the Great Intelligence. Likewise he looks at her gravestone and sees her name is Clara Oswin Oswald. Finally it clicks that she was the same girl from Asylum of the Daleks. He decides to go find her.
In what is presumably the present, Oswin is looking at her gravestone.
So, uh, that’s all pretty weird. Is Oswin even a person? Maybe she’s more like a concrete representation of some abstract ideal. The season to come has the Doctor searching space and time for her, which I confess seems like it’ll be more interesting than watching the Ponds acclimate to married life. Also, I realise I have to try not to stop and think about the fact that the Doctor is a little predator-y, essentially whisking away young girls from their family and lives. Girls several centuries younger than him. I wonder what the statutory laws on Gallifrey are like?
Merry Christmas, Whovians, and see you in 2013!