Dec 25 2012 9:00pm

Doctor Who’s Surprisingly Romantic Christmas: “The Snowmen”

A spoiler review of Doctor Who: The Snowmen

Along with bringing the world ghosts, time travel, suggestions of alternate universes, and classic lines, A Christmas Carol also permanently created another holiday tradition: the lone grumpy figure who refuses to be happy on Christmas. In 2010 Steven Moffat brazenly and successfully reinvented A Christmas Carol with that year’s Doctor Who Christmas special, titled “A Christmas Carol.” This year, instead of making a new character into the Scrooge of this story, the bah-humbugs are coming from the Doctor himself. But it’s not spirits from the past, present, or future that will save the soul of the character and the show. Instead, it’s Jenna-Louise Coleman!

Big spoilers for “The Snowmen”  

Excluding perhaps “The End of Time,” this one is probably the darkest of the Doctor Who Christmas specials to date. And it’s not just the themes! The lighting is darker, the new TARDIS interior is in the shadows and Matt Smith’s Doctor is dressed in a dark Victorian suit complete with a dark bow tie. And yet, despite the superficial gloominess, this Who Christmas easily outshines last year’s quasi-Narnia pastiche. And it’s largely thanks to the great emotional introduction/reintroduction of Jenna-Louise Coleman as Clara Oswin Oswald! Before I jump into the spoilery bits, the chemistry between Jenna-Louise Coleman and Matt Smith is —to borrow from the 9th Doctor—FANTASTIC! 

The phenomenon of a new companion on Doctor Who sometimes feels like a sort of strange dance with the culture. On the one hand, we’ve known about Jenna-Louise Coleman for a good while now, and on the other hand, we know nothing about the character. And when you think about it, that’s never happened before: tons of awareness of a character without any real knowledge. Most companions, up until this point, have had a fairly understandable biography. Sure, it wasn’t totally clear why the Doctor met Donna Noble twice, and Amy Pond certainly had a few mysteries locked away in her past, but we could easily define them in the first couple episodes. But by the end of “The Snowmen” we know even less about Clara then we did at the beginning. 

On paper, this kind of overly-complicated-maybe-time-loop (trademark Steven Moffat) might sound a little annoying but, luckily, this time it’s charming as hell. Even as Clara is introduced in this particular story, we’re already wondering about her role in the world. Is she a barmaid or a governess? Is there a connection between Oswin from Asylum of the Daleks” or not? Does the Doctor recognize her voice? (Yes. Eventually.) Does she have a serious crush on him? (BIG YES. Not so eventually.)

In a particularly cool scene, the reptilian Madame Vastra (Neve McIntosh) tests Clara’s brilliance/loyalty by asking her a series of questions to which Clara can only respond with one-word answers. Of all the words that Clara utters, the only one I found missing was “love.” It seems like Moffat and the Doctor Who crew are definitely going for an honest-to-goodness romance with the Doctor again. But this time, the chemistry feels right, and the science fiction mystery at the core of Clara’s identity is exciting. I think on another day I might have written off the twist of Clara dying (again!) as a move that feels like a bit of a River Song re-hash, but I was so charmed by “The Snowmen” that I can’t wait to see what happens next.  

So, what did happen this time around? The monsters in “The Snowmen” are, not surprisingly, a kind of sentient and evil snow, hell-bent on taking over the world. There’s not anything particularly new about these monsters, especially when you consider they’re described as being “mirrors” of people’s dark thoughts. These monsters are telepathically generated, meaning they don’t truly exist without us thinking they do. And in terms of meditating about the nature of Doctor Who’s sometimes interchangeable antagonists, there doesn’t really seem to be a much more honest Who villain ever conceived. These guys are like the opposite of fairies in Peter Pan; clap if you want the evil snowmen to eat you! The entire plot involving a Dr. Simeon (Richard E. Grant) scheming with a giant talking snow globe is not super interesting, but it works well enough to get the pouting and depressed Doctor back into the fray. (And as talking evil snow globes go, it’s always best to have them voiced by Ian McKellen.)   

There are several moments throughout “The Snowmen” where Moffat wants us to understand the Doctor is really down-in-the-dumps from the “losses” he’s suffered. While this is an indirect reference to the departure of Amy and Rory in “The Angels Take Manhattan,” I also feels like it gestures at a greater world-weariness the Doctor feels. This works nicely because a new viewer wouldn’t have to really understand anything about the show to dig what was happening here. 

And while I’d admit the episode had a bit of a slow start, things really started to feel giddy when Matt Smith showed up at Dr. Simeon’s lair as “Sherlock Holmes.” Without ruining the scene too much, the Doctor basically mocks the idea of Sherlock Holmes in a way that is deliciously full of faux-ironic disrespect for the great detective. (Now, maybe Moffat will give us a Doctor Who parody in season three of Sherlock?) It’s scenes like this that remind us that rooting Doctor Who in traditions from classic adventure fiction is part of what makes the character and the stories so great.  

There are plenty of great goofy sci-fi moments in “The Snowmen,” but what I found so refreshing about this episode was that it didn’t try too hard. Instead, the story unfolded at its own pace, so when the Doctor defeated Dr. Simeon and the intelligent snow, plus got his mojo back, it felt earned. The inclusion of Madame Vastra, her wife Jenny (Catrin Stewart), and the Sontaran Strax (Dan Starkey) were, similarly, nice touches to remind you of what kind of universe you’re living in. But the best thing about the episode was Jenna-Louise Coleman’s Clara, the revelation that her middle name is Oswin, and that she is somehow going to keep dying and coming back to life!

When she plunged to her doom, and then died while crying, I found myself genuinely moved. I truly did not expect Steven Moffat to kill off the Doctor’s new companion in her first official outing, particularly since this is the second time we’ve seen her! Is Clara Oswin Oswald a ghost? An alien? I have no idea and am really excited to see what happens next.

(Also this new title sequence is wonderful! Yay for having the Doctor’s face at the begining again!)

This Christmas, Doctor Who took its time, made a few well-placed jokes, and let the Doctor fall in love with the idea of being in love again. Best of all, it wasn’t a totally self-contained throwaway story and felt like the start of something truly new. This Doctor Who Christmas special might not be what we expected or asked for, but it feels like a new and very thoughtful gift.

Ryan Britt is a staff writer for Tor.com. 

1. Athreeren
What's so special about Clara dying twice? Rory did that dozens of times!
Christopher Bennett
2. ChristopherLBennett
One spoiler you missed -- the villain was the Great Intelligence from original series' "The Abominable Snowmen" and "The Web of Fear" -- the latter of which was set in the London Underground in 1968! It's a time loop -- the Doctor gave it the idea for the attack on London where the Second Doctor first met the future Brigadier. It was staring us in the face all along -- Snowmen! Yeti! We just saw the Doctor help shape his own past!
Steven Halter
3. stevenhalter
It was deliciously wonderful and intiguing. I was really not expecting Clara to die either as I found her quite wonderful.
How this is all going to fit together should be great fun.
Eric Desjardins
4. SirExo
I noticed that they keeped saying that winter is coming, I found that funny.
5. James Davis Nicoll
No offense to Richard E Grant but Sean Bean would have been a funnier actor to cast in that role.
6. James Davis Nicoll
Without ruining the scene too much, the Doctor basically mocks the idea of Sherlock Holmes in a way that is deliciously full of faux-ironic disrespect for the great detective.

You might enjoy this old CBC adaptation of Borges' "Death and the Compass".
Ron Hogan
7. RonHogan
To be honest, I found the attempt to push the Clara/Doctor relationship on us tedious, just another round in the ongoing effort to generate sexual tension between the Doctor and his companion. I was much more intrigued by the banter between the Doctor and Strax in their scenes together, and would love to see that dynamic as the basis for an ongoing companion relationship.
8. Syllabus
"Potato dwarf" FTW.
9. John Dill
Yes, winter is coming. Clara dated two of the Game of Thrones stars after all.
10. Lesley A
Also, the family where Clara was governess lived at Darkover House - and Marion Zimmer Bradley's world of Darkover is also known for having a lot of snow!
11. Eugene R.
If they wish us to find the new Companion interesting and intriguing, then it is not a good idea to include a set of even more interesting and intriguing Allies like Vastra, Jenny, and Strax in an episode. I agree with Syllabus (@8). Telepathic barmaid/governess or "potato dwarf"? "Potato dwarf" in a runaway!
13. Eugene R.
ChristopherLBennett (@12): In the first encounter with the snowmen, Clara is able to project her thoughts to create, then melt them. Later, her death triggers their dissolution. The Snow does not seem responsive to other characters in the same degree, aside from Dr. Simeon.

Also, I have no better explanation for how she comes up with the key word "Pond" (and not, say, "Children") to convince the Doctor to help (in-show, that is; out-of-show, I recognize it as a bit of fan service "meet cute").
Christopher Bennett
14. ChristopherLBennett
@13: No, it wasn't Clara that was telepathic, it was the snow. It was repeatedly stated that the alien "snow" crystals mirrored the thoughts of the people around them -- not just Clara, but Simeon (who was behind the whole thing) and everyone else. The reason they melted the first time is because Clara had the Doctor guiding her in how to focus her imagination, an aid that others didn't have. And as the Doctor said, it wasn't just Clara's death that changed them to rain (because she wasn't yet dead at that point, strictly speaking) -- it was the concentrated sorrow of everyone in the house witnessing the tragedy.

The Snowmen had the potential to be another one of Moffat's great psychologically scary monsters. We've had monsters you have to keep looking at no matter how much they scare you (the Angels, the Silence), and now we have a monster you have to stop thinking about while it's attacking you, which is really devious and scary. But the episode hardly did anything with it.

And the "Pond" thing was probably just Moffat being clever with words, and fanservice just as you say.

Although I've already heard a hypothesis that Clara/Oswin is some kind of projection of the Doctor's own mind. If that were true, that could explain it. Or maybe there's some other connection between them that we've yet to discover.

As long as we're on the subject of cockamamie fan theories, here's one that occurred to me: "Clara" means "clear, bright" and "Oswald" means "divine ruler." Bright divine ruler = White Guardian? Seeing as how Moffat just brought back the Great Intelligence, could he be bringing something else back as well? It's interesting how it works out, though it probably doesn't prove anything except how easy it is to manufacture patterns that don't exist.
15. herewiss13
I think my favorite bit was when The Doctor took Clara into the TARDIS. Once her reaction started, my meta-brain was all "are they going to confirm tradition or subvert the paradigm?" And then she did...brilliantly:

"It's smaller on the outside."

How has no one said that before?
16. andyl
Of course no-one has mentioned the last knowing wink at the fan. The date of Clara's birth. November 23rd.

Also Ryan says "and that she is somehow going to keep dying and coming back to life!". I didn't get this reading at all. We have seen her die twice, and see a contemporary instance in the last scenes of the episode. Coming back to life implies something a bit different to me. There is no continuity of physical body or memory between instances of Clara. We also do not know if there are more Clara's between the Victorian one and the contemporary one we saw in the last few minutes of the episode.
Ryan Britt
17. ryancbritt
Fair point. We really don't know what the deal is with her. I guess that's what I like.

@Ron Hogan.
Ron! Fair point, but to be quite honest, I wouldn't tune in every week to watch Matt Smith and Strax. Just saying...:-)
Bruce Arthurs
18. bruce-arthurs
My new fantasy: Cage match between the Doctor and Tyrion Lannister.

"You have something to say about dwarves, Doctor? Say it to my axe."
19. Eugene R.
ChristopherLBennett (@14): There are certainly alternative explanations, as you amply point out, to Clara being psionic.

And the Snowmen were surprisingly ... umm, toothless, were they not?

As for her name being a three-parter ending in "Oswald" and (as andyl, @16, notes) adding in a birth date of November 23, that tends to bring up an unpleasant association for USan viewers of a certain age, tied to the original Doctor Who premiere in 1963. Purely unintentional, I would think. I would much rather go with your fan etymology of "White Guardian".

herewiss13 (@15): Why did we not think of "Smaller on the outside" before? Hmm. As the recent recipient of a scarf knitted with the Bigger on the Inside pattern, all I can venture is a guess that we were all too fannish not to gush over the TARDIS. Congratulations to Clara for having the presence of mind to notice the reverse is equally (and less swooningly) true!
Christopher Bennett
21. ChristopherLBennett
@19: I don't think there's any reason to jump to the conclusion that Clara is a telepath. My point was that, whatever weird is going on with her, we don't yet know enough to assume anything about it, and there's not a shred of unambiguous evidence that would suggest she's a telepath instead of something completely different.
22. Elayne169
If they want to have another doctor/companion romance so be it. I agree the chemistry is there though that plot is getting really old for me. But they need to make it clear that for the doctor, Last Night has happened, and River Song has met her death or you have him cheating on his wife, which is not cool and would taint the relationship with this new companion. Unless the Doctor and River have some sort of open relationship agreement.
marian moore
23. mariesdaughter
Strange...my first thought was that Clara was "Flesh" and her consciousness was animating this appearance in the Victorian Age.

Even though I eventually rejected the Flesh idea, I do still think that she is still throwing her consciousness into a available body--preferably one of her forebears. The Daleks had to perfect some way of mentally controlling a mechanical body. Perhaps, she found a way of controlling a biological one.

No matter, I'm looking forward to seeing how the writers pull this off. They have pulled more metaphorical rabbits out of a hat that I ever thought possible.
marian moore
24. mariesdaughter
By the way, I agree with #22. While I do think that the Doctor's relationship is relatively open, I don't want the Doctor cheating on a wife that he obviously adores.
With some of the quick pastisches during the Amy years, I did get the idea that the Doctor found himself having to marry to get out of trouble. ("Tell Marilyn that wasn't a real chapel") But I always had the idea that he considered River his "real" wife.
25. Graymask
Heh. The best parts of this Christmas special involved Strax. The whole memory worm bit and then the "Sherlock Holmes" stuff was really fun. The show, IMHO, needs more humor. I'm sick to death of doom and gloom.
26. SJ
Loved Clara as Mary Poppins. Very cute episode.
Alan Brown
27. AlanBrown
Count me (and my Doctor-Who-tolerating-but-not-quite-liking wife) as huge fans of Strax. I was excited to see Madame Vastra and Jenny appear again, but Strax stole the show.
And like others have mentioned, my wife asked, "Why did Doctor Who try to steal House Stark's motto?" (she is a GoT fan). I did find the use of that phrase a bit jarring.
The plot of the episode was a bit too timey-wimey to make a lot of sense, (I'm looking at you, Mr. Moffat), and it was a bit too dependent on previous episodes (especially the Asylum of the Daleks episode--the payoff wouldn't have made much sense to someone who missed that one).
I thought Clara was great, and was stunned to see her die, but then excited to think about the mystery that we were going to see unfolding over the coming months. And I see a lot of old friends (and enemies) showing up in the preview of coming attractions.
I thought the new Tardis interior worked better in the episode than it looked in stills. I am kind of liking it. And what else did the Doctor have to do while he was moping than a little redecorating?
And the Doctor is coming out of his funk. Looks like lots of fun ahead.
28. Thomrit
A gloomy doctor's Tardis would have no choice but to be gloomy it's tied to him emotionally...and for Doctor Who 11
River Song was dead before they married.
29. Ryan TordotCom
Great theroy! I totally didn't think about the Flesh. I kind of hope that's NOT what it is, but it certainly fits!
Alan Brown
30. AlanBrown
I thought those 'flesh' episodes were creepy, so I sincerely hope that is not what Clara is...
31. Lalo
For the record my answer to everything bothering me shall now be 'Grenades'.

I did so love Madame Vastra's introduction to the Darkover Housekeeper :)

I'm a bit iffy on how Moffatt will pull together Clara's plot. River was also a cool shiny, until he overdid it and then kept putting more shinies in our path to keep us from over thinking the fact River got royally shafted time and again. All because she loved the Doctor. I don't want the same for Clara Oswin Oswald--I like her character. I like that she kept surprising the Doctor (and me) with her reactions.

I'm a bit tired of his companions falling in love with him tho. Can't any of them simply want it for the Adventure (like Donna) and only feel affection of a not romantic sort towards him?

I do hope we see more of Madame Vastra and Jenny and Strax!
Stephanie Padilla
32. DN10
MUCH better than last year's Christmas special!!!

Re: Clara/Oswin

I still haven't figured out what's going on with her, but I do think it's interesting that bits of Oswin's life seems to echo back into Clara's. I don't think that they share memories completely, however, nor that they are aware of each other. Oswin's life seems to echo backwards into Clara's, though--I think that's what was going on with the Pond reference, the souffle (which was specific to Oswin, since it was how she was trying to defeat her Dalek programming), her instant interest in the Doctor, and her last words, which were exact repetitions of Oswin's. It'll be interesting to see what next Oswin echoes of the other two. Maybe she's fragmented in time--but she isn't consciously aware of the other versions of herself. I really didn't get that feeling at all, anyways.

Also, I'm pretty sure she was a bar maid pretending to be a governess. When she grows frightened, and therefore drops any pretence, she slips into her lower class accent, implying that it's her real one and that the more posh one is a fake.
33. NormanM

As Neil Gaiman has made clear for us, the Doctor's 'real wife' is, was, and always will be the TARDIS. Everyone else is, well, everyone else.
34. AlexKingstonIsMyAvatar
@22 (Elayne169) has it right. The Doctor's great heartbreak isn't (just) the loss of Amy and Rory but River.

At the end of TATM, The Doctor invites River to travel with him. She accepts but it is immediately apparent that this will not last nor will it be pleasant. As seen in First Night/Last Night, they do eventually let themselves love each other and their time together, but it is finite.

The Doctor is mourning more than the loss of a companion or two.
35. Nicholas Winter
I really don't think it's cricket to assume that the human custom of marriage means a whole lot to an alien who's a thousand years old and had myriad relationships down the centuries. The Doctor may not even realize how much marriage means to humans -- he certainly had the problem with the Ponds.
36. Biff from Oz
@Lalo and others - I'm also a bit sick of the Doctor having a romance or romantic frisson with most/all of his female companions, it's a little stale. But given the way he's been regenerating Benjamin Button-style it won't be long before the Doc resembles Justin Bieber, complete with screaming teenies banging on the Tardis.

On a serious note, why are all the companions female, from the UK and the present time? Sure the show is British but there is a solid worldwide audience so how about companions that are a little more diverse? Or even aliens, he's travelled with them in the past. Some XY chromosomes wouldn't go astray either, Jamie was great and it was good to see him grapple with the technology given his unsophisticated background. Harry Sullivan was also a welcome change. It's just become so boringly cliched, his companion will inevitably be a looker who falls for him to some extent. Enough already! The universe is a big place.
37. jhaia
Thankyou! No one is paying attention to river song even though, you know, the small fact that her and the doctor are married! The dimension in where that took place was erased but it still counts people! I dont actually mind too much but i really want river song to come in and see how much clara will hit on him then.
Christopher Bennett
38. ChristopherLBennett
@36: The majority of companions are female because it's usually a two-person show and having only male regulars would have narrower audience appeal. (Even Sherlock has a couple of female supporting characters.)

In the early years of the show, when the Doctor was an older and less action-oriented figure, there was always both a male and a female companion so that there'd be a young man around to do the action stuff. When the Third Doctor proved able to carry the action himself, he only had a female companion (though he also had UNIT support). The Fourth Doctor initially had a male companion due to the expectation that he'd be less physical, but it proved unnecessary in the long run, both because that Doctor was more physical than expected and because social progress meant that the female companions started to be action types themselves. But the Fifth Doctor reverted to the old pattern of having one male and one to two female companions throughout his run. Six and Seven went back to the one-female pattern.

In the new series, while there's always been a female lead, there have been several male companions on at least temporary bases, from Captain Jack to Mickey to Wilf to Rory. And it looks like Strax is going to be a recurring presence in the season ahead.

I agree that they have overdone the use of companions from present-day Earth. I was hoping Clara would be a break from that pattern, but it doesn't look that way. Apparently the powers-that-be think there needs to be a character that the audience can identify with.
39. tk42wan
BTW - I started researching the meanings behind all the names as soon as the episode ended.
Clara can also mean "famous" as well as "clear, bright" as pointed out above.
Os is Old English for "god"
Oswin means "god friend"
Oswald means "god ruler"
Famous god-friend god-ruler... It seems like a good start!
Tragically, as a US viewer, I do not know much about storyline before the 9th so it was great to see what the reference to the Underground meant. Thanks!
I keep wondering if perhaps she *is* River... somehow. If River ended up as a data file in The Library's Computer, couldn't she somehow get downloaded into a new "skin"... maybe the file is corrupt and she doesn't remember everything, but she wants him to "remember" that she is trapped in a memory bank and to GO GET HER OUT! This would help ease my weirdness at the suddenly being okay that he is smooching non-wives. Maybe she is regenerating but not like a Time Lord but just "rebooting" herself. (Souffles are made of eggs which symbolize rebirth. We've gone from custard to souffles!)
River calls The Doctor "clever" several times and then there's this:
River: Run. The Doctor: Did run. Running brought me here. River: I tried to fight it but I can't. It's too strong. The Doctor: I know. It's okay. This is where I die. This is a fixed point. This must happen—this always happens. Don't worry. You won't even remember this. Look over there. River: It's me. How can I be there? The Doctor: That's you from the future. Serving time for a murder you probably can't remember. My murder. River: Why would you do that? Make me watch? The Doctor: So that you know this is inevitable. And you are forgiven. Always and completely forgiven. River: Please, my love. Please please, just run.

Of course, it is not too much of a stretch - almost everyone says The Doctor is clever and there is a bit of running! ;)

Also, I freeze framed the newspaper article. "Old Cy Lent" is mentioned and "Joseph Sumption" (Translation - "He Will Add ... The major premise of a syllogism") Also, mentioned Slovacs, facists and Jews in one column and Prince Fumimaro Konoe, interestingly enough, mentioning him as Prime Minister - which he was in WWII. He would have been only a few months old when the "article" was written, supposedly about January or February of 1892. So I think the prop people were being lazy and inserted the story about the governess drowning in a WWII era paper.

The address on the business card didn't pull up anything of note...

I will be interested to see if Clara's "definitely true" stories were just meaningless and fun or if they have any portent. Born behind the face of Big Ben which accounts for her "acute sense of time."

Loved the returning characters. Glad to see them in the previews for the upcoming episodes.

Last note which I am sure is of no importance, but in the Moffatt world, I no longer dismiss anything.... The pub she worked at is The ROSE and Crown. They hung on the sign for an extra beat, the wallpaper seemed to be roses. While I know that there are a billionty pubs with rose in the title, it could have been called anything else. At least it wasn't The Rose and The Wolf or something.

And I wonder if that shorter military man in a mask in the preview was Mickey. With an anniversary year upon us, I am hoping to see everyone return at some point... especially the Other 10th Doctor and Donna...

Over observational ramble ended! :)
Christopher Hatton
40. Xopher
I agree that the Doctor has no business having a romance with Clara/Oswin. They really haven't established that he's entirely done with River, and if they don't do that it will be creepy to see...the Doctor, cheating husband? Yuck. Do not want.

She's a very exciting character, though, isn't she? I can't wait to find out what this all means. Reincarnation? Flesh? (Well, not flesh, or she'd've melted when she died, right?) They've definitely got me hooked.
Christopher Bennett
41. ChristopherLBennett
@40: Well, the Doctor wouldn't be "cheating," because he's never actually had sex with any human. All these so-called romances never go beyond longing looks and the occasional kiss. I mean, really, anyone under 140 or so would be cradle-robbing by his standards, not to mention the whole cross-species thing. The only evidence we have that he's sexual at all is the fact that he has children and at least one granddaughter. (Although I'm pretty certain the Fourth Doctor and the Second Romana were getting it on, since the relationship between Tom Baker and Lalla Ward showed through in their performances.)

And #35 is right -- we can't assume that the Doctor perceives or defines marriage in the same way that our culture in our particular narrow sliver of history does. He may not entirely understand how human marriage customs work; he certainly hasn't got the hang of patrilineal naming conventions ("Mr. Pond," anyone?).
Christopher Hatton
42. Xopher
I think he's been having sex with River for sure! Please, that's never been made explicit, but it wouldn't be, would it? Pretty clearly implied though.

I forgot to mention that I, too, would like to see a lot more of Vastra and Jenny, and (less) Strax. Psychotic potato dwarf indeed!

Also, I agree with Biff at 36; I'd like to see a male along for the ride as well. They have an openly lesbian couple on there; why not a guy with a huge crush on the Doctor? (No, not Jack; he's a crushee, not a crusher.)
Christopher Hatton
43. Xopher
Of course, River isn't entirely human either.

But I still think having a romance, even if it stops short of actually putting Tab A in Slot B, would be cheating on her.
Christopher Hatton
44. Xopher
Hmm, it's on again now, and I'm being reminded of other things I wanted to say.

Francesca and Digby really don't strike me as throwaway characters, either. I'm hoping to see them some more, perhaps in company with future incarnations of Oswin. They're by no means generic Victorian children. Francesca dreams the future (or maybe is being influcenced by the process happening in the ice) and Digby's reference to having done seven drawings makes me think he'll appear later as an artist, probably as an adult, unless he just incarnates with Oswin as mentioned above.

And the single-word session is remarkable. I didn't see the "Pond" bit coming at all (nice bit of writing there), and I think it's actually evidence that she has unusual senses, or perhaps a bit of TARDIS in her. She could have said "children" or any number of other things, but she knew, I think, at some level, what would intrigue the Doctor. No way she could have known that with the information available to her ordinary senses.
Christopher Hatton
45. Xopher
"Hi, I'm a lizard woman from the dawn of time, and this is my wife."

"This dwelling is under attack. Remain calm, human scum!"

"Sir, please do not noogie me during combat prep!"

Also, if you think you recognize Richard E. Grant, one of the places you may know him from is a delightful parody of cooking shows called Posh Nosh.
46. AI1
@39--I have to say that I love your comments--how great are you!
Here are my random thoughts which make no attempt at a coherent theory of what will happen.
Mr. Britt postulates that the Snow Men are "telepathically generated" as was the Doctor's assumption, but when Simeon dies the Snow Men live on and Simeon becomes exponentially more dangerous to the Doctor. So Simeon in life is a minimal enemy, but in death he subdues the Doctor to the breaking point--so who is responsible for the increased aggression to the Doctor? Well the controlling influence is Clara, clearly. She has already showed us her ability to create the Snow Men, as well as her ability to destoy them, by her thought. Her process of dying results in her tears which not only destroy the Snow Men, but releases Simeon from his reanimation (we are told he is dead), she also creates salty rain throughout the land, which means she is incredibly powerfull. Her tears create salty rain--she is something special and perhaps unique to be sure.
So here are the questions:
If Clara, a presumed ally of the Doctor, created such a powerfull enemy to the Doctor? what is her reason?
Well if she is an incarnation of River, then that is her mandate. If she is an incarnation of the Doctor's daughter then what does she owe him when really he left her for dead. Afterall we know she's out there somewhere, and inclined to aggression.
Christopher Bennett
47. ChristopherLBennett
@46: No, the controlling entity was the Great Intelligence, an alien force that was established in "The Abominable Snowmen" and "The Web of Fear" in the original series back in the '60s. This was a prequel to those two episodes, showing the Intelligence's first attack, with a rather different kind of "snowmen" than the Yeti robots it graduated to in the 20th century.

The Doctor thought that Simeon was the ultimate controlling force behind the Snowmen, but he turned out to be wrong. By the time Simeon died, the Intelligence was strong enough to operate autonomously.

And it wasn't Clara's tears specifically that transformed the snow into rain. As the Doctor said, it was the whole family mourning the tragedy together.
Ashley Fox
48. A Fox
Back in the Dino thread I posted this:

"Oh mad thought...Since we knew how big a part River would (has) played
there has been discussion about whether she will truely die. Tennant
Doctor saved her into a computer.

Owin is a hacking genius who may also now be in a 'computer'....."

And in asylum, this:

"The viewers would hen have the ineviabilty of the companion becoming a Darlek. The Darleks have now forgotten him (and his Timelord status? Asthe last of the Timelords, does this mean they have now finally finishedthe war?). During the episode after she had tapped into the Darlek hivemind thingy I did get a little irate that she didnt leave a greater legacy...like hope or love or some such. The defining points of Darlek Oswin"

The latter is rather amusing in light of Clara's influence on the Doctor in this ep! Consider me reasured.

In both eps we see Oswin begin as rather naive, excitable, unaware of what is truely happening. Once she catches up (understandably) she pulls out a bag of smarts and keeps up with/challenges the Doctor. At her moment of death her consciousness reaches out and connects/merges with something far greater than she:the Darlek hive mind and the Great Intelligence. Reaches out and takes over. She erases the Darleks memory of the Doctor, freeing him from the shackles of their enimity, saving him and the Ponds. She melts the snow (I agree with @46 on this. It is her tear falling which heralds the thunder and rain, the tears of others comes after her passing.), the physical embodiment of the GI and damages it enough so it takes a fair while to recupe...saving the Doctor. From the GI and from himself.

Ok here comes the spec and some obs.

Amy rebooted the universe. Amy feared that the Doctor would be on his own.

During the Angels in the byzantium I am half remembering a ref of the Doctor saying he would have to tell her the story of the Library sometime...and that they visited it? This is quite hazy. Corrections welcome! Did she know of the death of her daughter, his wife?

In this ep the Doctor, talking with Vastra, says the universe owes him one, he makes a deal with it.

Is Clara the universe's, fueled by Amy's love of the Doctor, answer? Is she the universe given life and made mortal, wanting to dance with the Doctor as much as he has been dancing with her? Mmmm.

Are the souffles Mof's way of driving us mad? Or is it that they are a matter of perfect timing?

Nice posts by peeps, specially re the older eps (which I have little to no knowledge of and wish I did at times like this!).
49. AI1
@47--or maybe not, this is Moffat's creation afterall and we know him to "reinterpret" past story lines to suit his purposes. Trust me, at this point I have no horses in the race. But where is River?, where is the Doctor's daughter?, Donna is not done yet either as far as I can tell--on and on. Your assesertion too that the Doctor "thought" one thing that turned out to be wrong, doesn't mean that the alternative is right. Moffat has slapped us time and time again with the fruitlessness of such sylogisms. I guess we'll see, or maybe not...
Ashley Fox
50. A Fox
@47 @ 49 re Tears.

I also think that it was Clara's tears (or rather her grief, understanding and dying, as in Asylum) that stopped the GI rather than what the Doctor believed-the families on Christmas. (Though certainly imo the Doctor reconnecting with his old sentimentality (rather than the recent apathy) is a step in the right direction, if not for his present case.)

As you point out @47, the Doctor was wrong about Simeon. As another earlier posted noted there was a distinct line in the sand drawn between the Doctor and Holmes. The Doctor made many guesses that proved incorrect. I support that the reason for the GI's defeat was one of them.

@49 I have read here and on the gaurdian comment thread posts by older timer Whos detailing the Old ep in question. I previously did not know of it. The details they gave certainly line up neatly with this ep. The group of GI, the intelligence, the date, the location depicted on the lunchbox, the Doctors almost memory of familiarlarity.

This past riffing also works well with the aniversary themes that are permeating the new eps. The intro which is more akin to older styles, the music along the same lines, the Doctor's face appearing in a number of years (Sorry cant quite remember how many), the old school Tardis interior...I have even seen some asert that the Doctors grumpy attitude is also similar to one of the earlier (2?).

The Doctor is in a dark place...and Clara is the lure of hope. If he runs. If he remembers...if he can find the perfect time.
Ashley Fox
51. A Fox
Here's some comphrehensive confirmation of the GI :)

Christopher Bennett
52. ChristopherLBennett
@50: "I have even seen some asert that the Doctors grumpy attitude is also similar to one of the earlier (2?)."

More like the First Doctor. I've seen interviews with the producers or cast or somebody saying that this was evoking the very beginning of the original series -- the Doctor starting out living on Earth as a grouchy hermit, detached from things and uninterested in doing good, and needing human companions to bring out his heroic potential.
53. Archangel000
This is an odd thought but has anyone considered that Clara's initials come out to be CO2.
54. Roger Lord Zeck
Apologies, but I have to say I found this episode a bit limp. Like a Christmas cracker with no snap, no motto, no hat, nothing more than a toy inside. I watched it with seven other Dr Who fans. At the end we all looked at one another blankly.
55. mar
Regarding the comments about the Doctor 11 "cheating," may have to go back and rewatch the ending of Angels Take Manhattan. River passed on the offer to be a companion. That is why she is not in the picture. She told the Doctor not to travel alone. Sounds to me River's time with the Doctor is drawing to a close. As for the "marriage," River herself said that "It was in a world that never was." Did it count? Probably not since she let him go to find another companion. Who knows? River probably knew about Clara through her "spoilers." Is she River reincarnated? Oh come on! Why go through the trouble of creating a character only to be a previous one when River could have accepted the Doctor's invitation and that's the end of it?

On a personal note I find the chemistry between The Doctor and Clara to be believable and easier to watch more so than he and River IMHO which seems rushed. The Doctor after realising there might be another Clara somewhere seems very eager to find her again. On who Clara really is or what she is (Time Lord, Time anomaly? The Jagaroth?) well will have to wait til her story plays out. :)
Heather Dunham
58. tankgirl73
39. tk42wan: "I keep wondering if perhaps she *is* River... somehow. If River ended up as a data file in The Library's Computer, couldn't she somehow get downloaded into a new "skin"..."

Coming at this a year later, after the events of Name of the Doctor, I find this comment intriguing. And not a speculation I've seen yet in NotD discussions. River makes herself visible to Clara in NotD because of the psychic meeting. River tells the Doctor that since he can still see her, then Clara is alive in the timestream. There is a very definite link between them when she goes into the timestream.

So Clara Oswald the companion is the 'original'. But when she jumps into the timestream to be fragmented into all the god-friend Oswins, she takes a bit of River with her. Which also gets inserted into the original's own self.

Because, yeah, I've noticed the way they both say "clever boy". "Run you clever boy and remember" makes much more sense as a message from River, *through* Clara. Or *with* Clara. A RiverClara like the DoctorDonna.

Christopher Bennett
59. ChristopherLBennett
@58: I think Clara being River is a terrible idea. Most of the Eleventh Doctor's tenure (at least the part we saw onscreen) was totally dominated by the whole Pond-Williams-Song clan. I don't want Clara to be just one more extension of that. I want her to be independently important, to stand on her own.

And really, the whole point of her arc was that, despite the big cosmic mystery about her, she was a totally ordinary person when the Doctor first met her. The mystery was entirely due to something that hadn't happened to her yet. She was the product of a unique and random set of circumstances -- the falling leaf causing her parents to meet in a way that otherwise never would have happened -- but the same could be said about pretty much everyone who's ever been born. What's special about her is that she's not special, that she's just a completely average human being (who happens to be one of the most gorgeous women who's ever walked the Earth, but that's a minor detail). She only becomes more than that because she chooses to, because this average, ordinary human being is willing to risk her existence to save the Doctor. Which reinforces the whole underlying theme of Doctor Who, that while the Doctor is the most extraordinary being in the universe, he depends on ordinary mortals to ground him and give him purpose and perspective. So I really, really, really don't want Clara to be turned into just another extension of River Song and her convoluted backstory.

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