Saturday was the last day I could say "the Ponds were the Doctor's companions." Today--and everyday afterwards--I have to say "Clara is the Doctor's companion." But I'll never be over the Ponds. I'll always wish we had more time with them, more of Rory's ridiculous deaths and steadfast loyalty, Amy's insights in the Doctor's character and concern for him. I wish Amy could have had more time to tease River about how she always knew the Doctor was going to marry her, that Rory could have given the Doctor a warning...I just wanted to see the Doctor with his family, going out to breakfast with the Pharaohs and dinner at Versailles...
I know the Doctor can't see them again....I understand that, as much I wish it could be otherwise. But I want River to see them again; they are her parents, no matter how much she insists it doesn't matter. Even if she would be okay without them, she deserves so much more time with them, a lifetime of popping in and out of their lives to make up for the little girl they never got to know. It's not fair, nothing about their lives is fair.
With that established, on to "The Bells of St. John." I thought the title was rather clever, as an allusion to the St. John's ambulance sticker on the TARDIS door. Not to mention the Doctor's reaction to the phone call. After all, the last time it rang was in "Empty Child," over two hundred years ago for him. I mean, being rung up on your generally non-functional phone is odd enough, but being asked for tech support while you're in the thirteenth century is even stranger.
And he's happy again. Not carefree, because he can never be that self-forgetful, but he gets to invent the quadricycle, ride a motorcycle up the Shard, and eat half a jammey dodger. He's also very kind and protective in this episode--the "under my protection" message arguably applies to the whole planet. Just...he's caring about someone besides himself, he's not wallowing in his own self pity. I think that's what he needs most right now. To care for someone, and , eventually, realize that it is appreciated, no matter how much it doesn't seem like that after Manhattan--that will help him heal. At the same time, I like the subtle use of the bowtie and the book to remind us that he's still missing them.
As for the plot, well, I thought it was distinctive but still fit well without the Doctor Who universe. Aliens in the wi-fi--it was bound to happen sooner or later. Though the strongest moment was when Kizlet, surrounded by UNIT guards, started blubbering for her parents. Ouch. Poor, poor, woman.
But the biggest concern, of course, was the proper and lasting introduction of Clara Oswald. As I have already said, she needs to be caring, enthusiastic, and a good listener. While it's dangerous to judge based on one episode--Donna, especially--I didn't exactly see any of those in Clara. She was serving as a nanny, but we didn't really see her interact with them much, so I don't know how much she cared for them. Enthusiastic well, I'll suspend judgment on that part, since having a mad monk turn up on your doorstep can be a little disconcerting. A good listener--eh, not. She either came up with witty retorts--"snog box" comes to mind, which really bugged me-- or just pushed him away. Some of that can be blamed on the situation, but she's not listening to him right now, and that absolutely has to change. Honestly, part of me would have liked the Victorian Clara--a change of backgrounds and feisty--or even the open flirtiness of Oswin over this Clara, but I'm willing to give her a chance.