Doctor Who Recap: “The Snowmen”

By December 26, 2012
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And the mystery of the Doctor’s new companion continues…

If you have yet to see last night’s Doctor Who Christmas special and would like to avoid major spoilers, turn back now.

Before we dive in, let’s talk about the new intro. It’s a big change from anything previously on New Who (no TARDIS hurling through the vortex), but it throws in an homage to Classic Who: The Doctor’s face appears in a swirl of gaseous orange space clouds.

And now, onto the show!

The new companion’s true identity remains a mystery throughout the episode. First, Clara appears as the barmaid at a tavern called the Rose and Crown. It is just outside that she meets the Doctor and chases after his carriage down the street. He tries to wipe her memory of the meeting, but Strax’s misuse of the memory-wiping worm stalls him long enough for her to convince him to leave her memories intact. How else could she remember the dangers of the snowmen, who appeared and melted at the whims of her imagination?

Clara covertly follows the Doctor to a seemingly empty park, where he pulls a ladder out of thin air and climbs up, disappearing right before her eyes. She sneaks over, and, like Jack and the Beanstalk, discovers a staircase and climbs into the clouds. There, she sees the TARDIS, knocks on the door, and leads the Doctor on a wild goose chase, always hiding on the other side.

The next day, she leaves her job at the tavern for another: the governess at an estate, where she goes by the name Miss Montague. There, she learns that the former governess, who had drown in the pond, is haunting her young charge’s dreams. She returns to the park, looking for the Doctor, only to be ushered away by Jenny. Jenny takes Clara to see Madame Vastra (whom we finally learn is Jenny’s wife), and the lizard woman asks her a series of questions, to which she is only allowed to give one-word answers. At the end, Madame Vastra tells her to ask the Doctor for help, but to do it in a single word. That one word? Pond.

Presumably bolstered by the beloved name of his past companion, the Doctor finally agrees to poke around. Dressed in Sherlock Holmes, he pays a visit to Doctor Simeon and his big, glass ball of talking snow. He realizes that the Intelligence guiding the snow is trying to evolve so that it can exist on planet Earth in all seasons. To do so, it needs a perfectly frozen specimen of human DNA…the kind found in the drowned and frozen governess. He goes to the pond, where he is met by Strax (eager to hand him a grenade). While there, he sees Clara in the window, and accidentally indicates that he’ll be up in five minutes.

As Clara puts the children to bed, an evil ice version of their old governess bursts in and chases them into the next room. Just as they start to believe that the Doctor isn’t coming, a hand puppet pops up wielding his sonic screwdriver. He takes aim at the ice governess, and she explodes. The Doctor gives the puppet a kiss and receives a slap in return.

As Doctor Simeon lurks in the shadows outside, Clara thanks the Doctor for coming. He grumbles that this was a one-time deal; he’s no longer in the business of saving people. On his way out, however, he catches sight of himself in the mirror. Without even realizing it, he’s put his bow tie back on. Clara says it’s cooler, and he agrees…but she’s talking about the room. The ice governess reconstitutes herself, and the group flee downstairs. Her employer, Captain Latimer, demands to know what’s going on, and the Doctor proclaims himself Clara’s “gentleman friend” whom she was upstairs kissing. Latimer barely has time to be baffled before there’s a knock at his door, and Madame Vastra, Jenny, and Strax come inside. Jenny throws up a force field around the ice governess, and they retreat.

Clara plants a big kiss on the doctor, much to his shock. Doctor Simeon comes knocking, and demands the return of the ice woman. The doctor picks up an umbrella, proclaiming he has a plan, but urges Clara to stay behind. Before he can stop her, she’s pulling him along, heading for the roof. Using the umbrella handle, Clara finds the ladder, and she and the Doctor climb the stairs, the ice woman hot on their tail. The Doctor leads her to the TARDIS, and, as he eagerly awaits her reaction, she surprises him by exclaiming: “It’s smaller on the outside!” She further baffles him by asking if the TARDIS has a kitchen; she likes to make soufflés…just like Oswin Oswald (dubbed ‘soufflé girl’ by the Doctor himself).

His hard exterior finally melting, the doctor hands Clara a TARDIS key. But when he turns his back, the ice governess grabs Clara and pulls her out of the TARDIS. They plunge from the sky, and Clara falls to her death. The Doctor’s not ready to give up and lose someone else again just yet; he materializes the TARDIS around her and brings her back into the estate, where Strax uses advanced technology to temporarily bring her back to life. He kisses the key and places it back in her hand, asking her to “come away with” him.

The Doctor and Madame Vastra confront Doctor Simeon in his office. The Doctor strips away the deep voice of the snow, only to discover that its thoughts are mirrors of Doctor Simeon’s childhood self. When Doctor Simeon was a child, he built a snowman who repeated everything he said. The Doctor tricks Simeon into opening a package containing the memory wiping worm. No memory, no horrific thoughts for the snow to feed on… Or so the Doctor thinks. The snow is still alive, and it re-animates an unconscious Simeon, taking control of his body and using him to attack the Doctor and Madame Vastra. With the Doctor pinned to the floor, the ice-controlled Simeon plants a hand on his face and begins to freeze the Doctor as well.

Just in the nick of time, the snow turns to a rainstorm of saltwater, mirroring Clara’s tears and those of Captain Latimer’s family. With Simeon dead and the threat pacified for the moment, the Doctor rushes back to the estate, only to find Clara on the verge of death. Just as she’s about to die, she looks at him and whispers: “Run, you clever boy… And remember”… the exact same words Oswin Oswald spoke to him before she died in the Dalek asylum explosion.

And here’s the big reveal: Clara’s full name, as written on her gravestone, is Clara Oswin Oswald. Somehow, she’s the same person, and she’s already died twice. Completely flabbergasted and thrilled, the Doctor runs off to the TARDIS to search for her. In the future, Clara walks past her own grave and proclaims that she doesn’t believe in ghosts.

Oh, and the epitaph on the tombstone? “Remember me for we shall meet again.”