Recap: Doctor Who S33 E6 "The Bells of Saint John"
aka: Doctor Who S 33 E 06 The Bells Of Saint John
"Walking base station... walking Wi-Fi base station, hoovering up data, hoovering up people!"The first episode of the second half of Series 7, written by Steven Moffat, the captain of the Nightmare Fuel ship headed right towards your dreams.
— The Doctor
"Prequel to The Bells of Saint John": The Doctor sits on a swing at a playground, where he meets a little girl who asks him why he looks so lonely. When the Doctor says it's cause he can't seem to find his friend, the girl tells him that when she loses things (like her nan, or her mojo), she just goes to a quiet place. She then says goodbye to the Doctor and, without him knowing, is revealed by her mother to be a very young Clara. Watch this prequel on YouTube."The Bells of Saint John": The Doctor has found a tremendously quiet place: a medieval monastery. When the local monks inform him that his TARDIS phone is ringing, there's a modern-day Clara Oswald on the other end, working as a governess and calling for tech support (she got the number from "the woman in the shop... She said it's the best helpline in the universe"). She asks him where the internet went. And she has no idea who he is. After the Doctor vworps to her space/time coordinates, with a gorgeous new outfit, he finds Clara about to be uploaded into a London-wide wi-fi network, through a very creepy spoon-headed robot thing. He hacks into the system and draws her back to reality, pissing off the leaders of a very evil corporation which is uploading people through wi-fi from all over the world.Clara remains unconscious, so the Doctor puts her to bed, leaving her with some biscuits (Jammie Dodgers!) and flowers. He also reads her childhood notebook, and discovers that she wants to see the world. Once she wakes up (hours later) and pokes her head out of the window, the Doctor is still camped outside the house, and Clara eagerly joins him outside to find out what on earth is going on. The corporation turns out to be controlling people through wi-fi. Rather distressingly, Clara Came Back Strong from the other end; the corporation adjusted her mind to include everything there is to know about computers. Both decide to make good use of this, and (after a quick detour to halt a plane the corporation's crashing into London) take a shortcut to next morning. The TARDIS vworps into central London, the Doctor quickly collects some spare change by passing off his magically appearing box as a busking prop and the two go have breakfast. While Clara uses her new skills to hack into the wi-fi (although the Doctor still insists he should do it), the corporation uses the staff as People Puppets to taunt the Doctor, distracting him until they can reclaim Clara using a spoonhead that looks just like Eleven.The Doctor traces the signal to the Shard (the tallest building in Western Europe as of 2013) and takes his anti-grav motorbike there as soon as he can, riding vertically up the building. He confronts the Consummate Professional woman in charge. And reveals that it was a distraction — he's actually still enjoying his coffee at the café, watching over Clara's lifeless form. The spoonhead-with-the-Doctor's-face takes off its helmet and draws the CEO into the network, then manipulates the corporation into shutting down everything. By that time, UNIT have arrived. To the supreme annoyance of the villain behind it all: the Great Intelligence, still played by Richard E. Grant. The people enslaved into working at the corporation finally snap out of their hypnosis. Sadly for the CEO, who's easily in her 50s, her hypnosis seems to have lasted about 50 years. She's terrified when she sees UNIT surrounding her.The Doctor, happy that Clara survived for once, invites her to become his companion. She tells him to ask her again the next day.
- Adorkable: The Doctor repeatedly, adorably freaks out every time Clara suggests the TARDIS is a "snog box". Clara has her moments too, such as when dealing with computers (both before and after she gains her mad hacking skills).
- Affectionate Gesture to the Head: The Doctor kisses Clara's forehead after saving her from the Spoonhead. When he does this the second time, he strokes her hair, causing Clara to sleepily whisper, "Doctor...". D'awwww.
- Alas, Poor Villain: At the end, it turns out that Miss Kizlet was brainwashed as a little girl by the Great Intelligence, who stole most of her life from her. Judging by the frightened way she calls out for her parents, she wasn't even a Creepy Child like Simeon.
- Allergic to Routine: Linear time still doesn't agree with the Doctor, leading him to do many things while waiting for Clara to wake up from a nap.The Doctor: ... I fixed that rattling noise in the washing machine, indexed the kitchen cupboards, optimised the photosynthesis in the main flower bed and assembled the quadricycle.
Clara: Assembled the what?
The Doctor: I found a disassembled quadricycle in the garage.
Clara: I don't think you did.
The Doctor: ...I invented the quadricycle!
- Aluminum Christmas Trees: Never heard of quadricycles? They exist. They've existed since the 1850s.
- And I Must Scream: The people stuck in the wi-fi are trapped in little TV screens with absolutely no way to call for outside help, while "the client" feeds on them for possibly the rest of time.
- ...And That Little Girl Was Me: The man in the opening gives a lengthy explanation about the mysterious wi-fi network and its dangers, before revealing that his knowledge comes from first-hand experience of its effects.
- Arc Words: The wi-fi password for the house Clara is staying at is rycbar123, which Clara remembers with the mnemonic "Run, You Clever Boy, And Remember". When the Doctor introduces himself, Clara replies "Doctor Who?".
- Badass Biker: The Doctor rides a motorbike up the Shard and yet he still came in last when competing in the Anti-Grav Olympics in 2074. The others must have been even more badass.
- Bad Boss: Miss Kizlet sees nothing wrong with killing employees but Even Evil Has Standards in this case.Miss Kizlet: I'm ever so fond of Alexei, but my conscience says we should probably kill him.
Mahler: I'll inform HR.
Miss Kizlet: Actually, he's about to go on holiday. Kill him when he gets back. Let's not be unreasonable.
- Beeping Computers: The Doctor's "under my protection" ultimatum appears complete with teletype noises.
- Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: "Riots", likely contemporary riots in London, were caused by massive brainhacking.
- Bittersweet Ending: The world might have been saved, but the fate of Miss Kizlet — who suddenly finds herself mentally a little girl again, likely about to learn both her parents are dead or very old — is one of the most depressing denouements in the series' history.
- Brain Uploading: Miss Kizlet's plan involves uploading the minds of intelligent humans into a wi-fi computer cloud so "the client" can feed on them indefinitely.
- Bullying a Dragon: "The client" knows the Doctor and even warned Miss Kizlet about him. This doesn't stop her from mocking the Doctor and believing herself unbeatable. The Doctor responds by destroying that arrogance.
- Call Back: A number of events from previous episodes are discussed.
- The Doctor comments repeatedly on Clara acquiring attributes of the previous Claras through unlikely events, such as becoming a nanny after her friend died suddenly, becoming a hacker after the villains nearly uploaded her brain and choosing the portmanteau "Oswin" ("Oswald for the win") as a user name on a whim.
- "The client" comments UNIT are "very old friends" of the Doctor, as UNIT was formed in the aftermath of the Intelligence's attack on London in the '60s. This technically also makes them old friends of the Intelligence as well, since it was the reason for their formation.
- In "The Web of Fear", the Intelligence threatened that if it couldn't absorb the Doctor's mind, it would instead "seek the help of lesser mortals." This episode shows how it carried out that threat, both using humans as slaves, and "feast[ing] on many minds".
- In The God Complex, Rita joked that Brits deal with stress by drinking tea and tutting. In this episode, Clara is dealing with the strange alien, the spoonheads, and the crashing plane by swigging her tea and snarking.
- The Call Put Me On Hold: Inverted. In the end, Clara puts the Call (and the Doctor) on hold.
- Came Back Strong: After her mind is restored, Clara goes from not knowing how to log onto a wi-fi network to being a super-hacker. Miss Kizlet said that they would buff her computer skills when she was uploaded, so that is presumably the source.
- Cassandra Truth: Mahler is constantly pointing out that what Miss Kizlet is about to do has the potential to backfire or draw unwanted attention on them, and she's constantly ignoring him. He's proven right every time.
- Comforting Comforter: The Doctor does this for Clara, twice. The first time, he tucks her gently into bed to let her rest and leaves her a plate of jammy dodgers. (Though he eats one of them himself...)
- Chekhov's Skill: Earlier it's shown that the Doctor was working on one of the "spoonheads". It certainly helped to hack one and use it against Miss Kizlet.
- Clipboard of Authority: Miss Kizlet's tablet, which she uses to control the emotions/skills of her employees. Even when she uses the wi-fi to control other people, they hold a clipboard substitute, such as a magazine or a tray.
- Continuity Nod: Multiple minor references are made to previous episodes.
- The phone of the TARDIS' police box camouflage still inexplicably works, as in "The Empty Child".The Doctor: That is not supposed to happen.
- The book the Maitland son is reading is by Amelia Williams — Amy Pond.
- The Doctor picks up a fez from a box of clothes, referencing his comment in "The Big Bang" that he'd get another one.
- The end of the episode implies "the client" began its plans with Miss Kizlet in the 1960s, placing its involvement with her right after its chronologically previous defeat in "The Web of Fear".
- The Doctor defeating the Great Intelligence by hacking one of its own robots also mirrors "The Web of Fear".
- "The client" is implied to have been involved with Miss Kizlet from childhood into middle age, mirroring its relationship with Dr. Simeon in "The Snowmen".
- The Doctor says monks aren't cool, and gets called a "mad monk". Reference to The Meddling Monk?
- Miss Kizlet insists that a motorbike isn't quite the Doctor's style. He even rides it with a companion riding behind him, and the bike comes out of the TARDIS.
- At one point when Clara is standing near the Maitlands' front door, you can see a very familiar striped scarf hanging near it.
- The Doctor once again sends in a robot substitute to deal with things, like in "The Android Invasion", "The Caves of Androzani" and "The Wedding of River Song".
- The novelisation of "The Green Death" had an employee of Global Chemicals waking up from brainwashing at the end of the episode and saying how he had a completely different job and what the hell was he doing here?
- The phone of the TARDIS' police box camouflage still inexplicably works, as in "The Empty Child".
- Cool Bike:Alexei: [watching the Doctor ride up the side of the Shard] Seriously, he can do that? He can really, actually do that?
- Couch Gag: The title has a grey-ish texture, resembling the Shard. Note: up to this point in the series, the title logo has changed with each episode; however, this is abandoned after this episode and remaining episodes retain the same texture as seen here.
- Crash Course Landing: The Doctor has no idea how to fly a plane. Neither does Clara. It's about to crash because its pilots were switched off.
- Creator Thumbprint: Captions floating around to signify what happens on people's computer screens. This is just like in Moffat's other series, Sherlock.
- Creepy Child: A Spoonhead takes the guise of the little girl on the cover of Summer Falls.
- Death Is Cheap: It depends of whether or not you consider the episode's method of yanking out your soul and uploading it to the wi-fi a death or a fate worse than, and whether or not both instances shown "count" since one wasn't completed, but you could say that Clara bit the dust twice in this episode, once at the bottom of the staircase, the second at the café. This leaves her with four deaths in three episodes. Not even Rory can compete with that.
- Declaration of Protection: When the Doctor saves Clara the first time from a spoonhead, he sends her would-be kidnappers one message: "Under my protection". They surmise he is referring to Clara (accurately, given his clear protectiveness towards her throughout the episode), but it's likely he's also referring to the human race as a whole given his tendency to act as their champion.
- Dueling Hackers: The Doctor and Alexei duke it out for Clara's soul the first time they try to upload her with a spoonhead.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Miss Kizlet feels that killing off an underling is much more reasonable if they let the guy enjoy his holiday vacation first.
- Everything Is Online: Everything is connected to the wi-fi. Laptops, streetlights, aeroplanes, people...Clara: Is the Wi-Fi switching on the lights!?
The Doctor: No, the people are switching on the lights; the Wi-Fi is switching on the people.
- Exposition Fairy: The man at the beginning helpfully explains what the bad guys are doing, before revealing that he, too, is trapped in the wi-fi.
- Failed a Spot Check: When the Doctor's riding his motorcycle to the Shard, Miss Kizlet commandeers the body of a nearby pedestrian and snidely comments that it doesn't seem his style, to which the Doctor casually remarks that he rode it in the Anti-Grav Olympics in 2074. Miss Kizlet then smugly points out that it doesn't matter, the building is in lockdown and he's not getting in. The Doctor in turn points out that Miss Kizlet doesn't appear to have been paying full attention to what he was saying:The Doctor: Did you even hear the words 'Anti-Grav'? [Proceeds to ride up the side of the building]
- Fantasy Helmet Enforcement: The Doctor and Clara come out of the TARDIS wearing helmets. They must have been in the same drawer as the fez. Wearing a helmet while riding a motorcycle on public roads is the law in the UK, and the Doctor would hardly want to be stopped and booked by a policeman. It also serves to hide the fact that the Doctor sent a hijacked spoonhead in his place at the end.
- Fate Worse Than Death:
- When Miss Kizlet argues shutting down their cloud would kill most of the minds trapped inside, the Doctor matter-of-factly states that death would be preferable to suffering forever trapped as a spirit in the wireless cloud.
- Miss Kizlet reverts to the mind of a small child in the body of a post-menopausal woman.
- Various employees say their "conscience" is telling them to do something, hinting that "the client" has been whispering into their minds.
- The Spoonheads use memories of those they attack to shape their appearance and their dialogue mostly consists of repeating what others say, calling back to the snow-constructs in the previous episode and foreshadowing the appearance of the Great Intelligence.
- Freeze-Frame Bonus: The book in the episode is written by Amy (credited on the cover as Amelia Williams).
- From Nobody to Nightmare: Miss Kizlet and Mahler. The former had been nurtured by the Great Intelligence since a young girl, while the latter was originally hired at the Shard to fix the toilets.
- Funny Background Event:
- The monk with the Doctor crosses himself when the Doctor explains that a woman is on the other end of the TARDIS phone.
- There is an upset-looking Human Statue in the background when the Doctor collects donations for his "magic trick".
- Hack Your Enemy: People from the Shard can hack people. The Doctor hacked one of their robots for a counter-attack.
- Hoist By Their Own Petard:
- Miss Kizlet gets uploaded into the same network into which she callously uploaded others. The Doctor also steals her employee-modifying tablet to get her employees to behave as he desires.
- When Clara was being uploaded her computer skills were boosted to make her more useful. When the Doctor reversed the upload her increased computer skills remained, and she was thus able to use these against the bad guys and hack them.
- Hollywood Hacking: First Clara, then the Doctor demonstrate their ability at typing very fast. It's given a realistic twist in that Clara uses a Social Engineering method; the employees were foolish enough to post where they work on social networking sites, which is exactly the sort of human error real hackers can use. It's still this trope in that while she can't get into the Shard's security she can activate their webcams and has access to flawless Facial Recognition software.
- Hypocritical Humor:
- The Doctor explains how dangerous the TARDIS could be in the wrong hands... and lets go of his motorbike while explaining it. Sure yours are the right hands, Doctor?
- It's lucky for the Doctor the TARDIS can close her doors of her own accord when he exited with the motorbike and left the doors wide open in front of a bunch of people.
- I Need a Freaking Drink: Clara gulping the rest of her drink after surviving a near plane crash thanks to a madman in a time machine. It's Played for Laughs in that it's just tea. She also slams the cup down like it were a shot glass.
- Insistent Terminology: As Miss Kizlet reminds Alexei, they're called "Servers", not "Spoonheads".
- Invisible Parents: Clara's parents are never seen here. Her father is only briefly mentioned and her mother appears in the prequel. We get a few hints why in the next episode.
- I Take Offense to That Last One: The abbot thinks people shouldn't call the Doctor "the mad monk" because he's not a monk.
- I Want My Mommy: Miss Kizlet seems to have lost most of her life at the end when she reverts to "factory settings".
- Lady and Knight: The Doctor must think this Clara is also a Victorian lady because he acts very knight-like in this episode. After dueling for her soul, he sets up a guard station outside her house.
- Landmarking the Hidden Base: The hidden base is in The Shard, though it doesn't remain hidden all that long thanks to a certain "total screaming genius".
- Laser-Guided Amnesia: All Miss Kizlet's employees in the end reverted to the state they had before working for her. She herself mentally became a little girl.
- Laser-Guided Karma: Miss Kizlet, in her remote confrontation with the Doctor, compares her employer's harvesting process to a farmer tending a flock of cattle, coldly remarking that "the abattoir is not a contradiction; no-one loves cattle more than Burger King." She gains a very different view of the situation when the Doctor uploads her into the wi-fi at the end, putting her in the shoes of one of the "cattle".
- Late to the Party: UNIT arrive shortly after the Doctor has ended the threat.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall:
- Eleven emphasizes how much he loves to hear "Doctor who?"
- This exchange, which could also be a friendly Take That:
- Yes, there is a replica police box in Earl's Court and yes, it was at least partially motivated by this show, as well as out of respect for the history of the British police force. In this episode it gets accidentally mistaken for the TARDIS by the people at the Shard, leading to some offscreen hilarity that was a huge embarrassment to everyone involved.
- Let's Split Up, Gang: While hacking into The Shard, Clara insists the the Doctor go and get coffee. Naturally, she gets uploaded in the five minutes he's gone.
- Logo Joke: The episode was introduced by the wi-fi assuming direct control of the BBC One Space Station Ident.
- Mad Artist: The Doctor's considered one by the other monks because he's drawn a picture of a woman with a cryptic phrase attached.
- Meanwhile, in the Future: Briefly, when Clara (in the 21st century A.D.) phones the Doctor (in the 13th century A.D.).
- Meat Puppet: Sufficient exposure to Wi-Fi will make anyone this to Miss Kizlet. She can switch them off, use them as mouthpieces, direct their movements, etc.
- Mercy Kill: Not every mind in the data cloud has a body to go back to, but the Doctor considers releasing them to be an improvement over their current predicament, which he calls "living hell".
- Mind-Control Device: Miss Kizlet's tablet lets her dial a victim's character traits up and down.
- Minion with an F in Evil:
- Misplaced-Names Poster: As seen in the page image, Matt Smith's and Jenna-Louise Coleman's names are swapped.
- Morality Dial: Miss Kizlet's tablet can be used to adjust the personality traits of her employees. Mahler gets his paranoia and obedience messed with at various points, and Alexei gets an IQ boost so he can cook up a clever solution to take care of the Doctor.
- Neural Implanting: When Clara is first uploaded, Miss Kizlet orders Alexei to splice her a computer skills package to make up for her lack of them.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: The Doctor's shocked yell when Clara reveals who she is by repeating "Run, you clever boy, and remember" distracts her sufficiently to result in her typing the password wrong. Thinking it will not work, she instead clicks the wi-fi link that gives the bad guys access to her.
- Nice Job Fixing It, Villain:
- Clara is able to trace the bad guys because they all updated their various social networks with the building where they worked.
- Clara was only able to hack their systems because they made her a computer super-genius when she was being uploaded the first time.
- Nonindicative Name: The episode's title refers to the TARDIS phone (which rings for the second time in a Moffat story)... since the TARDIS has that old St John's ambulance sticker on the front. Then they cease to be relevant.
- No-Nonsense Nemesis: The first thing the bad guys do when they know the Doctor's getting involved is try to crash a plane into him, having rejected even less subtle options.
- Noodle Incident: The chaos that ensued when the bad guys mistook the real police box in Earl's Court for the TARDIS. Also, the reason why the bad guys had to stage the London riots. Neither go into details.
- Oh Crap!:
- Miss Kizlet, when she realises that it's not the Doctor in her office but a spoonhead.
- Everyone is very concerned when, after uploading Clara, they discover the Doctor's coming for them ... and that his motorcycle defies gravity. Although Miss Kizlet puts a stiff upper lip on, she's clearly more than a little worried when he smashes into her office.
- One Dialogue, Two Conversations: When Clara's talking to the Doctor on the phone about her wi-fi, he incredulously points out that it's 1207. She assumes he's talking about the hour; he's talking about the year he's currently in.Clara: Am I phoning a different time-zone?
The Doctor: Yeah, you really sort of are.
- OOC Is Serious Business: Clara mentions early on that she is terrible with computers, something the Doctor realizes over the course of his phone call with her. Then she makes a joke about Twitter, something the Doctor realizes she shouldn't have had the knowledge to do before. Clara realizes this too and notices all the computer information inside her mind now.
- Orange/Blue Contrast: When the Doctor is hacking head-to-head versus Alexei. The Doctor's code is in various shades of orange, Alexei's blue.
- Parental Substitute: Clara, who felt obliged to stay on to help out after the death of a family friend, whilst she was staying with them.
- The Password Is Always Swordfish: Averted; the wi-fi password for Clara's network is "rycbar123", a reasonably strong password containing six semi-random lettersnote . This becomes significant when Clara uses "Run You Clever Boy And Remember" as a mnemonic to remember it, alerting the Doctor to who she is.
- People Puppets: Miss Kizlet can take over people with the wi-fi, with the victims having no memory of what she's done with their bodies.
- Power Hair: Miss Kizlet, the The Dragon of this Evil Plan and a corporate elite sports some close cut hair.
- Punch Clock Villain: This is implied to be the case with most of the people working at the Shard. One of them was the janitor.
- Pygmalion Snap Back: The people working in the Shard all reset back to the moment they were taken over, and lose all memory of what's occurred. Funny when one of them says to Miss Kizlet that he's here to fix the gents, a bit sad and frightening when Miss Kizlet asks where her parents are.
- Rapid-Fire Typing: Whenever hacking takes place — which is frequently — it involves the characters mashing keys as if they're playing Daley Thompson's Decathlon.
- The Reveal: The "client" turns out to be the Great Intelligence, played by Richard E. Grant!
- Rip Van Winkle: Miss Kizlet is revealed to be one at the end. The Great Intelligence reduced her mind back to childhood.
- Robotic Reveal: The Spoonheads go through a lengthy Transformation Sequence when they reveal their true nature. None of their victims tries to escape while they are doing this, suggesting either that it's quicker in-universe or they have the ability to immobilise their prey first.
- Robot Kid: The first Spoonhead who appears does so in the form of a little girl.
- Robot Me: The Doctor converts one of the spoonheads into his double.
- Running Gag:
- Doctor Who?
- Clara getting flirty with the Doctor and the Doctor getting flustered in response.
- Saintly Church: In the prequel, the Doctor goes to look for a quiet and peaceful place to further his search for Clara. He finds the cloister for an order of monks that are a-ok with a "mad monk" living with them.
- Scenery Porn: London is cool. Come and spend your tourist money.
- Schmuck Bait: The villains' plan hinges on people clicking on the available wi-fi network which is labelled in gibberish.
- The exchange between Clara and the Doctor about their mutual inability to fly a plane, ending with the Doctor saying "Fine, we'll do it together", is very similar to a conversation between Ford, Zaphod and Trillian in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy about their mutual inability to fly the Heart of Gold.
- The Doctor mentions he's not from the future, he just works there.
- Clara's working for the Maitlands.
- The Spoonhead having a conversation by repeating back words a real person has said to it is like the "Nothing clean, right" scene that introduces The Terminator.
- In the beginning, when people are logging into different Wi-Fis, the imposed text on the screen looks quite a lot like a certain other series by Steven Moffat.
- Shown Their Work:
- The call Clara makes to the Doctor for wi-fi help may seem quite familiar to anyone with Tech Support experience.
- Clara's claim that she can find the bad guys by focusing on the people, not the computers, and use of social networking, mirrors real-life security concerns. For example, the head of MI6 was compromised by his wife's postings.
- The Slow Path: The Doctor's reason for jumping forward a few hours is to tire out the people searching for them.
- Smug Snake: The amount of things that Miss Kizlet says that aren't dripping with smugness can be counted on one hand.
- Sniff Sniff Nom: Eleven seems to have the same attitude Ten did. When he spots Clara's leaf, he licks it.
- Something Only They Would Say: The Doctor identifies Clara over the phone when she uses "Run, you clever boy, and remember" as a mnemonic for her wi-fi password.
- A Spot Of Tea: Clara carries around a cuppa after going outside to talk to the Doctor. She clings to it throughout seeing the TARDIS for the first time and surviving a few minutes on a rapidly crashing plane. Amazingly, she avoids spilling it over everything as there's enough left for her to take a healthy swig after all is said and done.
- Spot The Thread:
- Clara doesn't realise the "Doctor" who came to see her on the balcony is a robot, and ends up uploaded.
- Miss Kizlet doesn't realize the "Doctor" with whom she is speaking is the same robot she just had take Clara back.
- Stealth Pun: The Great Intelligence uses a "Web of Fear" in this adventure. Here, "web" refers to the internet.
- Street Performer: To buy breakfast, the Doctor drops the TARDIS in the middle of the South Bank (a popular busking spot), walks out and holds up his fez for people to throw money into.
- Summon Bigger Fish: Since losing his Ponds, Eleven has become noticeably more careful and protective of his humans. He saves the day in this episode by sending in a robot substitute and simply calling UNIT, while he watches over Clara's body and enjoys his coffee.
- Surprisingly Similar Stories: As part of the 50th anniversary season, which had every episode include at least one Shout-Out to the past, not too surprising; the episode is a spiritual companion to the 1966 story "The War Machines":
- Both are set in the present day (at the time "The War Machines" aired, this was very rare).
- Both have modern-day computers at the core of the plot and both deal with then-current real-life paranoia over computers (War Machines has a computer trying to take over the world, Bells deals with loss of identity online).
- Both are focused around brand-new and controversial London landmarks (War Machines: the Post Office Tower; Bells: The Shard).
- Both have new independently minded modern-day companions joining the Doctor (War Machines: Polly; Bells: Clara).
- Sweet Tooth: The Doctor's love for Jammie Dodgers returns, and seeing him walk around at a café messing about with the cakes is like watching a kid in a candy store (which being the Doctor, he kind of is).
- Take That: When the Doctor is describing the threat of the week to Clara he describes it as "human souls trapped like flies in the world wide web, stuck forever, crying out for help." Clara asks, "Isn't that basically Twitter?"
- Tempting Fate:
Miss Kizlet: Really, Doctor? A motorbike? It hardly seems like you.
- Mahler warns that uploading too many people will get them noticed. Turns out he was right, as both the Doctor and UNIT show up.
- Also this:Mahler: Should we pulp [Clara], or keep her as a hostage?
Kizlet: There's no point. She's fully integrated now. She can't be downloaded again. I'm sure he knows that.
Alexei: I'm not sure he does. He's coming.
[cue Oh Crap! faces]
- And this:
The Doctor: I rode this in the Anti-Grav Olympics, 2074. I came last.
Miss Kizlet: The building's in lockdown. I'm afraid you're not coming in.
The Doctor: Did you even hear the words 'Anti-Grav'?
[The Doctor rides the bike up the side of the building; cue more Oh Crap! faces]
- That Came Out Wrong: This will appear to be a recurring problem between the Doctor and Clara.The Doctor: You and me, inside that box, now.
Clara: I'm sorry?
The Doctor: Look, just get inside.
Clara: Both of us?
The Doctor: Trust me, you'll understand once we're in there.
Clara: I bet I will.
The Doctor: Clara, please!
- There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Upon failing to upload Clara and having outfitted her with enhanced computer skills in the process, the bad guys decide the next logical step is to crash a plane into her block.
- Title Drop:
- The Bells of St John are ringing!
- "Doctor who?"
- Trapped in TV Land: In a even more modern spin, wi-fi is used so Trapped in the Internet is more appropriate.
- Trivial Title. The title refers to the TARDIS phone ringing and has nothing to do with the Evil Wi-Fi plot at all.
- Two Scenes, One Dialogue: Justified because both dialogues involve Miss Kizlet, whose remarks get echoed by a Meat Puppet.
- Villainous Breakdown: Miss Kizlet does not react well to being uploaded into the wi-fi network. She starts screaming demands to be downloaded back into her body.
- Wham Line: "I'm still in the café."
- The X of Y: "The Bells of Saint John" is #119 — wouldn't be Who otherwise, would it?
- You, Get Me Coffee: You just know a Companion is going to be special when she has the chops to tell this to the Doctor.
- You Have Failed Me: What they plan for Alexei - but only once he gets back from Holiday. Later, when the Doctor manipulates them into releasing everyone from the Cloud, Miss Kizlet inverts it by proactively informing her Client that they have failed him.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Subtly set up, then quickly subverted: rather than kill his underlings, "the client" orders Miss Kizlet to activate every employee's "reset" protocol, erasing all memories from when they started their work with the organization but leaving them alive. As Miss Kizlet's memories of working for "the client" apparently started when she was a very young girl, this may not be quite a mercy for her.
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