Doctor Who Christmas Special 2012 Review “The Snowmen”

By now, I’ve watched this year’s Doctor Who Christmas Special, “The Snowmen” a few times over. Truth be told, I could take or leave The Intelligence, the silly carnivorous snowmen, and the emotionless Dr. Simeon. As far as one-shot villains were concerned, these were not exactly the most multidimensional or terrifying antagonists to appear on a Doctor Who Christmas Special. The story of telepathic ice crystals and forced family bonding simply provided a sort of forgettable, Christmas themed backdrop to the exciting start of The Doctor’s new adventures with a mysterious new companion… and I’m totally fine with that.

The Doctor’s old friends, Madame Vastra, Jenny, and Strax had been helping The Doctor live as a recluse after his separation from the Ponds made him an emotional wreck. The Doctor has had his fair share of grumpy days, but nothing quite got the point across that The Doctor had been going through a very serious slump like seeing the newly redesigned interior of the T.A.R.D.I.S. The modified interior was cold, dark, steely, and unwelcoming and it reflected the attitude that The Doctor had adopted to protect himself psychologically after losing the Ponds. Although he had acclimated himself to that frigid interior, seeing it for the first time was a shock compared to how warm and bright the T.A.R.D.I.S. once was.

Although he’s able to travel virtually anywhere throughout space and time, The Doctor chose to stay among primitive earthlings in his “retirement.” The Doctor couldn’t really fight his own nature, and throughout the episode, we watched as he was drawn back into his familiar habits despite his best efforts to resist. He couldn’t help but become intrigued by “learning snow” and his body seemed to betray him by putting on his old bow tie and drawing him into a new mystery. (Side note: I loved all the Wholock shenanigans in the episode. The running Sherlock references were fantastic and although The Doctor makes for a terrible Sherlock Holmes, his attempts to imitate the Great Detective during his investigations were hysterical.)

What we started to see was how The Doctor’s inescapable fate was intertwined with Clara’s. Clara – the adorable, intelligent barmaid who just happened to be in the right place at the exact right time to run into The Doctor when an alien snowman would pop up out of nowhere. The same Clara, who happened to be a governess using an entirely different alias (for reasons unexplained) at a house that played a key role in The Doctor’s investigation of the snowmen. Are we really to believe that this was all just one amazing coincidence that made them run into one another? Or did Clara set herself up to be exactly where she needed to be to run into the Doctor?

Madame Vastra’s “one-word test” also seemed to indicate that Clara’s link to The Doctor was more than mere coincidence. Her message for The Doctor, a single word that would tell The Doctor about how badly she needed his help, how dangerous this threat was, and how important it was that he get involved, was simply the word “pond.” Given The Doctor’s emotional state at the time, there was probably no other word that would have sparked his curiosity in the same way.

I was struck by Clara’s parting words to her boss at the tavern when she told him that she couldn’t help out anymore because she had her own work to get back to. He asked her what her big secret was, and she simply responded “you’d never believe me.” We’re led to believe that she was talking about her secret life as the governess, Miss Montague, but the life of a governess seems pretty believable to me. Was her unbelievable line of work neither that of a barmaid or governess, but something else altogether? Something that might have put her in the right spot to run into The Doctor on that exact night?

The Doctor and Clara made a charming team and I loved watching the two banter on equal footing. I enjoyed The Doctor’s bewilderment and curiosity about the pushy, stubborn, girl who always seemed to be a step ahead of him. It’s an exciting change in the dynamic between The Doctor and his recent companions, and I find that I am looking forward to The Doctor’s pursuit of a creature that is almost as mysterious as he is.

“Clara who?” is the big question that we’re left with at the end of the episode. This clever, witty, charming woman who we now know is unquestionably linked in some way to our souffle girl from “Asylum of the Daleks” is one of the most mysterious companions to pop up on modern Doctor Who. As has become my habit with Doctor Who, I tend to watch each episode with a sort of suspicion that every little detail, every off-the-cuff remark, and every pregnant pause, is a veiled hint at the mystery behind the next Doctor Who story arc. I hate to miss a good hint, and while I haven’t yet figured out a single thing about who Clara Oswin Oswald really is, “The Snowmen” made me really excited to find out. Spring can’t come soon enough.