Really brilliant episode. They had me at "What kind of idiot would try and steal a faulty TARDIS?" And then suddenly Clara was in the scene and everything just kept escalating from there.
I'm really sort of entranced by the idea that there is now (or there now has been...or there now always was...I need a Guide for the tenses) a Time Lady on Gallifrey who was Clara. You know, in the "and she was you"/"the soufle is the recipe" sense. I find myself wanting to know all about this character. How well did she and the Doctor know each other? Did they know each other at all or was this the first meeting? I tend to think not because the Doctor isn't alarmed by her presence. He's about to steal a TARDIS and go swanning off with the Hand of Omega in one of his big pockets; surely he'd be somewhat perturbed to be caught in the act by anyone other than a friend. Even the way she tells him to take the other TARDIS is in the style of friendly banter. This isn't just Clara popping in, saying that, and leaving; this woman had a whole life and telling the Doctor which TARDIS to steal is only a brief moment of it. (And can you imagine Hartnell responding to "The Navigation System's knackered, but you'll have much more fun.") My personal headcanon is that she's family...possibly Susan's mother? It doesn't really matter, I suppose, but the possibilities are just so fascinating.
Once again I'm more interested in a Clara echo than in the original. That's a writing problem though. If Oswin Oswald's ingredients come from Clara, then let some of that show through in the original. She's been written in a very generic and simple sort of way so far. "Basic? 'Cause I'm a girl?" I really don't want to drag myself down with all of that too much. I just felt like we got less out of original!Clara in eight episodes than we did out of the other two in one episode each. Hopefully now that the mystery is out of the way, the writing team will feel a bit more freedom to develop her properly in series 8.
ALL the Clara's! Born to save the Doctor? Yeah, I suppose, techinically, but they've got whole lives. And so does the original. The Doctor is safe and her story is just beginning.
The conference call was interesting. I knew River was going to be in the episode of course, so when Strax and Jenny had the "hair" exchange my excitement went up another notch. Definitely wasn't expecting a post-Library version of her to turn up though. Her on screen life is a bit depressing when you think about it. Kidnapped at birth, raised as a weapon, contracts a fatal illness, gets shot by Hitler, kills the Doctor, gives her regenerations away as penance, gets sent to prison, has her wrist broken because her mother read it in a book, gets guilt and shouting about it from her husband, gives her only remaining life for a man who looks right through her, then gets ignored by the love of her life for an indeterminate amount of time, discovers that her husband may be in the process of replacing her and hasn't even mentioned to the new one that he was ever married, and then she finally fades way. The off screen stuff must have been pretty spectacular for her to be able to go into The Library and say, "Not one line. Don't you dare."
Backing up though, The Snowmen is given some fresh perspective. Vastra, Jenny, and Strax cared for The Doctor in "the dark times." So, after Manhattan, he and Professor Song go travelling for a bit. It's possible that they meet Vastra for the first time during these travels. Eventually they take a nostalgic trip to Calderon Beta, and then off to Darillium to see the singing towers after "promising for ages." Thus "the dark times" begin. Not only are Amy and Rory living their own lives in New York*, but River has gone to the Library at last. And so the Mad Man seeks solitude in his cloud...until someone finally saves him.
*And I'm really curious about New York. River goes there in 1969 before Canton corners her and she dives off a rooftop into a swimming pool. I wonder if her parents got a chance to say hello. And then, just a few months later, young Melody finds herself in New York, dying. Is it possible that her parents were able to offer her some words of encouragement? Perhaps even clue her in to the fact that she could hold death back? Could they have started her along her path to Leadworth? Amy and Rory were sent to New York in 1938, yes? Could they have lived unitl '69? I suppose it depends on how old they were when the Angels sent them back...and even they weren't certain, but had a guess at ten years older than when they started travelling with the Doctor. So...mid-30's? And then 31 years to 1969, so they'd be in their 60's. Conceivable. But I've gone off on a tangent again.
And now the somewhat flirty bits between the Doctor and Clara take on a slightly different tone. If they are indeed going there, then he's not flirting with Clara as an adulterer, but as a widower. I find it much more comforting anyway. And I really think they are going there, and I'm fine with it. "The world doesn't end 'cause the Doctor dances." There's the un-subtle Vastra going a darker shade of green, but then there's the look that River gives Clara. "It's the only way to save him, isn't it?" And then that sad little nod. That speaks volumes, I think. "Of course it's the only way to save him. And I want him to be safe as much as you do. And I wish I could be the one to do it. But there's a time to live and a time to sleep. ... And he has someone else now."
And even River wasn't the first. The Doctor had a grandchild before the audience ever met him. Ten had strong feelings for Rose. "Has he told you about Elizabeth the First? Well, she thought she was the first." He and River obviously had a very strong relationship for some two hundred years or so. Now it seems like the Doctor is just about ready to move on. Not without saying goodbye though. Not when your ex is River Song. And as Vastra points out (as the Dream Lord did before her), if you think you're an exception, the only girl in the universe to whom the Doctor tells everything, then ask yourself one question.
Enough about the 'shipping though, what about the rest of the episode? Not exaclty the Trenzalore adventure I was expecting. Doesn't really fit the bill for what Dorium described. Fall of the Eleventh? No man can speak falsely or fail to answer? Then again, you know how rumors go. But we know the Doctor has at least one more trip to Trenzalore in his life. Possibly others. I find it hard to imagine that the Silence were so keen to avert this. I think the Fall of the Eleventh must still be further in the Doctor's future. I suppose it's possible that they wanted to avert the Great Intelligence...and maybe they even did so by making sure Clara got there too. (I still can't let go of the different leaves and the beetle on the tree.)
Speaking of crackpot theories: Omega. Another vague reference here. The Fifth Doctor trapped by the aforementioned crackpot, and Clara there to witness it. Plenty of Fifth Doctor moments to choose from. Why that one? My newest crackpot theory is that whatever was left of Omega got scattered in "Arc of Infinity" and eventually reformed in "The Snowmen." I think Mr. G. Intelligence is whatever's left of Omega, possibly unaware of his previous life at first. Though the one on Trenzalore talks of being "thwarted at every turn" and I doubt that means the simple two defeats that we've witnessed on screen. Even in "The Three Doctors" there's something that Moffat could be using to build from. "Jo, we're dealing here with a creautre of great intelligence." ... Just saying. And, as noted by Vastra, the G.I. does seem to have rather a lot of information.
And then a reference to the Valeyard? I'm only very vaguely aware of what that actually means. I believe it's part of a Sixth Doctor adventure and implied to be a future version of the Doctor, but I haven't actually seen the adventure yet. (It's part of Trial of a Time Lord, right?) Don't spoil me, I'll get to it.
And then there's John Hurt. I'm not entirely sure what to make of him. I've got some ideas though. However, I inadvertently read a thing that may or may not be foilers and it has shaped my thoughts. Going back to the name though. He's the one who broke the promise. Maybe he can only be found by those who know the secret? It would explain why the G.I. didn't bother him...which in turn explains why Clara didn't need to meet him. But maybe she was only capable of seeing him there at the end because of some reawakened memories of the Doctor being mentioned in a book about the Time War?
The rest of my theories have come to naught so far, but at least I knew there was never any chance of the audience hearing the Doctor's name.
Definitely looking forward to the 50th. And series 8. Promising times ahead.