SPOILER WARNING SPOILER WARNING SPOILER WARNING
Once Upon a Time...
... there was a lonely man, far from home, who had lost all his dear ones and couldn't bear to love and loose again.
... there were three friends, outcasts of society yet confident individuals, who yearned to help the lonely man find a purpose again.
... there was a curious and intrepid young woman who could fit into two worlds, and was determined to get the lonely man to answer her questions and save the world.
I absolutely loved "The Snowmen." Like all Doctor Who it has its shortcomings, but overall it was a very strong Christmas episode. I loved the return of Madam Vastra, Jenny, and Strax. I loved that they were set up last season, so that it doesn't seem out of the blue now that the Doctor does have some loyal friends, even if he thinks he's lost all. And they're all such marvelous personalities...
But they can't compare to Clara. She's brilliant, bold, clever, and funny (although not without caution and common sense!). She is exactly what the Doctor needs after loosing the Ponds, a fact which he realizes against all of his better sense. And then she dies.
I honestly did not see that one coming. I knew we wouldn't get a clear answer on the Clara/Oswin Oswald connection for awhile yet, but I didn't expect Victorian Clara to be a different person from Modern Day Clara! Or is she? What is going on? Is she some sort of cloned intelligence? Another manifestation of the Flesh? Some fans are speculating that she is a time lord like River Song or Romana regenerated... others think she might be Jack Harkness's daughter. I like the Flesh hypothesis the best, but I think the Doctor would have picked up on that right away.
It's an intriguing mystery, and frustrating that we have to wait until spring to learn more, but "The Snowmen" holds enough goodness to stand on its own. Matt Smith gets a chance to be grumpy and quirky in a way that seems particularily reminiscent of some of the earliest Doctors... a fact which is underlined by the numerous references to classic who, from the revision of the title sequence to the Tardis's new interior - which is terribly similar to it's earliest on-screen incarnations. And even the villain, "The Great Intelligence" is a classic Who entity (for more info, check out the Wiki synopsis!)
And then there are the literary references, with clearly stated allusions to Sherlock Holmes, and less verbal but still delightfully front and center allusions to Mary Poppins (has Moffat been reading our tumblrs???).
For me it was an episode full of favorite moments. I love the visuals of Clara climbing the staircase... I love the humor... I love the "One word answer" challenge, and I absolutely adore the banter between Clara and the Doctor. In fact, although I am 100% a Doctor/River shipper, and prior to yesterday had absolutely no intention of shipping the Doctor and Clara, ever... I can't deny that there is some crazy chemistry there. I do hope they're going to handle it right, as - despite chemistry - we don't need another Rose situation. And even though the villains were somewhat underplayed... I think that was appropriate for a Christmas special.
I think Clara is going to be a fascinating companion to watch, and "The Snowmen" is going to rank right up there with "A Christmas Carol" in terms of popularity.