Previously on Doctor Who: Things got a little bit timey-wimey, Ocean’s Eleven-y.
Three cheers for character development!
Here We Go Again
The Doctor and Clara find themselves in a spot of trouble, chained to obelisks in a desert without any options for escape. But escape they do, and Clara makes it back in time for a date with Danny, who notices her sudden tanness right away. Fast forward through a few other adventures that lead right into dates, and it’s clear that Clara is burning her candle at both ends trying to spend time with both the Doctor and Danny.
One day, though, the Doctor has “a thing,” and doesn’t need her to tag along. Although Clara’s suspicious, she takes his aloofness as a chance to hang out a little more with Danny. The two meet up at school, and Danny questions why she’s being so mysterious. She brushes him off, but it’s pretty obvious that he’s not satisfied with her answer.
In the breakroom, all of the teachers are introduced to the new temporary caretaker, who happens to be the Doctor, masquerading as John Smith. Clara immediately questions why he’s there, but he won’t tell her exactly what’s up, just that no one is safe. This declaration is made truth when a local police officer, who goes looking for a truant student, and winds up getting killed by some sort of robotic creature.
In class, Clara’s listening to a student read when the Doctor pops his head in the window. Clara rushes to ask why he’s there, but he continues to evade her questions. He does, however, correct her on the publishing date of Pride and Prejudice, which makes her a little snippy. He leaves, and she dismisses her class to go after him.
She finds him in the schools courtyard, messing around with the electricity. Danny and another teacher are talking to him about how Danny might be able to help, because he’s a soldier. The Doctor keeps assuring him that a P.E. teacher won’t be any help, and even though Danny reiterates that he’s a maths teacher, the Doctor just won’t believe him.
Another teacher comes up to Clara and begins talking about Shakespeare. The Doctor takes a look at this new guy—who happens to have brown, floppy hair and sports a bow tie—and makes an assumption that he’s Clara’s boyfriend.
Later in the day, Clara finds the Doctor, and he finally tells her why he’s there: a Skovox Blitzer is nearby, and it’s very dangerous. He tells her about his plans to send it a billion years into the future, and that he doesn’t need her help, that she can go “canoodle” (Oh, Doctor. You’re so old sometimes. It’s cute.) with her boyfriend. When he tells her that he approves of her choice, she beams, not knowing that the guy he approves of is not Danny.
The Doctor goes looking for the Blitzer to draw it into his trap. Danny, however, has become suspicious of the mysterious caretaker, and finds some of the devices the Doctor has been leaving around the school. The Doctor lures the Blitzer into the auditorium, but Danny, and then Clara, interrupts, and his meddling with the devices causes the Doctor’s plan to only work in part. The Blitzer is sent into the future, but only a few days.
Danny’s shocked by the whole scene, and jumps to the conclusion that Clara’s from space—and that the Doctor is her space dad. The Doctor gets angry that Danny is the boyfriend, not the other teacher who looked awfully like him from a previous regeneration. Clara tries to make it better by showing Danny the TARDIS, but nothing quite makes sense. They talk things out, but Danny questions who she is, really, since she apparently leads double lives.
Clara again tries to make it better by showing Danny that she’s the same woman regardless of who she’s with, him or the Doctor. Nothing’s resolved, though, and Danny and the Doctor just get into a fight.
The Doctor tries to prepare for the Blitzer’s return, and Danny and Clara prepare for Parents’ Evening. (I’m assuming this is like an American school’s Open House?) But all plans are thrown out the window when the vortex re-opens and the Blitzer reappears days early. The Doctor sends Clara to be a decoy, and Danny tries to help, but the Doctor’s still having none of him. He follows, regardless, and helps to distract the Blitzer when the Doctor needs it most. The two come to an understanding when Danny realizes that he just has to prove to the Doctor that he’s good enough for her.
The episode drew to a close with the police officer from earlier talking with a young man in a very austere office space. Turns out that the police officer has reached the afterlife/The Promised Land, and the young man is helping him because Missy is quite busy. She certainly doesn’t look cheerful when she walks into the hall.
Don’t Blink or We’ll Exterminate
This episode seemed to be more about character development with Clara and Danny—and the Doctor, in a way—than the actual villain, which was the Skovox Blitzer. The Blitzer seemed more like an afterthought, and not a very original or scary one at that. It kind of seemed like a Dalek dressed in a different suit, with green laser beams rather than blue.
The New Face
Even when he’s crabby and persnickety, the Doctor sticks up for those he cares about. And in this particular episode, he was definitely acting like a father figure to Clara, or at least a protective older brother. I enjoy this dynamic much more than the hints of a romantic relationship. I also really enjoyed that he mentioned River; I appreciate when all that’s come before isn’t erased, and this series has been filled with references to the other doctors who have come before, far more than previous iterations.
My favorite Doctorisms of the episode:
Doctor: “So, you recognized me then.”
Clara: “You’re wearing a different coat!”
Doctor: You saw straight through that.”
Doctor: “Nope, sorry. I can’t retain that. I tried, it’s just not going in.”
Doctor: “Never lose your temper in the middle of a door sign.”
Companion Annoyance Level: Donna
Companion Annoyance Advisory System
Clara: Severe Risk of Annoying Entitlement
Martha: High Risk of Ridiculous Mooning
Donna: Significant Risk of Overbearing Bossiness
The Ponds: General Risk of Bothersome Smothering
Rose: Low Risk of Irritating Smugness
- I thought I was going to like Clara this episode. She wasn’t being totally needy and she is so much more likeable when she plays off of Danny. But then she snapped at the TARDIS and the door closed. Mmmm, nope. Not a fan.
- Danny, on the other hand, really pulled out all the stops this episode. He finally got tired of not knowing what was up with Clara, and he called her on it. He didn’t let himself get walked all over when the Doctor tried to shut him out, either. The flip over the Blitzer was a tad bit silly, but it worked. Plus, he’s a total sweetheart, and—even as a very independent woman—I kind of can’t help but adore a guy with a bit of knight in shining armor syndrome.
I’m still really enjoying this series, which, after the disappointment that was series seven, is such a great thing to be able to say. This episode went a long way toward Danny becoming a more major character, which is also exciting. (Even though she’s gotten better, I’m still going to be wholly OK if/when Clara leaves.) There wasn’t quite as much of the Doctor in this episode as I would have liked, but that’s OK, too. Sometimes you gotta give some love to the secondaries.
But, what did you think of “The Caretaker”? How do you feel about the changes in the Danny/Clara dynamic? Were you excited by the episode’s little glimpse into Missy’s realm? Let’s discuss in the comments.