As Clara’s double-life begins to take a toll on her, The Doctor goes into “deep cover” without her to neutralize a major threat to human-kind. When he’s introduced as the new Caretaker for her school, Clara suddenly finds herself between her boyfriend, Danny Pink, and the Doctor.
The Caretaker places us firmly back into some character development with the character driven story line as Danny and the Doctor finally meet and Clara attempts damage control as the two headstrong men clash. This episode was especially revealing toward some of what Twelve’s anger issues stem from. His protectiveness of Clara led him to compete for her time and ultimately count as part of why he disapproved of Danny at first.
The Doctor’s prejudices against soldiers continues to be a major theme and the other part of why he disliked Danny. We haven’t exactly figured out where that anger stems from, though the obvious reason would be the part he has played in various conflicts that resulted in poor outcomes and his guilt over them. Either way, Danny was courageous enough to stand up to the Doctor in a way we’ve never really seen someone do. Rory punched the Doctor several times during his tenure but their issues were more of Rory’s temporary insecurities and emotions, it wasn’t quite as intense and wasn’t stemming from the Doctor himself. While they were able to come to somewhat of a truce, it’s blatantly obvious that we’re in for more squabbling between the two as long as they both remain in Clara’s life.
Clara, on the other hand, continues to have brilliant banter with the Doctor. Mostly the lighthearted kind, but two instances in particular was a little more clue dropping than the rest. The first:
Doctor: Why do I keep you around?
Clara: Because the alternative would be growing a conscience of your own.
The Doctor is seemingly detached and heartless but turns around and disapproves of Danny because he’s not good enough for Clara? The anger, the resentment, all of these emotions that are typically beneath the Doctor but Twelve is still in his infancy in development. Eventually it’s going to wash out, just like Ten’s attitude did, and become something great (Ten, Ten, Ten!). This is probably all just some kind of defense mechanism or coping mechanism for dealing with all of the things he’s had to do, the choices he’s had to make, and the choices he wasn’t able to make. The Doctor has seem some stuff. It’s not always pretty and it’s difficult to cycle through companions the way he does and ultimately be (or at least feel like he is) alone in this universe.
The second part:
Doctor: I used to have a teacher who was exactly like you.
Clara: You still do, pay attention.
As much as each companion learns from the Doctor, each companion helps him in turn and not only providing friendship and a travel buddy. The various companions help the Doctor see the world through their eyes and give him perspective and help him grow as a person. Twelve needs Clara, he needs her to see him (Deep Breath), he wants her to choose to spend time with him (Time Heist), he wants to be her hero (Robot of Sherwood), but more importantly he needs her to teach him how to be compassionate again, to recapture that altruistic, happy-go-lucky Doctor we have come to know and love in his past three regenerations.
Beyond the character developments, the monster in this episode was entirely forgettable (I thought it was some form of a cyberman at first, to be honest). It served its purpose for setting up the story, but it was definitely the weakest part of this episode. The Promised Land pops up again with Missy, but she was too busy walking around the hallways to engage in the story so we got a glimpse at her personal assistant or a divine administrative assistant. The scene was a bit lackluster, aside from the new face, not much new information was presented about that mysterious plot line, anticipation continues to mount for the big reveal on that one.
The next episode is sans Moffat, so it will be interesting to see how the characters move forward after the intensity of this episode. Danny won’t be taking any flack from the Doctor and I doubt the Doctor is ready to lay down and let Danny get away with calling him out on things. Hopefully the writers will remember to make some other things in the story interesting besides how to make the two men fight in creative locations.