“The Caretaker” was co-written by Gareth Roberts and Steven Moffat. This was probably the campiest and rom/com-iest episode since Capaldi took over as The Doctor. I’ve watched this episode a few times now and I can’t find any glaring reasons to dislike it, but, I can’t find any reasons to really like it either. The Doctor’s hatred of soldiers seems more pronounced in this episode and that’s done mainly to build tension between The Doctor and Danny Pink finally meeting. We see more of a father/daughter relationship with The Doctor and Clara than we’ve seen before and it plays out once Danny and The Doctor realize who each other are. The bad guy in this one is scary but under used and there’s this new character that I’m rather nonplussed about.
Almost every episode has had a great opening and this was no exception. It’s a quick montage of Clara trying to juggle life with The Doctor with life outside the Tardis. At one point she questions whether or not she can do it anymore, but, quickly decides she can make it all work out. The Doctor arrives back at the school but this time he doesn’t need Clara’s help. He’s on his own mysterious mission. Clara returns to work and during the morning teacher’s meeting a new caretaker, John Smith, is introduced. It’s The Doctor! The meeting ends and Clara rushes back into the room to find out what The Doctor is doing, they argue for a while, and The Doctor makes a nice River Song reference. I hope we get to see more callbacks to previous Doctors. We then cut to a couple of boys from the school playing video games outside of an abandoned building when a police officer approaches and tells them to go back to school. He then hears some noises from inside the building and, thinking it’s more kids, goes in to investigate. However, it quickly becomes apparent that it is no kid, it’s the Skovox Blitzer, a terrifying war machine that is capable of taking out an entire planet on its own. The Blitzer quickly proceeds to kill the police officer, burning him to a crisp.
Meanwhile, The Doctor interrupts Clara’s class by climbing up the wall and peeking in the window. They argue a bit about when Pride and Prejudice was written before he leaves and the class ends and Clara runs after him. She finds him messing around with the electrics and speaking to Danny and another teacher Adrian (Edward Harrison) who looks an awful lot like Matt Smith, bow tie and all. The Doctor finds out the Danny was a soldier and therefore cannot get it straight that he’s a math teacher and not a P.E. teacher. I did enjoy that little bit, it was very reminiscent of the Micky/Ricky issue he had in the first series. Clara does her best to try and keep The Doctor from embarrassing her and gets Danny out of there with no issues, but, the Matt Smith lookalike English teacher approaches her to talk about Shakespeare and The Doctor notices the resemblance and we get to see Capaldi play his Doctor as flattered for the first time. It was weird.
What The Doctor has been doing is placing these small, but conspicuous, devices all around the school. He finally gets them all placed and heads back to the Tardis where he is interrupted by Courtney Woods played by Ellis George, Courtney is a student at the school and introduces herself to The Doctor as “Disruptive Influence”. She’s just that and definitely get on The Doctor’s nerves. I don’t blame him one bit. She badgers him about his sign, his police box, the green light in that box to which The Doctor gives some great one liners in response.
Clara comes in as Courtney is leaving to confront The Doctor about putting the school in danger by being there. He shows her he’s been working on a scanner and shows her that it’s the Skovox Blitzer that he’s been looking for. He then tells Clara his plan which involves and invisibility watch to help him lure the Blitzer to the school where he can send it through a temporal rift where it will never get back to Earth. Clara wants to help The Doctor, but, he claims not to need her help and tells her to go kanoodle with her boyfriend, who he thinks is that Matt Smith lookalike. Clara happily obliges, but, when she meets up with Danny they both seem to be alright with rescheduling their date. Clara then heads back to help out The Doctor while Danny decides to investigate the “caretaker” after having found the devices he was leaving around the school. Danny inevitably ends up walking right into The Doctor’s trap for the Blitzer after it has arrived. The Blitzer fires at Danny before The Doctor opens up the rift and it slowly sucks the Blitzer through. During all the action, Clara enters the room and now has to try to explain to Danny what is going on. This leads to one of the worst moments I’ve seen on the show in which Clara tries to convince Danny that The Doctor and her were rehearsing a play. It’s the most ludicrous excuse which no intelligent adult would ever believe, luckily, Danny seems equally as insulted. Sorry Clara, a rare miss. The scene does get better when it’s revealed that Danny is actually Clara’s boyfriend and due to The Doctor’s insistence, she admits that she’s in love with him. The Doctor seems to cool down a bit at this point and allows Clara to explain who he is, he even lets Danny see the inside of the Tardis. The Doctor is not happy though and explains to Clara that her job is not finished; “You’ve explained me to him, but you haven’t explained him to me.”
Clara and Danny go home to talk more about what’s going on with everything…another rom-com scene that had me rolling my eyes. Danny keeps asking her all these questions about why she does it and he keeps accusing her of lying to him. He wants to see what she’s like with The Doctor, so, Clara comes up with another brilliant idea to give Danny the invisibility watch so he can sneak into the Tardis with her while she talks to The Doctor. This leads to a very awkward scene where The Doctor obviously knows Danny is there while Clara lies a couple times to The Doctor. The Doctor, who is obviously upset at Danny’s presence decides to take them for a trip, awkwardly insulting Danny until he turns the watch off. Danny and The Doctor have a very heated argument over each other’s character. The Doctor dislikes Danny because he is a soldier, but, Danny can see right through The Doctor for who he really is, an officer. Danny mocks The Doctor quite a bit in this scene and The Doctor’s reactions are actually very childish. The scene made me pretty uncomfortable and I loved it, by far the best scene in the episode. Danny and Clara storm off and Courtney mysteriously appears again. Okay, side note, this Courtney girl keeps showing up at the strangest times and this isn’t the first episode in which she’s done this. Her appearances are so strange, that it almost makes you wonder if she has some larger role to play, maybe as a villain. We know that she will actually be going on a trip to the moon with The Doctor and Clara in next week’s “Kill the Moon”. I don’t have any problems of the episodes that involve children in the plot, it is supposed to be a kids show after all, but, I can’t stand it when the kids travel with The Doctor. Hopefully it’s just a one shot and I’m just overreacting.
Danny and Clara are at parent’s night when the Blitzer makes his return earlier than The Doctor predicted and he finally needs her help. She ends up leaving parent’s night and Danny inevitably follows her out. They find out that The Doctor has a plan to lure the Blitzer to the caretaker’s shed using Clara as bait. All he needs from Danny is to leave them alone. As Danny heads back to parent’s night he sees Clara being chased by the Blitzer and decides to turn on the invisibility watch and follow them. Clara gets back to the shed and The Doctor has made this machine that makes the Blitzer think he’s its superior officer. The Doctor tries to get it to shut itself off but gives it the incorrect code so the Blitzer initiates self destruct mode. The Doctor needs the Blitzer distracted while he can fix his machine; that’s when Danny makes his heroic entrance, leaping over the Blitzer and giving the Doctor enough time to give the Blitzer the correct codes and the Blitzer shuts itself off. It’s at this point that Danny realizes why The Doctor is so angry at him. He needs to be good enough for Clara and The Doctor isn’t sure he is. Clara points out that he just saved the world and The Doctor says “Good start.”
We next see The Doctor dumping the Blitzer into space and he’s taken Courtney with him. Although, she is more sick than initially impressed and actually ends up vomiting inside the Tardis. Meanwhile, Danny and Clara are relaxing at home when Danny asks Clara to promise him one thing: that if The Doctor ever pushes her too hard, to tell him, and if she doesn’t it’s over between them. Clara agrees. I find his constant obsession with her lying, even when she’s not, to be a bit off putting and I’m not sure why they decided to go in that direction, I’m also not sure why Clara puts up with it.
I didn’t love this episode or hate this episode. It had some great scenes and dialogue, and the monster was scary, but it played too much like a rom-com for me to have any real lasting interest. No other grade than a C makes sense for this one. I personally know some people who are going to love it and others who will hate it, but, what did you think about it? Let us know below!
All pictures of Doctor Who are owned by the BBC.