The Ninjabot

The Doctor’s lesser known title – “The Caretaker” Doctor Who Review

Posted on September 28, 2014 at 12:27 pm by Darth Shiva

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Hello all! I always try to keep the spoilers down to a bare minimum, but I will give you the warning just in case!!

Tonight’s episode, “The Caretaker”, was the sixth of the season, and most likely the midpoint.  I think it was the first time we see the seeds being planted for the end of Clara Oswald as a companion.  As any good Doctor Who fan knows, the companions change as regularly as the doctor, sometimes more so, and Clara has been with the Doctor since about midway through last season,  and has been through the Doctor’s change from Eleven to Twelve (Matt Smith to Peter Capaldi).  Some of the previous companions have left because circumstances forced them to and some as a choice.  I believe that Clara is being set up as someone who will choose to stop travelling with the Doctor because of the way her life on Earth is going, and tonight’s episode definitely focused on that.

We’ve seen Clara struggle with the duality of her life with the Doctor, travelling through time and space, and with the Doctor-Who-The-Caretakereveryday normalcy of dating and working.  At the start of “The Caretaker”, we see that as she becomes more serious with ex-soldier turned Math teacher, Danny Pink. It becomes more and more difficult to hide her life of travelling through space and time from him.  Often she shows up to dates still marked by her last adventure, and Danny begins to question her on this.  The Doctor drops Clara off at her house, telling her that he has to do “a thing” and that she can’t help him, so it’s time to get on with her regular life and he’ll see her when he sees her.  She immediately becomes suspicious, but as the Doctor refuses to elaborate beyond stating that he is going deep undercover, she takes off to what she believes will be a time without him.

Of course, as the show is called Doctor Who, and not Clara Oswald, it doesn’t stay this way for long, and the Doctor shows up as the new temporary Caretaker, believing himself to be well disguised with a different jacket.  We find that this new incarnation of the Doctor is terrible at blending in with humans, and probably should have tried to channel Ten a little more (David Tennant as John Smith was able to pass himself off as a physics teacher during the Rose years and spent quite a while as a teacher in 1913 with Martha).  But perhaps 1200 years of memories make it hard to remember how he behaved as a human for the small amount of time he did.  Clara questions him until he reveals that the school is in danger from a deadly dw-12_ep6_06209_largealien that has enough firepower to destroy the world. Since he has not told her his plan or included her in its execution, Clara deduces that it means the school is at risk and becomes determined to find a way to help out.

Meanwhile, the Doctor realizes that Clara’s boyfriend, is at the school he works at and assumes that she has fallen for a very Matt Smith-esque colleague, down to his floppy hair and bow tie (bow ties are cool, remember?) and tells her that he approves wholeheartedly of the new man in her life.  Clara, assuming that the Doctor has figured out about her relationship with Danny, is thrilled that he approves and rushes off to spend a quiet evening “canoodling” with him.  Danny, however, has become suspicious of the Caretaker, and blows off his date with Clara to find out what he’s up to.

Things come to a head when the Doctor realizes that Danny is Clara’s boyfriend and Danny realizes that Clara has been hiding an entire life with the Doctor from him.  The Doctor has never hidden his utter disdain for soldiers and doesn’t bother to do it now.  Clara must now find a way to make each of the men in her life understand what she sees in the other.  Danny asks her who she is when she’s with the Doctor and she tries to convince him that she’s the same no matter who she’s with.  After an ugly confrontation between the two men, Danny points out that while he may have been a soldier and soldiers carry out orders, people like the Doctor are the officers, the ones who order others to their death.  Though things worked out in the end for all of them, Clara is forced to promise Danny that she will tell him if the Doctor ever pushes her beyond her limits, indicating to me that Danny sees something about their TwelvePinkOswaldTARDISrelationship that Clara doesn’t yet. This is sure to lead to her being forced to make a choice between the two men in her life.

This situation has some parallels to Eleven and the Ponds, but since Amy Pond was a little girl when she first met the Doctor, all those in her life grew up with her stories and belief in him, so when Rory meets The Doctor for the first time, it’s more like meeting an imaginary friend come to life than it is meeting an alien that your girlfriend has been travelling through space and time with.  He seems to take the news much better than others would, probably because of all the things he’d seen as a soldier, but that knowledge also comes with the price of realizing that the Doctor is turning Clara into a soldier for him.  The relationship between Twelve and Clara has been evolving into something more and more interesting to me, ever since he told her why he changed into the persona of someone older.  It seems as though he has feelings for her that he doesn’t want to have, and so deliberately distances himself, yet he feels protective of her as a brother or uncle would at the same time.  All in all, this new incarnation of the Doctor and this season has been fun to watch and made a companion I wasn’t really very excited about in Series 7 a much more interesting person.

I give this episode a solid B.  It delved into the idea of a companion trying to lead a normal life outside of time with the Doctor as well as the consequences of trying to do so and laid the groundwork for a possible new companion in the future.

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