Yet again, the Doctor continues his pattern of looking for trouble rather than just finding himself in it, making this a very proactive Doctor indeed.
Instead of venturing out into the stars, the Doctor decides it’s high time to solve the crisis of Skovox Blitzer, a planet destroying being that the Doctor conveniently decides to take down at Clara’s school. His reasoning? Well, it’s hard to say. Maybe he wants to see just what sort of life Clara keeps returning to (I don’t think he’s ever dropped off and picked up a companion this many times in his life, and it also makes me feel a bit sad for Tegan, the one companion who just wanted to start her job at Heathrow Airport but the Doctor couldn’t get the darn time zone right).
But really, the Skovox Blitzer is a side show. The episode actually focuses on Clara’s boyfriend, Danny Pink, discovering the truth about Clara’s double life, and the Doctor’s inability to understand just what she sees in Danny (which I think half of the audience would agree with).
Reaction to this episode has been mixed, and it usually falls along the lines of how you feel about the Doctor’s opinion on soldiers, and how you feel about Danny Pink.
If you think the Doctor has been too heavy-handed about his dislike for soldiers over the last five episodes, ‘The Caretaker’ is not likely to excite you… because… well, he really goes all out. To me, this is a clear reaction to his last incarnation where he was at war (oh, and don’t forget his interaction with the War Doctor and his discovery of the truth behind what he did). He was a soldier, and he doesn’t want to be. He didn’t like who he was. Too bad Danny calls him on the BS and tells him that the Doctor is not a soldier, but something worse: an officer. This is something made all too clear when the Doctor sends Clara running as a decoy from an alien creature that can DESTROY PLANETS.
Now, Danny Pink… he’s also a dividing influence. Some find his attitude and moodiness to be sure signs of an emotionally abusive relationship. Others just don’t really know how Clara could have fallen in love so quickly (though we do have a montage at the beginning of the episode that shows that she’s been on a lot more dates than what’s we’ve seen until now). Where I stand is… didn’t we already get the reluctant boyfriend routine last series (and let’s not forget Mickey)?
Now, I’m all for Danny being there. ‘Doctor Who’ was always at its most enjoyable when the Doctor had more than one companion. But the dynamic is where I get stuck. I’m done with the reluctant boyfriend who calls the female companion and the Doctor on some of their more problematic aspects. It was interesting the first few times, but I want something more that isn’t the Doctor still brooding about the Time War. (I should mention that the Doctor has worked with soldiers in the past, though reluctantly in the beginning, so I don’t know why they would bring back Coal Hill School where Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright worked and not remember that he and the Brigadier were BFFs).
I don’t know where this story with Danny Pink is leading, but I fervently hope that it’s not a repeat of everything we’ve seen before in the new series. Now, some callback to Barbara Wright and Ian Chesterton, may be in order, and this is perhaps what they were going for. The Doctor’s first companions were a science and a history teacher, a formula that the writers may be paying homage to with Clara being an English teacher and Danny a math teacher. Indeed, with the inclusion of “disruptive influence” Courtney Woods, there is a chance that this season will be all the things the first season of ‘Doctor Who’ could have been had it had the special effects and world-wide love it does today. After all, two teachers, one precocious kid, and one grumpy Doctor was what got it all started. Why not see if that dynamic still holds some magic?
But with all this talk, I think we’ve forgotten the Skovox Blitzer. Usually, the aliens play some part in how people react to an episode, but frankly, you’ll not see me or anyone really engaging in it. As I said earlier, it’s a side plot. It’s there to get Danny, Clara and the Doctor on the same page… well, not page… in the same genre to make way for whatever this Missy plot is going to be in the future.
Over all, I enjoyed the episode. It was silly, and sweet, and though the least believable part was Danny flipping over the Skovox Blitzer, it was fun. I loved seeing Clara’s life outside of the Doctor. Still, I think story-wise it was not as strong as the past episodes have been, so, for character development and nothing else, I will give it