Clara’s two worlds combine as The Doctor does a bit of moonlighting at the
Coal Hill School in The Caretaker.
This episode begins with a montage showing Clara struggling to live two
lives at once, her “normal” life as a teacher with Danny Pink, and
her life adventuring in time and space as The Doctor’s Companion.
This whole montage draws the parallel of a woman cheating on her partner, and
in that it succeeds reasonably well. We get the distinct impression that
something’s going to give pretty soon.
After The Doctor leaves Clara behind to go “Undercover” She
appears to have time to focus on Danny, but naturally The Doctor is going
undercover at Coal Hill School as John Smith, the temporary replacement
Caretaker. Hilarity ensues.
The Threat of the Skovox Blitzer is fairly minor, which is fine, because The
Doctor straight up tells us he can handle it easily. There is no discovery of
the threat, as The Doctor already knows about it. There is no investigation, as
The Doctor already has a plan, and even when that goes wrong he seems to figure
out a fall-back plan with minimal fuss. Sadly, if the majority of screen time
doesn’t even involve the monster of the week in any way, the focus of this
episode becomes Danny’s discovery of Clara’s life with The Doctor.
This all puts the episode squarely in the category of that I like to
call “The Companion Show Featuring The Doctor“. In
retrospect this has been a bit of a trend throughout the season, particularly
in Listen, but so far it’s not taken up the majority of an
episode. I thought (or hoped) we’d gotten past this issue once Clara stopped
being The Most Important Person In The Universe™. Once the mystery of her
origin was solved, she could become just another travelling companion for The
Doctor. Hopefully the resolution of the Danny situation will reduce the focus
on Clara and allow The Doctor more time in the limelight.
The scene with The Doctor mistaking Adrian for Clara’s boyfriend was strange
and has left me feeling a bit annoyed. There’s two ways to take this. One,
general arrogance from The Doctor that Clara would want someone who looked like
he did, because that means she still wants him; or two, a fairly obscure kind
of paternal feeling where The Doctor would only approve of someone who was
somehow like him. I’d like to think it was meant to be option two, but
something tells me that’s not really what they were going for here.
The Doctor’s irrational hatred of soldiers outlined in Into The
Dalek was clearly designed to work with this episode, but
despite this not fitting with established canon (The Doctor has been
friends with several soldiers), Danny’s response to The Doctor was actually
Yet again we are treated to a scene in the Nethersphere, but this time Missy
seems to have her cranky pants on and is reportedly “too busy” to
deal with the poor dead policeman. For the first time since the Promised Land
arc began, I am actually intrigued. I still don’t really care who Missy is, but
my interest is piqued as to why she would be annoyed.
Overall, this is a pretty nothing episode. It does well enough considering
it’s entire point is to get The Doctor and Danny introduced to each other, it’s
just I like my light science fiction show about aliens and time travel to focus
a bit less on a single character’s love life and more on, you know, the aliens
and time travel.