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Doctor Who

"Caretaker" (Aired September 27, 2014)

Samantha Wessel

The parting shot of last week's episode was the Doctor making a snide comment about Clara's date with Danny, leaving we viewers with the distinct feeling that the Doctor may still harbor feelings for Clara. This was first hinted at in the Series 8 premiere when the Doctor told Clara he wasn't her boyfriend. This wasn't so much a reminder to Clara as a reminder to himself. The thing about Clara: I don't think she was ever romantically interested in the Doctor. I think she loved Eleven (Matt Smith's Doctor), but not in a romantic sense. The Doctor allowed Clara to explore the universe and bring out a side of her she didn't know existed, and I think Clara is forever thankful and loves the Doctor for that. But after this week's episode, I think it is confirmed that Clara and the Doctor shippers will be disappointed. Let's get into it shall we?


The episode begins with Clara running back and forth between her life with the Doctor, and her new found romance with Danny. She always seems rushed and perplexed, and when Danny quizzes her about, she always has some witty excuse. We finally see Clara in the mirror telling herself she can't keep doing this. BUT WAIT A MINUTE- She's Clara Oswald, she can do whatever she wants cause she's a badass. After this resolve, Clara enters the TARDIS, but the Doctor informs her they won't be exploring the universe. Rather, he has a deep undercover mission to attend to, so he'll need to be on his own for the next few days. Clara seems annoyed at first, but then accepts it. She sees it as an opportunity to spend some real quality time with Danny over the next couple of days. 


Next, Danny, Clara, and other various teachers are in a staff meeting. (At this point, I noticed a Matt Smith lookin' mofo, bowtie and all,  and thought to myself "Huh, that's weird. Why would they cast that guy?") The headmaster introduces the new caretaker of the school and we see it's the Doctor. 




Just kidding. Obviously, we knew he was going to be the caretaker. Clara is very concerned about the school, but the Doctor assures her that even though the school is in danger, he's there to save the day. He tells her to continue living her life as if she doesn't know him. Clara acquiesces, without much of a fight, which is interesting. Does this mean that Clara now fully trusts the Doctor again? She seemed suspicious of him at first, but her willingness to accept this direction with no questions seems to show her complete trust in him. 


We then see two students hanging out by an alley. A police officer approaches them and tells them to return to school. The kids skedaddle off, but the officer hears something behind the gate the kids were in front of and goes to check it out. We then see a robot that incinerates the officer with some green lasers. Uh-oh! 


Back at the school, Clara is truly trying her best to stay out of the Doctor's way. But she sees Danny and her Matt Smith-lookin' co-worker talking to the Doctor, and she simply can't resist spying. After all, it's her boyfriend and her best friend talking. The Doctor finds out Danny was a soldier, which immediately turns the Doctor off. We know the Doctor's stance on soldiers - he's simply not a fan. It's very likely because he identifies strongly as a soldier on some level, and despises that part of himself. 


Anyway, Clara approaches the Doctor, but the Matt Smith co-worker starts talking to Clara. The Doctor thinks that this is her boyfriend and is absolutely delighted. This is where we find out that casting was 100% deliberate, and I know it's going to end up making me sad by the end of the episode. The Doctor is amused that Clara is attracted to someone that looks like his previous incarnation. He tells Clara he approves, but Clara thinks the Doctor is talking about Danny. Classic case of mistaken identity! What a rouse! (Those two sentences are dripping with sarcasm as they leave my fingers). 


The Doctor starts planting devices around the school. Though he tells Clara he won't explain what he's doing, he immediately explains what he's doing. He's using these devices to trap the robot monster we saw kill the police officer, and he's going to hide himself using an invisibility watch. The Doctor insists he does not need Clara's assistance, and tells her to go enjoy the night with her boyfriend.  I still can't tell if the Doctor was approving because he thinks Clara is interested in a Eleven-ish Doctor looking fellow and thus him on some level OR if it is some time of fatherly approval. Which brings a question to my mind that's been bothering me for a while: Do we know about Clara's parents? I mean, truly, has this ever been discussed? I feel as if we know about all previous companion's families and parental situations, but as far as I can recall, we know NOTHING about Clara's family. 


Clara finds Danny to tell her that she's all his that night, but Danny tells her he has other plans, and says they can see each other the next night after Parent's Evening. Clara is confused but seems to accept it, and agrees. I assume she's going to go help the Doctor even though he's declined her assistance.


Night has fallen, and we see Danny snooping around the school. He's very suspicious of the Doctor and Clara's relationship, and he's determined to find out what's going on. Danny removes one of the devices the Doctor planted to help trap the robot. Clara herself goes to find the Doctor to see if he does need her help. 


Meanwhile, we see the Doctor luring the robot into an empty auditorium where he's going to beam the robot into the future, thus saving the school and the planet. However, because Danny removed one of the devices, the Doctor's plan fails. Danny finds the Doctor in the auditorium, and the robot turns to kill him. Danny is able to avoid the blast. The Doctor is able to dispel the robot temporarily, but he is absolutely furious with Danny for disrupting his plan. He assumes because he's a soldier he is a fool. The Doctor tells Danny and Clara the robot will be back in 3 days, so now he has to formulate another plan.


Seeing this interaction, Danny realizes that the Doctor and Clara have more of a relationship than he was lead to believe. He jumps to the conclusion, after seeing the robot alien, that Clara is also from space, and that the Doctor is her space dad. This comment infuriates the Doctor as clearly he and Clara look the same age. The Doctor continues yelling at Danny, and Clara tells the Doctor that she loves Danny. Clara seems to shock herself with this statement, and definitely surprises Danny and the Doctor. The Doctor is furious that Clara is in love with a soldier. Clara and the Doctor then explain everything to Danny and show him the TARDIS. As Danny and Clara go to leave, the Doctor says "You explained me to him, but you haven't explained him to me." This is the most fatherly thing the Doctor could have said to her, and it is here that I realize Clara loves Twelve as her dad. Her apparent non-existence of parents means she has transferred parental affection to Twelve.


This love is further explained when Clara and Danny are at Danny's apartment. Danny is doing his best to grapple with all of the information he has received. He asks Clara if she loves the Doctor, and she explains she does, but not in the way she loves Danny. Danny is unsure still, saying he's not sure what Clara is really like, as he is unable to know how she acts around the Doctor. To prove to Danny that he in fact does know her, she slips him the invisibility watch so he can see Clara and the Doctor interacting. 


Clara enters the TARDIS and tries to go about her business with the Doctor as normally as possible, but she's a a little bit off. The Doctor doesn't' seem to notice anything at first, but then there's a change in his eyes, and you know he knows that Danny is there. He starts suggesting places he and Clara can go, but she refuses. Danny makes himself visible, realizing the Doctor knows he's there. Danny and the Doctor once again start fighting, and the Doctor kicks Danny out of the TARDIS. Clara stands and watches helplessly. She's torn between the two men she loves: one as her lover and one as her father. It's a similar triangle to Amy with the Doctor and Rory, though we know Amy would have chosen Rory any day. 


Clara and Danny are off to the parent-teacher conferences when the robot shows up, way ahead of schedule. The Doctor rushes to the conferences to retrieve Clara, though Danny thinks the Doctor is there for him as well. The Doctor gives Clara instructions on what to do to help him defeat the robot, and she does it, no questions asked. Danny accuses the Doctor of using Clara is a decoy. He sees the Doctor as a military officer, and Clara as his soldier. The Doctor insists this isn't the case, and refuses Danny's offer of assistance, telling him to stay out of the way.


We see Clara with the sonic screwdriver, distracting the robot, luring him to to the Doctor. She is running down the hallway when Danny spots her and follows after her to make sure she's ok. Clara manages to get the robot into the room with the Doctor, and his ghostbuster's-esque contraption. This machine the Doctor has quickly put together is meant to convince the robot that the Doctor is it's general, and it should take orders. The robot is about to self-destruct when Danny distracts the robot, does a completely unbelievable flip over the robot, and the Doctor is able to abort the self-destruction. 


Danny then tells the Doctor that he thinks he's "alright," and asks the Doctor's opinion of him. He explains to Clara the reason the Doctor is so upset about Danny and Clara dating is because the Doctor doesn't think Danny is good enough for Clara. The Doctor, very begrudgingly, admits Danny is ok and did something helpful, though he does not approve of the fact that he is a solider. The Doctor and Clara relationship is now truly a parental-child relationship at this point. The Doctor then takes the robot into the depths of space to be rid of it. 


We're back at Danny's apartment, and Clara and Danny are watching television. Clara asks Danny's thoughts on the Doctor following the day's events. Danny expresses his concern that Clara acted when the Doctor told her too, without question. Clara admits that she trusts him. Danny tells Clara that if the Doctor ever asks too much of Clara, she needs to tell Danny, because otherwise he wants to be able to help her. I'm not sure that Clara really needs his help, but I like that he cares about her. 


We then see the police officer from earlier talking to government suit type. He's explaining his interaction with the robot, and then realizes he doesn't remember how he escaped. The suit then tells the police officer he didn't make it, and he is in the after life/promised land, whatever your name for it is. We then see the woman who has referred to the Doctor as her boyfriend appear. He's handling the police officer because the woman has had a busy. 


Well, that's it. We're about halfway through this season, and I imagine this episode is a big set up to the rest of the series. Now that Danny is aware of the Doctor and Clara's adventures, I imagine he'll be tagging along, much to the Doctor's chagrin. And Danny's talk with Clara about the Doctor pushing her too far sets up a potential exit for Clara. Though it hasn't been confirmed that Jenna Coleman is leaving at the end of this series, it is looking more and more likely. Danny is going to offer a life, one that she seems interested in, and one we know she has as we met her great-great-grandson in "Listen." It also truly solidifies the parental relationship between the Doctor and Clara. In "Listen," Clara was the mother figure to the young Doctor, and became the most important companion for that reason, which means her inevitable departure has the potential to wreck the Doctor even more than Rose or Amy's departure. We've also learned that the Promised Land has more than one inhabitant, so perhaps it is some planet or universe that we will find out more about.