Doctor Who has had some great episodes and moments as it nears the halfway point of this season, but The Caretaker may just be the one episode where the show has found a groove that will help carve out the Capaldi era of time travel. On the surface, it’s a tale of the Doctor juggling the real world with his obsession to save the day. Underneath it all, it’s so much more.
And that’s because this episode packs a one-two punch of emotions and edgy writing. Let’s face facts, when you’re gallivanting around the galaxy and happen to face certain death on a weekly basis, the real world is going to seem tame in comparison. And that’s the predicament that Clara finds herself in, as her travels with the Doctor are starting to having an effect on her ability to function as a normal human being.
Things become even worse however, when The Doctor intrudes on her life, as he sets himself up as the school caretaker in order to trap a Skovox Blitzer, who is hanging around the 21st century because of him and the fact that his TARDIS happens to emit a rather constant amount of Artron energy. Yes, it is indeed the fault of the Doctor that a murderous robot is on the loose.
But it’s the Doctor’s distaste for soldiers that comes to light in this episode. After confusing one of Clara’s colleagues (who happens to bear a resemblance to a certain 11th Doctor) for her schoolyard crush, it’s up to the plucky companion to stop Danny Pink and the Time Lord from tearing one another apart.
And this is where Danny really comes into the show as his own character, because it feels like he is at times unable to escape his past as a soldier. Despite the fact that he wants to leave that life far behind him, the Doctor can’t think of him as anything more than a soldier and labelling him as a mere PE teacher. This isn’t the first time that the Doctor has been rude to a potential companion (Mickey the idiot!), but his attack eyebrows are set to kill when it comes to Danny.
And really, at the end of the episode, it all comes full circle. Much like the first Doctor and his granddaughter Susan, this Doctor has a paternal relationship with Clara. And he simply wants what’s best for her. Clara also gets a chance to shine, flatout telling him that he needs her more than she needs him. Clara is after all, the conscience of this Doctor and helps keep him in check.
But beyond those points, this was a rip-roaring episode. I don’t know if I’m ready for more Courtney Woods AKA Disruptive Influence, but I loved the small interactions that she had with the Doctor. And I’m digging this Doctor with each episode that I see. Yes he can be verbally abusive. Yes, he is a complete jerkass who isn’t infallible and he happens to have a darker side that is simmering underneath the surface. But you can’t help but admire the old Time Lord and his desire to help save the day.
With the Caretaker episode, Doctor Who is finally starting to click, and this series is starting to form a cast that has distinctive personalities and appeal.
Last Updated: September 29, 2014