Doctor Who, S8 Ep6 — The Caretaker

There comes a time in every Doctor Who companion’s journey when real life collides with life with The Doctor. If there is a significant other on the outside of the TARDIS, he (and in New Who, it’s always a he) is inevitably looked down on by The Doctor as not nearly good enough. Poor Rory suffered an unreasonable amount to prove his love for Amy; Mickey was replaced — ultimately replaced by a clone, to add insult to injury.

Clara probably doesn’t know about Rory and Mickey’s treatment by The Doctor. Still, she has been keeping her relationship with Danny, now going on several months, with several TARDIS adventures between, to herself.

Until The Doctor declares that his next mission will be “deep cover” — and it turns out that it involves posing as a caretaker at Coal Hill School, where Clara and Danny teach. It’s all too much to keep separate, and she’s relieved when The Doctor says he knows who her boyfriend is, and he approves. Only he’s wrong about who she’s seeing — he assumes, quite narcissistically, that she’s dating the teacher who bares a striking resemblance to the 11th Doctor, bowtie and all.

Danny, he’s unimpressed with. Knowing he was once a soldier, The Doctor refuses to believe that he could be anything but a PE teacher, and insults him steadily.dws8e6dannyclaraThe Doctor isn’t just at Coal Hill to stalk Clara — the school is in real danger from the Skovox Blitzer, an alien robot hiding on campus and chanting “Problem. Solution. Destroy” before incinerating humans in his way. Skovox Blitzer has the killer instinct of a Dalek, without the retro design.

This come to a head when Danny starts discovering small blinking devices around the school, which leads him to walk in on The Doctor confronting Skovox Blitzer. The Doctor manages to get rid of the metal alien for the moment, but says it will be back in three days to destroy them all. And he blames Danny for interfering.

Clara isn’t having that. Aware that The Doctor still doesn’t know who her boyfriend really is, she tells him it’s Danny. The Doctor is taken aback. He doesn’t see how it’s possible  — Danny doesn’t fit into his idea of an acceptable partner for her, not least of all because he looks nothing like him (interestingly, his reaction to Danny mirrors the reaction by some of the fans, who complain that Danny doesn’t “look right” with Clara and basically isn’t The Doctor). Clara doesn’t buckle. She tells The Doctor she loves Danny.

Does Courtney have a future as companion?

Does Courtney have a future as a companion?

With Clara off trying to sort things with Danny (who is not happy to learn that she has been hiding all of this from him for months), The Doctor meets Courtney Woods, a student at Coal Hill who is just about as snarky and generally disruptive as he is. He acts unimpressed, but he sees enough in her that he shows her the inside of the TARDIS.

In the end, Danny saves the day, with some acrobatic fight moves that distract the Skovox Blitzer enough to allow The Doctor to shut it down for good. The Doctor slightly, grudgingly, acknowledges that Danny isn’t useless. It’s a difficult thing for him to face: Clara isn’t going to stay by his side forever.

But there’s Courtney. He takes her with him when he takes the metal shell of Skovox Blitzer to outer space to release it. She gets a bit of TARDIS-sickness, but she’d make a great companion for the 12th Doctor.

The episode ends with a guy Skovox Blitzer killed earlier in the episode talking to a man at a desk about his alien encounter. He can’t recall how he got away. Of course, he’s dead. He’s shown a long corridor (shades of Being Human’s Purgatory). Missy appears, apparently too busy to welcome the guy himself. This isn’t the garden-like Heaven we’ve seen before. Now that I think about it, I think each glimpse of the afterlife has been different. I don’t know if that necessarily makes it, or Missy, more interesting. At this point I could still do without a long convoluted arc.