After some highs and lows on the action side, we’ve finally gotten a true character episode. More so even than what “Deep Breath” tried to be all the way back at the beginning of the series.
“The Caretaker”, was all about Clara and dealing with her two lives. The life at Coal Hill School teaching and being with Danny, and her danger-inducing thrill-seeking adventures with the Doctor.
It was really fun to see the scenes go back and forth between Clara’s two lives, and seeing how she handled one in one way, and the other in…well another. Especially as she had to make up lies on the fly to stymie Danny’s inquisitive looks.
The true crux of the episode though was when the Doctor came to Clara’s school as the titular character of The Caretaker in order to stop a plot of evil from happening. This made Clara uneasy, first that the Doctor was there, and the second being that someone or something could be threatening the students and the Doctor wouldn’t tell her what it was.
The tension throughout the episode was very nicely done. The Doctor being his calm and uppity self, the Clara trying not to break his “deep cover” yet still being rather cross with him, and Danny trying to figure out what the heck was going on. Add to that an evil alien robot that resembles Garrus from Mass Effect (look at it’s head) and you have the recipe for both fun and disaster.
For me, the best part of “The Caretaker” was when Danny messed up the Doctor’s plan, forcing a confrontation episodes in the making. It was hilarious all the way through, especially when Danny thought Clara was a spacewoman, “I thought you were from Blackpool…”.
The other great moment was the showdown between Danny and the Doctor, as one tried to show up the other, and prove who the other was. Capaldi delivered big on this scene, showing the anger he feels towards soldiers (something that was touched on in “Into the Dalek”), and Danny countered well with his “aristocracy” hatred. You know these two will be in the Tardis again soon, and heads will no doubt be continued to bash.
The ending was kind of hit or miss in regards to the villain, but it worked out to push the storyline, so I won’t judge it too harshly.
A couple notes before I finish. First off, throughout the beginning of the episode, all I could think about was, “What if a student took a shine to the Doctor and tried to be his friend? Would he bring them on the Tardis?” Enter delinquent Veronica Woods! “Yes, we have a spillage.”
Second, that River Song reference was awesome. Could you imagine if River was able to see the Doctor now? Oh the fun that would be had.
Finally, “Heaven” or the “Nethersphere” as it was called today finally made it’s return, along with Missy. What is going on here? We don’t know…yet. But we do have a guess that it’ll be revealed by at least the Series Finale…as the title of the final episode is “Death in Heaven”.
In the end, “The Caretaker” was a fun, character driven episode that set things up for hopefully a great backend to the series. We’re now six episodes in, let’s hope things continue to flow nicely!