The Caretaker, or perhaps a better title for this episode would be ‘Boyfriend Confusion’, is one of those episodes of Doctor Who, which has nothing to do with space or time, or running, or adventures, it’s a homespun story, which centres around truth, love and betrayal.
But as with so much of Doctor Who, it’s all that, and a lot more.
Let’s get on with the review.
Although first introduced way back in episode 2, Into the Dalek, The Caretaker is where we learn more about, and get to know Danny Pink.
Arriving not long after the departure of former male companion Rory Williams, and belonging to the same modern era, which also featured Mickey Smith, Danny is somewhat of a throw-back when it comes to male regular leads.
While Danny may be nice, and brave, he’s also bland, and no amount of war related angst can lift him out of this mire, especially when he’s partnered with Clara Oswald, and against The Doctor.
I am aware that the Whovian fandom is deeply divided when it comes to Danny’s actions, and while I do agree he can come off as seriously controlling, I also think he has a point in wanting to get Clara away from The Doctor.
Bear with me on this…
At no point in The Caretaker does The Doctor endear himself to Danny, and that’s no real surprise, because The Doctor is on full belittling, and patronising mode from the minute he learns that Danny was at one time a soldier.
But, so much, so 12th Doctor.
The problem for Danny really starts when he sees the sort of danger The Doctor is happy to put Clara in, we as the audience know that Miss Oswald is a willing and active participant, but Danny doesn’t, all he sees is an opinionated, and overbearing older man, and a much younger naive woman.
Danny is after all a human, from the early 21st century, and however unenlightened his opinion of The Doctor and Clara’s relationship may be, it’s based on his own cultural assumptions.
Further more, Danny was once a soldier, which means in understands danger, and at least something of the danger that Clara is putting herself in, for him this is all very, very serious, while it’s just another day at the office for The Doctor and Clara.
While Clara tries her hardest to put Danny’s fears to rest, her actions along with The Doctors just seem to underline all of his misgivings, and it’s Danny’s quick thinking, and soldier training, in the end that saves all of them.
So, in conclusion, while Danny’s behavior may be controlling in later episodes, I feel that in The Caretaker at least, he’s justified in his concern for Clara, and dislike of The Doctor.
The Double Lives of Clara Oswald.
The Caretaker finds Clara in the middle of an affiar, with her essentially cheating on both Danny Pink and The Doctor.
Clara is the first companion to date in the series, while Rose Tyler and Amy Pond were already partnered up with Mickey and Rory, respectively, Clara undertakes a new relationship, while aboard The Tardis.
Only well, she doesn’t…
Because Clara is the first companion since, the excellent Liz Shaw, not to live/regularly live, aboard The Tardis.
While Rose, Martha Jones, and Donna Noble, all spent some time away from The Tardis, visiting their families, but while travelling with The Doctor, The Tardis was always their home.
But from Clara’s first days on The Tardis, there has always been something of a seperation between Church and State.
Initially the deal was the Doctor would return Clara back to the world of her responsibilites after each adventure, this was because at the time Clara didn’t want to just run out on the children in her care.
But after Angie and Artie Maitland were sucked into plot hole oblivion, from where no character ever returns, Clara went and got a job as a teacher, and the deal between her and The Doctor remained the same.
While it has been shown that Clara does in fact have a bedroom on The Tardis, and that she leaves her clothing and marking behind there, Clara is the first companion of NuWho to clearly want boundries between her ‘real’ life and her travels with The Doctor.
In short, Clara is trying to have it all, and for her that means paying extra rent on a flat, keeping deadlines with her job, fighting aliens, and having a boyfriend, and a sort of Space Dad.
The Caretaker is the episode where the spaces in Clara’s perfectly ordered world finally merge, and the outcome leaves her questioning her relationship with The Doctor, along with her desire to keep travelling.
Series 8 was supposed to see Clara’s final adventures with The Doctor, and this push/pull arc between real life and Tardis Crew life, seems a good place to begin setting up for her exit, in the end none of this ground work really pays off.
Overall I give The Caretaker 7.9 out of 10. The jokes are still funny, and the interactions between The Doctor, Clara and Danny are still as charged as they were on first viewing.
However, The Caretaker does fall down when it comes to the monster, which is just too cute looking to be any real threat, despite the lazers, and the shoehorning in of the after life/’mysterious woman’ BigBad.
Clara wears a range of looks in this episode, however I’m going to focus mainly on her white diamond shirt and shorts outfit, and her maroon, moon clips confection.
This look is another 10, and you can find my own steal her style version here.
Clara is on full autumn leaf mode here, it’s another 10. Find my version of the look here and the moon clips can be found here.
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