New Show Recap: Doctor Who 8×06, “The Caretaker”

John Smith comes to work at the same school as Clara and Danny. What could possibly go wrong?

Living a double life is starting to take its toll on Clara. Most of the modern era companions have just gone off with the Doctor for long stretches of time, but Clara has a day job and a boyfriend and she keeps showing up for dates suspiciously tan or bedecked with seaweed. Just when she’s not sure how much longer she can keep up, the Doctor tells her they can’t go on an adventure because he’s going undercover. Deep cover. Clara is skeptical.

Turns out “deep cover” means resurrecting his John Smith alias and taking over as temporary caretaker (janitor) at Clara’s school. Awkward!

After reassuring Danny that the Doctor only gave her the same “welcoming wink” he gave everyone else, she confronts Twelve about his ability to pass as anyone but himself, which earns us a River reference. Awwww.

(Which leads one to wonder, were they really otters? Or have the Wholock fans infiltrated the writers’ room again?)

Clara’s worried that her school’s in danger. Oh, it is, but it won’t be once the Doctor’s done. That’s reassuring.

Meanwhile, a police officer catches a couple of students messing with a gate and chases them away. Hearing a noise coming from the building inside the fence, he goes in to flush out their presumed friend — and gets killed by a mysterious creature. That’s not good.

The Doctor sets up mysterious devices around the school and generally makes Clara’s life difficult. He follows her around and pops up in her classroom window to lecture her about Jane Austen. He meets Danny and somehow can’t get it through his head that an ex-soldier could teach math, not P.E., then he assumes Clara’s boyfriend is a teacher who looks remarkably like someone else we know, bowtie and all.

Of course, Clara thinks that he’s made the connection between Danny Pink and Orson Pink, since they look virtually identical and Orson had time-traveling great-grandparents. Nope, not Twelve. Humans confuse him.

There’s some banter with a student who ignores his “GO AWAY HUMANS” sign in the caretaker’s room because she needs paper towels; she asks why he has a police box and after calling him weird, which he agrees with, introduces herself as a “disruptive influence” (which of course this Doctor thinks really is her name, which makes him like her enough to later take her for a ride in the TARDIS).

Finally, Clara gets the truth out of him. There’s a Skovox Blitzer on the loose nearby, and if it sees any weapons it’s gonna blow shit up. But it’s ok, because he has an invisibility watch and a plan. She is NOT happy that he’s luring it to the school, or that his shenanigans are making Danny suspicious. Danny cancels their planned date night, then follows the Doctor around and picks up some of the mysterious devices. Which turns out to be a bad move; they’re chronodine generators that were aligned to send the Blitzer a billion years into the future, but after a shootout that nearly gets them all killed, the temporal disrupt only sends the alien forward 74 hours because he messed up the array. The Doctor is pissed that his plan was ruined by a soldier, especially once Clara convinces him that Danny’s her boyfriend, not not-Eleven. (Because she loves Danny! Dawwwww.)

After Danny freaks out that he’s dating a space girl and that the Doctor is her father (which Twelve doesn’t understand because he thinks they look the same age, if he’s being generous to Clara), and nobody buys Clara’s desperate attempt to pretend they were rehearsing a play, the truth comes out. Danny’s not happy that she’s been lying to him all this time, so she swipes the invisibility watch so Danny can follow her into the TARDIS and see that she’s not in love with the Doctor. Not that this fools Twelve for a second, and they quarrel because the Doctor reminds Danny an awful lot of some of his arrogant commanding officers.

Also, they need a new plan to get rid of the Blitzer since it’ll be prepared for the temporal disrupt when it gets back. The Doctor comes up with a contraption that looks like something out of Ghostbusters, but he miscalculated — it returns the next evening while the school’s open for Parents’ Night. Not. Good. Twelve tells Clara to use the sonic to lure the Skovox to him; Danny wants to help but the Doctor’s having none of that.

Good thing Danny still has the watch! He follows Clara; when the Doctor’s impersonation of a Skovox general doesn’t work as well as planned and the Blitzer sets his self-destruct to go off in mere seconds, Danny reappears and somersaults over the Blitzer to provide the distraction the Doctor needs to order it to shut down. Phew!

In the end, Danny and Clara’s relationship survives, so long as she doesn’t lie to him again. Since she hasn’t mentioned that whole thing about meeting him in his childhood and accidentally changing his name and telling him to become a soldier, we’ll have to wait to see if/how that plays out. The Doctor and “Disruptive Influence” ditch the deactivated Skovox in space, and he gets to do one last bit of caretaking when the whole experience is too much and she pukes in the TARDIS. After a few episodes without her, we also get another glimpse of Missy as the police officer killed by the Skovox gets introduced to the afterlife. Still a bit wary about where that story’s going…

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[E] Hillary

Hillary is a giant nerd and former Mathlete. She once read large swaths of "Why Evolution is True" and a geology book aloud to her infant daughter, in the hopes of a) instilling a love of science in her from a very young age and b) boring her to sleep. After escaping the wilds of Waco, Texas and spending the next decade in NYC, she currently lives in upstate New York, where she misses being able to get decent pizza and Chinese takeout delivered to her house. She lost on Jeopardy.

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