I enjoyed “Time Heist,” but as the week wore on, I was less and less satisfied with it. “The Caretaker” just left me unimpressed from the start. (I did have extremely vivid dreams about being Twelve’s companion after watching it last night, though, for whatever that’s worth!) For starters, why did the Doctor appear just to tell Clara “no trip today”? He’s a time traveler. He can just come on that same day whenever he gets done with his business. I guess he really did think Clara wouldn’t recognize him in a different coat and just thought he was being clever, telling her he was going into “deep cover” and then being able to tease her about not seeing him.
At any rate, we’ve been waiting for Danny and the Doctor to meet for a while now, and this whole episode is basically devoted to that meeting. Even though we’ve been waiting, I’m glad we took that time. We’ve had a chance to actually see Danny and Clara get together. They’re still very new in the relationship, but there is a relationship there, and we have a sense of the two of them together, rather than just throwing them together for the sake of immediate drama.
Danny reacted with fear, but also with capability. I think his main shock was that Clara had been hiding her space life — he coped pretty well with the aliens and robots and stuff. I like that he has yet another answer to “Doctor who?” — a commanding officer, like others he’s had. The Doctor doesn’t like that at all, but I think he can tell there’s a whisper of truth to it. I liked the way they ended things, it turned out the Doctor was mostly thinking of Clara and worried a soldier would hurt her, but I’m not sure they’ve really addressed the Doctor’s soldier issue itself yet. I do really like his fatherly attitude to Clara though, and the new quality to their relationship. I can believe that it grew out of the relationship we’re told Eleven and Clara had, and it’s more real to me as a viewer because I can see it there, I’m not just told they’re besties.
But back to Danny and Clara and secrets coming out — I wonder if Danny can really trust Clara anymore, or if he will. She didn’t tell him about the Tardis, okay… It would be hard to tell him that and be believed, especially since the Doctor was/is so hostile to soldiers. But even when Danny SEES an alien robot and is nearly killed by one, and sees Clara and the Doctor bickering about the robot, and rightly demands answers, Clara still tries to lie to him. If I were in Danny’s position, that’s the point where I would start thinking she might not be a person I could trust, and eventually that would get the better of me. Plus, there’s Danny’s pointed observation that it’s magnificent things, wonders, that she didn’t want to tell him about. It’s a huge, dramatic, majestic part of her life she just didn’t think he should know about. (It’s all in character for her, I just don’t think it reflects well on that character. I’m not saying she should be written differently, because I love that she’s an individual now and her flaws make sense… I’m just saying I think this is gonna be a trust issue in the future, and I’ll be a bit upset if it’s just swept under the rug.)
We do have one arc-related scene in which we learn that Missy has a staff. I’ll point out that this new arrival to heaven is most definitely dead — we saw his charred hand — and he didn’t die because of or on behalf of the Doctor. But maybe his lack of direct connection to the Doctor is why Missy pawned him off on an underling?
In the end, I’m just not sure this episode was everything I wanted it to be. The Doctor going into “deep cover” as the caretaker creates some jokes, but no hijinx with the normals in the school administration or anything like that. (The culmination of the exchange with the problem student was great, though.) Clara gives Danny an invisibility watch so he can watch her and the Doctor interact inside the Tardis, but I feel like that was entirely for later plot reasons, and the scene itself wasn’t that dramatic or satisfying. The villain was perfunctory at best. I like that they gave a whole episode to the Doctor/Danny/Clara meeting, but that stuff is clearly not finished yet, and the episode itself wasn’t great.