Doctor Who: The Caretaker

Doctor Who: The Caretaker September 27, 2014

The Doctor Who episode “The Caretaker” has more than one possible meaning, presumably intentionally. The Doctor goes undercover at the school where Clara teaches, as a “caretaker” or custodian. But what he is actually doing there is “taking care” of Earth, seeking to find and remove a deadly robot.

But the episode begins with Clara running back and forth between her life with the Doctor and her life with Danny. And so we actually multiple other instances of caretaking – the Doctor and Clara take care of each other in a variety of predicaments, Clara doesn’t tell Danny about her adventures, perhaps to protect him, perhaps to protect herself and their relationship.

Doctor Clara Danny CaretakerAnd in the Doctor’s concern about Clara’s relationship with Danny, he is trying to take care of her. Although very happy when he thinks Clara has chosen a man in a bow tie reminiscent of his previous regeneration, he is less thrilled with Danny. But as becomes clear, he’s concerned about whether he’s “good enough” for her.

There are a couple of religious phrases thrown in for no obvious reason – the Doctor says that it is time for the school assembly at one point, adding, “Go and worship something.” He also later uses the phrase “Sing Hosanna.”

And of course, the presence of heaven, the afterlife, the nethersphere at the end of the episode has religious overtones, but what exactly it is is still unclear. But we now see that it has, in addition to Missy, other people that “work” there.

The episode also explores the theme of who we are in the presence of various people, and which of them is who we “really are.” Particularly poignant is the highlighting of the role of mentors, people who push us in ways that enable and motivate us to do things that we never would have thought we could do. And when we have encountered such people, as a result we get the opportunity to “see wonders” (to quote Clara).

Dr Who Caretaker


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  • Anthony Lawson

    Another great episode. The one thing that I am finding disappointing though is the apparent lack of chemistry between Clara and Danny. They are supposed to be a couple yet their relationship seems wooden. I hope the dynamic between them get better as the season progresses. Other than that, I really like the direction that the show has taken.

  • Just Sayin’

    I thought this one wasn’t too bad. A decent if unexceptional story, though the robot could have been a lot more frightening. It didn’t look like it could blow up Tesco’s, never mind destroy the Earth.

    The Doctor comes across as an annoying git (if Mr. Pink was a real character, he’d have punched Who by now), so once again the script is letting Capaldi down. There’s also the relentless goofiness factor, which seems compulsory these days, compared to, say, Chris Eccleston who played the role straight. I’d welcome a return to that soberness; the clowning around becomes old very fast indeed (for me anyway).

  • guest2

    Disappointed not to see Missy close up, Courtney was an unexpected treasure, Danny seemed more alien and distant than the robot, the doctor’s razor repartee of shut up – predictable, Clara’s introduction of the doctor to the love of her life as an alien – what?, I forgive all if the that terrible new intro went away.

  • I wonder what’s behind the Doctor’s inability to see Danny as a Maths teacher and his constant insistence that he’s a PE teacher.

    • Kubricks_Rube

      I cringed through that whole first scene between them. I know it’s meant to reflect the Doctor’s aversion to soldiers, but Danny can’t know that and so it would be entirely reasonable for him to think this old white guy is constantly disparaging and making assumptions about his intellectual capacity for an even worse reason. (And it’s insulting to PE teachers too.)

      • Jonathan Bernier

        I find the chemistry between the three doesn’t work. Jenna Coleman had great chemistry with Matt Smith, but it’s just happening with Peter Capaldi. Both are great actors, but they seem to “click.” Likewise, I don’t feel the relationship between Clara and Danny. When she said she loved him I was like “Really?” I think either Moffatt’s writing style is still geared too much towards Matt Smith or this isn’t the right combo of actors. Or both.

    • Perhaps it is best to view it as the Doctor being deliberately rude. The brigadier ended up teaching math at school, and so the idea that a soldier can become a math teacher ought not to be something that the Doctor simply cannot fathom nor remember.