The Doctor has passed himself off as many things, but a school caretaker may be a bit of a stretch. Still, it’s part of a plan to fend off another alien threat. Secrets will be revealed in this episode, and rumors that Jenna Coleman may be set to leave may get a bit stronger.
Clara Oswald is a companion that’s unique in the history of Doctor Who. Instead of dropping everything to travel with him, she’s been able to travel the universe and hold down jobs as a nanny and a teacher at Coal Hill School. That school has a special connection with the Doctor, because that’s the school his granddaughter, Susan, attended, and two its teachers wound up traveling in his TARDIS.
Thing is, her two worlds are coming close to colliding. One moment, she’s on a desert planet chained to a pole being threatened by space piranhas, the next she’s sharing a pint with Danny Pink (Samuel Anderson), having to explain her sudden tan. Suddenly, the Doctor says he has to go undercover for a “thing”.
The next day, the Coal Hill staff is introduced to a new caretaker named John Smith, after the regular caretaker is out with the flu. He looks quite familiar to Clara. It’s the Doctor in a different coat. Not much of a disguise, she thinks. He admits the regular caretaker was hypnotized. She doubts he can pass himself off as a human, although he claims he once lived with otters for a month after he had a big argument with River Song.
Meanwhile, an officer (Andy Gillies) spots a couple of truants and tells them to head back to school. Then, he investigates something in an abandoned building. He meets the alien threat, a robot called a Skovox Blitzer. It’s a very painful death for the officer.
All the while, Clara tries to get the Doctor to be more honest about his mission. She even asked if his previous companions let him do what he’s doing. He eventually reveals he wants to find the Blitzer before he unleashes enough explosives to blow up the school and everything else. He also has a special watch that makes him invisible.
He gets a good look at Danny, and doesn’t like what he sees. The Doctor keeps calling Danny a PE teacher, although he really teaches math. He’s also aware Danny is a soldier, something he doesn’t like. It’s puzzling to a lot of fans why the Doctor doesn’t like the military. After all, he knew a Brigadier who was a very good friend.
The Doctor also mistakes a teacher named Adrian (Edward Harrison) as Clara’s boyfriend, mainly because of the bow tie.
Someone else is noticing the Doctor, a student named Courtney Woods (Ellis George). She asks questions about the TARDIS, mainly because she’s never seen a police box before. He says she should have noticed his sign, “Keep Out”, which was really “Go Away Humans”.
It’s not long before Danny gets involved, especially after the Doctor plants small time mines all over the school. They’re supposed to teleport the alien far, far away from Earth. However, Danny moved one of the mines. The Blitzer gets sucked into the vortex, but it may be back in three days.
Danny has a million questions, and Clara reluctantly has to answer them. She admits the Doctor is an alien, but Danny mistakes her for one, too. He also gets a peek at the TARDIS. It’s almost similar to a girl introducing her boyfriend to her odd family. It’s a lot to take in, finding out your girlfriend has a double life. Yet, the Doctor still gives Danny a hard time. Maybe the current Doctor is rather grumpy, but he should have eased off on Danny. This may be the start of Clara deciding if she’ll have to choose between the TARDIS or Danny.
That seems to be the case when they are finally alone. He wonders why she travels with the Doctor. She says because she sees wonders and it’s exciting. Yet he wonders why she can’t share it with him, if she does love him. Maybe she’s worried he can’t handle it.
Danny sneaks into the TARDIS, thanks to the Invisibility Watch that Clara gives him. He sees the Doctor working on something that will stop the alien. The Doctor pretends to launch the TARDIS, because he knows Danny’s there. Apparently Danny has his prejudices, too. He compares the Doctor to some of the officers he’s had to serve. “I am the one who carries you out of the fire,” he says. “He’s the one who lights it.” This is going to be a complicated relationship.
Suddenly, Courtney shows up, apparently seeing the whole thing. She asks if she can go with him, and he says there could be a vacancy. Another sign Clara may hop off the TARDIS for good?
But, not yet, because the Coal Hill staff is concerned about Parents Evening. Suddenly the Doctor shows up, telling Clara and Danny the Blitzer is back early. He tells Clara to try to distract him from blowing up Earth. She does to get the Doctor to use his gizmo, where he fools the Blitzer into thinking he’s its general. He tries to shut down the robot, but he doesn’t have the final command. Danny’s able to distract the alien with a very impressive move, giving the Doctor enough time to finish the job.
The Doctor decides he and Danny can have mutual respect, as long as Danny proves he’s worthy of her. He’s also impressed how the Doctor can motivate people to do things they wouldn’t normally do. He does insist Clara be honest with him, so he can still be able to help him. Still, it looks like they will likely have a future together, since his future descendant was part of her timeline from “Listen”.
Courtney also gets her trip in the TARDIS, but also has a bad case of motion sickness. Being a companion is not for everyone.
Finally, we see the officer from earlier describing his encounter with the Blitzer to someone, then suddenly figures out that he’s in a place he doesn’t recognize. How did he escape? It looks like the Nethersphere has a new member, and Missy has an assistant.
The episode was interesting but some may be turned off by the Doctor’s grumpiness towards Danny and Courtney. Again, this is because we’ve been used to David Tennant and Matt Smith’s style in the role. Peter Capaldi just plays it differently, and he still shows the Doctor is a good man.
Next week: The Doctor and Clara battle spiders on the Moon.