The Caretaker   Leave a comment

It was a long wait for this one – I wasn’t able to watch it until Monday! an eternity! but I felt it worthwhile. It’s a more difficult episode; less rompy, less monstery, but instead an exploration of the character of the Doctor, his companion, and the people in her life. Everyone has their back up in this episode: the Doctor is crotchety, Danny is terrified, and Clara is caught up in her own worst nightmare. No one shows up at their best. But I like it when people are people. I hope the exploration continues. I also hope Danny Pink gets a ride in the TARDIS, and gets to really see what Clara sees; then he can choose for himself whether the life – and the relationship – is really what he wants.

I hope I hope I hope. I have mentioned before a lack of faith in Moffat’s ability to pull things together. He’s set up SO MUCH interesting stuff in this season; it’s going to be SO DISAPPOINTING if it turns out to be lame. Thus I feel compelled to keep my expectations low, when I wish I could let them soar.

I’m one of those fans who LIKES a cranky Doctor. Matt Smith was an aberration; for most of his existence the Doctor has NOT been nice or considerate or friendly or safe. He’s ALWAYS been dangerous and untrustworthy and rude. Clara and the fans must learn to adapt. If they don’t like this Doctor, it’s time to get off the TARDIS: this is who the Doctor is. (Is THAT what’s going to happen to Clara??)

I am also one of those fans who is skeptical of the plausibility or the value of a companion having a life outside the TARDIS. Typically, classic companions had no ties back home at all; maybe a suggestion of a family or a job, but in the end if something other than the Doctor caught their fancy they went in pursuit of it and left him behind. RTD-era companions had families, and in Martha’s case a career, waiting for them and wondering where they had been. They were wholly committed to their adventuring, and only got off the ride when forced to do so – or, in Martha’s case, when the pull from home grew too strong. But when Martha went home, she – like Jo or Leela or Barbara or Romana – left the Doctor behind.

Amy and Clara (and Rory, by association) are trying something different. They try to have it all: a normal life on Earth, and their travels in the TARDIS. They leave the Doctor on his own for large stretches of his – and their – life. I question why anyone would want to do this, to go back and forth and try to balance the two. I see adventures with the Doctor as all-encompassing; I can’t see trying to manage a home and a job and a life at the same time. For one thing, this is hard enough already; for another, isn’t a trip in the TARDIS an escape from all that? Why would you want to hang on to it, rather than just letting yourself go?

Obviously, it’s just me. I’m Rose Tyler all the way; I’m signing up, and you can’t get rid of me. Maybe over time I’d tire of it, or find something I wanted more – and this is something we have yet to see from a new-Who companion. Is Clara going to stay behind on an alien world someday? Give up the TARDIS for a new purpose in life? Or is she going to get dragged back home, against her will or not, a la Amy or Martha? Is she going to get trapped or compromised, a la Rose or Donna? Or is she the one who’s going to do something new?

Guess which I’m gunning for.

tl;dr an interesting episode, a difficult episode, a not necessarily entirely successful episode, but one I value all the same.

Posted October 1, 2014 by Elisabeth in Companions, Season 8

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