“I’ve known men like him.”
– Danny Pink
As soon as the Doctor began hammering home his “no soldiers” policy and Clara began dating Danny, it was inevitable that the two men would meet and Danny would point out that why he may have been a solider, the Doctor is in fact a general with more blood on his hands than anyone else.
As I’ve mentioned before, this has become a staple of the Steven Moffat era – the question of whether or not the Doctor is a good man. Is he a savior or is he a warlord?
So while that inevitable moment didn’t surprise me, I was surprised at just how good Samuel Anderson was in that scene. When he began saluting the Doctor and saying, “Yes sir,” it totally worked for me.
This episode as a whole definitely made Danny Pink a more well-rounded character that the audience should care about, instead of simply the person Clara is always running late to meet. So far this season, they have alluded to his dark past as a soldier and shown us brief moments of him in the school, but I never really felt like I had a sense of who he was or why we should care about him – until this episode.
I enjoyed his dynamic with the Doctor as well. Having him realize the Doctor knew he was there when he was invisible was a nice touch. And I enjoyed the running joke that the Doctor thought he was a P.E. teacher, which goes to show just how much our hero underestimates him.
I also enjoyed the Doctor hanging out in modern day London, undercover as a caretaker. I feel like the Russell T. Davies era was much more interested in present day shenanigans, while Moffat has always been more interested in visiting other times and worlds.
Now obviously, on a sci-fi show with a magical box that can go to literally anywhere, it would be ridiculous to dwell in modern-day England for too long, but I do think there’s value in exploring the home lives of the companions. I feel like spending time in their world with the people they care about gives us more insight into who they are and why they are willing to run off with the mad man in the box. Traveling with the Doctor is an escape – so what are they escaping from?
The actual villain of the episode was underwhelming, but I don’t think that really mattered. The Skovox Blitzer was really just a giant metallic MacGuffin created to give the Doctor a reason to go undercover in the school. It was menacing enough without being too distracting from the character study that this episode ended up being.
We also revisiting Paradise, though we didn’t really learn anything new. All we know is that people who die keep ending up there, but we still don’t have much of a sense of what’s going on once they get there. (We also don’t know why the police officer was in a waiting room while the villain from the first episode arrived in a scenic garden.)
We’ve officially reached the halfway point of the season though, so I imagine we will begin to delve further into Paradise in the coming weeks as we build to whatever finale Moffat and Co. have conceived.
And another thing …
- I loved Clara and the Doctor snapping back and forth to open and close the door during their argument. It was amusing on its own and a nice nod to the lovely moment David Tennant’s Doctor began opening the door with a snap.
- It’s an easy joke, but having the Doctor say that Danny Pink looked nothing like Orson Pink made me laugh.
- The charred, smoking hand of the police officer seemed a bit much for a kid’s show, didn’t it?
Written by Joel Murphy. If you enjoy his recaps, he also writes a weekly pop culture column called Murphy’s Law, which you can find here. Follow Joel on Twitter @FreeMisterClark or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.