Clara has a heck of a first date and The Doctor messes up everyone’s timelines in search of an invisible enemy on this week’s Doctor Who.
Remember when I said last week’s episode was my favorite episode of the season so far? Well, scratch that. There’s a new favorite, and it’s this week’s episode1. Steven Moffat gave us an episode that rivals the constantly-heralded “Blink”, and played with the timelines on the show in wonderfully twisty ways.
What happens when you travel alone in a big blue box without any enemies to encounter? That seems to be the impetus for the episode, with the Doctor meditating on what he assumes is a monster that’s so good at hiding, it can’t be seen. Moffat is fantastic at finding the little things that scare us (creepy statues, seeing something odd out of the corner of your eye, mysterious noises in the house) and turning them into even bigger things that scare us, and this was no exception, with the Doctor’s hypothetical monsters seeming very real as they got encountered through space and time. But all is not as it seems – thanks to some tricky timework, Clara manages to influence her date’s past, see her future with him, and even affect the Doctor becoming the Doctor, all in pursuit of these imaginary creatures. There’s some masterful editing going on with Clara and Danny Pink’s relationship2 – maybe mirroring the fragmented nature of Clara’s life outside the TARDIS. There can’t be too many more episodes before Danny catches on with just how “weird” Clara’s life is, but for now, it’s interesting to see how time is getting bent in these two’s relationship.
With that in mind, one noticeable difference in the relationship between Clara and the Doctor is how fine they are with completely mucking about in the timestream without worrying about the repercussions. I can’t see 10 or 11 happily dropping off Clara at a restaurant moments after she stormed out, or at least not without a lecture on the danger. Between their adventures with Danny, Orson, and even the Doctor’s own past this episode, I’m interested to see if this seemingly unsanctimonious regard for time pops up as a major factor later in the season. The Doctor’s never been one to take time too seriously, but this feels particularly lax for him.
Ultimately, this episode is about how fear affects us all. Little Rupert gets scared, but becomes inspired to be braver and become Dan the Soldier Man, Orson lets being alone for too long ultimately color how he sees the darkness and the noise in the far-off future, and the Doctor becomes too consumed with finding an enemy that doesn’t exist in the name of conquering a fear from childhood3. Fear is a constant companion, but Clara’s skills as a teacher manage to help both Danny and the Doctor get over that fear and use it to become strong.
- Clara’s faces this episode when dealing with strange goings-on (finding herself in her date’s childhood, the astronaut in the restaurant, and realizing that she’s under The Doctor’s bed) were THE BEST this episode.
- I am still loving the grumpy, chalkboard-filling nature of the new Doctor. The Scottish accent serves him well (even if there’s been no Malcom Tucker-level swearing yet).
- No Missy this episode, although we’ll probably see more of her soon enough.