The Doctor infiltrates the Coal Hill School disguised as the temporary Caretaker in order to rid the area of a dangerous robotic creature. Danny finally finds out about Clara and her secret life with the Doctor, which means that the Doctor finally finds out about Danny. While the school is in jeopardy, not only must Danny come to terms with Clara’s life of time travel, but the Doctor and Danny must come to an understanding about each other.
With Clara burnt out from living two lives – one with the Doctor and one with Danny – the Doctor gives her a break while he goes “deep undercover”. Unfortunately for Clara, this means that the Doctor merely changes his coat and becomes the Caretaker of the Coal Hill School. While he insists that this is strictly a solo mission, Clara can’t help but become embroiled in the Doctor’s schemes. The Doctor is luring a robotic guard called the Skovox Blitzer from the neighboring area into a time trap set at the school. He sets up a perimeter of time devices meant to create a time vortex to throw the Blitzer into the far future. Just as the Doctor sets his trap in motion, Danny discovers the time devices planted around the school and disconnects the circuit, throwing the Doctor’s plans into disarray. Danny walks in on the Doctor confronting the Blitzer. Clara then walks in on the scene as the Doctor traps the Blitzer in an emergency time vortex and Danny watches incredulously. Danny thinks that Clara is a space woman and that the Doctor is her space dad. Clara tries to cover, telling him it was a play rehearsal for parent’s night, but her attempts are pretty weak. Danny is upset that she didn’t tell him about her secret life and the Doctor is upset to find out that Clara is dating a soldier. While Clara tries to patch things up with Danny, the Doctor must prepare for the Blitzer’s return. Unfortunately, the Blitzer returns earlier than expected – right in the middle of parent’s night – and Clara drops everything to play decoy while the Doctor prepares his new plan. He has created a machine that projects the image of the Blitzer’s superior and orders the it to deactivate. The Doctor forgets to give the access code and the Blitzer prepares to self-destruct instead. Danny distracts the Blitzer while the Doctor enters the code and allows him to shut the it down in time. Danny has proven himself to the Doctor as a man worthy of Clara. Danny and Clara come to an understanding about the Doctor – and he makes her promise that if the Doctor ever pushes her too far to let him know.
Apparently the Doctor’s idea of deep cover is changing his jacket. He’s pretty confident of his ability to fit in seamlessly among the rest of the school, but Clara is rightfully dubious. This Doctor is the most alien the Doctor has been in a long time and pretty immediately draws attention to himself. Danny, without knowing anything about the Doctor or Clara’s connection to him, is immediately fascinated by him. The Doctor, in turn, is pretty insulting to Danny, refusing to believe a soldier is capable of teaching math and keeps calling him a PE teacher. Clara happens to have a co-worker who looks suspiciously like Matt Smith – floppy hair, tweed, bowtie and all – and the Doctor adorably, and a bit sadly, believes that he must be Clara’s boyfriend because of the resemblance to his past self. He is clearly touched by what he believes is Clara’s love for him, so when he finds out Clara is dating Danny instead, that’s only a fraction of his dissatisfaction with her choice. Part of it is also the fact that he’s a soldier, and the other part is that the Doctor must be sure that Danny is good enough for Clara. While Clara doesn’t understand the Doctor’s anger about Danny, Danny is pretty quick to understand that he must prove himself worthy of Clara’s love. After Danny spectacularly saves the day to protect Clara, the Doctor is quietly impressed and admits that he might be okay after all.
And while this is mostly the Doctor looking out for Clara, we know from the end of Time Heist that there is an element of competition between him and Danny for Clara’s affection. The Doctor makes light of her dates with Danny, even though Clara obviously takes them perfectly seriously. At the end of Time Heist, when the Doctor drops her off for her date, he comments to himself that whatever Danny has planned cannot compare to having robbed a whole bank, which leaves him rather pleased with himself. The beginning of this episode has Clara torn between the Doctor and Danny, trying to live both of her lives fully. The Doctor faithfully drops her off for her dates, but constantly tempts her with awesomely irresistible adventures. He knows that he must constantly vie for her affection and continuously woo her with promises of a life like no other – and what else has he to bargain with to make her stay? This Doctor, while seemingly self-assured and indifferent, has a deep vein of insecurity and underestimated worth. The wonders he shows Clara is not the only reason she stays with him, but he thinks it is the only thing that he can give her that is worth anything.
Clara, of course, is torn between two men for two very different reasons. She wants it both ways, and for now she has her wish – she can travel with the Doctor and still come home to Danny. But eventually she’s going to have to make a choice, and it seems likely that the Doctor is going to force her hand by pushing her too far. In the end, it will likely be the Doctor’s own fault that he loses Clara.
Danny has long suspected that there was something about Clara that he didn’t know, some kind of secret that accounted for her frazzled and often distracted demeanor. It is, of course, because she often runs right from an adventure and into his arms, too exhausted to give him her full attention. Danny could never have imagined this, and when he discovers her relationship with the Doctor, he thinks at first that she must be a space woman. And it isn’t so much that he’s overwhelmed by the fantastical facts of her secret life, its more that he’s hurt that she didn’t tell him – that he’s been missing this completely different side to her. In the end, he accepts her second life, but doesn’t trust the Doctor. He thinks that somehow, someway, the Doctor will push her too far – that he may break her in a moment of disregard.
The Promised Land
A police officer at the beginning of the episode is killed off by the Blitzer. We mostly forget about him until the end when he is seen talking to a man at a desk about what attacked him. Suddenly, the officer realizes he can’t remember how he got away from the Blitzer. The man at the desk tells him he hasn’t and that he’s in the Promised Land. Missy walks by, giving them a glance, but moves on hurriedly. The man at the desk gives a sheepish smile and makes an excuse for her, saying that she’s been “very busy”.
So there’s another person in the Promised Land who is killed in loose association with the Doctor. And it might be worth noting that he was killed by a robot thing, which may or may not have anything to do with anything – there are just a lot of robots this season. And most of the people who end up in the Promised Land were either killed by robots or were robots looking for the Promised Land. My theory here is pretty vague, but basically it involves the Doctor and robots somehow.