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Saturday, 27 September 2014 - Reviewed by Martin Ruddock

Written by Gareth Roberts and Steven Moffat
Directed by Paul Murphy
Starring Peter Capaldi, Jenna Coleman, Samuel Anderson, Ellis George
Premiere 27 September 2014, BBC One
Clara Oswald had been doing a good job of leading a triple life lately, but something had to give.
She was already a teacher of unruly teenagers at Coal Hill, and assistant/carer/conscience to a newly unpredictable Time Lord to start with. As if those two factors weren't enough to contend with, now she's in a new relationship too, with Danny Pink. She's struggling to keep them separate, as she careers breathlessly between adventures and dates. She's eating two dinners in a row, going for a run after running down corridors, fishing seaweed from her hair. She's flagging. The control freak in her is working overtime trying to keep her worlds from overlapping. She seems slightly uncomfortable that the kids all know about her and Danny. She really doesn't want the Doctor and Danny even knowing about each other. So, when a very familiar looking relief Caretaker shows up in the Coal Hill staff room, she's appalled, and Danny instantly suspects that Clara already knows this man...

The Doctor is being proactive again, and has decided to go 'deep cover' to sniff out the threat. His version of deep cover is to basically put on an overcoat. His latest incarnation can't be bothered to try and fit in with the natives, particularly the P.E. Teachers. He makes angry signs, disrupts lessons, and even breezily shows pupil-with-attitude Courtney the TARDIS interior. Imagine if this incarnation had been the one exiled to Earth, he would have gone stir crazy. The Brigadier would probably have had him locked up next to the Master.

The threat is the deadly robotic Skovox Blitzer, drawn to the area by decades-worth of artron energy. It's a curious thing, another lone-gunman, a diminutive metallic soldier awaiting orders - scurrying around like a toy Racnoss. It's certainly very good at blowing things up - and people, like that poor Policeman, who meets a grisly end.

It's not a great villain, and although the design is novel, it's hard to believe that this critter could really take out the entire world. This series is getting quite robot-heavy. That said, this story isn't about the Skovox Blitzer. It's about the Doctor and Danny's relationships with Clara, and how they meet and reluctantly reach a grudging respect for each other, despite this Doctor's pronounced dislike of soldiers, a theme that has been prominent in this series, and looks to continue. 

The Doctor and Danny predictably clash, it's an interesting clash too, as normally when presented with a boyfriend figure it's not so much of a fair fight. Danny, being more of an alpha male, gives as good as he gets. Clara, meanwhile, doesn't end up having to choose between the men in her life, but does blurt out that she loves Danny. This, and Danny's inevitable role in the resolution help his case with the Doctor, who wants to know she's with someone good enough for her. Danny, meanwhile, wants to know Clara is safe. Although all three are at peace at the end of the episode, there's clearly something building, and we're probably due some turbulence and heartbreak soon.

Capaldi, Coleman, and Anderson are all excellent in this. Capaldi gets some zingers from Gareth Roberts and Steven Moffat's very funny script, and also the chance to run the gamut from boredom, rage, and a knowing little moment of vanity when he mistakes another teacher for Clara's boyfriend. His Doctor also gets to bond with the equally bolshy Courtney, who's back next week for a trip to the Moon, where bad things are likely to happen. Jenna Coleman gets better and better every episode, Clara continues to come into her own, and her chemistry with Capaldi is a joy to watch. She's equally good in a quieter way with Anderson, who continues to knock it out of the park with a subtle, well-judged performance.

The only criticism? More threat next time please. Although, looking at the teaser for next week, there's unlikely to be a shortage of that. See you on the Moon.

FILTER: - Series 8/34 - Twelfth Doctor - Television