Dr. Moo digs a well.
Have you ever found yourself talking to somebody you found attractive only to constantly put your foot in your mouth and seemingly ruin your chance with him or her? That’s how things go for Danny Pink when he, having taken on a job teaching mathematics at the most sexy and edgy of schools Coal Hill, meets the English teacher Clara Oswald.
After headmaster Frank Armitage (him of dragon-death fame) introduces the two to each other Clara asks Danny if he’s going to accompany him to a retirement party for a colleague, he declines but within minutes he’s regretting it. He’s clearly attracted to Clara (but, let’s face it, who isn’t!) and the awkwardness of trying to cover this up ends up making it even more awkward when she overhears him reviewing the moment later. “How long have you been standing there?” he asks. “Longer than you’d like,” comes the reply.
Perhaps the awkwardness of this encounter is what endears him to her initially. But it was all about to go horribly wrong when the two met for a date a few days later, and the awkwardnessometer goes up even further. Clara makes the unfortunate mistake of joking about his prior career as a soldier causing him to lash out in retaliation about the humanitarian work his military experience included, with 23 wells that he dug being his chosen example. Following a backhanded insult of his own to Clara she storms off in a huff leaving him once again regretting his actions.
However it’s not all over for the two of them because within minutes she returns and apologises… only for him to realise that she’s lying to him. Danny notices that Clara’s coat has vanished (unknown to him it’s left in the Doctor’s TARDIS) and his attempts to find out what she’s keeping from him, combined with the Doctor sending a man in a spacesuit to collect Clara, force her to run out on him for the second time in a single date. She returns to him later, at his apartment this time, and they both apologise and make up. They’re determined that they’re going to make their relationship work because they both care deeply for the other, even though they should both be smart enough to know it can’t work for long with her keeping secrets from him. She should know that eventually the truth will come out.
And that’s exactly what happens.
After the Doctor goes undercover as Coal Hill’s caretaker, to stop the Skovox Blitzer from invading Earth, Danny finds him. All Danny is trying to do is the right thing, as far as he knows the devices the Doctor has hidden around the school grounds are dangerous. He sees Clara with the Doctor and finds out what she’s like when she’s with him – in a word, reckless – and her poor attempts to keep it hidden from Danny, even now, don’t help matters. Clara is forced to come clean as the two men she loves each show jealousy towards the other.
Because Clara loves the Doctor as well, and the Doctor loves her back. This is a different kind of love in that it’s not romantic but it’s love all the same. The Doctor wants what’s best for Clara and refuses to believe that this former soldier is good enough for her. Danny however sees the Doctor as dangerous, he believes that these aliens he’s fighting could eventually spell trouble for Clara and he wants to keep her safe, something he doesn’t trust the Doctor to be able to do. It’s not until Danny, against the Doctor’s instructions, utilises his soldiering background to distract the Skovox Blitzer allowing the Doctor crucial seconds that he realises that maybe Danny is good enough for Clara after all.
But Clara still continues to lie to Danny about the Doctor, even if the lies have changed. She tells him that she’s given up travelling with him because of a falling out they have on the moon when in fact she’s decided to give the Doctor another chance. She keeps making up excuses to Danny and pretending to the Doctor that Danny is okay with them still going around the universe together. When he finds out about it in the forest of the night we also get to see a crucial difference between the two of them – while Clara wants to find out exactly why the forest is there and what’s going on all Danny wants to do is get the children home to their parents. He wants Clara to be honest with him and finally tell him the truth, but it can wait until everyone is safe.
And Clara finally gives in and admits the truth the next day. That’s what makes it all the more tragic when Danny is killed by a car crash during that conversation. At last she’s totally and completely honest with him, only for him to die right there before she’s finished! And it’s all the more shocking because it comes out of nowhere.
That’s when we finally see the true extent of Clara’s love for Danny as she is prepared to destroy the TARDIS if the Doctor won’t help her. She betrays the Doctor. But then he agrees to help her anyway. “Do you think I care for you so little that betraying me would make a difference?” the Doctor says. He clearly cares for Clara more than the seemingly closed-off Twelfth Doctor would ever admit.
This is where the Master comes into the equation as Danny Pink falls victim to her plot to resurrect the dead as Cybermen. And then we see how much Danny cares for Clara – so much that his love is powerful enough to overcome the Cyberconversion. As the Doctor rightly points out, love is not just an emotion but also a promise. If you truly love someone you have to make a choice that you will continue to do so, no matter what, unconditionally, and that’s what Danny Pink does for Clara Oswald. Her lies don’t matter to him because he loves her no matter what. As he stands there in the graveyard in all the Cyberman gear he doesn’t take part in the Master’s showing off, he just holds his beloved Clara in his arms and promises he will never let her go.
But he has to anyway, and the Doctor can but look on helplessly knowing that if Danny wants to save Clara and stop the Master’s plot then he has to die. Danny has to lead the other Cybermen into the clouds and burn them up so that rain will not fall and humanity can survive. Clara is forced to watch the man she loves die in an act of self-sacrifice for her – Danny has saved her life but at the cost of his own.
This wasn’t the end for Danny Pink though. Under the influence of the Dream Crabs, Clara finally got the goodbye she and Danny deserved as she spent time with him once more for Christmas Day. This is where we get to see the glorified Danny Pink that Clara wanted to be with as she imagines him the perfect man for her. “You are too clever ever to be wrong,” she tells him.
Danny’s not real though, and we see the Doctor’s love for Clara once again as he goes into the dream state to rescue her even though this could potentially kill him. However it’s not the Doctor that saves her, that falls to Danny. He’s the one she listens to, he’s the one who tells her to wake up and he’s the one who she chooses. With the closure she finally needs she can move on from Danny and go back to real life. But his legacy lives on. Without Danny around, Clara no longer has any reason to keep returning to Earth. At the first sign of trouble she ups and leaves her work and never returns to it, travelling instead with the Doctor as before. She tries to be more and more like him – and this is what kills her.
This is the story of Clara and Danny. It reminds us that love is important but also that sometimes it just can’t work. While the Doctor is off doing impossible things, Clara wants to be able to live a normal life at the same time but, as her doomed romance with Danny shows us, it’s not easy. If Clara had only realised that the greatest adventure was to be found be staying with the man she loved right here at home then maybe both of them would still be alive.
When he's not obsessing about Doctor Who whilst having I Am The
Doctor play in his head, Dr. Moo can usually be found reading up on the
latest in Quantum Physics. As you do when you're a physicist.