The Chekhov’s gun ultimatum.
It dismays me that so few people seem to get why he’s saying this.
Danny Pink has served in the military, and served under officers like the Doctor, who pushed him too far, and that’s how Danny wound up killing people who weren’t soldiers (who were probably children, which is likely why he became a teacher, to pay a penance and prove to himself that he could be a good man with kids, which is why he’s so patient in putting up with all the grief he gets from them).
And that is the guilt that Danny has lived with ever since, that he never, ever wants Clara to experience.
Danny is not being controlling or demanding or unreasonable or abusive, as some fans have claimed, but rather, he is trying to save Clara’s soul, because he sees himself as already damned for the lives he has taken.
Take it from someone who’s served in the “War on Terror;” you don’t make a speech about how many wells you dug when you were in uniform with as much self-righteousness as Danny showed Clara if you’re not trying to convince yourself that the good you did while you were serving at least balances out the sins you committed in the name of following orders.
… We never should have gone into Iraq. I knew that even then. We were right to go into Afghanistan, after the Twin Towers fell, but going into Iraq was just a distraction from that, no matter how much I tried to tell myself at the time that we were cleaning up a mess that we ourselves had made in that part of the world.
I was part of that, serving on the decks of USS Theodore Roosevelt. I was proud to be part of Operation Enduring Freedom, but Operation Iraqi Freedom felt wrong from the first, even before it officially started. And yet, none of my regrets matter now, because no matter how much I might make a show of wringing my hands with remorse, it will never change the fact that I was on the wrong side of history.
It’s been 11 years this fall since I walked off the decks of the Teddy Roosevelt, into my post-service civilian life, and I can’t get it out of my head. Like Frederic Forrest in Apocalypse Now, a part of my soul never got off the boat.
It never goes away.