Archive for December, 2011


S1E10: The Doctor Dances

The two-part story is truly spine-chilling. My heart stopped so many times throughout the episode. The previous episode ended in a cliffhanger, and the manner in which it was resolved thoroughly surprised me. It was unexpectedly simple but I liked it because the way out fit perfectly into the family or “mummy” scene. The Doctor showed his brilliance and his logic by doing what he did. Aside from the wit and humor the series offers, it is also these bright little unexpected moments that get me hooked into the show.

Speaking of the humor, once again, the Doctor cracks a joke right after the infected patients went back to their beds. I love the competition between the Doctor and Jack. Their witty one-liners rise from it. From sonic screwdrivers and cabinets to volcano day to  the Doctor painfully trying to dance to what it seems like a competition for Rose, the two are hilarious to watch. The way in which Rose answers (e.g. referring to Moonlight Serenade as hers and Jack’s song) adds to the humor. They certainly add much color to the show.

What I had said in my previous entry about how the Doctor and Jack are comparable to each other is confirmed in this episode. When the Doctor wouldn’t trust Jack, Rose tells the Doctor, “I trust him ’cause he’s like you.. except with dating and dancing.” In my opinion, the reason why Rose left her home and her loved ones to go with the Doctor was because of the other world and the outrageous things that no other except the Doctor could offer. Now that Jack can do the same, with his invisible spaceship and nanogenes among others, plus, as Rose said, dating and dancing, he is a good match for Rose. In the end, Jack shows his selflessness and earns himself a spot on the Doctor’s TARDIS. While Adam’s romance with Rose was short-lived because he was kicked out of TARDIS after only one episode, I have a feeling that Jack will be part of the team for a longer period of time. His presence will make the romance between the Doctor and Rose interesting and will certainly show the audience sides of the Doctor that would not have come out had Jack never come along as was done in this episode.

At the last scene of the episode, we see the Doctor finally dancing. Since this is a two-part story, it had occurred to me that when Rose asked, “Doctor who?” in the previous episode, it is answered, only a little bit as usual, in this episode, with, the Doctor dances.

In the scene where the Doctor rejoices at the outcome, he says, “You want moves, Rose? I’ll give you moves. Everybody lives, Rose! Just this once! Everybody lives!” Even though it was a happy ending and I should be rejoicing with the Doctor, I squirmed at the scene because  until now, I still am not fond of the Doctor-Rose romantic relationship that the show seems to be trying to push. This line, however, shows a difference between the Doctor and Jack. While Jack has the looks and the talent of dance or dancing moves, the Doctor has something else to offer–saving moves.

Over-all, this episode is, so far, the perfect blend of thrill and drama for me. I had not suspected Nancy’s real relation with Jamie but when they were reunited, tears welled up in my eyes. Nancy’s plight and  her finally being honest to herself and to Jamie make a good drama. While the Father’s Day episode wrenched my heart, it didn’t have the suspense and frightening element as this two-part episode had. Thus, I can say that these two episodes have become my new favorite.

I am truly excited for what the next episode has in store.

S1E9: The Empty Child

I think that the episode was meant to freak the audience out. Hearing the voice of a “child” asking about his mummy over and over again reminded me of horror stories and not just the haunting ones with ghosts and the like. This was the kind of horror story that was even more eerie because I didn’t know what exactly the “child” was. It was human, yes, but there was something else to it that baffled and terrified everyone, and for me, the fact that something about it was unknown made it extremely frightening.

However, despite the dreary setting and happenings, still consistent with the comedy incorporated with each episode, The Empty Child was made lighter, as it filled with many characters’ quick banters and one-liners. Even in dangerous situations, the characters are able to throw a quick joke to make things light, such as in the scene with a German air raid and Nancy makes a quick tease at the Doctor’s big ear. The newest character who will become a mainstay, at least as of now, Jack, contributes much to the humor in the episode with his wit and charm.

Captain Jack is witty, romantic, flashy, debonair, and charming–all the traits needed to be a con artist. He woos Rose over, making Rose stammer, fluster, and giggle uncontrollably, and thus making the Doctor even just a little bit jealous. Jack actually seems to be a  good comparison to the Doctor. He travels through time, just like the Doctor, and even has a spaceship, just like the Doctor’s TARDIS. More importantly though, he has his eye on Rose. While others might say that he was interested in her only because he was trying to con her and the Doctor, I believe he genuinely is attracted to her. While I cringe at the ongoing budding romance between the Doctor and Rose, I actually like the apparent attraction between Jack and Rose (oddly enough, their names are the same as those of Titanic’s famous lovers). They have much chemistry, as proven by their successful flirting, but perhaps my inclination to ship them is because Jack, as opposed to the Doctor, is just a more conventional match (in terms of age, charm, chemistry, etc) for Rose. But he seems overconfident, arrogant, and selfish as well but I suppose I’ll wait until part 2 to see if he has a change of heart, as most characters that fit his profile usually do.

Nancy’s character is very noteworthy because her story reminds me of those wartime heroes we read about in novels. She takes care of the street children of London, although not by honest means, during World War II. The Doctor makes a comment on why she does wat she does and says that it’s because she lost somebody that she’s taking care of all the street children to make up for it. The Doctor said it as though he spoke from experience. Here, we can infer that because the Doctor lost everyone in his race during the Time War, he is saving humans to make up for the Time War loss.

On a side note about the cinematography, I thought that in the scene where Rose was hanging on a rope in the middle of  German air raid, the special effects looked rather fake. While special effects should not be the focus of the audience, I could not help but notice and comment on the background. Still, I liked how the producers behind the episode did the transformation of the humans into faces wearing gas masks. Although it was absolutely gross, the transformation succeeded in giving an eerie vibe off to the audience as it evoked sickened expressions.

Moreover, it is on this episode that the title of the show is actually mentioned. The Doctor isn’t called Doctor Who, as I had thought prior to watching the show; he is simply called the Doctor. In this episode, Rose introduces the Doctor to Jack as Mr. Spock, and the Doctor asks Rose why. Rose then explains in exasperation, “What was I supposed to say? You don’t have a name. Don’t you ever get tired of Doctor? Doctor who?” While it does not reveal much of anything really, Rose’s line reminded me that even after watching 9 episodes of the Doctor, I still do not know much about him, apart from his Time War past, which I also do not know much about. The past episodes may have revealed portions of the Doctor’s life, but the Doctor remains a mystery.

Going back to the title “The Empty Child,” the child was empty literally because he had no life inside of him, but he wasn’t dead. All Jamie, the “empty child” in the episode, wanted in the episode seems to be his mother, hence the repeated, “Mummy? Are you my mummy? I want my mummy.” Figuratively speaking then, a child is lifeless without his mother.

S1E10: The Doctor Dances

If there’s one thing this episode proves, it is this: No one can write “silly Doctor” like Steven Moffat. Sure, we got some laughs before, but they pale in comparison to the ease with which the dialogue reveals how concerned the Doctor is about the potassium-content of bananas, and how defensive he can be about his sonic screwdriver. It is a whole other side to his character that we did not even think exists especially after episodes like “Dalek” and “Father’s Day.” The fact that the Doctor can be silly makes him even more complex, especially when we stop to think that this part of him co-exists with his survivor’s guilt.

Since I brought up the sonic screwdriver, I have to say that the scenes where The Doctor and Captain Jack argue about it are among my favorites. It felt like a little nudge/wink to the viewers since it does address the issue of why, of all the possible things a Time Lord could be using to defend himself, it is a sonic screwdriver. Why does he not use a sonic cannon, blaster, or disruptor like Captain Jack? The Doctor was a veteran of  a war, after all; he must know all about actual weapons that would have been useful in all the close calls throughout the episode. Plus, he owns a TARDIS! Why doesn’t the Doctor drop by the future to swipe one or two things for himself? These scenes are fun because it is the show poking fun at itself, which is not very common among television shows. It is similar to how Rose asked in the previous episode, “Don’t you ever get tired of ‘Doctor’? Doctor who?”; this is a blatant refernce to the show’s title and the ongoing mystery of the Doctor’s real name.

Furthermore, as the name of the episode suggest, there is a bit of dancing that goes on. The Doctor attempts to show off his own version of ballroom dancing and/or the swing in response to Rose’s earlier question of “Doesn’t the universse implode or something if you dance?” I think the fact that the assumption is even made, and later disproved by the Doctor himself, really drives home just how multi-faceted the character is. As we watch the episodes, the more we understand the Doctor as someone who is capable of destruction and dance.

Doctor: You want moves, Rose? I’ll give you moves. Everybody lives, Rose. Just this once! Everybody lives!

Other than the obvious answer, I think that the title of the episode refers also to another set of “moves,” namely the Doctor’s  ability to save people. We learn from the very first episode that he has a knack for swooping in and saving people, whether or not they knew that they needed his help in the first place. The Doctor’s hero complex, as some people call it, is a part of who he is. The casue of this is not yet revealed, but I can only guess that the complex stems from his survivor’s guilt. Maybe in trying to save people across the universe, the Doctor is trying to make up for the death of the Time Lords during the last great Time War.

Overall, the past two episodes continue to show viewers who the Doctor is, giving us a situation wherein the character has a chance to show off a different side to his personality. More than that, Steven Moffat also brings something new to the show in the form of Captain Jack. Now that the 51st century Casanova (whose interests include “dancing” with all kinds of people across the universe) is part of Team TARDIS, I am even more excited to see what or who they’ll come up against next.

S1E9: The Empty Child

As I mentioned before, I began watching Doctor Who from Series 5 and moved backwards from there; this probably has a lot to do with why Steven Moffat’s two-part story is my favorite from all the episodes we have watched so far in class. There is a different type of humor (at times it nudges the envelope of children’s television with the use of double entendres), more banter between characters, and a sillier version of the Doctor that distinguishes Moffat’s work. All of those I mentioned are things Moffat brought to the show when he was made the head honcho in Series 5*, and everything that made me love Doctor Who in the first place.

So to answer your question: Yes, this is probably/surely a biased review. But is it my fault that I prefer the style of Moffat over Davies?

The monsters, for example, is a point of difference between the two writers; in fact, Moffat’s “monster” is different compared to all the others in this series so far. As opposed to having the Doctor face off against something which is clearly alien like the Nestene Consciousness, the last scene involves him being cornered by humans. This is completely different from what we saw in “The Unquiet Dead” when the corpses were possessed by the Gelth. Granted that the people mutated into a gas mask-wearing army concerned with finding their mummies, they are still clearly people, who are alive and in no way controlled by an alien race; to me (and to most people in class based on how many I saw jumping in their seats during the two episodes), that is even scarier than the Slitheen.

Moffat plays off the viewers’ fear of something that should be harmless like a human child actually being the “monster.” The story pushes people from the feeling of being unsettled to actual terror when it is revealed that the infected can turn anyone by a simple touch. The idea of becoming one of the monsters is even scarier than death. Moffat employs the almost universal fear of the unknown; we do not know what happens to the people while they are infected other than the physical transformation into being “empty,” but it must be something terrible if they need to be isolated in hospitals and avoided at all costs.

On a very different note, I will do the inevitable and bring up Captain Jack Harkness, experienced con man and the 51st century’s Casanova. With two episodes as hair-raising as “The Empty Child” and “The Doctor Dances,” there needs to be something that balances it off with a mega-watt smile and the right amount of humor. And those are exactly what Captain Jack provides. Honestly, bless Moffat for introducing this character. Maybe now the other writers will finally stop trying to push a romance between Rose and this incarnation of the Doctor; to be honest, I cannot imagine anything to happen between Rose and Captain Jack (he really is a big lovable flirt), but at least that would be more believable.

* I hope this does not count as a spoiler!

S1E10: The Doctor Dances

Opening with the Doctor, Rose and Captain Jack cornered by an army of gas masked monsters looking for their Mummy, The Doctor Dances is the continuation of the first half of the story The Empty Child. This episode successfully addresses the several questions raised in the previous episode, leaving no rock unturned with the closure of its plot. I deem it successful since these questions were resolved in a gradual manner, very much unlike The End of the World which there was just so much going on with the story that it felt rather forced and the supposedly good plot was sacrificed just to fit Doctor Who’s 45-minute format.

There is something really creepy and terrifying with the gas masked people, though it is hard to pinpoint exactly why they seem to be a bit creepier in comparison to the other adversaries faced by Rose and the Doctor. Apart from them being strong enough to break concrete walls, being able to communicate using anything with a speaker grill and being able to infect others at a more rapid pace, these empty bodies contain an air of the unknown and evil beneath them that can send shivers down your spine. Add to that the shrill, repetitive begging of “Mummy.” Perhaps what influenced them into becoming more terrifying is the situation that Rose, Captain Jack and the Doctor were in. Being trapped inside a room in the hospital while the army of gas masked people on the loose to find them and with Jack’s limited teleporter, the whole predicament sort of beefed up the tension and helped create a feeling that you could run but you cannot hide.

Despite the story having a serious and tension-filled feel to it, there were many notable comedic moments wedged so as to prevent the episode to become dragging. I loved the banana switch when Captain Jack, all pumped up, shouts “Now!” and was supposed to use his sonic blaster. I also found it entertaining to watch the Doctor trying to hide his sonic screwdriver as the three were weighing down what they have. I think that their banter was an effective way of not only diverting the viewer’s concentration from the episode to become too serious, but to also introduce the newest companion to join the TARDIS: Captain Jack. Through the trio’s constant fuss about Jack’s flashy gadgets from the 51st century, we were able to learn more about this charismatic character. Portrayed as a mean, lean, superhero with a rather upbeat but mysterious personality, it is revealed in this episode that he has some unfinished business in the past as a time agent. He was somehow able to make being a con artist a good thing, because he was doing it for a much higher purpose than money. In the end, by being willing to go the extra mile of capturing the bomb to save the others, Jack was welcomed aboard the TARDIS.

“Everybody lives, Rose. Just this once, everybody lives!” Most grandly celebrated, the fact that no one died in this particular episode gave off very good vibes to the end of the story. You would probably see the Doctor happier than usual, which is refreshing to say the least. The main conflict of the story was solved logical, if you would assume the nanogenes to be logical. Though I found it quite ironic that these little robots were intelligent enough to alter death and rewrite genetic material, yet were unable to recognize organic (the boy) from inorganic (the mask). Setting aside this minor, technical flaw, The Doctor Dances is a well-established part two the story due to the amazing visual effects, script as well as characterization. Part of its success is also because the story was well-paced and because of the fact that it is a two-parter, instead of one. Lastly, the episode was able to give the viewers something else to be dancing about, which is a new companion.

S1E3: The Unquiet Dead

I can honestly say that this is my favourite episode in Doctor Who so far. I love how the episode mixes mystical elements with sci-fi elements.  The mix of two old ideas to create a new one– amazing. But what amazed me more was the fact that the episode integrated a bit of history in the plot. For heaven’s sake! Charles Dickens was in the episode! I guess what I really  liked about this episode is the fact that it played with many elements– Traditions, beliefs, history– the episode seemed believable. When the ghosts turned out to be aliens, upon learning about the rift, I had to keep reminding myself that this is all fiction, which wasn’t challenging because of the nature of the Doctor Who episodes. The idea though, is believable. (Well, maybe not for some, It is believable for me because I do believe in ghosts and other mystical beings, so the idea isn’t exactly alien to me)

In the episode, The Unquiet Dead, Rose and the Doctor find themselves in 1869 Cardiff instead of an Italian Christmas in Naples.

Cardiff– Obviously the two were disappointed, the Doctor didn’t exactly say Cardiff with joy. (You can feel the disappointment in his voice) Also, since Rose is from London and I guess we can assume that the Doctor usually stays in Great Britain, I guess the idea of having Christmas in Cardiff isn’t exactly as exciting as being in Naples for Christmas. That is, until the duo hears a scream.

Anyway, the fact that the Doctor and Rose keep on getting themselves into trouble makes me believe that the Doctor can be described in one quote:

“I don’t go looking for trouble, trouble usually finds me.”— Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Every time the Doctor goes somewhere, trouble seems to follow. Apparently, the scream they heard came from a theatre with a “zombie” in it. But wait! Why is the zombie glowing? Why is she blue? (Yes, she is a she, the episode starts off with her and her grandson) Why is there even a zombie in Cardiff?– I found myself really getting into the story.

But you know what intrigued me the most? The presence of history. Fiction with non-fiction. It’s quite a difficult combination because you really have to do research on these things. It has to have precision, it has to be believable. (Which it was.) I loved how they made an explanation for the unexplained side of history, like, Charles Dickens’ unfinished novel.

I also love how Rose said that Gwyneth (servant girl, spirit medium) saved the world and no one even knows about it. It is a reminder that not everything in the past is recorded, and it explains why no one knows about the alien invasion that happened in Cardiff– No one saw it except the Doctor, Rose, and Dickens (Who tries to write a book about it but dies midway).

I like how they used aliens as an explanation for ghostly beings. The existence of both is still a question for most of us. I guess that’s why it was so amusing to combine two unexplainable things, to create an explanation. A theory on the mysteries of earth (and the universe) turned into an episode. Amazing.

This episode really hooked me into the series.  I couldn’t stop thinking about what happened in this episode, and how it could actually be applied in real life. (Take note, again, I believe in mystical beings and us being able to contact them)

I’m really looking forward to more episodes like the Unquiet Dead.


S1E9: The Empty Child

Following the two-part story format of the previous episodes namely the Aliens of London and World War Three, The Empty Child is the first half of a great adventure in which Rose and the Doctor find themselves chasing a mysterious, mauve capsule through time and space that lands in the heart of London in the midst of a bomb raid in 1941. Having seen a number of Who episodes that were based in London, I was kind of rooting that the capsule would land in some unknown, planet filled with extra terrestrial life forms. Even though the TARDIS is surely capable of going to different planets and galaxies, this series has never touched base on anything else but the Earth and two space stations that are overlooking the Earth.

 

Going back to the episode, even though I felt a tiny twinge of disappointment that the whole new adventure was going to take place in London, the historical setting and visual effects were excellent: the aerial view of an air raid, the old rusty feel of the bar scene, and the Big Ben scene.

 

To see Rose hanging on to dear life in the middle of an air raid was a nice element, not to mention a great opportunity for the show to allow Captain Jack Harkness to unexpectedly sweep her off her feet. Captain Jack is an interesting addition to the mix, because he proves to be a much, much better wedge between the Doctor and Rose than Adam. This “dreamboat” kind of a man was able to turn the smart and witty Rose into a stuttering, giggling girlie girl who could not remember a thing that he says. In a way, Rose and the Doctor spend most of this episode apart, and some of the credit goes to good ‘ol Captain Jack. With his fast comebacks, impressive gadgets, and a killer smile, he is definitely a character to look out for.

 

Rose is a bit of a hit and miss for me in this episode. Although one can see through her airy confidence as she exchanges clever remarks with Jack that she has learned a lot and has grown from all of their previous adventures, I could not understand why she was nagging the Doctor about scanning for alien tech (“Give me some Spock, for once, will it kill you?”) and why she cared so much about Captain Jack’s fancy gadgets. Disclosure alert: aside from being mentioned in The Big Bang Theory, I do not know what Spock means. She has seen a lot of things from different points of time along with different technology that go with it and never has she mentioned to the Doctor that it was not Spock enough.

 

One of the great moments that I distinctly remember from the episode was the chilling transformation of Doctor Constantine’s face into a gas mask. His eyes getting larger, his mouth turning into a puck-like shape, his skin turning dark brown…everything. I think it was memorable because of the fact that the idea was so unusual, but at the same time so gripping that you could not just look away. Jamie who was already wearing a gas mask was creepy, with his shrill voice asking for his Mummy as well as his ability to make phones, radios and even the creepy monkey work. But seeing how the people turned to become like him was really disturbing.

 

Comparing this episode with the first two-parter, Aliens of London I would have to say that the The Empty Child is a far more satisfying first half in terms of character, plot and special effects. It is amazing how Doctor Who is able to play around simple and innocent concepts like a child and turn him into something frightening. The Empty Child is able to give the viewers most, if not all of what they were looking for in a good science fiction story – a good time and place,  excellent visuals, great supporting characters (not to mention a character that is good on the eyes) and a well-written script. The only bad thing that I could see was it had a cliff hanger ending that left us most definitely on the edge of our seats.

S1E10: The Doctor Dances

In the second part of the pair of episodes, the horror aspects continue, still in their same, lovingly terrifying subtlety. In particular, I enjoyed the slowly building realization and fear when the Doctor, Rose and Jack were in Jamie’s room, with the finished recording tape clicking in the background. Again, this is only another example of a slow build-up for a scare, and not a flash of one.

There is also a slightly different approach to the horror in this episode in comparison to the previous one, likely since it is the concluding one of the pair.

Instead of focusing on the darkness and terror, the horror is approached with a slightly more light-hearted air. The Doctor in particular seems to only grin in the face of danger, managing to joke about his terrible last words, and the importance of the banana. Though he reacted this way in the previous episode, being unusually accepting and trusting of the empty child, even after seeing the orphans’ fear, it is in this episode where they are emphasized.

Additionally, as I mentioned, a large aspect of horror comes from helplessness, but in this, the Doctor and his companions are able to defend themselves, if only slightly.

They are given he opportunity to run through the hospital – and not only be pinned in a single room – as well as take advantage of the technology they have at hand. Even though they only have a screwdriver, a digital blaster and a rather limited teleporter, these equip them enough for something of a defense, and decrease the feeling of fear.

Indeed, the horror, though pivotal and not disappointing in any way, cannot really be seen to be the main theme of this episode. Instead, the relationship that was only shallowly hinted at in the previous one is what takes the spotlight, that between Nancy and Jamie.

Even this relationship continues the penchant for subtlety within the episodes, where only slight hints are given all throughout. Among these are Nancy’s hesitation in calling Jamie her brother, and her role of protector and guardian of all the orphans; not enough to allow the viewer to realize the truth, but enough to let them acknowledge the hints in hindsight.

However, despite not knowing her true blood role, the viewer can clearly see her affection for Jamie, and cannot help but empathize with her, and realize the difficulty in running away from someone you would rather just embrace.

The near-ending scene, where Nancy finally hugs her son, and the nanogenes repair their mistakes, is such a moment of relief, an all-encompassing assurance that everything will end well. Overall, this is almost childlike and naïve – too happy in a way – but the tone fits well nonetheless. This is even pointed at in the short anecdote of the old lady patient having her leg grow back, but this does not dampen the viewer’s feelings in the slightest.

The innocent, open love of a young mother sends a clear message for the episode, almost a moral of sorts. For once, the ending is completely happy, with no overhangs of distant regret, or doubt over the (albeit necessary) deaths of certain enemies. As the Doctor crows with such fervor, for once, “Everybody lives.”

S1E9: The Empty Child

Probably my favorite of the Ninth Doctor’s thus far, the strong horror elements of this episode start even at the foreboding title, and continue on throughout its span.

I believe I previously mentioned the subtle unease that comes from creatures that are almost human, but not quite. This surfaces again in this episode with the instance of a child, who is not really a child. It’s odd how an image of a small boy, usually one related with innocence or youth, can inspire such fear. Though I suppose that can only be commended to the writer of this episode, and the means in which it was presented.

Since terror is not something stereotypically associated with a child, I find the scene wherein the crowd of orphans reacted to him quite important. With all the children fleeing in sight of him, and Nancy’s straightforward demands to not let the child touch you, and her descriptions of him as empty, the viewer is allowed to realize that the child is not what it seems, and is something worth inspiring fear.

The scenes that took place within the hospital in particular were equally unnerving, with the character of Doctor Constantine also offering an interest insight to it. The wartime hospital brings to mind a classic horror location, that of an old, haunted house, inhabited by an elderly caretaker.

The doctor’s role as keeper of the unusual, gas-masked patients, as well as his nonchalant explanations of their condition is somewhat scary in itself – seeing how detached he seems from the situation adds to the sense of inevitability of this unexplained “plague of physical injuries.”

It is said that fear comes from helplessness in situations, and witnessing a doctor – one who you would think would know how to cure such a plague – succumb to it instead, is quite a terrifying image.

In this instance, and in the episode as a whole, the horror element is more of a subtle, creeping one, rather than the sudden flash, or jump-out-of-the-closet variation of certain other horror movies. Personally, this one is a lot more (darkly) enjoyable to watch, and gives the viewers a deeper fear, rather than a sudden one.

Moving away from the episode’s genre, another aspect of it I found interesting was the new contrast to the Doctor’s character that was presented, personified in Jack Harkness.

His dashing, clearly space-age presence (what Rose quite appropriately describes as “very Spock”) is distinctly opposite to the Doctor’s, though they are equally alien.

As a character, Jack adds to the feeling of largeness to the series’ universe, where we are presented with another time travelling entity, the Time Agency – when we were originally only given to think that only the Doctor held free reign of time. Still, this adds a further dimension to the adventure, and reminds the viewer that not all other species in the universe are “below” the Doctor, in a way, and are not always stumped by his technologies or methods.

Jack also serves to point out how oddly humble and earthly the Doctor’s appearances are, with his tendencies for psychic paper and police box spaceships, rather than technology wrought of gleaming metal and flashing lights. This is something of the Doctor’s charm though, and Jack only reminds the viewer that the science fiction elements of the show are equally as unconventional as its horror ones.

The Empty Child ends with a cliff hanger. Nancy’s trapped. The Doctor, Jack and Rose are stuck. How do they get themselves out of danger?

 

Well, the Doctor does something quite unexpected and sends the other infected people to bed, the way an angry parent sends their child to bed. Surprisingly, humorously, it works. Despite the overall serious mood of the episode, it also carries a certain care-free aura that comes with the Doctor. The way it handled the infected people (sending them to bed). The exchange with Jack about his gun (telling them that the factory manufacturing the gun now has a banana plantation). The refusal to drop the banana for the simple reason that it’s “a good source of potassium.” It all reflects on how the Doctor can take even the deadliest situations in stride, rather than turning it into a massive source of stress. Choosing not to dance with Rose because he’s trying to “resonate concrete.”

 

At the same time, however, there’s still a hint danger that can be reflected even within these bouts of humor. When the Doctor tells Jack that he’d been to the factory once, Jack tells him that the factory got vaporized. The Doctor’s reply? “Like I said: once.” It implies that the reason it happened was because of the Doctor, which implies that the Doctor is not someone to mess around with, a fact that we’ve become quite aware of.

 

I think that, perhaps, the reason why Jack is in the story arc is to compare the Doctor to someone. Rose has only known one time traveler and that’s the Doctor. To know that there’s another being who can also go through time must be quite a delight and a surprise for her. She’s attracted to Jack the way one is attracted to something new, perhaps. It also helps that Jack’s attractive. However, at the end of it all, you can still see that her feelings, no matter how much it wavers, will return back to the Doctor.

 

The Doctor, for his part, probably feels this pull of attraction. At the end of the episode, when the Doctor suddenly remembers his dance moves, just as Rose is about to dance with Jack– is that intentional? An act of possessiveness or jealousy? Or was that simply coincidental? I hope it is coincidental but the way Rose and the Doctor’s relationship seems to be developing, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was done on purpose, for the Doctor’s part.

 

The story of the villain, of the Child is finally revealed. When we find out that the villain isn’t really a villain, but rather, nanogenes who had good intentions, it doesn’t seem frightening anymore. Nanogenes are alien; nanogenes, while technically unfamiliar, are safe because the Doctor knows what they are, which means there’s a solution at the tips of his hands.

 

Despite all this, it has an underlying sadness. The nanogenes thought they’d repaired Jamie but they hadn’t. Nancy isn’t looking at the ghost of her brother; she’s looking at the ghost of her son. How sad, how striking is that, to be haunted by your son. To know that your son, who is supposedly dead, is still keeps looking for you. I like the ending given to Nancy and Jamie; Nancy seems to love Jamie well enough and it gives the entire story arc a hopefulness that isn’t normally found at the end of the other episodes.