Archive for February, 2012


S2E11: Fear Her

I asked a friend once about how she felt about Doctor Who and she said she’d like it if it weren’t for the fact that it seemed so “kiddy”.

And to some extent I agree with her because on the offhand, Doctor Who has a lot of elements which can pass off as kiddy such as the morals or the design of some of the monsters but I think that’s the charm of Doctor Who because it is so much more than that.

This episode though seemed very kiddy to me. I think it was because it revolved around children and children’s drawings and the whole plot was very kid-nightmare driven. It seemed to be really aimed towards the younger viewing audience of Doctor Who because as an adult I found the whole thing with the lullaby a little bit corny and the evil father drawing coming to life. And the torch symbolizing love? Man.

Although I wasn’t totally taken by this episode one of the things I’ve noticed is how Doctor Who is starting to touch on issues that might be a little sensitive such as an abusive father. The same abusive father figure was touched on by the Idiot’s Lantern with the oppressive dad and all, but I find it interesting because the series touches on issues that are not just close to the person but close to a different dimension of feelings I’d like to think – things that hurt us, things that we don’t usually share.

And that was the whole crux of the episode – feelings of pain. Loneliness for the Isolus and Chloe Webber and how the mother did not want to talk about the death of Chloe’s dad with Chloe. Feelings that we don’t usually share which I think the episode encourages should be shared (which is a very corny moral but bear with me). It also happens in a housing area somewhere in London which seemed like a pretty modest neighbourhood which must have felt pretty close to a lot of the British viewers. Alongside it you’ve got the whole 2012 Olympics thing going on in London which is funny in itself. I’d really pay attention to the Olympics if David Tennant was the torch bearer though.

Another thing I found interesting in the episode was this wee bit of information:

 

Rose: Easy for you to say. You don’t have kids.

The Doctor: I was a dad once.

Rose: What did you say?

 

Now that really tickled my curiosity. The Doctor had kids with who? With what? And where is that kid now? There are so many secrets to uncover in this series. And after the Doctor is restored back to his three dimensional self he claims that a storm is coming, right after Rose claims that they will never be apart. Now of course I’m reeling considering that the season is near its end and I wonder what will happen next and I hope that David Tennant is not replaced by Matt Smith just yet.

Advertisements

S2E12: Army of Ghosts

This episode begins with a haunting Rose saying that this would be story of how she died. Call me naive, but I never thought Rose was going to have to die. I know companions change, so I thought that Rose could perhaps end up like Sarah Jane, still alive and breathing. Besides, I had gotten used to Rose as the Doctor’s companion that I really did not want her to leave.

Since this two-part episode is Rose’s last appearance as the Doctor’s companion (unless she had been lying and really won’t die by some reason in the next episode), it was wonderful to see her grow as an independent person. Lately, the Doctor has been entrusting her with saving the day/world because he believes in Rose, and it’s always great to see that Rose delivers. While in this episode, Rose gets caught snooping around by a Torchwood researcher, it is clear that the Doctor trusts her because he lets her do her own investigating for the team as the Doctor became a “prisoner,” as Yvonne put it, of Torchwood.

In this episode, we see how the physical form of aliens become friends of humans. Thinking that they were harmless, people around the world, with the help of Torchwood, embrace these alien forms with open arms. Although they were afraid of the ghosts at first, they just got used to it and started thinking that they were deceased relatives who have come back to earth, for example, Jackie and her father. Honestly though, if this happened in real life, I don’t think we would get used to it. The myths and legends of evil spirits and ghosts have been around for too long that they have made us fear them too much. Moreover, people, with many sci-fi shows such as Doctor Who, would already have the inkling that perhaps these ghosts are not really long lost relatives. It’s just that we want it to be true so badly that in our minds, it becomes true. We would think of the consequences of having alien life in our midst instead of blindly just accepting them.

What is different in this episode in comparison to most Doctor Who episodes is the rival of the Doctor. While in the end, it is revealed the his previous enemies have come back, the main enemy at first was the pompous Torchwood Institute–an organization that is run by humans. With their advancement in discovering alien technology, even with basic knowledge of psychic paper, they boasted about using alien technology for the betterment of the British Empire. They were also responsible or the ghosts appearances on earth, thinking that letting them in was harmless. They thought they knew so much that they would not listen to the Doctor, when really, there was much, much more that they had to learn.

When the Doctor first says,  “A footprint doesn’t look like a boot,” I did not immediately get the connection but when the ghosts started revealed their true Cybermen form and the Doctor repeated the aforementioned line, I thought the line was genius. In fact, this episode was genius. The pacing as well as the manner in which events had unfolded and revelations unveiled was done brilliantly. The episode was thrilling and action-packed; and with the comeback of the Cyberman and the Daleks, I really cannot wait for the next episode! Since those two races were extremely hard to defeat (actually, I thought the Daleks had been completely eliminated already), I wonder how the Doctor can triumph over them. With all that and Mickey’s return, I have high expectations for the season-ender episode.

S2E12: Army of Ghosts

I’ve seen a number of great opening sequences during these 3-4 months of watching Doctor Who but the opening sequence of the twelfth episode of this series stood head and shoulders above the rest. Almost everything in the first eleven episodes was summed up in those two minutes or so of Rose recollecting her life, narrating how she believed her life with the Doctor would last forever, that is until she died.

“This is the story of how I died.”

What a way to catch the viewer’s attention. It wasn’t “the story of how the Doctor and I went our separate ways” nor was it “the story of how the Doctor died”. Never in a million years did I think that Rose was going to die. Admittedly, I had a feeling that the end of this series would bear witness to the departure of Rose from the Doctor’s world and vice-versa. Heck, I even gave some thought to the idea of the Doctor dying. But I have to remind the viewers to not get ahead of ourselves. Being a semi-veteran viewer of the show, I know though that I can’t believe everything until it actually happens. You never know, those could’ve been Rose’s thoughts just seconds before the Doctor would come in save her from an apparent death. I honestly don’t want her to die. Rose has undeniably forged an intimate connection not only with the Doctor but with me as well.

What made the recollection of Rose’s life more poignant was the fact that not only is she supposedly going to die but she, herself, is telling the story of her death to me, the viewer. As in a previous episode “Love and Monsters”, this twelfth episode was implicitly depicted to have been told from a character’s point-of-view. In “Love and Monsters”, Elton recalled the events that had already taken place, the formation of LINDA and his encounters with Victor and the Doctor. In a way, I find this strategy of regressive storytelling surprising because it undermines that defining characteristic of Doctor Who, its uncanny power to surprise the viewer with timely and even untimely twists and turns. If you think about it, this twist of Rose’s death could have evoked a stronger feeling of distress and astonishment if it happened in the final moments of the entire series. On the other hand though, this seemingly untimely revelation may have been employed to set the tone for this episode and the succeeding ones.

More than portraying a darker and more serious episode, the revelation put me in a mindset of anxiety and sheer concern. Having been attached to the character of Rose since the previous series, I felt like I had the responsibility to religiously watch the remaining episodes and see for myself if she really is going to die. Once again my helplessness as a viewer is underscored in this very situation. But it then dawned on me that the implication of her death was that the Doctor was not able to save Rose as he was accustomed to doing so. This type of storytelling is interesting because it suggests the downfall of the infallible nature of the Doctor. The viewer’s helplessness is understandable since we live in a reality existing outside of the show but the same cannot be said for the Doctor. The Doctor is even made more helpless than the viewer because of his inability to save Rose, a character in his very own show and world. With this at the back of my mind, I became even more concentrated and focused while watching this episode.

After two so-called filler episodes that were quite light and comedic in nature, my expectations of a heart-wrenching and grim episode being grander in scale and production were met and even exceeded, as was the case in “The Satan Pit”. Rose’s surprising revelation, I think, cemented the fact that this series is not only nearing its end, but that it’s also going out with a bang, a big one at that.

“If it’s alien, it’s ours.”

Additionally, I liked how the episode finally started putting all the pieces together, especially that of the TORCHWOOD Institute. I was also fond of the idea of having the episode set in earth, the world of humans and not in some spaceship floating in the universe. The contrasting ideologies between the Doctor and mankind proved to be a unique source of tension. The activities and purpose of the TORCHWOOD Institute personified the drastic change in the mankind. From a race that was previously portrayed as weak and disengaged with the world, the episode painted a different picture of mankind. Not only was mankind more consciously aware of life outside earth but also of its own technological potential which in this case was exploited to harness the power originating from the breach in reality. The motto of TORCHWOOD above signifies a shift in power from the extra-terrestrial to mankind, which I previously hinted at in my first blog.

But beyond putting the puzzle pieces together, the episode set up a battle of epic proportions, one that was I expecting in “The Satan Pit”. The various elements and sub-stories that were included in the episode like the void spaceship, the hole in the fabric of reality and the collision of two different worlds made the episode bigger than life and much more. These apocalyptic conditions compounded the initial mystery and troubles presented by the army of ghosts. But it did not end there.

The Cybermen were revealed to have used the hole in reality in order to traverse their universe into the Doctor’s. And lastly, the void spaceship was revealed to have been a possession not of the Cybermen but of the Dalek. For the first time, the Doctor is faced with the unenviable challenge of facing, not just one, but two of his most memorable yet life-threatening enemies.

S2E11: Fear Her

Going into this episode, I expected it to be an introduction of some sorts to a revelation of an underlying plot as what happened in the previous series. Thinking that the previous episode was more of a transition episode, I thought this episode was going to be grand, visually entertaining and exhilarating. I was expecting the Doctor to face some bigger-than-life creature from another galaxy or even encounter the Daleks once again. But all of these did not happen. Although my initial expectations were way off, this episode proved to be a delight in the sense that it was literally “down to earth”.

In my previous blogs, I mentioned several times that I don’t really have a taste for science fiction characters. In the case of this particular show, I stressed on numerous occasions that I didn’t really like the Ood, Cybermen, Slitheen and the other various disgusting-to-look-at characters. Although I have learned to gradually like these characters of such nature little by little, nothing beats an episode of Doctor Who that tackles very human characters and the implications of being such. Episode eleven did so by grounding itself in a seemingly normal and pleasant British neighbourhood.

To me, the episode was very reminiscent of the previous series’ “The Empty Child” because both episodes centred on very young children. In this case, the episode’s plot revolved around a young child’s power of making people she drew disappear and trapping them in her sketches. Although the premise of the episode did not really appeal to me, I appreciated the change in environment. As in the previous episode, this series strangely continued this theme of normalcy. There weren’t any alien creatures or Cybermen in this episode just normal neighbourhood citizens. On the other hand though, some may be turned off for this very reason. In a way, the episode can be deemed quite cheap both in its production and plot. But I might just be one of the few who actually felt quite at home with this episode. Chloe, the girl at the center of all this mess, was wonderfully portrayed. She was both gentle and horrifying at the same time.

I’ve noticed that episodes of the show tend to involve families. In the “Idiot’s Lantern”, certain family complexities and power struggles were highlighted while in this episode a mother’s concern for her child was put in the spotlight. And what’s interesting is the ability of the Doctor to resolve such family matters. I say this because of the fact that he himself is not human at all. It’s as if the more alien he gets, the more human he becomes as well. Ever since I started watching the show, I have always been amazed by the Doctor’s willingness to simply feel and express anything and everything. If I were in his position, I’d find it hard to step back and just let go of a sort of Superman image, a person who thinks he is in control of everything while not letting his emotions get the best of him. The Doctor has this attraction and appeal to families and especially children presumably because they are simply awestruck by such a stranger which this episode portrayed. The Doctor forged an emotional connection not only with the child and her mother but with the Isolus as well. In his words, he sympathized for them. Every time the Doctor talks about loneliness, the need to love and fear and other vulnerabilities, I just sit back and cherish those seemingly negligible moments in the course of the series. It is quite apparent that the Doctor does not want anything, may it be a human or another extra-terrestrial creature, to endure isolation, an absence of love and many more. This episode proved once again that the Doctor is as human as any of the other characters are.

This episode also appealed to me because of its relevance. Being set in 2012 during the opening ceremonies of the Olympics, I found more common ground between the world of the Doctor and my world. One downside of the series in its entirety can be the distance it creates from the viewer. With the Doctor travelling to the past and future, and from one universe to another, I have found myself quite detached at some points during the course of the series. On the other hand, this episode felt more at home because of its setting. In the “Idiot’s Lantern”, it was the Queen’s coronation which was the big event, an event that I couldn’t really relate to because I wasn’t born yet. In this episode, the Olympics were depicted as the attention-grabbing event which I could more or less relate to. Additionally, I have noticed that it has become a pattern for the show to revolve around a big event. In “The Idiot’s Lantern”, families gathered around their televisions to watch the Queen’s coronation but in this episode the laptop was depicted as the primary means of viewing the Olympics. Being a 21st century person myself, I could so totally relate with this implication. The on-going transition that is taking place from the television to the laptop is inevitable. The power that the TV once possessed is constantly subsiding because of technology’s premium on convenience and accessibility.

Because of the circumstances, Rose had to shine in this episode and be the hero which she did. Although it was the Doctor who completed the Olympic run, Rose stepped up and acted surprisingly well under pressure due to the disappearance of the Doctor.

As with the previous episodes, separation between Rose and the Doctor was adequately integrated into the plot. Rose feared that her saving act was not able to free the Doctor from Chloe’s sketch until she saw him finish the Olympic run on the tv.

The last few minutes of the episode gave me the impression that the end of the series is near. Rose’s proud proclamation that she and the Doctor will never be split by anything and anyone made me think otherwise. The Doctor’s mention of an approaching storm, I think, foreshadows future harrowing events that could finally seal the fate of Rose and even the Doctor.

S2E11: Fear Her

I suppose the episode was entitled “Fear Her” because the culprit was a mere child, who one usually would not fear. However, even without knowing the title, right off the bat, I knew that the child was the “villain” in the episode since she was portrayed extremely creepily. Perhaps a big revelation on who the culprit was would have been a better way to unfold the plot.

Similar to the preceding episode, this episode was pretty light and quite fun, actually. Although the storyline went back to the Doctor and Rose defeating aliens, the alien, Isolus, involved did not really mean any harm. Moreover, the physical attributes and powers of the alien were not extremely frightening or even disgusting at all, as they were in other Doctor Who episodes. The motive was not even world destruction or any of that sort. Instead, the Isolus was a small, delicate flower which lives in a pod and travels in space together with billions of family members. Since its pod smashed into the earth, it was lonely and possessed Chloe Webber because it felt that she was lonely too. Its power was to capture anyone and anything Chloe drew on paper. Things were reduced to domestic matters, instead of the huge-scale save-the-earth situations. While I would have preferred the latter type of episode, I found the scribbles coming to life quite interesting and fun. It was every child’s dream–to make one’s drawings come to life.

A difference in the opinions of the Doctor and Rose can be found in this episode. The Doctor empathizes with the Isolus while Rose did not consider its situation as a valid reason for its making children disappear.

Rose: I’ve got cousins. Kids can’t have it all their own way. That’s part of being a family.
The Doctor: What about trying to understand them?

Although in this scene, they were talking about children and being part of a big family with cousins to share things with, I felt that the Doctor felt sorry for the alien because he knew what it was like to be traveling alone–to be estranged from family and to be left behind. Rose, on the other hand, seems to be the one who leaves people behind (for example, her mom and Mickey). In the end, their conversation leads to a startling revelation of the Doctor.

Rose: Easy for you to say. You don’t have kids.
The Doctor: I was a dad once.
Rose: What did you say?

Sadly, he disclosed nothing more than this. I hope that before the season ends, the Doctor would say more about this part of his past. On Rose’s character, Rose really is becoming more and more independent. Since the Doctor was drawn by Chloe and thus trapped inside the paper, Rose had to go and get the solution on her own, which she does, as expected, successfully.

Despite the lightness of this episode, as compared to the usual monumental Doctor Who episodes, I was still in tears by the end of the episode because of the drama between Chloe and her mom and how they fight the demon drawing of the father together. I just have a soft spot for family reconciliation themes. Again, this episode was domesticated as the focus of the episode, I believe, was more on the characters and their issues (e.g. loneliness) in the home rather than the alien itself.

This isn’t the most impressive Doctor Who episode, but I suppose that it is because the season is coming to an end already. This is probably giving leeway to the last two episodes, so they could be highlighted as absolutely outstanding season-ender episodes. This theory is reinforced by the last exchange between the Rose and the Doctor in this episode.

Rose: Nah, we’ll always be okay, you and me. Don’t you reckon Doctor?
The Doctor: There’s something in the air. There’s something coming.
Rose: What?
The Doctor: A storm’s approaching.

S2E13 Doomsday

Wow! What a way to end a series of the show! This episode to me did not just end series 2 of Doctor Who, but it ended the whole Rose era. Rose was spot on when she said, “He’s doing this to me again.” That was what I was thinking when the Doctor was trying to seal the void.  The Doctor was placed again on the position where he had to choose between saving Rose or staying with her, and just like before he would always choose the former. I have to say that through this action, he has been able to live up to his promise both to Jackie and Rose. Throughout his adventures with Rose, he has been able to look after her and keep her safe despite all the wars and battles that they have been to.

 

I got emotional in the end where I know that it’s practically goodbye between Rose and the Doctor. I have gotten used to seeing Rose’s character. She, to me, was very crucial in this particular series. With the new Doctor, she really gave that sense of identity to the show. If Rose were not in this particular series and the Doctor changed his face, there would be a different feel for the show. It would definitely give the show a different feel from here on out without Rose in the plot. However, we all could have expected that this was going to happen at one point or the other. We know that eventually Rose would have left or died and would leave the Doctor travelling alone. It was the reality of the nature of both the Doctor and Rose. The Doctor has said that human beings would perish and he expects that. However, we can still see that it was hard for him to deal with this separation. We see him shed tears and that made Rose special, not just to him, but to us also. We have witnessed something special between the Doctor and Rose. But as they say, the show must go on, and in the end of the episode we see what seems to be the Doctor’s new companion. Just like what Yvonne said in the previous episode, the Doctor always travels with someone and the bride in the end may just be that new ‘someone’.

 

In terms of the plot, one thing stood out to me. It was seeing Yvonne and her Cyberman version shed tears. I know that Cybermen are supposed to be deprived of emotions and free will. They just follow instructions, but here, we see Yvonne fight for her country and keep her duty. Again, we see a ‘message’ or ‘moral’ that the show is trying to convey. No one, still, could stop our free will or in the term of Kant, our maxims. We can still will to be good and fight for what’s right despite what was happening. Finally, I guess all my doubts in the beginning were right. Rose did not die. I know that the show was going to do something special and to me it was a better ending than having seen her die. We were able to see the reality of the Doctor and his companion. In the end, both of them would just go on with their separate lives that they used to have because in the realm of the Doctor, no one lasts ‘forever’ because he transcends the realm of time.

 

Overall, this finale was better than the first one. Here we see with the departure of Rose, a new chapter is about to begin with the same old Doctor, but we all know that his new companion would just make things interesting.

S2E12 Army of Ghosts

The episode starts with Rose telling us that it was going to be a story about her death. Now, I don’t know, but I’m having a hard time believing that. Time and time again, when we thought that everything is leading to failure, something magnificent comes up that would save the day. However, if ever Rose is going to die, I’m excited to see the things that transpired which led to her death not because I want her to die, but because I know it would take something out of the ordinary to kill Rose.

 

Throughout the series we have seen a different Rose compared to the first one. We see a Rose who is more independent of the Doctor and often times we see the Doctor and Rose split up to get the job done. In this particular episode, it happened again and all those times where Rose began do to things on her own are coming on handy. We could also see the trust given to her by the Doctor. Before the Doctor would be extra careful with Rose, but now it’s like he’s giving her that sense of freedom because he know that things would be okay. Aside from the main characters, we see one recurring theme in this particular episode that all started with Christmas Invasion. We see human beings being ignorant about their actions and are making matters worse, but to top that off they are not listening to the Doctor’s advice. Again we see it here, luckily the Doctor was able to get the attention of the human beings, but it’s all too late. Things have already gone haywire.

 

Just like what I said a while ago, it would take something out of the extra-ordinary to kill Rose. We saw the Cybermen invade and take over Torchwood with their mission to turn human beings to something more superior. When I saw that, I was thinking that maybe the Cybermen are stronger than when the Doctor first dealt with them. However, I still doubt it if they could defeat the Doctor and kill Rose. However, when I see that the Daleks are the ones inside the void ship, I had a change of perspective. I mean the Doctor had a hard time dealing with the Cybermen and now you add to it his worst nemesis, Daleks, to the picture. I’m starting to believe that Rose could eventually die after the second part of this finale.

 

Aside from the plot, we see a lot of continuity and references in this episode. Yvonne was telling the Doctor that they were the same people who killed the entire race of the aliens in the Christmas Invasion and it is only in this episode where we are dealing with the consequences of their actions. It is only fitting that just like the first series where the show ended with the Doctor dealing with the ‘system’ of Bad Wolf, now he’s going to deal with another grand system, which is the Torchwood, but this time it’s worse because it is not from some alien. Instead, the humans themselves made it. That has been a recurring theme since the Christmas offering of this show. A lot of aspects of humanity have been discussed and this is the climax of everything. We can see the Doctor’s frustration when he was talking to Yvonne and rightfully so. As a viewer of the show, you realize that sometimes, human beings could be so stupid and could be the reason of their own demise.

 

This episode has been full of action, and I just couldn’t wait for the next one!

S2E10: Love & Monsters

After the very heavy two-parter “The Impossible Planet”/”The Satan Pit”, this campy-ness of this episode is a much welcomed relief. The Scooby Doo-esque “running after each other in a hallway full of doors” intoduction aside, I enjoyed how the story was still about the Doctor but from the perspective of Elton Pope, a third party observer of sorts. This is the first time we meet the character and yet we learn that he had been in the sidelines for some of the Doctor’s adventures with Rose since series one. This new approach applies, in a way, the idea of “the same kind of different” such that we have the basic elements (the Doctor, his companion, and an alien threat) but presented in an entirely different manner.

On one hand, this episode also answered my question about whether there were people out there who noticed the Doctor and decided to research him as Rose did in the pilot. It is impossible to miss an Autoton invasion or a Slitheen ship crashing into Big Ben, so it was good for the show to acknowledge that there must be some people who are curious enough to try and understand the strange occurances that surround the Doctor’s adventures. I know that if a Sycorax fleet was suddenly flying above my house, I would definitely be asking a few questions to try and make sense of what I just saw. In the case of Elton, he was witness to three of these adventures as well as a mysterious meeting with the Doctor as a child.

As I mentioned earlier, this provides a heavy dose of comedy which is well-deserved after the rollercoaster of the last two episodes we watched. There are so many entertaining scenes but my favorites are definitely those between Jackie Tyler and Elton becuase it is just so great because of the awkwardness. As you watch Elton readying himself to sleep with Jackie for the sake of getting information about Rose, you just have to stop and think “Jesus, does this guy really want to know where the Doctor is that badly?” As a fan of Harry Potter, my brain is programmed to search out the actors in everything I see, so I was definitely pleased to see Moaning Myrtle here. It was impossible for me to separate Ursula with Myrtle, however; I kept on imagining that if the latter wasn’t a witch who was killed by the Basilisk and doomed to forever roam the bathrooms of Hogwarts, she would have been Ursuala (and later doomed to live the tragic life of a clay tile).

While it is a light episode, the end gives us a lot to think about especially as the second series wraps up. Elton is still talking to his camera when he discusses how unintentionally destructive the Doctor’s life is to the people around him. He mentions how he himself has only known the man through the information he’s gathered and in brief meetings, but he has lost so much. There is something extremely forboding when he considers Rose and Jackie, and what their fate will be in the end.

S2E9: The Satan Pit

This second and final installment to the story that begain with “The Impossible Planet” is aptly named as we come to assume that Satan’s Pit is exactly where the Doctor finds himself . As I mentioned in my previous post, all the details we picked up from the last episode leads us to the conclusion that it is the Devil himself that takes over Toby and the Oods; certainly, when we finally see The Beast, it is all horns and hooves and exactly what we are taught to fear by the Bible. The Doctor, without closing the door on the possibility that this is indeed Satan as we know it, voices the idea that the human race’s idea of religion (specifically the Devil) was shaped by the very thing we see in the episode. The idea is that the consciousness of The Beast reaches all throughout the universe even from its prison, that what we know to be evil is unnowingly based on this psychic connection we have with this creature. The thought that our ideas can shaped by The Beast  is infinitely more unsettling than our first assumption that Rose and the Doctor have finally found what we know to be the Devil.

The take on the situation also brings us to question other elements of religion, or at least the Christian faith. We know from our catechism classes that Lucifer was taken to Hell after the battle between his army and the archangels. Similarly, the story of The Beast  includes his imprisonment in the pit by what could possibly correspond to our understanding of the angels. Even the idea of a firey pit may also have come from the reality of The Beast as we see its form cast in the light of flames as its struggles against its bonds. I also mentioned in the previous post that the very image of it is similar, if not identical, to prints of the Devil in even some of the earliest religious books; clearly, even as its body is physically bound to the planet, its mind is strong enough to draw others to it, and perhaps it was why the crew was there to begin with even though they themselves attributed it to their scientific curiosity.

As mentioned earlier, the complex issue surrounding the true nature of The Beast in connection to humanity is left open, which is probably the best way it could be handled. Even after Rose asks the Doctor in the TARDIS about what he saw in the pit, he cannot give her a straight answer. He, who once thought himself to have seen everything, was clearly shaken by the experience though perhaps grateful for it in some way. Because although his beliefs were questioned and his knowledge of the universe second-guessed, he says that these are also among the reasons for his travels. This is a lesson that can resonate with its viewers in the sense that it embraces the idea of always learning something new, of questioning your own principles and beliefs, finding out the truth, and opening yourself to changes as they come.

S2E8: The Impossible Planet

This episode is the first of a two-part story, which, I think, is the most interesting one from all the episodes we have seen so far. Up until this point in the show (after the reboot at least), the Doctor has faced off with all kinds of alien threats, new and old nemeses alike; no matter the circumstance, our Time Lord hero understood what he was facing and knew exactly what to do to outsmart it. This is not the case here in “The Impossible Planet.” The first indication that the Doctor is dealing with something completely different from before is the writing on the wall that Rose notices after they land in the empty corridor; the TARDIS, which we expect is able to translate all the languages in the universe, is unable to make sense of the symbols. Clearly, whoever is behind those writings is something the Doctor had encountered before, something that perhaps all Time Lords had never met.

The second indication is something we take from the title itself. The place where the TARDIS landed is impossible even to the Doctor, who spent most of his life running across the universe. If anyone would know what is possible from the impossible, it would be him. This story serves to remind both viewers and the Doctor of the vastness of the universe and the impossibility of knowing everything about it; even for a Time Lord who has been titled as “The Oncoming Storm,” there are some things he may never come to know. This, in a way,  almost humanizes the Doctor as a character such that he has no idea what to expect next just like the others in the space station.

What really sets this story apart for me is the way it takes the basic elements of religion, and tries to reconcile it with science and the way the universe works within the Whoniverse. It is a monumental task and a heavy topic at that, but Matt Jones deals with it in a way that the viewers are able to make their own decisions at the end of the story. Certainly, just like most episodes of Doctor Who, the plot centers on good (as represented by the Doctor) versus “evil” (as represented by the Doctor’s opponent). The difference here is that what is called as The Beast appears to be The Evil, which the human race has come to call Satan or the Devil. The imagery itself is very close to what we are familiar with down to the horns, that it resides in a pit (ironically, the sign that the Doctor and Rose first see after they arrive is “Welcome to hell”), and that it “bathes in the black sun”; all of these are exactly what we associate with the Devil and our assumption is further supported by the Ood, who replies to Rose’s question on wages by saying that The Beast has armies that will rise against God. Clearly, whatever it is that the Doctor must now overcome–Devil or not–is nothing ordinary.

(continued in “The Satan Pit” here)