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If the Doctor is God, is Susan the female Jesus once-removed?...Doctor Who, 2007 Series

(Stolen again from my LJ page.)

So, back in the last days of classic Who, a new script editor was hired, Andrew Cartmel, who was at least partially responsible the the shows last Golden Era. Working to a vague set of ideas, later dubbed (by fanboys) the "Cartmel Master Plan," he and his chosen writers sought to return the mystery to the Doctor's character. Some of these ideas were implemented in the series, many more were flushed out in the Virgin New Adventure series of novels, and some were left by the wayside, to be picked over when Who returned 16 years later. One of these last group was the concept of the Doctor as a truly godlike-figure...well, you don't get much more godlike than the Doctor we see in the 2007 Series. Indeed, this whole series is so tied up with images from the Religions of the Book as to the closest Doctor Who has ever come to addressing religion on its own terms.

While it could be considered part of the 2006 Series, "The Runaway Bride" feels much closer thematically to the following series. It is a prelude to the Martha Jones era, as opposed to the last coda to the Rose era, if you will. While the Doctor had previously been referred to as the Lonely God ("New Earth"), that image didn't quite compliment he and Rose's youthful exuberance. Instead, we have to wait until "The Runaway Bride" and the 2007 Series to see how this might be this Doctor.

So, how is the Doctor (a) god? Well, let 's see...

"The Runaway Bride": He shows absolute control over life and death--he shows no mercy. The Doctor is God, and he shall judge the living and the dead.

"Smith and Jones": The Doctor poses as a human and sacrifices his life, only to return to life to save veryone--hell, his blood is even drunk.

"The Shakespeare Code": More than any other, perhaps, this points to the season finale. Here, we explore the power of words to create and control. It doesn't really get much more blatant than this. We have Genesis (Let there be...), the Gospel According to John (In the beginning was the Word...), Adam naming the animals and having dominion. Truly, this is old magic. (Note: this episode, along with the series finale, seem to imply that, if God exists, he is a very powerful, very old, and very wise scientist.)

"Gridlock": Another clue to the series finale: the power of faith to sustain the human spirit even in the darkest times. The Face of Boe, the Doctor's mirror image, sacrificing his life to "Let there be light." Indeed, the whole concept of being trapped underground and then rising into the sun has a very purgatorial, Dantesque feel to it.

Aside from the Biblical allusions of "Solomon" and "Lazarus," the next four episodes don't really feature much in the way of the ongoing theme, although they certainly contribute heavily to the ongoing plot line about Mr. Saxon, which features some elements of religious imagery, as Mr. Saxon (the Master) can easily be compared to the Antichrist. It's not the most interesting comparison, sure, but, there it is. It is worth considering that these four episodes are almost universally agreed to be the weakest of this series, and of the new series as a whole. Coincidence?

"Human Nature"/"Family of Blood": Again, we have the Doctor becoming human, this time literally, before he once again re-emerges to save the day. Also, this is the first time since "The Runaway Bride" that we see the 10th Doctor's rage--the "rage of the Time Lord." This is very reminiscent of the wrath of a vengeful God from the Old Testament. In fact, this two-parter was based on a novel originally written for the very godlike 7th Doctor.

"Blink": Aside from the fact that the Weeping Angels are, well, Angels, we get the very clever use of the Doctor as major character who hardly appears, but intervenes and must be trusted implicitly and obeted, just like a certain deity in certain ancient texts...

"Utopia"/"The Sound of Drums"/"Last of the Time Lords": Lordy, Lordy, lou...where does one start? Rose once referred to the Dalek Emperor as "the False God." Really, the Master is the False God, and this entire trilogy is about two godlike beings, (God v Satan, Christ v Anti-Christ) battling over the hearts, bodies, and minds of the human species. Throw in the (literal) spreading of the word, the Doctor's resurrection, and his beatific pose as he flies toward the Master -- plus the fact that the whole deal ends in forgiveness--and you have a trilogy so steeped in religiosity that it almost abandons science fiction completely to become out-and-out allegory.

All this from an avowed atheist, Russel T. Davies.

As an almost afterthought, I'm going to throw in "Voyage of the Damned," which certainly doesn't thematically connect with the 2008 series, but does rather nicely with this once, in some respects. Aside from the title ("Damned" being originally a religious term), we have the Angels (even called the Host), a sense of an afterlife (with Astrid out among the stars), and even a scene of the Doctor's Ascension that could come straight from the brush of a very forward thinking Old Master. I mention this as an afterthought because, more than any other special, this one feels disconnected from everything around it. The whole thing is really just "The Poseidon Adventure" in space and doesn't really go anywhere interesting dramatically or thematically.

So, discounting that as a one off, where did we leave the Doctor? Well, we left him alone (again), but, more importantly, we left him having barely averted a major interplanetary war. The Master wanted to build a new Time Lord Empire--and the Daleks are still out there (well, at least, one Dalek), trying to rebuild the Dalek empire. Of course, this would lead inexorably to the next "Great Time War." (Ties in nicely with "Human Nature"/"Family of Blood", set just before WWI, or, as it was called then, the "Great War." Who would be surprised if we eventually had "Time War II" as we do "World War II?") In essence, we have a Doctor who almost certainly is thinking of, and being consumed by, the seeming inevitability of subjugation, conflict, and war. This is the Doctor we find when we return to the TARDIS in 2008. In many ways, the series is about to come full circle...


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