Monday, 23 November 2009

The Waters of Mars - a thought

Okay, here's my opinion on an aspect of The Waters of Mars:

Back at Easter we were told that Planet of the Dead would be the last hurrah for the Tenth Doctor. It really was. It, like its predecessor, The Next Doctor, ended with humanity publicly celebrating and cheering both the Doctor and his actions, with one character repeating, emphatically, just how much he loved him. The Waters of Mars, on the other hand, ended on a much more private and sombre level. One human is terrified of the Doctor and runs away from him after commenting on the TARDIS’ dimensions (something that up until that point had always been either a source of joy or at the very worst “non-sense”) and another undermines his choices by killing herself. It would seem that humanity adores the Doctor but, in a trend hinted at by Donna in The Runaway Bride, shies away from the self same figure when he acknowledges and embraces exactly was he is and what it means, i.e. that he is not just an alien but a Time Lord, the Last of the Time Lords; someone not just with responsibilities but also power – a terrible, frightening power if used for the wrong reasons.

Let’s not make any mistakes here - the Doctor has always been an arrogant figure. Examples range from recent activity in which he and Rose roamed the universe believing they were Teflon coated to the Third Doctor belittling the Brigadier, government officials and generally anyone in a position of authority on a regular basis. Indeed, the First Doctor was once so sure of himself that was prepared to contemplate murder to escape a situation. However, his actions were always governed and directed by rules, and by the questioning of those around him. Also, let’s be honest, what he strives to do here echoes what a lot of people, both audience and characters, have often asked: Why doesn’t he just save those he knows will die? Surely by taking the remaining survivors of Bowie Base One home, he is preserving that most important of things: life.

What happens in The Waters of Mars is that he throws aside the rules that once made him dictate “You can’t rewrite history. Not one line!” and with no-one there to stop him, to question if he has “the right” to do this the arrogance takes our renegade down a path in which he no longer cares, no longer has to answer to anyone. In so doing he becomes what he has always fought against, a figure that acts without fear of consequence. He becomes someone who could stand alongside Omega, the Master or even his very own alter-ego, the Valeyard. It could be argued that he even trumps them all in that he sets himself up as a vigilante.

The Doctor that upheld the laws of time in Mexico would have been appalled. As would someone else. At the end of The Waters of Mars, the Doctor should have turned around to see Barbara Wright. She would have probably bitch-slapped him across the face before vanishing into the night – and who would have blamed her?

1 comment:

  1. Well said. Anyone who doesn't believe the Doctor has more than a touch of arrogance really hasn't been paying attention. Yes, he's lived by the teachings and edicts of the Time Lords - sort of. As you say, there are examples from Doctor #1 up to and including Doctor #10 where the rules, both stated and assumed, have been bent, perhaps even broken.

    Perhaps Rassilon will come out of his self-imposed prison (isn't ANYONE going to address the whole immortal Time Lords in the alternate dimensional realm attached to the Dark Tower thingee?) and bitch-slap the Doctor instead of having Barbara do it.

    Sadly, I likely won't get to see this episode for some time. Hope "Waters of Mars" was otherwise enjoyable.