I’ve never gotten the complaint about the Eleventh Doctor’s actions at the end of Day of the Moon because the idea that he commits genocide and turns humanity into murderers seems like a fundamental misreading of the entire conflict?
Some dialogue from the episode:
- “They’ve been running your lives for a very long time now, so keep this straight in your head: We are not fighting an alien invasion, we’re leading a revolution. And today, the battle begins.”
- “This world is ours. We have ruled it since the wheel and the fire.”
- “We have ruled your lives since your lives began. You should kill us all on sight, but you will never remember we were even here. Your will is ours.”
- “Because that’s what the Silence do. Think about it. They don’t make anything themselves. They don’t have to. They get other life forms to do it for them. […] Superparasites, standing in the shadows of human history since the very beginning. We know they can influence human behaviour any way they want. If they’ve been doing that on a global scale for thousands of years…”
The Silence are slavers.
Just to hammer in the point, I feel the need to drop in a quote from the Ninth Doctor in The Long Game…
The Editor: “Well, now, there’s an interesting point. Is a slave a slave if he doesn’t know he’s enslaved?”
The Doctor: “Yes.”
People who are under the influence of the Silence don’t know what they’re doing or why they’re doing it, and the Silence edit themselves out of peoples’ memories as soon as you look away from them.
The Doctor doesn’t “commit genocide” against them, or turn humanity into murderers.
Canton recorded a line of the Silent he tended to the wounds of, who told him “You should kill us all on sight”, which the Doctor used as part of the moon landing broadcast - watched by over half a billion people. That’s… not the entire human race (which numbered over 3.6 billion in 1969).
What it meant was, from that point, any time the Silence attempt to enslave a human (who has that subconscious message from the moon landing), that human fights back.
Not to mention the fact that the Silence were responsible for blowing up the TARDIS and causing the end of the universe in Series 5…
Like… it’s not a clean, happy ending. That’s the point. But the Doctor using the Silence’s own words against them, enabling humanity to rise up against a parasitic species that has enslaved them since they were cavemen, is not something that really condemns him.
Same goes for River as she kills a dozen of them at the end of the episode, as Kovarian refers to the Silence (in Closing Time) as “Your owners” when River asks what they are.
It ties into Series 6′s big theme of agency, and how the stories of Eleven’s actions against his enemies cause him to become a dark legend - changing the meaning of his name to the likes of “mighty warrior”.
It’s about facing enemies who put the Doctor in positions where his actions aren’t as clean as we’re comfortable seeing in Doctor Who, leading up to the major plot beats in A Good Man Goes to War, The Wedding of River Song, and several other episodes in Series 7 that culminates in Clara telling him not to be a hero or a warrior - but to “be a Doctor”.
In this particular instance though, who on earth would argue that the Silence - literal slavers - didn’t deserve what they got?