dw: the impossible astronaut

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?

I just finished watching “The Wedding of River Song” and that was probably one of the biggest mistakes of my life. I wanted to make sure that my criticisms about the show were justified and after watching the episode, I realized just how much I dislike it.

Some thoughts about the episode:

  • The plot was confusing

Because I’ve seen the episode before, I was able to keep track of it. However, my brother - who has seen a few episodes of the show - was completely lost. I had to keep pausing Netflix to explain what was going on. Every time, he’d shake his head and ask, “Why is any of that necessary. I don’t get it!”

I understand that fans tend to gravitate toward complex plots, but casual viewers such as my brother aren’t going to be able to understand what’s going on and thus you’ll lose their viewership.

  • Rule #1: The Doctor lies

No. Just no. This idea blossomed when we met River Song, whose whole relationship with the Doctor is based on “one day we’ll be in love” and “spoilers.” River gives a speech in the end of “The Wedding of River Song” in which she says something along the lines of, “I’m not supposed to tell you this, because it could mess with time and stuff, but I’m going to anyway.” This and many other instances establish River’s character as forever a mystery, to be generous. But to transition River’s habits over into The Doctor and claim that he’s always been one for lying? No.

While I’m on the topic, let’s move on to…

  • River/Doctor

All I remembered from this episode was that the Doctor and River get married (which, hello episode title.) But I forgot just how nasty the Doctor was to River. He talks down to her the whole episode. Here’s a few examples:

The Doctor: I don’t have the time, nobody has the time. Because as long as I’m alive, time is dying. Because of you, River.

River: Because I refused to kill the man I love.

The Doctor: Oh you love me, do you? (He moves toward her.)     

Amy: Get him!

The Doctor: Oh, that’s sweet of you, isn’t that sweet, come here you. (The guards pull him back.)     

River: I’m not a fool, sweetie. I know what happens if we touch. (he grabs her arm forcefully.) Get off me! Get him off me!

and this:

River: Am I the woman who marries you, or the woman who murders you?

The Doctor: Oh… I don’t want to marry you.

and this:

River: I’m a child of the TARDIS. I understand the physics.

The Doctor: But that’s all you’ve got is a distress beacon?      

oh, and here’s this gem:

River: I’ve been sending out a message. A distress call. Outside the bubble of our time. The universe is still turning and I’ve sent a message everywhere. To the future and the past, the beginning and the end of everything. “The Doctor is dying. Please, please help.”

The Doctor: River! River! This is ridiculous! That would mean nothing to anyone. It’s insane. Worse, it’s stupid! You embarrass me.

I don’t ship Eleven/River. But I believe that River Song loved him, as much as someone who was brainwashed into trying to kill and then love the Doctor is able to.

Listen to how the Doctor treats her. She couldn’t kill him because she loves him. Can you imagine how difficult it would be to try to kill someone you love, even if you knew it was the right thing? But instead of saying that he understands, the Doctor spits in her face. How can you watch them get “married” after listening to the Doctor treat River in such a manner? And don’t give me some kind of excuse, like, oh, the Doctor was just stressed out and thus entitled to his anger.

  • The Ultimate Question

Since when does the Doctor’s name matter so much? He chose his own name, Doctor, for a reason. It stands for everything he believes in (or used to believe in; I don’t think Eleven cares about anything besides himself anymore) and that’s what matters, not his birth name.

Furthermore, how could the Doctor’s name bring about the end of the universe? I just…I don’t understand? I’m really trying to and I can’t, because it makes no sense. Before Steven Moffat took over, the Doctor wasn’t this shining superstar that all the evil beings in the universe were hell-bent on destroying because they knew that his name had catastrophic properties.

I could go about the enormous plot holes in the episode, but that’s already been dealt with by a group of people more eloquent than I. So I’ll leave this where it is and end it by saying that I’m glad I rewatched the episode, because as much as it sickened me, I’m relieved to realize that my initial feelings about Moffat’s era have only been confirmed.

2

Things I love about River and The Doctor [1/??] They’re friends with an alien fish named Jim.

My sweetheart took Jim and me out for karaoke… Jim the Fish in that suit in that bar singing that song, gils flaring, teeth sparkling under the glitterball. – Excerpt from River’s diary

8

When I first met the Doctor— a long long time ago—he knew all about me. Think about that. Impressionable young girl and suddenly this man just drops out of the sky. He's clever and mad and wonderful and... and knows every last thing about her. Imagine what that does to a girl.

4

There are just so many different emotions going on in this one scene.

The Doctor is angry because he knows they’re all hiding something from him and he’s forcing himself to listen to Amy because he does trust her even though it goes against all his instincts.

Amy is falling apart when he says his life is in her hands because she can’t stand letting him trust her with his life when she knows she can’t keep it safe.

River is thanking Amy for saving her by taking the fall because she knows Amy can’t handle it as well as she could have, but the Doctor doesn’t trust her so she can’t do anything. His lack of trust in her was painful enough before she even saw Amy’s face.

And Rory doesn’t really know what to do and is just trying to comfort Amy because he too can see she’s falling apart and barely hanging on.