The Pilot (a wholock meta)
[I wrote these thoughts after watching Doctor Who ‘The Pilot’ last week and meant to post this. This is really just for myself so sorry in advance if I don’t make tons of sense here. I would say I’’m gonna write something about each ep but I usually don’t stick to what I say I’m gonna do haha so anything could happen]
Oh jeez where do even I start? The Pilot (!). Called as much supposedly because this DW episode can be watched by people new to the show. But me thinks that’s not all there is to it. There’s the flight of the dead and Girl on the Plane from TFP, the “Landing” as johnlock going canon …and there’s also a Sherlock Pilot. Planes are ships. Pilots are the ones in control of that ship. It crashes, or it lands safely. There’s no planes in this DW episode (there are spaceships tho). But there’s a ‘ship’.
So Bill and Heather are John and Sherlock, obviously yes? But the mirroring works so both Bill and Heather are constantly both John and Sherlock for different sort of threads of the subtext. Heather even has a black coat and scarf in the pic above but then shortish blond hair like John.
Like @jenna221b said the “defect” in the eye that Heather wants to “fix” is sentiment (nice one), while Bill thinks it’s beautiful (“it looks like a star”). Sherlock thinks this is his weakness that needs to be fixed. But John sees that in him and loves him for it.
But were you not also reminded of Ben C’s eyes and his heterochromia?? I was. Her eyes were blue and green and gold. It would reinforce the Sherlock mirror. I wouldn’t put it past them because I’ve seen other character mirrors in other DW episodes given the names and traits of ben, martin and amanda because Moffat uses johnlock mirrors in SO many episodes that he must run out of ways to code them.
Heather was coded as suicidal - she in fact DID take her own life. I didn’t see this the first time. DUH! “Everywhere I go I just want to leave”. Then the puddle gets her and she does “leave”, because the puddle gives you what you want.
I have a feeling that the episode name is a sherlock clue on an extra level. What if it’s also about the Gay Pilot?? I think we’re seeing John and Sherlock where they were at the beginning of their journeys
(what if this doctor who season somehow takes us through a johnlock romance arc somehow with different mirrors every time?? Might not happen but would be neat. Bonus for any clues about what the heck sherlock s4 was).
Sherlock in ASiP wants to “leave” like Heather does in this “Pilot”, taking the cabbie’s pill gambling his life on a 50/50 chance. And John with his gun in his drawer, contemplating it for a moment at the beginning of ASiP. By TLD Sherlock’s gotten to the point where he realises, possibly even surprising himself, that he doesn’t want to die. That’s the end of his character arc though. But here we see Heather willingly let the puddle invite her in, just as Sherlock brings the pill up to his mouth in ASiP.
Maybe this is the significance of the chips. In TLD Sherlock gets chips for Faith because she’s suicidal, and Bill “Serves chips”. She keeps people from taking their lives. Sort of foreshadowing John’s arc, and how John saves Sherlock from that by giving him a reason to live (thats what boyfriends do, they feed you up).
We also have the “can I show you something?” “God, yes!” between Heather and Bill. Another pilot reference.
Heather’s last thought was of Bill, so once this evil alien puddle thingy had taken her, she pursued Bill to the farthest reaches of the universe (please stop me thinking of that johnlock fanvid and the song lyric “anywhere I would have followed you”).
And what the hell happens next is confusing but there’s a little metaphor in there and maybe a HLV and a TRF reference too (the Fall and Fall 2.0).
Bill: Oh my god, I understand.
Doctor: You what?
Bill: The last thing she said to me. She promised she wouldn’t leave without me.
In T6t we hear all this business about Sherlock’s vow. That it was apparently to protect Mary. It’s a TRICK! Word play. And Sherlock never actually said that before T6T began. T6T was Mary as storyteller, twisting Sherlock’s words to fit her own evil narrative. What he did say that I talked about here , was that he would always “be there”. Just that, that’s it. He promised he wouldn’t leave.
(this gets cooler if you think about EMP starting when Mary shot Sherlock because Sherlock’s vow he made at the wedding was ONE OF THE LAST things he ever said to John before the day of CAM tower) Bill about Heather: “The last thing she said to me. She promised she wouldn’t leave”
The Doctor tells Bill that she needs to release Heather from her promise, to let her go. So she does. They sort of…break up?
You have to let me go.
You have to let me go.
I really liked you.
I really liked you.
In TRF Sherlock sort of breaks up with John before he jumps from the roof by telling John he was a fake. To maybe somehow attempt to release John from what was between them. But of course it didn’t work very well. And then there’s this parallel too…
Then Bill and Heather grab onto each other.
Doctor: Don’t, don’t! Bill, let go! Bill, listen to me. Whatever she’s showing you, whatever she’s letting you see. It’s a lure, it’s a trap. She’s making you part of her, and you can never come back.
So what the hell happens here exactly? I have one idea that’s a bit trippy.
This brief kind of random scene is full metaphor for queerness, and the two opposing ways it is viewed: from the outside in, and from the inside out.
It’s also about John’s fear and internalized homophobia.
From the outside, those who fear it and are against it see it as something dangerous and terrifying, something that spreads and infects and marks you forever.
From the inside queerness is beautiful, good, and human.
Bill hesitates then grabs a hold of Heather, subconsciously drawn to this “danger” in front of her. We think she’s in danger because in that moment we the audience are seeing queerness from the outside in. But Bill isn’t in danger at all as we find out a moment later. Heather transports her to another world and Bill is sort of filled with a feeling of ecstasy. She doesn’t look scared, she looks happy.
Bill: I see what you see. It’s beautiful.
But on the outside the Doctor is terrified and thinks she’s in danger.
Doctor: Whatever she’s showing you, whatever she’s letting you see. It’s a lure, it’s a trap. She’s making you part of her, and you can never come back.
Bill mirrors John here, wanting to enter this world with Sherlock but feeling afraid, with the voice of his internalized homophobia telling him he’s being lured and trapped. That’s why Bill lets go, because she’s afraid. It’s suddenly Sherlock and John reaching for each other again, but that distance between them coming into focus and ripping their hands apart.
Bill: I saw it all for a moment … everything out there. She was going to let me fly with her. She was inviting me. - But I was too scared.
Check out Moffat’s specific and meaningful word choice bolded above. Out there (out of the closet). Fly (because falling’s just like flying). And a reminder that John’s afraid.
So often with villains or monsters in DW, they simultaneously mirror something beautiful and something threatening. It’s the danger of those things that we long for but which could also hurt us. It’s a truth that will either kill you in trying to uncover it, or will set you free.