Watching Oxygen this week - which I liked, although I don’t know if enjoyed is a word I can apply to an episode with that little joy - I was struck by how much this season has featured systems as villains. And in most cases, it’s not even that the system was originally crafted to be evil, but rather that any system when taken to extremes has the potential to cause great harm.
Thin Ice and Oxygen both feature the system of capitalism, taken in the former to levels of evil we are familiar with and in the latter to levels that have not come to pass, but are scarily easy to imagine. Smile gives us the system of an artificial intelligence designed to make us happy, but through no malicious evil decides the best way to do that is to kill anyone who is sad. And Knock Knock has the system of the wood lice, which to save Eliza’s life kill many generations of housemates. The Pilot is perhaps an exception to this, in that the puddle is not trying to kill Bill, but it is still a system that becomes terrifying as it tries to fulfil it’s goal of running away with a pretty girl.
This could be chance, but five episodes in a row without a malicious or chaotic evil, without deliberate corruption or even malfunction outside the original parameters, looks very much like a narrative choice. And it’s a narrative choice that very much echoes current affairs. The capitalism episodes are a very direct parallel, but we are also seeing national pride turn into xenophobia and populism elect Trump. Our systems are breaking, and not even the most moderate or apolitical person could deny that now (although many people have been screaming about this for years).
We’re also becoming more aware of systemic racism, sexism, ableism, homophobia and transphobia, and how even if you stop people from being explicitly bigoted that still doesn’t solve the problem, because the problem is with the system not the individuals. This adds another narrative element, because we have the first lesbian companion (the first explicitly queer full time companion), and she’s also black, meaning she and people like her suffer from at least three types of systemic oppression.
I don’t think this can go on forever in Doctor Who, because Doctor Who is not a nihilist show. That’s kind of how I’m feeling about the world right now, even as I’m slowly chipping away in my own way. But Doctor Who is a show that always falls back on hope, on joy, on the idea that we are perhaps not quite as fucked as we though. And now that systems have been established in the Doctor Who universe as susceptible to evil at their extremes (or even slightly outside of normal parameters), it’s time for a string of episodes which break those systems, or reject them entirely.
I think it’s fitting that the next episode, Extremis, features both the Catholic Church - the epitome of a system corrupted by it’s own rules - and Missy - chaotic evil incarnate. And though Missy is definitely the Queen of Evil, she also rejects order and systems, and so is yet again an ally. For now.
I’m interested to see how this reading stacks up at the end of the series, especially because I think it depends very much on how the latter half goes, and the way Doctor Who provides hope and rebellion in a systematically fucked world. We could do with some of that around here.
hi! To that anon who asked about non-smut fics, taesthetes, blushoseoks, annyeongs, and lushguk are writers that I know of who don't write any smut at all! At the most, they only imply at smut. an-exotic-writer, yoongihime, and dreamscript have some smut, but I think the majority of their writing is non-smut
Oh my god, how did I manage to leave out fluff extraordinaire @an-exotic-writer in the first place?! To the smutless anon, please do give these writers a go!
The three eldest daughters of Duke Alfred of Edinburgh and Duchess Marie Alexandrovna of Russia. Princess Alexandra ( future princess of hohenlohe-langenburg) , Marie (future Queen of Romania) and Victoria Melita ( first marriage to Ernie of Hesse and second to Kirill Vladimirovich of Russia).
So, I needed to write this down bc it’s just way too coincidental not to.
One Tree Hill spoilers ahead.
So, let’s start with Brooke and Peyton who are best friends.
Peyton, the blonde haired, broken artist like Maya.
Brooke, the bubbly brunette dimpled cheerleader like Riley.
They both like the same boy, Lucas Scott. The blonde haired kind hearted athlete like (surprise surprise) Lucas Friar.
Brooke liked Lucas, and constantly talked about him with Peyton, with no clue that Lucas liked Peyton and Peyton liked Lucas. Eventually Brooke and Lucas began dating (Brucas / Rucas)
Lucas cheats on Brooke with Peyton. Brooke forgives him and they get back together. After a while, they broke up again, mostly because of the feelings between Peyton and Lucas.
Brooke, Peyton and Lucas, after some drama, go back to being good friends and Brooke tells Peyton that it’s okay if she has a relationship with Lucas and eventually pushes them together (sound familiar?)
Peyton and Lucas, in the end, are married. (I may be biased bc I’m a Leyton and Lucaya shipper but BRUH).
Lucas, Peyton and Brooke’s friend group includes Mouth, a dorky, non athletic, loyal and kind friend with insecurity issues who at one point had a huge crush on Brooke (Farkle and Riley).
Skills, the funny class clown who they go to when they need advice / a voice of reason and who usually knows everything that’s happening with his friends (Zay).
His best friends are Mouth and Lucas (Farkle, Lucas, Zay)
Now, we have Rachel who I think could parallel Missy. Rachel and Missy are queen bee-esque. Rachel tried to get with Lucas much to the dismay of Brooke (Missy, Lucas, Riley).
Peyton and Rachel hated each other (Missy and Maya). Both Missy and Rachel are bitchy, devious, flirtatious and they both grew up way too fast.
Nathan who could parallel Billy. Nathan was a dick at first, arrogant, an athlete, a bully. Nathan punched Mouth in the face once (Farkle and Billy)
After being influenced by Brooke, Peyton, Mouth, Skills and Lucas (mostly Haley but meh, details) he became a better and nicer person. He realised he wasn’t flawless (Girl Meets Flaws).
I think Millicent kind of parallels Smackle. They both have the dark hair, glasses thing going on. They’re both very smart.
She becomes good friends with Brooke (Riley and Smackle). By the end of the show, she is married to Mouth, the two being incredibly alike / equally smart (Farkle and Smackle).
And then you have Whitey who… kind of has nothing in common with Cory except for them both being influential teachers who made a big impact on the main characters lives.
Last but not least, another coincidental thing being that Mouth is played by Lee Norris aka the same actor who plays Stuart Minkus.
That’s all the parallels I can think of for now, but damn, those similarities.
So this week, news broke that Steven Moffat was to step down
from his position as showrunner. Honestly, I am not dreading this. Moffat has
had an excellent run and by the time he finishes Series 10, he will have been
doing the job for seven years. Doctor Who
is a show that thrives on change. However, it has been clear from over the last
six years that Moffat’s worst critics are generally those who do not understand
that fundamental principle of the show. Even if Moffat has have some writing
problems on the odd episode, he is one of the consistently best writers the
show has had. So I write this to celebrate the man, the devil, the one and only
Steven Moffat and his contributions to Doctor
Moffat has written some of the best written, relatable, and
well-rounded female characters this show has seen, both main and
supporting. On the companion side, we
have Amy Pond, River Song and Clara Oswald, all of which have different stories
and arcs that the audience can engage with. On the supporting end, Vastra,
Jenny, Kate Stewart, Osgood and Missy all play a vital role in the stories they
I can engage with Amy especially, as someone who loves
history and lived in a childhood fantasy world that I never wanted to leave,
but had to understand that growing up is normal. Her story is beautiful, with
her love for Rory undying, yet struggling in fear he would leave her as well.
Her ending is extremely satisfying to watch after two and a half series of
development and build up to that moment.
River’s story of regaining agency for herself is a brilliant
concept that had a decent execution, and she is the only companion who
understands the reality of being in love with The Doctor, which is rare in Nu-Who.
Also she’s a woman that is over forty who is allowed to be sexual without it
being a joke, which is rare in television let allow Doctor Who.
Clara is our longest running companion of Moffat’s era and
her story has been wonderful. The Impossible Girl arc was my favourite because
it brought about a load of theories and a new way to tell a story, and
ultimately it is revealed that Clara is perfectly ordinary woman who made an
extraordinary decision. Clara’s story did not end there. Over the next two series,
Clara deals with her control. When Series 8 results in her losing Danny because
she had too much control, Series 9 had her become reckless and controlling to
the point where is killed her. Through Clara we got the most feminist Doctor Who episode to date in ‘Hell
Bent’ where Clara declares that The Doctor has no right to take her memories
without her consent.
As well as the companions, we also have an array of vibrant
supporting female characters. Series 6 introduced Vastra and Jenny, the
Victorian lesbian couple who solve crimes and were the inspiration for Sherlock Holmes apparently, who are
badass, funny and providers of the first lesbian kiss on Doctor Who. Kate Stewart, daughter of Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart,
is the head of UNIT’s science department, cool under pressure and determined to
save her country by any means. Osgood, initially a comic relief character who
was meant to be a fan stand-in, turned into the most enjoyable supporting
characters. Then there is Missy, who is just queen of evil and a lot of fun to
Progression and the Prospect of a Different Kind of
Series 5 was a bit white and straight, and Moffat has
acknowledged this issue as time as gone on. Series 6 introduced three LGBT
characters, two of which are still regular supporting characters, as well as an
inter-race regeneration. Series 7 had an episode where the supporting cast was
black men. Series 8 had the first appearance of an intersex regeneration when
The Master became Missy. Series 9 had the first deaf actress, first transgender
actress, first intersex and inter-race regeneration and the majority of
episodes had a supporting cast of people of colour. That is outstanding
progression from where Moffat’s era began. As well, two of the female
companions have been established as being bisexual, with River openly flirting
with women and Clara often joyously talking about Jane Austin.
With this progression, Moffat’s era has been the first to
really establish the idea that The Doctor could become a person of colour and/or
a woman eventually. In Neil Gaiman’s episode ‘The Doctor’s Wife’ we get a
reference to a Timelord who could change between genders. In the same series,
we have Melody Pond, under the guise of Mels regenerates into River Song,
showing inter-race regeneration. In Series 8, the Master is reintroduced as
Missy, a female regeneration. Finally, Series 9 had The General, a Timelord who
had regenerated into a man, and then into a black woman. As someone who before
Series 8 was unsure if I would want a female Doctor, this development and
handling has put a lot more faith in me that it would be a good thing for the
Bringing back Gallifrey
When the show was brought back in 2005, it was revealed that
The Doctor’s home planet had been destroyed by him at the end of The Time War.
At first, this did bring a good opportunity for some character development for
The Doctor. While The Ninth Doctor had great development, The Tenth had very
shoddy handling and it was brought up scarcely in The Eleventh Doctor era. This
culminated in ‘The Day of the Doctor’ where it’s revealed Eleven had been
forcing himself to forget what he did and he makes the decision to save
Gallifrey rather than burn it.
This move has been criticised because it apparently wrecks
Nine and Ten’s characterisation, even though Ten and The War Doctor said they
would not remember saving Gallifrey. It does not affect Nine or Ten. They still
have to deal with their actions. They still have to think this through.
Whether it was ultimately going to be a bad decision or a
good decision, the return of Gallifrey brings new opportunities for The
Doctor’s character other than moping.
He brought new life to the show
Towards the end of Russell T Davies era, I was getting
rather bored with the Earth-based stories that were set in modern day London.
It is not really fate if The Doctor does not go anywhere out of the Southeast
of England. Also, the Daleks being used as the series main villain was getting
tired. It is not a slam against Davies. His era was fine for introducing new
audiences into the show after a hiatus, but after four series, it was starting
to feel like it was the same song on repeat.
So when Moffat took over, he decided to take the show back
to its roots and made it about all of time of space. In his first series, we
were on a space station, wartime Britain, late 19th century France,
and an alien ruins. He also made the Daleks scary again. Not with the Power
Ranger Daleks, though they did look cool, but with ‘Asylum of the Daleks’. It was
a terrifying environment to be in, as well as the idea of love being removed so
humans can become Daleks. In addition, Moffat came up with unique ideas with
the Daleks other than them just invading Earth. In Series 8, we have the main
cast going into an Dalek, and most recently, a psychoanalysis of Davros. Variety
did no harm.
Whether or not you can engage with Moffat’s writing style,
no one can deny all the contributions that he had made to Doctor Who in just six years. He has given us some of the best
characters, most progressive series, and took the show back to its roots as
well as coming up with new ideas with the villains.
I hope Chris Chibnall continues this good work, and I wish
Moffat the best luck for the future.