River Song continues to not only be one of my favorite characters on Doctor Who, but my favorite arc/development that a character has seen under the writing of Steven Moffat. Though I love the idea and it was executed very well, I think sometimes with River’s timeline being presented as out of order/backwards masks some of the most heartbreaking and well done character development.
This woman is not just “The Woman Who Marries the Doctor.” Yes, she is that, but she is so much more and such a strong character. Born in the care of people who wanted the Doctor dead by any means possible, growing up under the influence (and possible torture) of the Silence, being shot at by her own Mother in an attempt to save the life of the man she’s been conditioned to hate, River overcame so much. Even after she regenerated in New York and continued to be conditioned by Madame Kavorian, River found and befriended her parents as children- though still believing that the Doctor was the cause of bad things in the universe.
She’s flirtatious, sure, but she’s also smart, resourceful, kind, curious, and loving. All traits that she at one time might not have believed herself to be capable of. She’s not defined by her marriage to the Doctor like many would like to believe. Yes of course her relationship with him is an enormous part of her life, but she’s independent. She chose to study archaeology at first to learn more about and find the Doctor again, but she comes to love it enough to continue on in her studies until she becomes a professor. She breaks out of prison on her own to take various trips. She takes the time to investigate various anomalies by herself- like Weeping Angels in New York. Though it’s not often shown directly on screen, River has many adventures of her own. She make the most of her life that she can, even if her ‘home’ for many years was a (supposedly inescapable) high-security prison.
Despite all of the bad things that happened to her in her life- torture, conditioning to become and assassin, being forced to murder the man she came to love after learning how compassionate he really was, prison, and the heartbreak of never knowing if her parents would know who she is- River didn’t want any of that rewritten. Even though all these bad things happened to her because of the Doctor and her parents, she still loves and cares for them- something that I find amazing and worth appreciating.
Did you enjoy my first TFA meta on comedy, tragedy, Shakespeare, and Kylo Ren? Well then you’re gonna LOVE this one, fuckers, because your friendly Star Wars geek wasn’t just a literature major - I also racked up a religious studies degree in my free time. Which there wasn’t a ton of. But whatever, I went to an awesome school that permanently fucked me up.
You fuckers are here for some meta. Let’s get to it. Today’s topic:
REY IS THE CHOSEN ONE.
BIBLICAL ALLUSIONS AND JESUS PARALLELS.
Woo boy, I am fucking pumped for this one. And a few clarifications, so I don’t get any whiny fuckboys adding their unsolicited commentary: I’m not going to argue why Anakin isn’t the Chosen One - I don’t have enough time, patience, or wine for that shit. Plus it’s already been done, just fucking google it. But I think I CAN construct a pretty decent argument for why Rey COULD be the Chosen One - and why those who thought Anakin was the Chosen One were hella wrong.
I mean, for fuck’s sake, does anyone actually still believe that this shit head was the Chosen One? And if you’re gonna be like, well, technically he destroyed the Sith when he turned away from Vader and killed the Emperor, fuck you. The Chosen One is a complete and total fulfillment and messiah, not some sort of personal redemption arc. Admit you were wrong and move on.
We all got that? Good.
Let’s start out by listing some “Chosen Ones” in literature. Harry Potter. Aragorn. Eragon. Azor Ahai. The Pevensies. Moses. JESUS.
What’s similar about the “Chosen One” narrative? Well, they almost always involve a prophecy about someone who will come into the world to save it from some great evil. There are conditions to be filled with the prophecy. Most times, they are an unknown raised to some position of power in order to battle the evil. And almost always they have some sort of special power that sets them apart.
Power of my dick, amiright?
Ok. You shits got this? Because I’m getting tired of back-explanation but we’re NOT DONE YET. GET EXCITED.
So I want to talk specifically about the Chosen One narrative surrounding Jesus. It’s known in circles of people “in the know” as the Messianic Prophecy. There’s like, a crap ton of components to the Messianic Prophecy, so I’m only going to focus on a few as they relate to the Prophecy of the Chosen One and to Rey’s fulfillment of that prophecy.
1. A STAR IS BORN: Ok, so let’s talk about birth narratives. Here’s the main parallel I want to focus on:
Micah 5:2: “But thou, Beth-lehem Ephrathah, which art little to be among the thousands of Judah, out of thee shall one come forth unto Me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth are from of old, from ancient days.”
Grand Moff Rand: “Here we have the desert world of Jakku, worthless on its own but soon to live forever in history as the place where the Empire defeated the Rebellion once and for all.”
Parallel: In case you shits couldn’t figure this out for yourselves, the both Beth-lehem and Jakku are backwater, desert locations, completely disregarded by those in power as places without value in their own rights. There is nothing special about either location; no one expects anything great to come from them.
EXCEPT that people DO expect great things to come from them, people who follow the prophecies, that is. Out of Beth-lehem, there is a savior to come. And out of Jakku, a victory for the Empire following the Battle of Endor (actually, slightly over a year after the Battle of Endor). BUT THEY WERE WRONG. Jakku was the final defeat of the Empire.
But there is something yet to come from Jakku: THE CHOSEN ONE. The Jesus-parallels are huge, and if you think that the writers didn’t do their research and understand the significance of Jakku OR the complete and total allusion to the Messianic Prophecy of the Prophecy of the Chosen One, you’re DEAD WRONG, fuckers. Dead wrong.
Just as Jesus comes out of a backwater desert town with no special claims, indeed, looked down upon, Rey comes out of a backwater desert planet with no special claims, looked down upon. But Jesus’ birthplace is a matter of great expectation, as is Rey’s planet. Wow. Much parallel, such cool.
2. BET YOU CAN’T DO LIKE ME: So what’s this Chosen One going to do? Something big, that’s for sure.
Isaiah 61:1-2: “The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn.”
Prophecy of the Chosen One: “In the time of greatest despair, a child shall be born, who will destroy the Sith, and bring balance to the Force.”
Ohhhh boy. OHHH BOYYY. Look at this shit here. This passage from Isaiah is generally considered the end-all, be-all of “what is Jesus gonna do” questions, and the Prophecy of the Chosen one serves the same function. Jesus came during a time of great despair, when his people were being oppressed by the Romans. Rey appears during a resurgence of something resembling the murderous and oppressive Empire (the First Order). Both of them are children born under mysterious circumstances - Jesus is virgin birth, and Rey does not know her true parents. They both have (or will) brought down vengeance and destroyed some great evil - and we’re most definitely going to see Rey bringing down the Sith in Snoke - and both have or will comfort mourners and bring balance to a world out of whack.
Ok, enough convincing. I could go on FOR FUCKING EVER about the parallels with like, endless amounts of Biblical allusion, but you’re getting bored. Don’t like, even I am bored. My two buck chuck is running out. Damn it.
Basically, Rey is Jesus. They were both born under mysterious circumstances, both come from backwater desert lands at the edge of the known universe (although both come from somewhere else, interestingly enough, either Heaven or, in Rey’s case, unknown), both have prophecies that they have, or are on track to, fulfill, AND…..
HERE’S THE BIGGIE:
(you best be listening)
Both were mistaken for someone else, born ahead of them, also born on backwater desert planets, also born under mysterious and miraculous circumstances.
I’LL TAKE JOHN THE BAPTIST AND ANAKIN SKYWALKER FOR 500, ALEX.
You see, both men appeared to fill all qualifications to be the “Chosen Ones” for their respective stories. A bunch of people even thought that John the Baptist was the Messiah until John was like, nah, bro, that’s not me. But a pretty significant number of people still thought he was the one come to save them. And, similarly, a bunch of people thought Anakin was the Chosen One. He seemed to hit all the major requirements, and even after he turned to the Dark Side, people were still like, eh, he was still the Chosen One but he just kinda…messed up…the prophecy…
The voice of one crying out in the desert: “Now THIS is pod racing!”
Stop fucking lying to yourselves. I’m looking at you, Obi-Wan, standing there watching Anakin fucking burn alive as you scream about him being the Chosen One. Damn it, Obi-Wan, open your eyes. This biddy is NOT THE CHOSEN ONE.
But like, the whole premise of this grand space opera demands a Chosen One, demands someone to fulfill the Prophecy. Who you gonna call?
REY. YOU GONNA CALL REY.
Rey, whose name literally means “light,” who already has more parallels to THE BIG CHOSEN ONE STORY of all time (Jesus) than Anakin ever had. Rey, who doesn’t actually come from a backwater desert planet, but from somewhere else, but also fulfills this grand expectation of that place at the edge of the known world/universe. Rey, who destroys her enemies while showing mercy. Rey, who is massively powerful in the Force and only comes into her power in young adulthood (sound like someone we know? Jesus, anyone?), Rey, who reluctantly enters into her ministry because SHE ALREADY KNOWS the dangers and burdens it will bring.
It has weaknesses, it has some rather intriguing idiocyncracies. He has a fixation for time loops, time rewriting and loves to play with the audience’s expectations. In other words, he is a trickster. But that’s what makes him such a compelling and interesting story-teller to me.
Moffat is one of those people who understood that the strength and charm of Doctor Who is in poetry, in the mystery of relationships and the primitive fears of humanity towards the vastness of the universe.
His characters are complex, ambiguous and relatable in ways that are not obvious at first but come at you like a boomerang. He had the difficult task to introduce two of the most controversial doctors in recent history (the youngest and the oldest). And he succeeded. The twelfth doctor is now my all-time favourite.
I owe Moffat my best Doctor Who moments. He made me laugh, cry and inspired me to go on, wich is no small feat !