?

Log in

No account? Create an account
parrot_knight [userpic]

Doctor Who XXXII.11: The God Complex

September 17th, 2011 (08:09 pm)

Toby Whithouse must be going through a hotel phase. First Being Human, now his Doctor Who is set in a faded hotel. The result wasn't bad at all, though the central problem was set up a bit glibly and I would not be surprised to find a lot of cuts once the DWM series companions reaches this episode. There's a pervasive sense that what we are seeing in this series of Doctor Who is a commentary on an ideal Doctor-Amy-Rory set of adventures which we never saw and which only exist in Steven Moffat's head: last series was about establishing relationships, or discovering relationships already established by proxy, and this is about their dismantling, a process which was going on (from the Doctor's point of view) before he ever crashed in Amy's garden, though he never knew it.

Still, we took a less convoluted path to a loss-of-faith denouement than The Curse of Fenric managed, and without any self-consciously clever cathartic swimming. The Doctor - as Uncle did literally in 'The Doctor's Wife' - has two left feet emotionally; he's selfish and knows it, and has clung on to Amy and Rory too long. Rory, after 'The Girl Who Waited' (to which this was an effective companion piece, though the connections were understated) has already left, referring to his adventures in the past tense.

Fannishly, the cross-reference to the Nimon was appreciated, and the visual references to Tron (which I've never seen beyond clips and much-reproduced images) and the Star Trek holodecks, and an intriguing reuse of the Teselecta effect - but then this is all part of the same dream, I suppose.

Those studying the attitude of Moffat-Who to gender roles might note that in the faith-destroying scene in room 7, the Doctor addresses Amy as 'Amy Williams'. Is this (as the placing of the studio footage in Doctor Who Confidential suggests) an acknowledgement on the Doctor's part that Amy has or needs to grow up? Or another part of his destruction of her faith in him?

Also posted at http://sir-guinglain.dreamwidth.org/452066.html.

Comments

Posted by: Virgers! How are we doing with those explosives? (tree_and_leaf)
Posted at: September 17th, 2011 08:14 pm (UTC)

an acknowledgement on the Doctor's part that Amy has or needs to grow up?

If that's what it's supposed to mean, I'm unimpressed.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: September 17th, 2011 08:26 pm (UTC)

Matt Hills makes a good point in his review about the Doctor's complete denial of Amy's agency. Though revisiting the scene, the Williamsing is a denial of the Pondness he has just celebrated - it's calculated to cause damage, I think, and (unlike Ace in Fenric) Amy rapidly seems to overtake the situation.

Posted by: Lady Summerisle (strange_complex)
Posted at: September 17th, 2011 08:23 pm (UTC)
Seven Ace

Ah - thanks for the reference to The Curse of Fenric. I have scrawled down in my notes, "This has happened before. Doc shakes companion's trust to get result. Seven / Ace?" You've saved me from having to browse through episode synopses trying to figure out where that actually happened!

I think you're right about those ideal adventures in Moffat's head, too. It feels like we have never quite witnessed the ordinary base-line of Amy, Rory and the Doctor's relationship, and that makes it difficult to respond appropriately to the apparent anomalies within and challenges to that relationship which we're actually seeing.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: September 17th, 2011 08:40 pm (UTC)
Pertwee_TVAction

We've been to the labyrinth at least twice before, too, of course, in The Time Monster and The Horns of Nimon; I hope a mutual friend of ours writes up their ideas about how 'The God Complex' is a superior interpretation of the labyrinth story somewhere other than protected tweets.

Posted by: Alice Dryden (huskyteer)
Posted at: September 18th, 2011 09:05 am (UTC)
Ace

I thought of Fenric too, though I liked the 7th Doctor take on it better; Ace's faith was harder to break and she was more distressed about it afterwards.

Posted by: Lady Summerisle (strange_complex)
Posted at: September 18th, 2011 09:10 am (UTC)
Rory the Roman

she was more distressed about it afterwards

Yeah, this seems to be a massive flaw in the Moffat era. RTD was almost too good at nursing companions' ongoing emotional issues, but Moffat has swung way too far the other way. We're just not seeing the emotional fall-out of major events in Amy and Rory's lives, and it's making the whole show feel hollow.

Posted by: sharaz_jek (sharaz_jek)
Posted at: September 17th, 2011 08:32 pm (UTC)

Is this (as the placing of the studio footage in Doctor Who Confidential suggests) an acknowledgement on the Doctor's part that Amy has or needs to grow up? Or another part of his destruction of her faith in him?

I assumed he was trying to separate her from her TARDIS life - she's been Amy Pond all her career as a companion, and possibly the Doctor's trying to force her into any different identity he can think of (which is unbelievably patronising but not out of character go stay with David, Susan). But you'd think that telling her what he did to old!Amy would have worked even better, since if she'd been told, surely her faith would be pretty shattered already? Which is why I think there have definitely been adventures in between these last two episodes, in which everything from the end of TGWW got partially resolved conveniently offscreen somehow.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: September 17th, 2011 08:58 pm (UTC)
Eccleston

The treatment of Rory in this episode is interesting too - the Doctor appears to call him 'Mickey' in the first scene (though one consequence of the first phase of digital switchover down here seems to be that I am now suffering the poor sound mix lots of other people have complained about over the years). Later on, he belittles Howie in a way the Doctor might do someone with whom he is particularly angry. The episode emphasises Rory's practicality - if he regarded the Doctor as an especially enlightened being before 'The Girl Who Waited', he doesn't now. His prosaic take on his environment means that he keeps being literally shown the door.

There seems to be an ongoing project this half-season to undermine the Doctor as a hero... though there have been a lot of offscreen resolutions too, as you say.

Posted by: sharaz_jek (sharaz_jek)
Posted at: September 17th, 2011 09:08 pm (UTC)

There seems to be an ongoing project this half-season to undermine the Doctor as a hero

The problem with that is that the more they do it, the harder it'll be to restore him - we all thought Ten was solved when he regenerated, but it's starting to look like with each regeneration we can start placing bets as to how long this new one's unique flaws will start to break hir.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: September 17th, 2011 09:20 pm (UTC)

Perhaps that's part of the reason for the break - the need to regroup and stop proceeding along the route we're exploring now. The potential for changes to the way the Doctor interacts with other people - an entourage of regulars who don't necessarily appear in every episode or travel with the Doctor - might be investigated, which would explain why Karen Gillan is signed up for series 7/season 33 without making a nonsense of tonight's episode.

Posted by: tigerfort (tigerfort)
Posted at: September 17th, 2011 10:51 pm (UTC)

"the Doctor appears to call him 'Mickey'"

I'm fairly sure it was "beakey", to go with having referred to him as "the nose" in the first episode. Perhaps the Doctor needs to grow up a bit?

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: September 17th, 2011 11:01 pm (UTC)

'Beaky' makes more sense than 'Mickey', which is a back-reference too far. The Doctor is a Peter Pan-like figure, particularly since 2005; Frank Collins of the Cathode Ray Tube blog called the tenth Doctor's era a Bildungsroman, in which the Doctor's reward for self-discovery is his return to adolescence; perhaps he is being proved right.

(Deleted comment)
Posted by: wellinghall (wellinghall)
Posted at: September 18th, 2011 07:48 am (UTC)

Yes, I also caught the "Mickey" reference.

Posted by: daniel_saunders (daniel_saunders)
Posted at: September 17th, 2011 11:07 pm (UTC)
Me

Fannishly, the cross-reference to the Nimon was appreciated

Chacun a son gout. That kind of thing annoys me a lot more than it should. What's the point of telling the audience "This is a bit like an inferior story from thirty years ago"? The fans know already and why would the general audience care?

In addition, I've never been sure of what 'distant relative' (or words to that effect - Russell T Davies was very fond of this sort of thing) means in this context. Are they similar in the way that humans and chimpanzees are similar? Presumably they have a common ancestor, but how did their cultures co-exist? What about the species that seem to be from different planets e.g. the Slitheen and the Absorbaloff? Is that a proof of the panspermia theory? Once you start thinking about it, the ramifications are enough for a story in itself and I find compressing that into a throwaway line distracting.

Besides, how does the Minotaur from The Time Monster fit in? (The one in The Mind Robber was just a dream.)

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: September 17th, 2011 11:16 pm (UTC)
Tom

I'd rather we'd have been told that it was a Nimon, though a different strain to the one met on Skonnos - this would have freed the race from having to look like June Hudson's design all the time... but even so, it might have come from the same planet.

As for The Time Monster, perhaps sometimes a Minotaur is just a Minotaur... or it was Nimon-kin too, and there is an entire other storyline going on underneath The Time Monster which we know nothing about.

Posted by: sharaz_jek (sharaz_jek)
Posted at: September 18th, 2011 12:01 pm (UTC)

The Slitheen and the creature that never existed because that episode didn't happen were allegedly from twin planets like Earth and Mondas (despite the only similarity between them being that they were green and stupid ideas).

Posted by: GaramondBophin (garamondbophin)
Posted at: September 18th, 2011 01:25 am (UTC)
No speaka da Engrish?
Astro Quest

I have a question - not actually to do with anything in your post, I'm afraid - about something that puzzled me: had it not been established previously that there was a sort of 'universal translator' effect shared by those who travelled in the TARDIS? If so, why could The Doctor understand what the monster said, but not Amy, Rory or the audience? (Just nit-picking, I suppose, but it was one of a number of things that bugged me about this episode...)

(Deleted comment)
Posted by: sharaz_jek (sharaz_jek)
Posted at: September 18th, 2011 12:07 pm (UTC)
Re: No speaka da Engrish?

Its been done in the classic series where not even the Doctor could understand some aliens, and it happened again with Martha and the Hath in The Doctor's Daughter, and again with the Doctor and the Nestene Consciousness in Rose, and probably a couple of other times I can't remember.

Posted by: gwydion_writes (gwydion_writes)
Posted at: September 19th, 2011 12:25 am (UTC)

The whole losing faith thing is interesting ( and this refs your t of t blog as well). While a little overly sentimental, I found it refreshing that the suggestion is that some cultures ( Brit and American especially) assume that all deep faith is good and ennobling and here the subversive truth-telling is that faith misplaced is destructive. Not just supporting the idea that if faith makes you stronger it's good but that it might be a false strength, one that limits and restrains based on the nature of the object trusted. I liked the slight break from subjectivity there, even it's rendered ambiguous by this "sacrifice" of faith idea. All this comes close to jungian concepts of the constellated psyche ( which squares well with the title). If the doctor is one of Amy's archetypal images, she's promoted him at the cost of her ego and self development. Her overly charged view of him needs to be discharged into more useful energy before she can fully become herself. He's crowding what she could be etc. And has allowed that.

Posted by: gwydion_writes (gwydion_writes)
Posted at: September 19th, 2011 03:50 am (UTC)

Another correction- I meant your blog on this way up!

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: September 19th, 2011 05:30 am (UTC)

I knew what you meant (in both cases!)

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: September 19th, 2011 03:55 pm (UTC)

I'm not as up on Jung as I could usefully be, but the hotel as a manifestation of the Doctor's own God complex fits; arguably all the characters are avatars of the Doctor and/or Amy - Lucy, the first person we meet in the hotel, is dressed in police uniform, just as adult Amy was when we first met her. Gibbis might as well be the same ingredients as the Doctor, to a different recipe; Rita has elements of the Doctor, Amy and Rory...

The Doctor is continuing to manage Amy's life, of course, by giving Amy and Rory a house and a car. He's the indulgent parent and spoiled child in one.

Posted by: gwydion_writes (gwydion_writes)
Posted at: September 19th, 2011 02:38 am (UTC)

Btw meant the Amy/doctor dialogue in the last room is sentimental, not your blog!

Posted by: widsidh (widsidh)
Posted at: September 19th, 2011 08:05 pm (UTC)
Liz & Pertwee

The Doctor addresses Amy as 'Amy Williams'. Is this [...] an acknowledgement on the Doctor's part that Amy has or needs to grow up?

The way I read it is that the Doctor is handing her over to Rory (who is the one who has been insisting on "Williams", while the Doctor has consistently stuck with "Pond" - for both).

That would feed well into their parting without involving a dodgy growing-up metaphor, which would insult the characters as much as the adult viewers.

I guess next week we'll see the Doctor moving on, in the counterpart to last week's Doctor-lite episode...?