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Army of Ghosts review, part three

July 2nd, 2006 (09:45 pm)
current music: Eliza Carthy: 'Limbo'

I beamed when I saw that Raji's assistant Samuel was in fact our long-lost Mickey. During the build-up to the season, I'd expected to see him back in these episodes, but after the Who industry had said its goodbyes to Mickey and Noel Clarke during the 'Rise of the Cybermen'/'The Age of Steel' publicity round, I had wondered if we had said our final goodbyes. I still would have liked a further episode with Mickey on board the TARDIS between 'The Girl in the Fireplace' and 'Rise of the Cybermen', but Mickey's return makes his character arc much more satisfying.

This Mickey is a fanatic; what remains of his love for Rose is a poor second to his desire to wipe out the Cybermen. He seems to present himself in superhero terms: 'Mickey Smith. Defending the Earth' - and the line, thankfully, is delivered without a hint of irony. This Mickey is potentially more dangerous - and Jackie probably won't recognise him as the Mickey she knew, just as she doesn't recognise Rose as her daughter. Again, it looks as if the series is proposing that too much involvement with the Doctor ultimately brings you no good - which worries me a little because, taken to extremes, this line of argument could persuade viewers to stop watching the series. If this series was the trip of a lifetime, this series has been one where Rose has assumed she has seen it all; perhaps she has stopped learning, or she is learning the wrong lessons from her experiences - to continue borrowing from the trailer dialogue, she hasn't "thought again"; perhaps, like one Outpost Gallifrey poster has suggested, her 'death' is a metaphor for some great emotional trauma which will change her outlook on life permanently.


Posted by: Pellegrina (pellegrina)
Posted at: July 2nd, 2006 10:28 pm (UTC)

I do hope Raji is allowed to be three-dimensional - I like the actor (Raji James of East is East fame, and later, The Bill). I was a bit mystified that the psychic paper managed to fool the door sensor, though!

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: July 2nd, 2006 10:53 pm (UTC)

I shoud have called him Rajesh, of course, as this is the character's name.

Posted by: bunn (bunn)
Posted at: July 3rd, 2006 09:54 am (UTC)

I think I would argue that it's not so much that too much involvement with the Doctor ultimately brings you no good so much that they are trying to play down the idea that people need a mysterious alien to come and take them away to save them from the boredom of mundane life.

One thing I love about this series is the idea that a life just eating chips is a waste. But the flip side of that concept is that the excitement of going to new places is intrinsically better than a life of chips.

That idea annoyed me in the first series, and I think they have deliberately played up the 'irritating smug' thing in the second series. (At least, I hope it's deliberate). They've also shown us some opposites and alternatives this series.

This is why I liked the LINDA episode so much and I am loving the Mickey redemption thing. Rose's life is now much more exciting than it was, but basically she is still just going with the flow most of the time.

The Doctor's role in the LINDA episode is what he is morally 'right' to do, to my mind: it is his job to deal with the alien that is so far outside human experience that people can't be expected to stop it alone. It's when he starts tinkering with individual's lives beyond that that his moral authority is lost and he has the potential to do damage... Or so I think.

Anyway - thanks for your analysis, it puts an extra perspective on the series for me.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: July 3rd, 2006 01:08 pm (UTC)

I hadn't thought about the 'no need for a mysterious alien' aspect. If so, I think that the point could have been better made; and we have been left with the problem that overexposure to the Doctor can make you feel lost without him. Sarah evidently had a successful career but needed to say goodbye to the Doctor properly to feel happy about her life. Mickey might be redeemed but he looks as if he might be overcompensating.

RTD has said that the smugness has been played up. I think it's been overdone somewhat but there have, as you say, been several points where it has been questioned.

Posted by: bunn (bunn)
Posted at: July 3rd, 2006 01:43 pm (UTC)

Ah, but that's the thing. Sarah and Rose both pinned their lives on a all-authoritative bloke: neither of them made a life for themselves out of their own tools and skills. OK, they are feisty and often disobey orders, but they are not in control: they have no idea what what worlds they are going to or why or how they get there or what to do, apart from in the context of the Doctor.

Over-exposure to the Doctor doesn't always leave these problems: Mickey has the choice, and chooses to leave because he doesn't want to be the tin dog. (Possibly he is overcompensating, but I think it's a bit soon to say yet: maybe he really is an Everyman, hobbitish hero that comes good when he is pushed far enough?) Romana comes and goes as she wishes. Leela pretty much decides to join, then decides to leave...

I would say that Rose and Sarah both feel lost without the Doctor because they are still looking for Daddy: the Doctor is their all-knowing, all-fixing father figure. But at some point, they have to grow up...

(Hmm, I'm not sure if I believe the above or not. But it seems to hold together nicely as a line of argument)

Posted by: bunn (bunn)
Posted at: July 3rd, 2006 01:54 pm (UTC)

Thinking on: hobbitish heros in Dr Who: Lynda (with a Y) in the Dalek story would be another one. I liked her.

"Sam Gamgee and Mickey Smith: Compare and Contrast"...

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: July 3rd, 2006 08:42 pm (UTC)

Interesting to see, then, in which universe Mickey ends up - where will be able to say that he is 'back'?