Who-ology| S02E10 Love and Monsters

Who-ology| S02E10 Love and Monsters

dw0210002Meet Elton Pope. He’s the normal bloke that our story focuses on in this unusual but heartfelt episode. Quirky, shy, and a little awkward, we get to know him well as he speaks to us through his video diary.

After having had an encounter with the Doctor as a little boy, a memory of his that is hazy and incomplete, Elton’s curiosity about the Doctor lands him in a “Doctor fan-club,” where he meets Mr. Skinner, Bridget, Bliss, and Ursula. They initially gather to tell stories about the Doctor, presenting new evidence of his existence, wondering and marveling over him. The more time they spend together, the closer they become. They start to let each other into their personal lives, and share the things they love: writing, art, music, food.

The Doctor is the catalyst for their connection, and the group forms a close, beautiful friendship. But then come the days of Mr. Kennedy, a stranger who shows up and bullies them into “returning to their original purpose” of finding the Doctor. He becomes their “boss” of sorts. Their meeting space, once bright and cheery, where they sat in a circle to listen to one another, is transformed: low-lit and grey, they begin sitting at separate desks in straight rows, facing Mr. Kennedy as they go over mountains of paperwork. Bliss and Bridget stop showing up.

The Doctor is important to these people—LINDA, as they call themselves; an acronym for “London Investigation ’N’ Detective Agency”—and so they are persuaded to follow Mr. Kennedy’s methods in order to find him. The thing that once brought them together in curiosity and wonder, resulting in connection and joy, becomes the thing that darkens their spirit and tears them apart. When Mr. Kennedy’s brutal methods of investigation lead Elton to hurt a new friend, Elton puts his foot down—but not before it is too late.

dw0210004This episode is such a marvelous mixture of beauty and horror, made especially weighty by their contrast to one another. The creation of LINDA is a joy to witness, and the sorrow of its destruction, deeply felt. Watching these sweet and awkward characters find a real home in each other is truly touching, appealing to that longing in every human heart to be known. Through these characters, especially Elton, we are also invited to belong. Each member of LINDA is generous with themselves– vulnerable and compassionate–and so the love they share is exponential. But the villain comes into their midst only to consume, giving nothing in return, and his presence is ultimately devastating. The horror of him is all the more felt because of the purity of the thing he destroys.

Death is a part of our story as human beings; it always will be on this side of eternity. It is unnatural, a result of sin hijacking the original intent of creation. God ultimately promises wholeness and an end to sorrow, but this does not mean that we do not grieve our losses on earth. He grieves with us—we see this through Jesus Christ, who walked among men and felt their joys and sorrows as if they were his own. But it does mean that nothing—no evil, no pain—will escape the power of his restoration.

Elton is the hero of this episode, and an unlikely one at that. This child-like, wonder-filled, completely authentic, soft-spoken man (who absolutely loves ELO) has a tenacious spirit. He has experienced overwhelming loss and sorrow, as well as great joy, and chooses to believe that the sum total of our moments, the wonderful and terrible together, is something so grand and beyond our imagining that it’s all worth it.

This belief–that even the bad experiences of our lives have a place in the ultimate good of our story–is neigh impossible to live into. Even those with a cursory knowledge of the Bible will likely be familiar with the verse in Romans 8:28 that assures us that “all things work together for good.” Especially for someone deeply entrenched in the mourning process, this is a difficult, even incendiary, concept. And yet, it is typical for people to throw about this kind of big-picture “pat answer” rather than acknowledge pain and allow the time and work of slogging through grief.

dw0210003Elton does not try to downplay the pain he’s experienced, nor try to forget it; in fact, the process of the story ends up restoring to his mind a terrible memory from his past that he’s finally able to face and work through. And through it all, he is able to come to terms with the indivisible connection between all the experiences of his life. The Bible is full of this perspective, though we often choose not to consider those stories. For example, Joseph, who experienced one significant trauma after another until one day, he is able to say to the brothers who sold him into slavery: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good.” (Genesis 50:20).

The answer is neither to deny our losses, or to authenticate our pain by refusing to move on from those griefs. There is another way. And it’s one that validates every experience we have, giving each its proper place, and ultimately leaving us with outrageous, beautiful, eternal hope.

Elton: “So, there you go. Turns out I’ve had the most terrible things happen. And the most brilliant things. And sometimes, well, I can’t tell the difference. They’re all the same thing. They’re just me…when you’re a kid, they tell you it’s all, grow up, get a job, get married, get a house, have a kid, and that’s it. But the truth is, the world is so much stranger than that. It’s so much darker, and so much madder. And so much better.”

‘Mr. Blue Sky’
by Jeff Lynne and ELO

Hey there Mr. Blue, we’re so pleased to be with you
Look around see what you do
Everyone is positive
Mr. Blue you did it right
. But soon comes Mr. Night
Creepin’ over,
now his hand is on your shoulder.
Never mind, I’ll remember you this, I’ll remember you this way
Mr. Blue Sky, please tell us why
you had to hide away for so long
. Where did we go wrong?
Hey there Mr. Blue, we’re so pleased to be with you
Look around see what you do
Everybody smiles at you

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