From moment one, this two-part story is a thunderstorm that only grows darker as the episodes unfold. We open on our 3 heroes being suddenly, mysteriously, involuntarily transported into separate live-action television shows that all end with human beings…”evicted from life,” as one character describes it. Yes, humanity is getting its kicks watching television shows that commoditizes human life as entertainment. And it’s the Doctor who kicked it all into gear.
He’s been here before–we’ve been here before. In episode 7 (“The Long Game”), it was called Satellite 5–a “news station” enslaving the human race by manipulating truth. The Doctor freed human beings from the one pulling all the strings and sent them out to live full lives shaped by individual choice and independence. 100 years later, he’s back to find Satellite 5 bustling with human beings who are enslaved once again to a faceless master. These are not villainous people. They are just like us–with a sense of humor and love interests and life outside of work. They are normal people who simply don’t ask questions or challenge the status quo. When the Doctor reset the station 100 years ago, he made way for something new, alright. But it wasn’t the innovation he had hoped for.
Female Programmer: “That’s not our fault; we’re just doing our jobs.”
Doctor Who: “And with that sentence, you just lost the right to even talk to me.”
The display of human ignorance on Satellite 5 is reminiscent of Cathica and episode 7, as it should be. The sickness on Satellite 5 hasn’t altered, even though the circumstances have, because the Doctor treated symptoms rather than killing the disease. The root of the problem is not whatever Big Bad Evil is currently running the show. It’s human nature.
We humans like to think of ourselves as the highest form of evolution. We are free thinkers! Owe nothing to anyone! Are the highest authority! But it’s an illusion. On our mission to achieve our own satisfaction and meaning, we end up subjected to the things that we erroneously believe are beholden to us: reputation, love, family, power, money, sex, fame, religion, legacy. We bear the imprinted character of a triune God: Father, Son, and Spirit, who are constantly serving, loving, and giving glory to one another. Because of this soul-design, we will always find ourselves serving another, and opting out of God’s mastery is merely opting into something or someone else’s.
“Then Jesus turned to the Jews who had claimed to believe in him. “If you stick with this, living out what I tell you, you are my disciples for sure. Then you will experience for yourselves the truth, and the truth will free you.” Surprised, they said, “But we’re descendants of Abraham. We’ve never been slaves to anyone. How can you say, ‘The truth will free you’?” Jesus said, “I tell you most solemnly that anyone who chooses a life of sin is trapped in a dead-end life and is, in fact, a slave. ” -John 8:31-38
In these final episodes of Doctor Who season one, two very different “masters” emerge, and every being–human, alien, or android—chooses to follow one or the other. On the one hand, we have the Dalek Emperor, who calls himself God. He has been harvesting humans (transported to him through the “gameshows” on Satellite 5) to build a Dalek army that will further his name and his cause. The humans on Satellite 5 have been serving his mission without clear understanding, and without question.
On the other hand, there is the Doctor, who gave these humans the freedom to make their own way, and is now back again to help them deal with the fatal trouble they got into doing just that (by the way: they brought him here and begged for his help). The Doctor realizes that the only way to stop the Dalek Emperor from converting the entire human race, before moving on to conquer all known worlds beyond, is to annihilate them with a kind of energy bomb called a “delta wave.” As he moves forward with this plan, people choose to come alongside him and follow his lead.
As for us humans in the real world, we are faced with a much more vast and hazy choice. Countless “masters” are clamoring for our servitude every day of our lives. How can we be sure we are serving the One that is the most life-giving to ourselves and others? Lucky for us, God has established himself as the only worthy master through an outrageous act of love that sets him apart from all those other voices.
“Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.” -Hebrews 2:14-15
Jesus came to walk among us, to feel our plight and pain, and to show us by his death what will be the ultimate, natural outcome of serving those other masters. By this radical act of love—becoming like us–he makes us not just servants, but literally a part of his family. This is what compels us to choose him and forsake all other allegiances.
“My commandment is this—to love one another just as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this—that one lays down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I no longer call you slaves, because the slave does not understand what his master is doing. But I have called you friends, because I have revealed to you everything I heard from my Father.” -John 15:12-17
to be continued…