Welcome Whovians, to the new incarnation of Who·ology here on Reel World Theology. Unlike the return of Missy to this season of Doctor Who, we have reasons for the regeneration of this weekly feature from podcast to written review, but suffice to say, we still love Who and still plan to bring you our take on it each week to hopefully stir some discussion. So let’s get to it!
Pay attention, Whovians- this review requires your participation! We’ve hit a major shift in not just the season but also the Who-niverse as a whole, and as we edge into the two-part finale, I’ve got some questions that need answering from you. You can find them at the bottom of this review. There’s much to talk about from this heavy episode, but first, a word on Clara Oswald.
We spent a long time with Clara, all of it mostly good, some great, and then there was that little detour into making the show about her last season. Since we are at the end, I think we can just move past the bad and focus on the best. She essentially embodied every companion that ever came before her- one that swooned (Rose and Martha) then one that challenged him without questions (Donna) and ultimately one that became his best friend in the universe (Amy.) Then she was her own- one that dared to dream as big as he did. It was that same daring nature that got her killed. You just can’t be the Doctor unless you are the Doctor. But deep down she knew that.
She was the quintessential companion, exemplifying the best of what a companion does- save the Doctor from himself. She went so far as to save him from his death by jumping into his timeline (arguably where she should have died). She was sacrificial to the end. And boy, was it a tough end. I have to hand it to the writers for not just writing her off the show, but outright killing her in a bit of a harsh way. That black smoke is sure to linger in some minds for a while. Still, though it was a bit convoluted, it was poetic, with the meaning and resonance we crave from this show. As I saw it put best somewhere else and can’t take credit for- “she flew in on a leaf, and flew out on the wings of a raven. So long, Clara.”
Now here we are in the aftermath. This episode is mostly about the inevitability of death. They’re really digging into the consequences this season, and it’s so welcome and necessary to the show. Clara thought she could be the Doctor. She paid the price for it. Her death seems pretty final, which is not something you see in Doctor Who, like, ever these days. Now the Doctor is all alone. And very angry. He knows he has the power to take revenge. But for the sake of his friend’s last wishes to him, he is going to try very hard not to. Doesn’t seem fair, does it?
Spoiler alert– it’s never fair. Just like the Doctor, when we go through tragedy we want to pull out our weapons and march out seeking vengeance. It always seems so justified at the onset. But as Clara says “your reign of terror would end at the sight of the first crying child.” Death begets death, as we’ve already addressed this season. Your personal sense of justice will never account for every widow and every orphan. That’s why vengeance can only be God’s. A perfect will and a perfect love is the only thing that can handle such a burden.
What are we to do? Why shouldn’t we enact our revenge? Because the alternative is so much more beautiful. I think most of us in this day and age, especially in the American cultural climate, spend a lot of time worrying about self-preservation. It’s something that’s been ever present lately in the wake of ISIS and the issue of Syrian refugees. We want to kill to be justified, and we want to turn away the hurting and homeless for the sake of our sense of safety. But the biblical truth is this: that’s the exact opposite of what we are called to do. It is unfair, unless you consider the alternative.
The alternative is to bless our persecutors and not to curse them. It is to do what is honorable in the sight of all, not just in the sight of ourselves. It is to feed our enemies when they are hungry; it is to overcome evil with good. The alternative is to welcome the downtrodden, the lowly, the weeping and yes, the Syrian refugee despite what risk it may be to you or your ideology. The alternative is our nature. Just like the Doctor is a doctor, not a warrior, our nature is to be like Christ who sacrificed himself for the sake of all. Not an easy thing to do, but it is the only thing that heals and gives life.
I’m pretty certain that the sinister force behind this latest attempt on the Doctor is Missy and the Daleks. Remember at the end of “The Witch’s Familiar” when Missy had a very clever idea? My best guess is she is going to become this hybrid we keep hearing about- Time Lord and Dalek combined to be a great warrior of both races. The Doctor will be faced against the last of his own race and his greatest enemy. He will now have to make a choice similar to our own. He must face his enemies and not destroy them. He must love them and embrace them rather than obliterate them. It’s a difficult thing to do because he has the power to destroy. We have the same power, but we will never live up to the greatest aspect of our nature unless we deny it.
Participation Time! Please respond in the comments section!
-Now that Clara is gone, what was your favorite Clara moment?
-What do you hope to see from the next companion?
-Two episodes left- what has been your favorite moment so far this season?
-Who is your Doctor? (I’m wondering if anyone will answer “Twelve”)
Next time on Who-ology: Who knows? The previews for next week’s episode make it look like a filler episode to drag out the finale into two parts. I will try to be optimistic, however. The Doctor running around in a house of his fears could be very interesting and entertaining. Here’s hoping it also has meaning.