Who do you turn to in your darkest hour?
When all looks bleak, and you are faced with your greatest fear, where do you find the courage to carry on? What do you put your faith in to help you overcome?
Doctor Who, as a series, has always been about overcoming fear, both for it’s young (and not so young) viewers watching from behind the sofa, and for those few lucky enough to travel with the Doctor. I think that is something that Doctor looks for in his companions, the ability to overcome fear, but not the reason to. The Doctor makes people better, and if they are lucky, he brings them to their destiny.
Who would have thought that Amy and Rory’s destiny would be found in a rubbish 80’s holiday hotel? After the shape shifting Teselecta, the Tenza, living as a child, and the world of the dollhouse, in Night Terrors, and the holographic entertainment zones in a separate time stream, you could count on things being not what they seem.
At the core, this episode, written by Toby Whithouse (creator of Being Human), is a pretty typical bottle story, a small group, trapped, being hunted by an unseen force. Things go bad from there, pretty bad. “3 buses, a long walk, and an 8 quid in a taxi from good”, in fact, as it turns out that when you find your fear, you die shortly after.
Whithouse makes this about more than just trying to stay one step ahead of the monster until the Doctor can figure out how to save them. Even though he knows he might not be able to. It is that realization that leads the Doctor to his own crisis of faith. How can the Doctor go on surrounding himself with people he knows he puts in harms way. His companions, and all the other people he meets along the way are always put at risk. But the Doctor’s actions are always for the greater good, so the sacrifice that he has to make sometimes is worth it. It doesn’t make it any better, and he knows it. He wants to save everyone, even though he knows he can’t.
When the Doctor gets involved against the Daleks, or the Sontarans or the Cybermen, he knows he fighting a war, and in war there is death, in great numbers. But those are battles that have to be fought to save even more lives. It’s in these small groups where people end up dying, only because the Doctor doesn’t find a solution fast enough that gets to the Doctor the most. It makes the Doctor question if what he does, taking these people with him, showing him the wonders, exposing them to dangers, is really something he should be doing.
“Offer a child a suitcase full of sweets and they’ll take it, offer someone all of time and space and they’ll take that too. Which is why you shouldn’t. Which is why grown ups were invented.”
It’s the decision the Doctor makes at the end, after facing his own fear, that is the most surprising. He makes the choice to save Rory and Amy in the only way he knows they will be out of harms way. He shows them it is time to stop being children eating all the sweets. It’s time to overcome their biggest fear.
Faith is an issue that is not often explored in Science Fiction in general, or in Doctor Who in particular, at least not in a traditional religious sense. (Although, faith as an energy field, was explored in 1989’s Curse of Fenric.) Religion doesn’t often fit into the world of the Doctor, but it’s not mutually exclusive. The energy of faith is very powerful, even in the TARDIS.