As we reach the end of another season of Doctor Who, just a few thoughts about this season and the series., as a whole, going back to 1963, before this season’s finale, “The Wedding of River Song” airs.
This season has been a roller coaster since it started off with a shot at the Moon. We’ve had cowboys, monsters, pirates, astronauts, mermaids, and Presidents. Add a fireman and football player in there and it would be a great list of what we all wanted to be when we grew up.
It’s been 7 years since Doctor Who returned to television. That has been a lifetime to some of the shows younger fans who first met the Doctor in the basement of Henrick’s Department Store where they all took his hand with Rose and began running. Like a children offered candy, we come along with this stranger, despite always being told to not to. All of time and space, is just too much to turn down. But there is danger that comes with it, you can’t have the candy without the danger. He hadn’t always wanted that life, the adventures, and the company. Those first humans who left 1963, London with the Doctor were not welcome in the TARDIS, nor were they willing companions, at first. But something happened, and the Doctor discovered that having partners on his travels enhanced them.
But is it fair of him to put others in mortal danger, so he can see the universe through their fresh eyes? Is it worth it? Companions are not completely innocent in this. They may be children in the eyes of a 1000 year old Time Lord, but they are (mostly)adults. They choose to travel with the Doctor, to leave their lives, their families and responsibilities. But most companions aren’t running towards the danger and excitement of life in the TARDIS, as much as they are running from the fear of facing the choices of everyday life. Traveling with the Doctor offers a way to hold back the world. Who wouldn’t want that chance? Like backpacking through Europe after college graduation, traveling with the Doctor shows a companions who they are, what they lacked, and when they return to the life they left behind, they are grown up, and ready, having learned not all victories mean saving the universe. Overcoming everyday obstacles are just as difficult and worthy of acknowledgement and celebration. It;s when they make that discovery, and can value the mundane, that it is time for them to return the real world, living lives, one day after the next, all in a row, along side the rest of us watching.
The funny thing is, as companions have grown up,and the audiences along side them. the Doctor has got younger. This current regeneration, his behavior has often bordered on childish and silly. Celebrating the ridiculous and the trivial. But it’s not like this behavior is completely unmotivated. Since early on in the original series, as the Doctor began to make a point of doing things for the greater good, making things better. But in doing that, there have been many people who have gotten hurt, people who have died, just because he couldn’t get there fast enough, either physically, or as often the case was, mentally. As smart and clever as the Doctor is, he doesn’t always figure out how to save everyone in time. Worse still, some die because they had to be sacrificed for the greater good. Many times the Doctor would choose to sacrifice himself, only to have someone else step up, and stop the Doctor. They know the Doctor can do so much more and he needs to survive.
This ability to inspire such behavior in others is a dangerous gift, and not one he takes lightly. It is more of a burden, having to honor those who sacrificed their lives him, the stress of having to live up to expectations has clearly worn the Doctor down in this regeneration, add to fact that he has become increasing close to his companions, as he gets older, the pressure to protect them may be too much. Past regenerations have never been so involved with the families of his companions, as he has since his 9th regeneration. Having lost his whole world, he has sought to build connections, and now his life is so entwined with those he travels with, he may or may not actually be married (or have married, or will at some time in the future be married to) the daughter of his two companions.
As the 6th full season of the current incarnation of the show comes to an end, the Doctor has made the decision to sever the ties, that the closeness he has experienced with Amy Pond, and Rory and her family has become too much. Perhaps the Doctor has become too human? He knows what the risks are for himself and those who travel with him, but a loss of any of them, to witness one of them hurt, or worse, would be too great, and it is better to let them go, so he can do what he has to, and knowing where his life is leading him, that lakeshore in the American West. He can’t have companions with him, to be part of what he’s going to have to do.
I have my own ideas of what is going to happen, in the Wedding of River Song. Remember rule number one. The Doctor lies. But can his friends forgive him for the lies he has to tell them, to stop the Academy of the Question, and the Silence?
We’ll find out today.