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S01E09

“The Empty Child” has got to be one of my favorite episodes in Series 1, primarily because it was a brilliant episode, but partly, also because Steven Moffat wrote it. “Blink” was the first Doctor Who episode I’ve ever seen, and the reason why I’ve grown a liking to it–and he was also the one who wrote it. Besides “Blink,” his stint in BBC’s Sherlock only made me like him all the more for his plot construction, and “The Empty Child” just brought a natural semblance to his writing aesthetic.

But before discussing the discernible creepiness of this episode, I would first go to yet another guest character, Captain Jack, who is obviously a very good looking (American!) guy who is charming and flirty and even suggests a threat on the Doctor’s part as Rose’s romantic interest (though that sort of connection is never blatantly pointed out, only implied). And he isn’t just attractive in a physical sense, but personality-wise he is very warm and fits perfectly in the knight-in-shining-armor slash whisk-you-off-your-feet archetype, and it was obviously difficult for Rose (and for the female viewers of the show) to resist that.

Aside from Jack’s obvious appeal, there’s that issue with sexuality. We could discern that his preferences can swing both ways, which for a show such as Doctor Who, would feel like it is pushing an envelope of some sort. Maybe to remain relevant, or maybe to shed light on the issue by making it not a big deal and just a natural tendency of the character, as opposed how Americans like to make a fuss about coming out and gay relationships, Jack’s sexuality was treated sort of lightly and even comically–and that kind of straightforwardness is something that you like or not.

The really startling aspect of this episode was the empty child itself, who keep on looking for his mummy. There was obviously something wrong with it, because Nancy was consistent with her warnings that no one should touch it. A little boy wearing a gas mask was a threat to the whole of London, and that fact only adds to the uncertainty and danger of the whole situation, precisely because it is a child, and therefore innocent. Society’s standards dictate that these are delicate creatures, and to inflict pain on them is frowned upon and would just feel wrong.

Aside from the Star Trek references (Captain Spock, etc), a question I’d like to bring up is why Rose hasn’t broken up with Mickey yet. It’s a rather odd situation, that was only brought to my attention because the Psychic Paper showed that she has a boyfriend and yet still available. They’re basically separated at this point, and literally for that matter–so it is a wonder why a breakup has never materialized in the past episodes. Lastly, there is that part where Nancy told The Doctor that if he wants to learn more from what’s happening, that he should ask the doctor, and it was just kind of a funny thing  because though it wasn’t actually him, it’s still the (other) doctor who still had some answers.

 

S01E08

“Father’s Day”, from the beginning, already came off as an episode that has some moral lesson in the end, the most dominant being “Be careful what you wish for.” Because you might just get it, plus a whole gang of Reapers. For the first time, we are confronted with real consequences of time travel. Now we see why even with the capacity, that the Doctor never involves himself in this kind of activity. Ultimately, this is an episode filled with repercussions that we can really relate to—the desire to defy and change particular points of time is natural for us; so while we understand where the Doctor is coming from, we also can’t help but sympathize with Rose, and even root for a happy ending.

Because Rose saved her supposedly dead father Pete, she has single-handedly created a wound in time. The presence of the Reapers who are trying to “clean” the wound satisfies the sci-fi element of the episode, but in its entirety, the issue is primitively Earth-bound. “Father’s Day” is a really important episode for Rose’s character, for the Doctor’s character, and for the entire Series 1—this really kills it when it comes to the sentimental repertoire of the show.

It deals with death, love, marriage, and self-sacrifice, which makes it very difficult for one to distance themselves and watch this episode objectively without not having a say in it in the end. This is an episode where the Doctor fully gives in to Rose’s humanity, by trying to save her father, and going as far as wanting to save the couple who was about to get married. It is also the turning point in Rose’s maturity, and also a great set-up for her character in “The Empty Child.” After “Father’s Day”, Rose is stronger, more courageous, and more assertive when it comes to what she wants and what she wants to do.

 

S1EP12: Bad Wolf

This episode really had a weird start. I felt like I missed something because there was no warning that came before the scene where The Doctor enters the Big Brother House. After the opening theme, it became even more weird because Rose Tyler and Captain Jack were also present in other television game shows. And there was still no explanation. Somehow, this sort of storytelling doesn’t appeal that much to me because I find it hard to appreciate and think about the jokes and stuff when I’m busy trying to figure out what happened to the main characters.

But of course, after the proper explanations had been given, I started to like this episode because of its difference to most episodes. I am amused that once there is no longer any great urge to have my question answered, I am able to appreciate the episode for its unique storytelling.

I like how the show used popular television shows like Big Brother and Weakest Link and turned them into really sick activities. Although the TV shows portrayed in this episode were obviously exaggerated for the sake of the story (and to entertain the viewers of course), I personally think this was an attack on real television ‘reality’ shows that seem to play with the lives of the contestants. These shows have become really popular that there is always new concepts that allow the ‘host’ (the android, the big brother) to play god and manipulate the events that occur in the contestants ‘real adventure.’

I liked the mystery that surrounded the TV station/game company. And I absolutely loved it when the Daleks were finally unmasked and exposed to be the ones behind all the evil doings. In a previous episode, there was already a ton of trouble when The Doctor and Rose Tyler had to fight ONE Dalek. I really want to see what would happen in a fight with half a million Daleks!

S01E07

The post-Dalek episode introduces us to a new companion, Adam Mitchell, and though he doesn’t last because of his critical transgression, we see a kind of triumvirate dynamic for the first time–and the addition of another guy makes us realize why the Doctor might prefer female companions.

The ship ends up in Satellite 5, a space station that broadcasts across the Fourth Great and Bountiful Human Empire. Initially, nothing seems to be wrong until the Doctor realizes a centralization and absence of true freedom (as true as true freedom gets for humans, at least), and he is exposed to how information is being delivered and broadcasted: funneled through chips installed in people’s heads, which they forget anyway once the broadcast is over.

This is another manifestation of the exploitation of beings for the sake of one, possibly alluding to global powers. But more importantly, I think that this somehow also delves into the extent of the power of media and journalism. There is a Comm theory that even validates this, saying that the information being given to the public is chosen to receive a certain kind of response. Bias is inevitable, but manipulation is something else. When news stops being objective is when the real danger begins, but the density of its implications are more on the people who receive these information, because they are in the dark when it comes to things that they aren’t told about. In this episode we are forced to confront this, and we see just how much power a writer or a newscaster has in terms of distributing information to the public. That when responsibility is overlooked, disaster would naturally ensue.

Aside from exploitation of information, there is also, of course, the exploitation of technology. Satellite 5 subsisted for ninety years without so much of a progress, and perhaps it is also telling us just how inhibiting in human progress technology could be. Though this episode was released in 2005, it is still highly relevant to us because this is the Age of Information and the vast expanse that is the Internet, where all we have to do is Google for us to know things. Online information isn’t necessary reliable, but we’ve become so attached to it that versions of ourselves are plastered everywhere especially in Social Networking Sites. There’s a real danger there that we haven’t fully grasped yet, and this episode is a good reminder of that.

Adam’s character though experiences a kind of role reversal, because instead of being the exploited, he is the exploiter by willingly putting a chip in his head to get more information about the world. It is rather selfish and greedy at the same time, but also reflects natural human tendencies. In the end, the Doctor banishes him from the TARDIS, and that was the end of him being a companion. Which is really ok, if you ask me, because besides the whole chip thing, he was a rather static character with no redemptive qualities whatsoever.

 

S01E06

“Dalek” for me is one of the most definitive episodes in Series 1, as it deals with well, the Daleks—mortal enemies of Time Lords like the Doctor. This would technically be our first experience with the Dalek (a single one, for now), and I believe it was a strategic tactic for the show’s producers and directors to release this episode halfway through the season, as an introduction, recollection, and a teaser all rolled into one.

At first, we don’t understand why the Doctor would be so alarmed by the presence of this inanimate robot-thing, but once the Dalek automatically identifies the Doctor and initiates contact, we witness that whatever sadness or solitude we saw from the Doctor from the “End of the World” episode, is now completely wiped out and countered by vengeance, and more so, anger. Again, this episode certainly connects to the “End of the World” because of the mention of the Time War, though now more explicitly, plus the audience is now presented with the face of the villain. In the last-man-standing stand-off between the Doctor and the last Dalek, we can just how merciless and cruel the Doctor could be, and at the same time, his struggle to keep his emotions in check but eventually getting the better of him, which we see in their initial confrontation. This is when we see the “human side” to the Doctor—that he is susceptible to these kinds of feelings and prejudices–and it is also kind of apt that it is revealed that the Doctor has two hearts.

The Doctor’s brutality especially shines after he believes that Rose has already been killed by the Dalek, revealing his attachment for his companion. When later on they realize that by absorbing Rose’s DNA, the Dalek has indadvertedly capacitated itself to feel, he wanted to die. This is our first encounter with a machine deprived of feeling then suddenly being blatantly exposed to it, therefore causing its demise. The extremities of non-feeling and over-feeling are keys theme in Doctor Who though, as also exhibited in “The Empty Child” and it’s follow-up episode, “The Doctor Dances.”

Just like in “End of the World”, the audience is yet again faced with some moral detours, as presented by the characters of the Dalek, Henry van Statten, and Adam. The Dalek’s annihilation of over 200 people certainly alludes to racial cleansing, and Henry van Statten, with his American ideals of capitalism. Adam will be of aid in this episode, which is why he was allowed to tag along, but he will prove to be guilty of greed in “The Long Game”. This is really when science fiction diffuses into practical and 100% human issues, and also a great exhibition of mundane objects as being capable of bringing terror.

 

 

Well, I have to say I was disappointed with how the episode started. I was expecting a bit more from how the Daleks would prevent The Doctor from rescuing Rose Tyler. I did not expect that to be done with in less than a minute… Apparently it is pretty easy for The Doctor to enter the base of the Daleks and not be hurt in even a small way.

I also did not like the Daleks in this episode. Obviously, there was something wrong with them because they weren’t that much of a threat to The Doctor after all. The Emperor of the Daleks also seemed pretty weak for someone who thinks it is a god. It really struck me as cheesy when the Dalek soldiers actually moved away from The Doctor when he screamed at them. I thought they didn’t have any emotion? Even a good human soldier wouldn’t just back away from a reprimanding scream…

The last thing I really didn’t like was how David Tennant was introduced. Because I’ve never seen the old episodes of Doctor Who, I don’t know if that’s really how The Doctor changes his face (by ‘cheating death’), but it really seemed like a scapegoat to how Tennant would become the main character.

Aside from that, I liked this episode. This is especially because of all the emotions that were present in many of the scene. After watching this one, I developed a fondness for Captain Jack and his bravery. The Doctor also shines when he tricks Rose into escaping safely while he decides to end everything with the Daleks. But of course, Rose Tyler is still the star of this episode for me. Not only is SHE ACTUALLY THE BAD WOLF, here we see her really doing things her way. Usually she just does what The Doctor says, and sometimes she seems to be pretty dumb. But here, she disobeys The Doctor entirely, shows her very mature self, and saves everyone because of it.

Overall, I think it was a nice way to end the first season. The Bad Wolf ‘hook’ was finally solved, the Daleks were EXTERMINATED and the new actor for the next season to come was introduced with a bang.

S01E05

Though I am completely taken by Doctor Who, I must also admit that when things get too sci-fi, I really tend to get a bit repelled by aliens aliens. Much like “The End of the World” episode with a lot of odd-looking characters, my least favorite of aliens I’ve seen so far would be the Slitheen. Though I am not opposed to the Daleks (there is a childhood nostalgia element for me), the Slitheen are, first of all, green and grotesque and gross and fart a lot and they expose themselves in this really exaggerated manner. As far as enemy aliens go, to me they were really conceived to just tick people off.

Other than that, the first interesting thing to point out is Harriet Jones, a self-proclaimed political backbencher, who literally came from out of nowhere and appear at 10 Downing Street. At first we were all led to believe that she was just a guest character that repeatedly identifies herself just to provide some comic relief, but once the Doctor makes the audience aware of his faint recognition of her name, we realize that he must’ve encountered her before, but more importantly, was that she was significant enough to be remembered.

Despite my slight disdain for this episode, I would have to say that there were really a lot of funny moments in it–and most of it involve the physical attributes of the Slitheen, who are like this notorious kin from the planet Raxacoricofallapatorius (the planet’s name itself is funny too), but the human form they take, that of which of people who have some girth–and the compression caused by their collars are the reason for the consistent gas exchange.

Another significant thing that we could see from this episode is Mickey, and how he actively helped the Doctor by launching a Harpoon missile directed to 10 Downing, which makes us think that hey, Mickey would pass off as a companion, too. Though I was never too fond of his character, he was a necessary enabler in this specific plot, and his character gets some plus points for that. Though he declines the Doctor’s offer for him to join them in the TARDIS, it was kind of symbolic because the Doctor has finally acknowledged what he was capable of, and so did we.

The issue of capitalism pretty much dominated this episode too, with the Slitheen planning to sell off the radioactive remains of the Earth to the Galaxy. For humans like us, this seems to be really unfair because it is our planet and aliens are exploiting us for profit, but the connection is very obvious, as this is exactly what capitalism does–exploit labor and man power for profit. This is, I guess, what I really appreciated in the episode despite the Slitheen, because an issue of this sort is being explored in this genre of TV.

 

S2E13: Doomsday

“Doomsday” has easily been the most overwhelming episode of Doctor Who ever since the new series started. I admit that I really felt like such an emotional wreck after watching the episode. In my previous entry, I complained about how the final plot for Series Two was not as good as that of Series One. Right now, I am going to eat my words. I could care less about the Cybermen, the Daleks and the breach between the universes. Most of the time, I was not even paying attention to the battle going on. Instead of being the culmination of Series Two, I regarded them more as side stories because for me, there were far greater things at stake. Throughout the episode, I was only concerned about one thing: What would happen to Rose Tyler? And I believe that for many fans of the show, her departure was the real climax of the Series Two finale.

I was not a huge fan of Rose in the beginning, but I have grown to love her as the episodes progressed, especially in Series Two. I have invested so much on her character that finding out how her story would end became such a big deal for me. After all, Rose has been the Doctor’s companion for 27 episodes. Her character should leave the show in a great way. I am sad to say though that, in my opinion, Rose Tyler was deprived of an ending she was entitled to.

Although Rose was alive and well and was reunited with her family, if I were to weigh her losses and gains, I felt that her loss was greater for two main reasons. First, to her dismay, she was stuck in this parallel universe, separated from the Doctor forever. And if this was not bad enough, secondly, Rose explicitly professes her love for the Doctor, but due to unfortunate circumstances, he was not able to reciprocate it. It was an emotional and heart-wrenching scene, and I just felt so bad for Rose Tyler. I mean, the least that the writer could do was to let the Doctor tell Rose that he loves her as well. It’s no secret! I am both sad and angry about how things ended between them because personally, I really believe that there should have been a better closure – not only for the romantic aspect of their relationship, but for the character of Rose, in general.

To end, I would just like to emphasize on how great a character Rose has been. Her curiosity, stubbornness and vulnerability throughout her stay in the Doctor Who-niverse were the traits that made her so distinctly human. But it was her strength and tireless faith that made her more than just an average companion. She died fighting, for crying out loud. You see, Rose has made it perfectly clear that she was not just a sidekick; she was a warrior, her own hero. So, thank you, Rose Tyler, the Defender of Earth. You will be missed.

S2E12: Army of Ghosts

I cannot help but compare “Army of Ghosts” to last season’s “Bad Wolf” since both served as the first half of a two-part series finale. In my opinion, I think “Bad Wolf” had a lot going for it since it literally (and discreetly) imprinted itself on various episodes throughout the season that most viewers failed to notice. It was only through a series of flashbacks in that episode that the audience remembered about the numerous appearances of “Bad Wolf”, and because of this, they started to put elements together in order to make sense of everything. I thought that the manner through which the writers laid out all the cards for the audience to figure out was excellently done.

“Army of Ghosts” was different for me because considering it was the prelude to the last episode of Series Two, I did not exactly get a season finale vibe. Yes, they did bring back some elements from earlier episodes like Torchwood, Mickey Smith and the Cybermen. However, these elements, except for Torchwood, were only significant in two episodes – “The Rise of the Cybermen” and “The Age of Steel”. “Army of Ghosts” was, for the most part, just referencing two out of the past eleven episodes. I was frustrated by this because if there was one thing going for Series Two, it was the diversity of concepts and themes. In Series Two, they were not just limited to past, present and future; they were also able to travel through space and dimensions. And I personally feel that the writers were not able to take advantage of such variety.

Another problem that I had for “Army of Ghosts” was that it came to point where it got too technical. I mean, I do not normally geek out when it comes to Doctor Who terms. For this reason, I had a hard time keeping up since there were a lot of alien lingo like the gravitation field, the ghost shift, the void ship, and the breach between universes. Also, aside from the parallel universe, most of these concepts were just relatively new. So, it was all difficult to take in considering that the viewers were also trying to piece together elements from the past. Long story short, I think it was a bad move that “Army of Ghosts” introduced new things considering it was already the second to the last episode of the season. I, therefore, felt that they were not wrapping things up. It felt like just another episode, and I was rather disappointed by it.

Maybe I am speaking too soon. At least Series Two has one last episode to prove me wrong.

On a side note, I am deeply concerned about Rose’s future because of what she said at the beginning of the episode. “This is the story of how I died.” It is no secret that I like Rose Tyler as the Doctor’s companion, and I feel so unhappy knowing that the next episode may in fact be her last.

S2E11: Fear Her

Why do the creepiest storylines always have to involve either clowns or children? I am certain that I am not the only one who got absolutely freaked out by the fact that in this episode, the “enemy” was a lonely, little girl named Chloe Webber who had this power of drawing real people and keeping them trapped in her sketches. “Fear Her” indeed.

The story is set on the opening day of the 2012 Olympics in London. While this seems like a major aspect of the episode, it is not exactly the focus of “Fear Her” – although it would prove to be significant towards the end. As mentioned earlier, the episode is about Chloe Webber. We soon find out that her special ability comes from the extra-terrestrial entity called Isolus which possesses her. Like Chloe, Isolus finds itself lonely because it was separated from its billions of family members when its pod crashed into Earth. Because of this, Isolus wants to recreate his family members through Chloe’s drawings. Initial target: The thousands of attendees in the opening ceremonies of the Olympics. But they are not enough. Isolus wants billions of family members to keep him company. Next target: The world.

Aside from this, another problem that arises is the fact that the Doctor becomes one of the victims of Chloe’s sketches. Because of this unfortunate development, the fate of the entire world, therefore, rests on Rose’s human hands. With a little help from the Doctor, Rose understands that in order to send Isolus’ pod back to space, she needs to offer it not just heat alone but one with a warm, caring quality to it – whatever that means. Rose, then, has this light bulb moment as she figures out that the only way to do this is by throwing the pod towards the Olympic Torch, otherwise known as “The Beacon of Love”. I admit that I for one cringed at this rather tacky solution. This, in my opinion, is probably one of the silliest Doctor Who resolutions to date. But it did get a few laughs here and there.

What I liked about “Fear Her” is that it once again places the spotlight on Rose Tyler. Come to think of it, it has been a very long time since Rose saved the day. (If I am not mistaken, the last time she did was during “The Parting of the Ways” where the Bad Wolf spirit worked through her to defeat the army of Daleks.) I mean, she has always put a valiant effort and has provided significant contributions, but usually, she was just really dependent on the Doctor. In the end, it was always the Doctor who figured things out and executed them accordingly. This was a shining moment for her, and I am glad she was able to pull through. It is definitely always nice to see such a strong character like Rose Tyler be portrayed as a hero more than a damsel in distress.

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