Certain objects are produced to create a singular approach. For “The Impossible Planet”, scientific impossibilities like Krop Tor orbiting around the black hole, the voices that Toby Zed heard and the cryptic messages from both the computer and the Ood regarding the awakening of a mysterious entity were necessary to build the anticipation for the next episode. It uses the mysteries like the pre-mythical civilization inscriptions that even the TARDIS couldn’t translate to speak of the collision between their civilization and the pre-mythical civilization. In effect, it caused its characters to regress to fatalism, myths, legends and superstitions. On the level of a viewer, our capacity is limited by the episode’s story-telling technique because it was designed to produce questions and withhold the answers until the succeeding episode.

Typically, I’m not a fan of any form of media related to horror. But “The Impossible Planet” won me over with its exploration of the New Who – the Doctor lives in domesticity as the TARDIS fell moments after their landing in the Sanctuary Base. Without the TARDIS, the Doctor and Rose are left to wait for the crew (Zach, Ida, Danny, Jefferson, Scooti and Toby) to find the planet’s power source. But without the TARDIS, the Doctor is stuck in the slow path like everyone else. Can he still be considered a Time Lord if he no longer can travel as one? He can keep the title but the question is can he live up to it?

Putting the question aside, I like the unfamiliarity of the Doctor’s predicament. I particularly like his conversation with Rose about the horrors of domesticity such as living in a proper house. This highlights the difference between the 9th Doctor (Eccleston) from the 10th Doctor (Tennant). Likewise, the Doctor’s shift in lifestyle acts as a metaphor for the domesticated narratives of New Who. I’ve seen pictures over the internet that shows how New Who is quite Earth-bound in comparison to the earlier Who. Likewise, the metaphor extends to describe how New Who has become a household name for new fans like me.

As the story progressed, indications of domesticity in the Doctor became more potent. When the drillings ended, Ida and the Doctor offered to take a look for the power source. Rose tells the Doctor to be careful and kisses his helmet. This scene just screams domestic and I love it. I like seeing the familiar development in their relationship combined with the unfamiliar lifestyle for a 945 year old Time Lord.

    The Doctor: Oxygen…nitro-balance…gravity. It’s ages since I wore one of these!
    Rose: I want that spacesuit back in one piece, you got that?
    The Doctor: Yes, sir.
    Rose: It’s funny, ‘cos people back home think that space travel’s gonna be all whizzing
    about and teleports and anti-gravity…but it’s not, is it? It’s tough.
    The Doctor: I’ll se you later.
    Rose; Not if I see you first.

Despite the drastic lifestyle change, the Doctor was more concerned with the effect it had on Rose than its effects on his life. After 945 years of time and space travel, the abrupt lifestyle change should take a toll on him. I waited for it to happen but he continued to act normally. Maybe if he stayed in the Sanctuary Base longer, he would’ve gone mad. Although it wouldn’t be good to see the Doctor go into a nervous breakdown given the imminent danger the characters were susceptible to.

I also like the irony of their experience. Because the Sanctuary Base is near the Black Hole, it sees everything before it is devoured by the nothingness. They get the rare opportunity to see different interpretations of beauty like the Scarlet system in its final hours where beauty lives amongst the unsightly image above. But this privilege easily becomes a curse once they find Scooti floating in space above the “observing deck”; a constant reminder that “Everything has it’s time and everything dies”.

I found it odd though that an advanced civilization regressed to the practice of slavery. But thinking about episodes like “A Long Game” and “Idiot’s Lantern” shows that this isn’t quite impossible. As man progresses, he finds ways to lighten his work load with systems like the assembly line and gadgets like computers. The progressively increase in dependency and reliance on technology can lead to the revival of slavery.

But the Oods live to be slaves. I think this is the only instance that doesn’t make slavery and issue because it’s not slavery per se. Forbidding the Oods from acting according to their nature forces them into a lifestyle that is not theirs and displaces them from their identity. Instead of liberation, the Oods may find imprisonment in depriving them of their natural functions. It’s a different story if a person/alien weren’t meant to function as slaves. This would mean imprisoning the person/alien to a life that against his/her nature consequently displacing him/her from his/her world. If the latter exists, the price of civilization is the freedom of others. Without these slaves, they might not have progressed as much as they did.

However, I was born in the 20th century, a time where slavery has been long abandoned. Hence, I share the same uneasiness in knowing an advanced civilization “needed” slaves. In my opinion, a civilization that practices slavery regresses in its development unless slavery is their life activity.

This form of slavery differs from the Beast’s possession of Toby Zed because he disregarded Toby’s free will and rights to his own person while the Oods were simply functioning in the manner that they were designed to. In this episode, the former plot device was meant to prove that he is awake and the characters need to prepare. It builds the tension between the crew and the Beast to slowly plant fear in the characters and quicken their regression to a state of disbelief. It sets the tone for the succeeding episode’s narrative approach – faith vs disbelief.

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