The episode drags along the previous episode’s concept of facing one’s consequences. The Doctor usually saves the day, and in the process, often shakes things up so much that he resets the path of society, such as in New Earth. Even us viewers may not consider the implications of sparing individuals’ lives or shaking up society, because we assume that only good can follow from these actions. Unfortunately, in this case, the Doctor appears to have made it easier for humans to impose suffering on each other.

The series often deals with human capacity to be both strong and weak. The Doctor cheers on the British because he knows they can win the war and defeat the Germans. He often talks about the importance of ordinary people and the resilience of humans. In this episode, however, the human society has fallen to pieces due to the lack of balanced journalism. I believe it’s a commentary on relying too much on technology instead of personal strength.

As a follow up to The Long Game, the episode again touches on the pivotal role of media in society. While The Long Game highlighted the importance of balanced news reports, Bad Wolf shows what would happen with no news at all — society cloaked in darkness and panicking. As a communication major, I appreciated this insight. I do not believe that communication media are the only things glueing society together, but they do play an important role in maintaining the flow of vital information.

I find it both conceivable and horrifying that human society could develop-yet-degenerate into such a state. On one hand, they have things like transmats and highly developed communications. On the other hand, people are so accepting and calm about the fact that these game shows are slaughterhouses. In fact, there are hundreds of channels, and all the shows are voraciously viewed by the entire world. The producers calmly watch as contestants and housemates die. Even the contestants of the shows do not seem to mind their situation — they are more hellbent on winning the prize, and only tear up when it is really their turn to die. People do not question their situation.

Unfortunately, I find this conceivable because I think humans are capable of doing this to each other. Consider the Holocaust, when plenty of German citizens and officials just went about their ordinary business while millions of Jews were gassed and trussed up like animals. Viewers may recoil at the realities depicted by the writers, but part of the horror is that it could actually happen.

I found the concept of a Controller incredibly sickening because she had been ‘installed’ at the age of five and it was the only life she had ever known. I think that would be a horrible way to live, blind and with numbers and data trawling through one’s head. Interestingly, it was the Controller, who was most enslaved, who set in motion the defeat of her ‘masters’, not the humans who were being manipulated but still maintained some level of freedom.

At the end of the episode, I was very pleased to see the Daleks, because I thought it indicated a very exciting season-ender. The viewfinder of the Dalek’s iconic ‘plunger’ was all I needed to see in order to realize that the Doctor would be dealing with Daleks. Needless to say, I could not wait to see the finale!

 

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