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.

 

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