I have not seen quite as much Doctor Who as others, but in the episodes I have been exposed to, religious beliefs tend be invisible. There are a few episodes like The Curse of Fenric and Father’s Day, where we see a church or priest, but they are not necessarily the center of the plot. When I watched The Satan Pit, I was shocked at the use of “Satan” as a character in Doctor Who, and the fact that the Doctor destroyed this character.
Though I am not exactly sure the Beast in this episode was ever actually referred to as “Satan”, several parts of the episode indicate this could be who the Beast is. The fact that the Beast is imprisoned in an underground pit with fire seems to align with the view several people see when they think of Hell. No one knows exactly if Hell exists, what it looks like, or where it would be, but there are specific images we associate with it. I am not saying that Hell is a fiery pit found in the center of a planet, but when you Google “Hell”, images similar to the scenes in The Satan Pit come up. With how controversial this topic can be, I am surprised Doctor Who wrote an episode based around this. There are several people who do believe in Hell, and several who do not. Seeing a story line that shakes these ideas surprised me.
Not only did the episode’s entire plot surprise me, but the outcome did as well. The Beast claimed to have existed before the universe, and was imprisoned after the battle against the Disciples of Light. The Doctor is very troubled by this and he argued that it is impossible. The Beast asked the Doctor if this is what his religion says, but that question is not necessarily answered because the Doctor says this is his belief, not his religion. The Beast then revealed knowledge about each crew member, causing all of their personal beliefs to be questioned as well.
It is not exactly explained why the Beast was locked up instead of being destroyed, but the Doctor chooses to destroy it even if it meant he would risk Rose’s life. Normally, the Doctor avoids killing at all costs. Instead, the Doctor chose to destroy the Beast at a very high price, and I am not sure this was the “right” decision according to the Doctor’s morals. If the Disciples of Light found a way to avoid killing the Beast, why couldn’t the Doctor?