Gridlock review

With a more critical mind, I watched the third episode “Gridlock” of season 3, Doctor Who for the second time, this pass weekend. Although enjoying it the first time around, rewatching it made me question the basics set ups of this tv series.

As expected, the episode started with a messed up world in need of the Doctor’s saving. Except this time, Russell T. Davies takes on the challenge to combine the following elements: “a women giving birth to a basket of kittens”, “mood(drug) merchant with no moral baseline”, “an environment so polluted yet the people are too keen on carpooling that it involves kidnapping strangers”, and lastly, “a decade long traffic jam”. Looking at this set up logically, there is no logic whatsoever. The entire episode plays out in an absurd way, with the Doctor jumping from carriage to carriage in deadly fumes, Martha driving through giant killer crabs, and the Face of Boe explain his ingenious plan at the end to clean up the mess and end the 45 minutes madness.

The amount of obvious flaws and plot holes made me think maybe that was the intent of the show runner. No human would ever wait for decade long traffic, a police that never reply, and a monster underground without question the reality. We would never be fooled by such ridiculous set up. But the very fact that human did accept all of the above as a society norm should rings us like an alarm. With the right setting and context, we can accept something as bleak as a never ending traffic jam.

Maybe the story Russell T Davies laid out for us in this episode were supposed to be understood on the metaphorical grounds. We as human are so adaptive to abnormality, we can always find strength in other people who’s also sharing the same harsh condition, build community, and establish an illusion of comfort zone in order to maintain our sanity. When in reality, we are all stuck in our separate tin pod, on a long road of poisonous fume, waiting for the future that might never be here.

When we live in a society where poverty, hunger, war, inequality and so many others are accepted as inevitable parts of our society. When our leaders find reasons to justify racism, sexism, inequality. When we have normalized these madness, who are we to question the eternal traffic jam?

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4 thoughts on “Gridlock review”

  1. Even though I’m new to watching Doctor Who, I’ve also noticed a few episodes where it just seems to fill a gap where an episode is needed. Some of the episodes follow such good episodes too but they are just horrible to watch, lacking any logic as well as any type of actual plot to follow.

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  2. When I watched this episode, I did not look at it as critically as you did, but when you point these things out it is easy for me to see your point. They seemed to mash a lot of different things into one episode that just don’t make sense together. At the end, the main point seemed to be about the “drug” patches, but they were only mentioned one or two times throughout the episode. I like that you mentioned how no human would ever wait in traffic for a decade. I hadn’t even thought that through when I watched the episode, but I totally agree with you!

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  3. I had the same response to the woman giving birth to cats. I agree that the logic of this episode was completely lacking and absurd. However, I do think that there was some point to the madness. What do you think was the front most point that the author was trying to convey in this episode? Was it a bash on society’s blinders to the problems of the world or more an eye opener to the things we are overlooking?

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    1. I think the front most point of the author was probably both criticizing and educating. First step to solving a problem is to identify it. Maybe this episode only brought awareness to the public, and it’s up to us to take the next step, take initiative in terms of combating those overlooked issues.

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