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?

Are We Gridlocked Today?

 

The premise of season three, episode three of New Who was particularly interesting to me since it was based in a dystopian future on a planet called New Earth. Apparently, five billion years in the future humanity has not only survived but has moved to a planet many light years away.

Early in the episode we see the underground world that most of the people on New Earth live in. It’s like the “slums” of a bigger city and we find out there is a superhighway that people drive on for years at a time (some for their whole lives). As us viewers watching this episode here on “current” Earth, we see this New Earth scenario as ridiculous and far beyond anything conceivable in our lives today. However, are some of our lives really that different from the citizens of New Earth?

Most scenarios presented in Doctor Who should be taken for something more than their surface value. Even though it seems preposterous that anyone would drive for years on end, wasting their life, how many of us are guilty of simply going through the motions everyday and not truly seizing everyday as an opportunity for something new and exciting. Much like the people driving on the superhighway, it is all too easy to get comfortable in living the same way we have been for so long.

I think anyone can find himself or herself living this kind of life, but we, here on Current Earth, are at a disadvantage compared to the people of New Earth. We cannot wait for the arrival of the Doctor (or some other outside source) to enlighten our lives. We should all learn from the people of New Earth and break free of our own superhighways we might be stuck on.