[Preemptive Spoiler Alert]
The Doctor has always been known for his ability to give a good jog and to leave his enemies and the horrors of the universe in his dust. But that’s not the type of running I’m here to discuss, I’m here to discuss a form of running that is more familiar to most of us
The Doctor is a runner, he stampedes away from his problems. Similar to most of us he runs away from his problems and his inner demons and I’m not talking about the aliens and baddies we see him size up and seal away. I’m talking about the complex feelings that he has been carrying with him since we met the Doctor following the time-war. When I ask myself what I should discuss in this blog post, I saw at a quick glance no one has discussed his running and dismissal of his own trauma. We see him take blow after physical blow in his adventures, but we never see him truly shaken up except when the Daleks are the foes in question, or when the horrors of the time-war creep back up. When these events unfold we see an unnerved Doctor. This Doctor is a bit unlike the one we have normally seen calm under pressure and with an unwavering amount. Let’s travel back to the TV episode “Dalek”, when we see how the Doctor becomes desperate in destroying the Dalek. The Doctor is horrified that the Dalek even exists at all, his very presence drove fear into it, but vice-versa its living existence drew the idea that some of the Daleks survived the time-war into him. At the end of this TV episode we do see that the Doctor has become determined he wants its destruction, and the look in his face is one of determined terror. It’s obvious the time-war has left its scars on the Doctor and have we ever addressed these scars? The Doctor has been avoiding that topic and he has never brought it up, it has always been brought up by the presence of Daleks, or his companions seeking to know who the Doctor is and even the Doctor is uncomfortable with telling them any of these details.
Now we’ve examined that the Doctor has scars in himself from his war, we see he runs but what now? Well the easiest conclusion is that the Doctor’s theme of running has gone inwards, it has become a plot-device that takes a literal and metaphysical sense. He is now running from himself, and his scars he never stops to heal and he never stops to stitch himself up. The Doctor runs and runs and runs, and it’s a long while before he ever becomes resolved. We have to wait until the end of Matt Smith’s tenure as the Doctor before we see him stop and consider his actions and behavior and we see the 9th Doctor was a man motivated by fear and loss, the 10th was a runner who ran from his scars and that 11 was a man pretending to be a child as to convince himself the scars were never there, and its clear the Doctor has been running from the one thing he fears the most, his insides, his conscious, his beliefs, and the horrors of the time-war imprinted onto himself. The Doctor has began running inside his head, and avoiding the presence and existence of any of the pain that lays inside of him. We see he is doing more than physical running from his enemies and those who seek to do evil, but he also is truly running from these problems normally he runs away from danger only to come back with his signature timey-wimey sucker punch but instead he runs and runs and never stops to face why he runs in this case.
Re-watching Doctor who has been an interesting experience for me, I really enjoyed watching it as a middle schooler and a little bit into high school. I have not really kept up with it in recent years, but re-watching I have found a couple problems as I am thinking deeply about the episodes. Recently, I have been getting bored of the episodes at times they seem to be so repetitive. Some episodes seem to really follow a formula of something weird is going on, Doctor and companion show up, its some sort of alien, Doctor figures out how to fix the problem. This formula gets boring when it is repeated over and over again. I also tend to to find plot holes and things that don’t always make total sense to me. For example when the weeping angels are just chilling out they can’t look at each other ever, that would be so confusing and weird. How do they communicate? How do they reproduce? If they are on a planet full of them then how do they get around if it is busy, someone is always going to be looking at them even if not on purpose.
In re-watching the show, I do enjoy a couple of things, one being seeing the villains that I really like. For example, the Daleks are my favorite, so whenever there is an episode with the Daleks in it I get excited and enjoy the episode. I like how they talk to each other, they have a passive aggressive way of talking that can be really funny. I like the weeping angels, they genuinely scare me. The part in an episode where Amy looks at a video clip of an angel and she gets dust coming out of her eye and it becomes real, that is super freaky to me. The angels are a good example of a villain done well, they are super unique, and they are scary. I look forward to the newest season and seeing what they are going to do with a female doctor.
River Song first appeared on Doctor Who in 2008 in the episode “Silence in the Library”. From the very beginning we realize that River Song has known the Doctor for a long time, and has gotten quite close with him, even though this is his first time meeting her. It’s not too long after that we learn that River Song is the Doctor’s wife. Fast forward a few seasons and a new Doctor and River Song’s backstory becomes even more complicated. Before she even knows who the Doctor is she’s been trained to kill him. Before that she’s in a different body and posing as her parents’ best friend back in high school. And before even that, she isn’t River Song at all, but Melody Pond.
You’d think such a complicated backstory would lead to a thoroughly complex character who’s interesting and emotive, and you’d be right… for the most part. River Song is an extremely interesting character with several different storylines and plot points. She’s strong and as intelligent, if not more intelligent and witty as the the Doctor. She’s incredibly fierce, but not lacking in emotion either.
Honestly, I could go on for hours about how great River Song is and delve for eternity into her backstory and timeline. There’s just one thing about River that makes some feminist fans shake their heads. And that is; why River Song is in Doctor Who at all. Her appearance in “Silence in the Library” only creates more questions about the Doctor and who he really is. In “The Impossible Astronaut” she’s there to kill the Doctor. Her big role in “Let’s Kill Hitler” was to poison the Doctor then revive him again. It might start to become clear: she’s there for the Doctor.
Unlike the Doctor’s companions, River Song’s entire life revolves around and leads up to the Doctor. She’s there to be the Doctor’s wife. She’s there to kill the Doctor. She’s there to save the Doctor. She’s never in an episode where the Doctor’s fate or love interest isn’t her. And that’s a problem. No matter how complex her storyline is, or how interesting she is, we can’t ignore the fact that her sole purpose on the show is to be there as a plotpoint for the Doctor.
I love River Song’s character. I think she’s an absolutely brilliant character. But what I, and many other feminist viewers of the show want is for River Song to be there for herself, not just so that the Doctor has someone to save, kill, or kiss him. River Song’s already complicated backstory is a perfect opportunity to include plot points where River is there for herself.