Sunday, April 18, 2010

Doctor Who: Victory of the Daleks and the Supremacy of Love

I had mixed feelings about this week's Doctor Who episode, Victory of the Daleks:

Firstly, on the plus side I feel it has to be said that Matt Smith continues to hold his own as the last of the Time Lords. He echoes multiple Doctors of the past and channels his own unique energy into each performance.

There were brief glimpses of genius in the script: The Doctor using a jammy dodger biscuit as a fake TARDIS destruct button, Spitfires in space, and of course the creepy apparently subservient Daleks (which of course were nothing of the sort). There's just something a little darkly kinky about a Dalek drifting around proclaiming "I am your sooooooooooldier!"

"Would you care for a cup of teeeeeeaaaaaa?!???"

Most... hilariously surreal Dalek line... EVER!

All this is the kind of stuff that makes Doctor Who unique... that the amazing, fantastic, wonderful and terrifying things can all be found or suggested in the everyday mundane.

On the negative side it has to be said that the newly reincarnated Daleks look foul. The angles are all wrong and they look like they have been made out of cheap vacuum sealed plastic. It's almost as if they've been cross bred with a cheap Nissan Micra or Smart Car. I suspect they've been bulked up for the comfort of the operators. The mixed paint jobs are probably a nod back to the 60's film versions, but I don't think a variety of bright colours really work on Daleks. They are supposed to be a totalitarian supremacist race bent on destruction of all non-Dalek life, it seems fitting to me that their colour scheme should be restricted and repressed. Still... at least they didn't have fire extinguishers for extermination beams.

When they emerged in formation and confronted the Doctor, I wondered what they reminded me of... and then somebody hit the nail on the head on Twitter:

No wonder the poor Doctor looked so bemused!

I also felt the pacing was a bit off. When the Power Rangers new Daleks were revealed, it felt like there should have been a "To Be Continued" after the Doctor's reaction. It really could have benefited from being a two parter as some important elements were left rushed or unexplained. You could really tell the difference in quality between Moffat's episodes and this one.

In the climax of the story we discover that Bracewell - the Daleks' sleeper android, is a walking Oblivion Continuum bomb capable of destroying the Earth. The Daleks trigger his countdown mechanism as part of their exit strategy, and the Doctor has to abandon his plans to thwart them in a desperate bid to diffuse Bracewell as he builds up to critical mass.

The Doctor quickly realises that  the way to disarm Bracewell is to break the Daleks control over him... and to do that he has to help Bracewell reassert his sense of humanity. In trying to elicit an emotional response, The Doctor appeals to Bracewell's sense of sadness, despair, hurt and loss... all of which have no effect whatsoever.

Once again it is Amy who has an epiphany about how to resolve the situation. She copies the Doctor's strategy of appealing to Bracewell's emotions but instead appeals to his positive emotions... principally love.

Although perhaps not the most scientific of resolutions, I liked it. To quote William Hurt's character in The Village: "The world moves for love, it kneels before it in awe."

When she was still alive, my grandmother's favourite Bible verse which she knew from memory was this:

"If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love."
1 Corinthians 13

As powerful as negative emotions are, love (in it's many forms), is supreme. Perhaps that's why we prize the emotion so greatly when we are enthralled by it, covet it when we are deprived of it... and grieved so deeply when we are robbed of it. That is why when, like the Doctor we are at the end of our resourcefulness, love in its supremacy will have the final word.... especially God's love.

In a dark world it's often very easy to lose sight of this truth and so I'd like to finish by quoting another doctor... namely Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr:

"I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant."

1 comment:

  1. I too felt the episode should have been a two parter - there could have been an immense amount of tension through the story, but it was spoilt by being rushed. There wasn't time for peril to be drawn out; no sooner a problem was revealed it was fixed, or being fixed.

    Some excellent touches - I loved the "would you like a cup of teeeeeeeea?" line and the jammy dodger, but not keen on the iDaleks. Enjoying the new series immensely, however.

    Also very much enjoying your posts following the episodes so far. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and scripture.


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