Listen to your fear and desperation – continued thoughts on Doctor Who

After only a few weeks of blogging on the weekend, I’ve already messed up my self-imposed pattern.  My excuse is because I’ve been mulling over a few topics.  As a writer, I’m intrigued by the choices other writers make in their work.  Over the last few weeks, I’ve focused my blog on either movies or Doctor Who episodes and my feelings regarding them.  Last Saturday, the episode “Listen” aired for Doctor Who.  My thoughts since then have been centered on what the message of the episode implies and how I feel about the current Doctor.  I’ve been going over the last couple of seasons/doctors recently to compare the personalities of the characters.  This week, I rewatched the episode “Vincent and the Doctor”.  As one who understands the poison of depression, I cannot help getting emotional over the end of the episode.  For those who haven’t seen Vincent and the Doctor, the Doctor travels back to the unappreciated and under-valued Vincent Van Gogh.  There are some beautiful elements in the episode where we see how Vincent sees what others cannot, thus lending to the beauty of his art.

Vincent and the Doctor
Vincent and the Doctor-Doctor Who Season 5. Photo courtesy of

It’s as though the writers wanted those who suffer as Vincent does, to feel hope that they may just see their world differently and will be able to see the beauty in the world others are too blind to see.  By the end of the episode, the Doctor gives Vincent a gift many would love to receive.

I weep with Vincent.  Who doesn’t want to know their hard work will be remembered?  Who does anything today without having a hope what they do will make any kind of a difference? I really don’t think there are many who don’t care how they’ll be remembered.

Let’s bring it forward to the current Doctor and what we’ve seen from him.  I think he’s desperate and afraid he’s been wasting his time.  This should be obvious to fans.  Even if you’ve only watched since 2005, we see a pattern.  The 9th Doctor is kind of a rogue.  He’s fresh from annihilating his people and the Daleks in the time war and almost seems reluctant, and yet joyous, to have Rose come along with him.  He revels that he’s the oncoming storm.  The 10th Doctor, seems playful and spontaneous.  Maybe some of that is because he’s been alone for so long and now able to show Rose he can regenerate and is willing to just play around.  But then Rose is lost, Martha doesn’t stick around, and Donna has to have her memory wiped to set up her role in the End of Time.  Yet, those last few specials with the Doctor, he’s starting to become desperate to change time even if it is supposed to be a fixed event.


After his regeneration into the 11th, I really start to see his desperation.  He’s trying to hold onto the carefree nature of 10, but has to figure out what is going on with the crack in time and space.  However, even after solving that, he can’t relax because everyone is trying to hunt him down and, as he says at the beginning of season 7, he’s gotten too big and needs to limit his presence in the universe.

The Doctor falls hard after the Angels take Manhattan and decides to seclude himself.  But then he’s called to action again to solve the mystery of the impossible girl.  After that, we have the 12th Doctor (aka the 13th regeneration).  I believe his desperation is at a high point.  He’s not playing around anymore as he was before.  He expected his life to end and rather than celebrate his new life from the Time Lords, he’s acting desperate.  It seems he’s doing those things he felt he never got around to doing, somehow after 2000 years, before he runs out of time again.  But where is this sense of desperation coming from? Is it really the personality the writers want to give the Doctor? Or is it that the show runners are worried, needlessly, about the life of the show and are trying to get out the stories they have left to do? I’m hoping for the former.

The Doctor asks Clara, "Am I a good man?" - Doctor Who Season 8 Photo courtesy BBC One
The Doctor asks Clara, “Am I a good man?” – Doctor Who Season 8 Photo courtesy BBC One

Our current Doctor Who is certainly darker.  We’ve seen that in many ways so far.  I’ve never really understood why Clara isn’t around for the adventures as consistently as previous companions, especially given how excited she was to meet him.  Add to that, I thought we saw some realization dawn in her at the end of the season premier that she needs to be there for the Doctor more.  Maybe she is, in her own way, responding to his needs.  He implied his mistake was in thinking of himself as her boyfriend. Maybe he is forcing some distance between them and she’s respecting it.  I don’t like it. I think he’s still grieving over the loss of Amy and Rory, the change in his life, and trying to come to grips with his old fears. Hence, the “Listen” episode.  I feel Clara is going to be even more wary of her involvement with the Doctor now she knows she’s the origin of the fear of something under the bed. This could be a very disastrous setup.

Clara grabs the boy Doctor - Doctor Who Season 8 "Listen" Photo courtesy of
Clara grabs the boy Doctor – Doctor Who Season 8 “Listen” Photo courtesy of

I’m not entirely sure if the Doctor is acting out of desperation to be known or have a legacy.  I do feel that his purpose isn’t on what it is supposed to be. He needs to be finding Gallifrey. Or was that not the point of revealing to us that Gallifrey didn’t fall and just needs to be found? Or is he struggling with the decision when to find his home? So many questions. I still like this Doctor in many ways, such as acting his age a bit more to start.  But he’s treading a fine line with being almost a jerk and not wanting us to like him as he distances himself from Clara.  I think it’s a common response for someone dealing with grief and pain and it’s apparent in the Doctor.  Yet, every time the writers have him do something which may turn us off from the Doctor, they give him something which shows to us he still cares and wants us to be the best we can be. For example, in the episode “Listen”, it is what he says about Fear.  Fear makes us strong like a superhero. Take that Yoda! And with that, we get new insight into who the Doctor is in his core. He’s afraid, and even though he says he’s been running for a long time, we know throughout the years he’s been turning his head to be super in the moment of need and helps others. Which brings an interesting question: Is the Doctor the Doctor because he wants to help? Or is he the Doctor because of he’s afraid of his fear and is trying to embrace it? How long can he do that? The Master went mad with what he saw afterall.

Dk.JPG -d.k.

One thought on “Listen to your fear and desperation – continued thoughts on Doctor Who”

  1. My first ever episode of Dr Who was “A Good Man Goes To War”. Obviously not every episode has lived up to that high precedent of anything-can-happen-ness, but the best have. And then this season, which was purported to be dark, has wallowed in melancholy instead. Anything can happen, so long as it’s thematically morose. Humor and surprises are used as punctuation now, not woven into the fabric of the adventures.

    Everyone seems to love this season. As for me, I’ll watch it because I’m a bit of a completionist, but I feel pretty comfortable saying already: The emperor wears no clothes

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