We’re in for a special treat this week with “The Doctor’s Wife” penned by none other than Neil Gaiman He does an amazing job of weaving in Doctor Who’s mythology into a new and fresh episode that helps new viewers understand what’s going on (as much as anyone can) as well as nodding back to the series’ past for old fans.
For new viewers so much of the Doctor mythology was explained right off the bat. The Doctor is a Time Lord, travels through time with human companions in his sentient space/time machine, the TARDIS. Using the distress-call by Time Lord Mail we understand that he’s from another culture, an extinct culture. And without getting into the nitty-gritty angsty details characteristic of Tennant’s Doctor, we learn that he is the last of his kind, and he feels extreme guilt because the extinction of his race was his fault.
Gaiman sets up the episode for a journey of absolute emotional desperation, a chance for The Doctor to redeem himself from his sins of the past. (see last week’s recap of The Curse of the Black Spot, as well as like, the entires new Who series, Who loves tales of redemption). Gaiman turns this tale of guilt and loneliness into a sweet and touching story of an unusual love affair between soul mates, that of a Time Lord and a TARDIS who chose each other and ran away to the stars to have adventures and see the universe.
This love story is strange and beautiful, and ultimately completely alien while being completely relatable. The Doctor’s Wife explores the connection the Doctor has with his TARDIS, we’ve always known it was a special relationship, something indefinable. Gaiman transforms the TARDIS into a beautiful woman for a short time, allowing us to better understand this relationship, and give the TARDIS a chance to tell her side of the story.
There had to be limitations surrounding the TARDIS’s ability to be in a human’s body. She’s too much, can see and feel in too many dimensions to fit inside a human, although she does say that these bodies are bigger on the inside. It is beautiful to see them work together in a way that is more relatable to us, as two people instead of a man and his soulful machine. It was heartbreaking because they knew that this enhanced connection would be short lived. TARDIS came to life only to begin to die, as is the story of the lonely Time Lord, but they both know that long before this, and long after they will always be together, soul mates, it’s love. Gaiman takes this epic love between the Doctor and the TARDIS and defines it as a marriage, and it’s perfect.
The scene where TARDIS’s human body was dying was a confusing kind of heartbreak. For a brief time The Doctor could actually hear his love speak back to him, learn about her beyond what he could feel and see. He understood that she was not gone, and they would be together always. This kind of death was much more difficult for Amy and Rory to process; as usual the companions are our proxy to understanding the stories of the Time Lord.
I absolutely adored the complete breakdown that the TARDIS first had when she was downloaded into a human body. It was so beautifully similar to Matt Smith’s entry into our world. So much excitement, confusion and the need to do, taste, feel everything all at once yet not knowing what it is they are looking for. The word is alive.
Unusual sexual relationships are usually Torchwood’s territory, so I like that it was touched upon in the more family friendly Doctor Who. TARDIS was temporarily transformed into a woman so we could understand, and hear her voice, but ultimately it’s a relationship, a truly loving long-term relationship between a Time Lord (alien) and a machine imbued with a soul.
For the Amy & Rory story it was good to get them out of the way early on so The Doctor & Sexy (TARDIS) could bond together. Having House stalk them in the TARDIS playing games did remind me a little of last season’s “Amy’s Choice” with the Dream Doctor and haunting hallucinations in the TARDIS.
It was refreshing to see them work together so well with minimal interference from the Doctor. It might just be that Matt Smith and Karen Gillian have crazy chemistry, but it’s hard to keep that from translating on screen, so giving Amy and Rory more time together as a couple helps solidify their relationship.
Plus watching the TARDIS (body) in danger as it has been taken over by House (the sentient planet that eats TARDIS’s, weird right)attacking Rory and Amy in the style of HAL (2001: A Space Odyssey) was scary and exciting, taking us in a journey through the box that’s larger on the inside. Usually the heroic of the pair Amy was put into the position of follower once Rory was plugged into the psychic connection with the TARDIS as she led him through to the control room.
Notes & Quotes:
Suranne Jones did such a lovely job of creating such a strange and beautiful character in Idris/Sexy/TARDIS, she displayed the confusion of new emotions, new body and absolute love all at once so well. It was such a powerful and emotional performance. As as I mentioned above, did a great job mimicking Matt Smith’s own performance when he came into his new body at the beginning of his run as The Doctor.
I really don’t know what to do – that’s a new feeling
Which one’s Amy, the pretty one? Of course she would think Rory is the pretty one, they’re both pretty!
You sexy thing
See you do call me that, is it my name
You bet it’s your name
Crimson eleven delight the smell of dust after rain – pass code into the old control room. Is this going to mean something later?
Of course The Doctor had a plan when he told the House how to delete rooms deposited in the actual control room. I love when episodes have the Doctor actually concoct brilliant secret plans that turn things on their head.
You took her from her home, and now she’s back in the box again, and she’s free
I just wanted to say Hello, hello Doctor, it’s so very, very nice to meet you – such a touching line delivered with such joy and sadness built up to from the beginning of the episode when she was searching for a word, she started with goodbye and was looking for the other word
This time can we lose the bunk beds?
No bunk beds are cool, a bed with a ladder, can’t beat that
I love the Doctor’s mechanical work goggles, they are really cool.
So cute and gleeful as he bounces around the TARDIS as she takes him to his next adventure, not knowing if it will be where he wants to go, or where he needs to be.
Seasonal Arc Watch:
- No mention of Amy’s pregnancy
- No appearances from the lady behind the door
- Themes of Death continue: Amy & Rory do talk about the Doctor’s death, seem very affected by it, especially Rory after watching the TARDIS’s human body die
- The only water in the forest is the river – SEXY (the TARDIS) tells the Doctor this is something they will need to know later. Added to the watch list!