Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Whovember: The Absence of the Doctor in Doctor Who
One of the most appealing things about the Doctor is that he is always there to save the day. Even when it seems like he's lost, he's thought everything out so far ahead that he still wins. It's not something that is humanly possible in real life. As an audience, we are thrust into this world where an entity like that exists and it becomes the norm. Having the Doctor in that world and having him be erased from time or not available to save the day is a lot like finding out there is magic in the world and being banished from using it. We know something is real but it is ripped away from us.
So when the Doctor is gone, it becomes this noticeably gap in the story. I think the writers are brilliant for incorporating stories like this into the narrative for two major reasons. The first is it lets us know the true importance of the Doctor and it lets the companions grow. The second is that it allows us as viewers to connect to the companion's sorrow at eventually having to leave the Doctor.
Rose is again faced with these sort of situations in "New Earth" and in "Fear Her" reminding us as an audience that we can't always rely on the Doctor to be there. Rose is desperate to escape in "New Earth" and keeps telling Cassandra to inhabit her body so the Doctor can get them out of their predicament but the Doctor insists on housing Cassandra so Rose is safe. In "Fear Her" the Doctor is drawn into a picture and can't help Rose figure out what is going on to free him. Not only do these episodes allow Rose to grow as a character but it also forces her to live in a world without the Doctor. It is perhaps because of these absences that allows her to make the choice to stay with the Doctor in "Doomsday". She's been forced to be without the Doctor so many times that she knows how empty life would be without him. It also makes her parting with him all the more tragic because she knows what her life will feel like.
Even the 11th Doctor must go through this in "The Big Bang". One of my saddest moments is when the 11th Doctor gives himself up to the crack in Amy Pond's wall to right time, essentially erasing himself in time. Watching Amy's life as she grows up feels all wrong because it doesn't have the Doctor in it. It also makes his reappearance (arguably) the most joyous moment in the show.
We know what the Doctor's negative space leaves---doom and despair--because we've been shown repeatedly what a Doctor Who world would be like without the Doctor in it. His absence speaks just as loud as his presence and it shakes us to our very core. It also tells us why the companions so dread the day they have to leave the Doctor. They are essentially giving the magic up one way or another. I find it so fascinating that a show is able to make a character out of a character disappearing and that they go to such great lengths to remind us what that character's presence means. But if any show is going to do it so eloquently I am not surprised at all that it is Doctor Who.
So what do you guys think of this concept?