Doctor Who: a Time Lord’s winged chariot

You’ll got the Andrew Marvell reference To His Coy Mistress for the episode titled World Enough and Time yeah?  It’s apt. Not just this episode with its portents of doom, and accurate time dilation Black Hole physics. No. The entire series has indeed felt time’s winged chariot hurrying near. Most episodes have felt overtly rushed or truncated, except for the triple hander Monk episodes and they felt like a big richly decorated introduction for a small and inexplicably slap dash and inconsequency pay off. The joke is with this episode it is both fast and slow.

World enough for ya?

…the last age should show your heart

This poem is about youth and is advice on what to do with it, it’s YOLO girl, ye olde style. This is also a perennial theme of Doctor Who: it is a guide to making the most of the precious hopeful, passionate, energetic years, before they are consumed by the usual day the day-ness Rose complained about (like working in a shop). Thus, The Doctor doesn’t just pick companions who happen to be young because they are visually TV friendly, uh uh. He says it himself: he needs their perspective, since the universe is his backyard humans can see things he can’t. He also needs their young enthusiasms and drives and emotions, because this ancient, lonely man-god is less dangerous to others when he is with them. Or as he says of Clara: she cares so he doesn’t have to. And the young care more.

But he also in his didactic fashion warns this latest companion that his lifestyle demands as a Time Lord burn them out. Or, as in this episode, literally burns their hearts out. There is a price for humans adventuring through space and time, (which is of course just a metaphor for life) and thus it comes to pass all too quickly that Bill’s bill is drawn up. And  surviving the loss of her heart gets her a lesson in waiting those long years for help. Foreshadowing much everyone?

Slow-chapt power

Speaking of which: John Simm’s Master. Again this felt like a prelude to the main feature ahead, but his disguise as Razor was entertaining, if recognisable. His character did in indeed feel like he languished in his slow-chapt power of time, hiding disguised on a ship for an eternity. Again, it is a deliberate choice to make his disguise old.

His character with its jokes about good and bad tea reminded me of Neil Gaiman’s The Doctor’s Wife, with its characters making jokes about the horror ahead for Idris as her soul is replaced by that of the TARDIS.

To his coy Mistress

If this episode is being didactic, then this could be a farewell to Missy, because Marvell’s poem is addressed To His Coy Mistress to get a hurry on before she dies (my interpretation). Granted, she has been rehabilitated a bit but Missy’s not so much coy as preoccupied. And she is definitely will be making much of time, being in one place, two bodies, and two-time zones at once. In hindsight the series has been a lament for the times lost between the Doctor and his best friend.

Though we cannot make our sun stand still

I loved how this episode used actual physics. There are no instant sonic solutions because of the Black Hole. It was a neat device too, to get the explanation to us by putting the power in the hands of the janitor who thusly didn’t understand what was happening 400 miles on the other part of the ship. Bill and Razor’s response to the Doctor’s role in explaining this is also gold.

And yonder before us lie…

I can see why many consider this the best episode of the season, but I’m willing to tack on a ‘so far’ because I can’t see how Bill’s getting un-cyberfied in this twin Earth ship Mondasian mechanical nightmare and because the episode began with the regeneration process. I don’t want either to be true, but I don’t want a typical Steven Moffat “let’s undead the dead” solution either. It was shocking that Bill was shot. Her transformation was similarly shocking. I don’t know how this can be undone and even if either should. This episode is all about change over time. From Master to Missy, from human to cyber, from  young to old, from one Doctor to the next, from living to dead. So, is Bill’s passage through the iron gates of life one way? And if it is there is a solution through physics, physics, physics, then ok, but why shock us at all?

So we will roll up our strength and all our sweetness into one ball, and watch time devour the days to see what becomes of Mistresses and Masters, Mondasian Bills and our Lord of Time.

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