Sunday, June 27, 2010

Why I love Doctor Who

And subsequently, why I’m developing a man-crush/writer-hero in Steven Moffat.

He gets me. :D

Some of you don’t watch Doctor Who, so I’ll explain a little bit more…. Saturday was the fifth-season finale of the revived Doctor Who series, titled “The Big Bang”. I won’t spoil that episode, but I’ll spoil the one before it – just a little bit.


The few times that it’s been mentioned this season, the Pandorica has been described as a prison that the Doctor believes to be a fairytale. The prison was for a “warrior, or a trickster” who couldn’t be reasoned with or stopped, and would just drop in and wreck your world.

Fans were correct in figuring out that this meant The Doctor, but they were wrong in thinking that he would already be in there. Instead, an alliance of his worst enemies – Daleks, Cybermen, Sontarans, Judoon, and a lot more – were there to seal him in to the device, in a twisted plan to save the universe.

Doctor Who S05E13 The Big Bang (frame 1610)

Irony fucked them (hard) and, by locking him up, they actually set the universe to the destruction that they’d thought the Doctor would cause. Auton-Rory is there, holding the deceased Amy and mourning the universe’s demise, when the Doctor arrives out of nowhere, with River Song’s vortex manipulator.

But the Doctor was locked in the box. The inescapable prison designed specifically to hold him. The Pandorica. How is he here, when he’s there? And more importantly, where did that fez come from?

Doctor Who S05E13 The Big Bang (frame 13747)

Turns out that this is a Doctor from the future, although fairly recent in his own future, but quite a ways away in Rory’s. He gives Rory the sonic screwdriver and tells him how to free him, and to put the sonic screwdriver into Amy’s coat pocket when he’s done doing that.

The Doctor is freed from the Pandorica because Rory freed him, and he went to the future, and then came back into the past to tell Rory how to free him. He’s free because he told Rory how to free him, with the knowledge seemingly coming from no original point of it’s own.

Less than five minutes in, Steven Moffat plays with ontological paradoxes.

THAT is why I love this show. Thank you, Steven Moffat.


Synch said...

It takes some serious balls to write a time travel story that goes there, and Moffat does it brilliantly.

This is the second time he's done it that I can think of. The first one, although not as huge, is in Silence In The Library. He only meets River because she sends him a message. She sends him the message because they're important to each other, even if it's a Doctor from a different point in his own time stream.
But there is no explanatory origin to them meeting.

Justin said...

Actually, to my knowledge, this is the first ontological paradox that I can think of Moffat doing. The other one is just timeline confusion. Later in his bouncing-around-the-timestream time-line is earlier in her linear-until-she-meets-him time-line. No paradox, just a backwards way of getting familiar with each other.

Ontological paradox means something exists that can't, that shouldn't, that only exists because it did exist. It has no originating point.

Think of it this way: you find a worn-out journal with years of future knowledge in it. Over time, the journal wears down further, and you have to recreate it. Eventually, when it gets worn-down, you realize that it's the same one you found, and travel back in time to leave it where you found it. The journal never originally existed. It's a paradox in that it's there because it was there before, and is usually connected to predestination paradox. Here is part of the Wiki: "In simpler terms, an object is brought back in time, and it becomes the object that was initially brought back in time in the first place."

So since the Doctor was only able to escape because he escaped and told Auton-Rory how he escaped, he was able to escape. Thinking too much on it makes for headaches, but I love it.

Justin said...

Actually, to amend that comment, there is ONE ontological/predestination paradox in that Vashta Nerada two-parter -- River Song's consciousness in the sonic screwdriver. He found it there, so he will later put it there, because he knows it will have to be there.

But the bit you brought up isn't quite paradox. Or at least not the same kind I was talking about. So you're wrong. :P

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