Time Lords have a history of memory wipe? Discuss

Having enjoyed some brilliant meta, mostly centered on Donna, over with  and others, I turned today to beta work on a very promising story by an flister on the same theme. It says a lot about Donna’s story that even after over two years, I find it very difficult to think about other things when I’ve been reflecting on it. It continues to grieve, upset and enrage me in a way that Rose’s does not, and I know I’m not alone.

Today my copy of The Unsilent Library  arrived. Although I bought this book because I know one of the contributors through LJ, it wasn’t her piece that immediately grabbed my attention. Instead I turned to “How Donna Noble Saved the Multiverse (and had to pay for it)”, by Sydney and Andy Duncan, and that alone was worth the tenner I’d paid for the book. I can recommend it to everyone who still struggles with what happened to Donna. It pulls no punches. The authors point out that there are earlier examples of amnesia being the fate of powerful female characters in SF, but goes on to point out that Donna’s is particularly disturbing because it is in effect a return to the bondage that the whole of S4 shows her escaping. What we see is, in effect, a lobotomy, and they observe, “She doesn’t even realise her bondage exists, so no heroic struggle or tragic acceptance is even possible.” And they go on to say:

“…a careful viewing of S4, perhaps the most carefully constructed, most written series of DW to date – suggests that the real problem posed by Donna is one of power, power to rival the Doctor’s.”
But the clincher of their argument, for me, was not their analysis of New-Who but their comparison to a Classic Who algorithm. I had forgotten, if I ever knew, that it wasn’t the Doctor who mindwiped Jamie and Zoe in The War Crimes – it was the Time Lords. Having finally caught up with the Doctor, they punished him by depriving him of his companions and exiling him to Earth by taking away the Doctor’s memory of how the TARDIS operates. This all gets handwaved later on – in The Two Doctors Jamie appears to have his memories restored (the authors comment drily that, “…there is no hint of any such restoration for the absent Zoe, even though a 21st century mathematical genius would seem to be of more potential use to the Time Lords than a Jacobite piper.”) Here is their conclusion (the italics are in the original):
This odd sidelining of another brilliant female character aside, the climax of The War Games makes clear that, in this instance at least, the memory wipe of a companion is an elective form of punishment, something the Time Lords choose to do and could choose not to do.
If I ever saw these Classic episodes, it was a long time ago and I’m not in the ideal position to compare the two sets of circumstances. Of course, it could reasonably be argued that the Tenth Doctor acts out of mercy. But is it quite that simple? A feminist might well point out that the male equivalent of the DoctorDonna, the Duplicate Doctor, actually commits genocide but is rewarded with Rose to keep an eye on him. Donna, the oldest female companion to travel with the Doctor, one of the few not to be clad in sexually alluring clothing, has to forget how powerful she ever was – unless being remembered and worshipped rather like the Virgin Mary consists of power. David Langford has pointed out (see “Memory Wipe” in Clute and Grant, eds. The Encyclopedia of Fantasy, 1997, p 25) that the presence of memory wipes appears frequently as a condescending, paternal trope in children’s fantasy and remarks, “It seems slightly unfair that children who have helped defeat evil should have even the memory of their achievements taken away.”
In summary (back to the Duncans’ essay, p90):
Long-term DW viewers are reminded, however, that when Time Lords last wiped a companion’s memory, it was presented as a judicial sentence, a calculated, wilful act of punishment and Time Lord self-protection. This leads us to ask: who really was suffering, who was most threatened by, this metacrisis?

If the rest of the book is this good (and it looks promising), it looks like I’m in for a treat. Meanwhile, any comments?

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26 thoughts on “Time Lords have a history of memory wipe? Discuss

  1. Meanwhile, any comments?
    Only that I need to get my copy ordered!
    (And that the Doctor’s treatment of Donna in that scene remains the only DW moment that’s got me anywhere close to trying to write Who fic, out of sheer outrage at its wrongness. When I got my copy of the second edition of TWT I dived into the discussion of that episode, wanting to find out what the hell RTD had thought he was doing – and was disappointed, if not entirely surprised, to discover that he just thought it was heartbreaking and that we would all be weeping on the floor. Some of us, RTD, were throwing things at the screen in fury…)

  2. I think I have to buy this book. 🙂 (Might have to order it from the UK. Doesn’t look like it’s available in North America.)
    The authors point out that there are earlier examples of amnesia being the fate of powerful female characters in SF, but goes on to point out that Donna’s is particularly disturbing because it is in effect a return to the bondage that the whole of S4 shows her escaping.
    But how do they define “bondage” in this context? Is it Donna’s life specifically, which admittedly isn’t ideal; or ordinary humanity in general? I have problems with this concept, because if that bondage is defined as ordinary humanity, then that suggests ordinary humanity is not desirable at all.
    Right up until she became the DoctorDonna, Donna never believed she had any power to change the world. I can accept that as a kind of bondage, which is particularly difficult to overcome. If that’s what they mean, I agree, the point of her story in S4 was escaping that.
    (I’m curious how, or if, the authors addressed what happened in “Turn Left”. Donna rapidly forgot her parallel world after she ended it, which suggests perhaps she also forgot her awareness of her own power to change it. Yet that wasn’t the Doctor’s doing.)
    Donna, the oldest female companion to travel with the Doctor, one of the few not to be clad in sexually alluring clothing, has to forget how powerful she ever was – unless being remembered and worshipped rather like the Virgin Mary consists of power.
    Yet legends do have power, to inform and to inspire. Plus, legends gain more power as time passes, and take on lives of their own. That power generally outstrips the power the subjects of the legends ever had in life. The subjects of the legends never know that, because they’re usually dead by the time their stories pass into legend. Perhaps Donna’s story isn’t necessarily how she escapes her human bondage, as much as how she transcends it, becomes mythologized. Which, in a way, does allow her to escape from her human bondage, though she personally doesn’t benefit from it.
    This leads us to ask: who really was suffering, who was most threatened by, this metacrisis?
    That depends on the viewpoint? An undercurrent in RTD’s Who is about what power means, what kinds of power there are, how power is kept in check, and even whether power is a good thing to have. I really don’t think the Doctor felt threatened by the DoctorDonna. I think he felt threatened by Ten II; otherwise he wouldn’t have exiled Ten II to Pete’s World. (And I don’t know if Ten II is rewarded, as much as Rose is punished. Ten II is not her Doctor. Her Doctor has moved on.)
    Perhaps the Doctor didn’t feel threatened by the DoctorDonna because he knew she couldn’t last. RTD established in “Utopia” that the possibility of other Time Lords even existing was a serious threat, and explained why in “The End of Time”. I suspect part of the reason why the Doctor initially rejected Jenny in “The Doctor’s Daughter” was because of her Time Lord heritage. And then there was the Time Lord Victorious, which was clearly Not A Good Thing.
    As to suffering–I think it was obvious Donna and the Doctor both suffered. Donna was dying, and part of the Doctor died too when he wiped her memory. I wonder if he didn’t condemn himself to a fate worse than death. Maybe letting her die, allowing himself to grieve and moving on, would have been better than knowing she was alive, but forever out of his reach.
    tl;dr: I have to buy this book. 🙂

  3. Also…
    Of course, it could reasonably be argued that the Tenth Doctor acts out of mercy. But is it quite that simple?
    I don’t think the Doctor meant to act out of anything but mercy. I don’t think it was meant to be punishment. I do think it might have been more for his benefit than hers, to protect himself from grief. But it was short-term at best, as the Specials showed.
    It’s interesting, how Donna’s end reflects the big-picture/little-picture duality of the series. She was all about the little picture, but her effect was all about the big.

  4. Re: Also…
    I don’t think it was meant to be punishment
    I’m also quite certain it wasn’t meant to be punishment. But what we are asking ourselves in this discussion is, in making the choice, was the Doctor evincing enculturated behavior in-text by wiping her mind as much as the creator(s) may have been evincing enculturated behavior out-text by disabling a powerful woman, whatever conscious motives character or creator(s) also had? It’s a good question for which I don’t know whether there’s an answer, but worth thinking on.
    I read an essay here on LiveJournal recently arguing from a mythological standpoint that, though Donna gets put back at square one, she does progress from there as seen in The End of Time: after all (e.g.), when we first see her she’s marrying an outright bounder and when we last see her she’s marrying a good man. When I’m at home and at a computer where I can right-click, I can dig up the link.

  5. Sounds like an interesting book – I’ll have to look for it.
    I agree with what others have said in that the mindwipe was – in Ten’s mind – an act of mercy. Was he wrong to deny Donna the choice? Yes, of course, he was. But this was Ten – his massive guilt complex and probably his hubris wasn’t going to let his best friend die. And as has been argued elsewhere, the Doctor’s view of “living” seems to be somewhat skewed at times. I mean, think of what he did to River.
    It’s just occurred to me that in saving River, he saves her mind and in saving Donna he destroys part of her mind and saves her bodily. Dunno where I was going with that…
    Anyway, something I find a bit disturbing is the way in which some reviewers seem determined to find sexist or nefarious reasons for the Doctor’s actions. Perhaps I’m being extremely naive, but the idea that he wiped Donna’s mind because he felt threatened by the idea of her equality, or that Rusty wrote it because of a need to destroy a powerful female character is anathema to me. I find their points of view interesting, but I can’t subscribe to them in this case. Rusty wrote it because he had to write Donna out of the show and in order to set up Ten’s path to self-destruction.
    Like I said, perhaps my view is too simplistic.

  6. Re: Also…
    Hmm. I don’t think the situations in “The War Games” and “Journey’s End” are comparable. For Donna’s mindwipe to be punishment, the Doctor would have to view the DoctorDonna metacrisis as a crime. Now, I did agree the Doctor wiped Donna’s mind out of self-protection: in his case, to protect himself from the grief of her death. I’m not convinced it was unconscious or enculturated punishment in-text, though, simply because the DoctorDonna metacrisis was unstable and Donna Noble was dying.
    Had the DoctorDonna metacrisis been stable, absolutely I can see how she might be a threat to him, as he decided Ten II was. Then the question of punishment, conscious or no, applies. But that wasn’t the case. It’s an interesting question, but I honestly think it was simply a matter of Donna Noble’s life or death.
    (Unless the Doctor was unconsciously punishing himself by depriving himself of his best friend, because he believed the metacrisis was his fault. If so, that’s one hell of a level of self-loathing.)
    Yep, that essay is Donna Noble as Holy Bride by . I’ve argued that point too.

  7. Rusty wrote it because he had to write Donna out of the show and in order to set up Ten’s path to self-destruction.
    Yes, I agree with that statement. There’s certainly a fair discussion to be made in the subtext of any literary or fictional work in what the author displays rather than intended, but I think in this case, saying Donna was being punished for her power is off base.
    It’s an interesting discussion, with some good thoughts to be provoked, but the Doctor was clearly acting selfishly, to protect himself from the grief of having (inadvertently) killed his best friend. I think he acted quickly, rashly even, without exploring any other options to save her, but his motivations are pretty clear.
    The way I always see Donna’s arc is this: she was always going to be something amazing. The potential is still there. We saw it in TEoT and she is still fundamentally Donna, living her life day after day … and that’s what the Doctor wants, and he’s willing to violate her trust and her will to give her that.

  8. reoly to topaz
    Ooh, lots of stuff there.
    I don’t think the writers’ interpretation of “bondage” referred to the state common to all humanity. They’re referring to all Donna’s unrealised potential, the fact that her character development is undone and that by EoT, “even her newsagent grandfather knows more Time Lord business than she does.”
    They analyse the whole series very persuasively and they clearly link it to the SF trope of female characters not being permitted to assume too much power. Rather interestingly, although they regard TL as crucial to setting up the finale, they regard SITL more as a turning-point, seeing it as the setting up of a pattern of Donna’s passivity as she is “moved around for her own good”. I’m not sure I completely buy that since I think you have to regard that two-parter as representative of SM’s view of women as a whole. She’s hardly the only strong female character deprived of agency in that story. They don’t mention River’s fate at all.
    Your point about legends is fascinating and significant, I think. One criticism often (rightly, IMHO) made of LOTR is that women are relegated to being passively inspirational figures (with the possible exception of Eowyn, who gains temporary agency by passing as male). I suppose the point they are making is that Donna should have been given a choice, but instead the established literary pattern of giving men active roles and women passive, inspirational ones as memory “touchstones” was continued in DW S4.
    Does the Doctor feel threatened by the DoctorDonna? You could write reams of fic unpacking that and in the end I think it’s a matter of interpretation. Certainly I don’t think he sets out with the intent of neutralising her power. It obviously breaks his hearts to do what he does. But it’s possible that he is so conditioned by his heritage that, under pressure, he reverts to an established behaviour pattern without exploring the alternatives. That makes it a tragedy for both of them. And RTD had established by then that Ten had a pretty screwed-up self-image and general view of the costs of having power – in that context he was probably sparing Donna rather than assaulting her.

  9. Re: Also…
    (from topaz)It’s interesting, how Donna’s end reflects the big-picture/little-picture duality of the series. She was all about the little picture, but her effect was all about the big.

    And maybe the Doctor longs for, even envies, his human friends’ ability to see the micro level of events. He just doesn’t have that option. He’s compelled to see events on a cosmic scale and therein lies his loneliness.
    (I have at least one person on my flist who would undoubtedly argue that Jack is the perfect combination of both perspectives, being both very human and condemned to eternal life).

  10. reply to scarfman
    Yes, I’ve been following the discussion you refer to. Certainly Shaun seems to love Donna rather than despise and manipulate her, and that’s a preferable union to the one with Lance. But she’s still finding her happiness in relation to someone else’s opinion of her, and also one has to ask, is the Donna that Shaun loves the real Donna? Your answer to that question will be affected by your views on the importance of memories in forming personality.
    And I think you’ve absolutely nailed it – we’re talking about an academic critique here, a deconstruction of the attitudes that (according to the critics’ POV) the literary work under examination reveals.
    The oppressor who acts in ignorance of his/her cultural conditioning is arguably as much a victim as the object of her or his oppressive behaviour.

  11. Re: Also…
    (Unless the Doctor was unconsciously punishing himself by depriving himself of his best friend, because he believed the metacrisis was his fault. If so, that’s one hell of a level of self-loathing.)

    I certainly think that can be argued in text. In a very crowded script, RTD put a lot of emphasis on what Davros thought about the Doctor and his companions. And I think his reaction to that shows the Tenth Doctor’s moment of moral collapse, the beginning of the end.
    If any single character brings about the sequence of events that destroys Ten, it isn’t Wilf, it is Davros. The Dalek race is apparently destroyed but they gain the moral victory.

  12. reply to caz
    something I find a bit disturbing is the way in which some reviewers seem determined to find sexist or nefarious reasons for the Doctor’s actions.
    As I’ve argued above, this is an academic critique. It’s looking at cultural conditioning through the lens of literary theory. Often readers, writers and by implication authors (if authors exist!- pace Foucault et al) are unconscious victims of this process. The Doctor thinks he knows what’s right for Donna, but he takes a Time Lord’s view of the question because that’s simply who he is.
    It’s one of those moments like Amy saying, “Do you think I’m that clingy?” – it speaks volumes about the view of the writer, and how he sees the character.
    Of course we may all be overthinking it. But that’s what literary theorists do.

  13. she is still fundamentally Donna, living her life day after day … and that’s what the Doctor wants, and he’s willing to violate her trust and her will to give her that.
    I’m not quite sure I agree with that statement. It may well be that was Rusty’s intention and he didn’t write it well enough, or that the bits of good writing were cut. But she came over in TEoT as a bit of a moron – apart from her giving Wilf that book, which was an interesting idea never quite followed up.
    I agree that Donna wasn’t being deliberately punished for her power. But when literary classics display unconscious racism or sexism, we may still regard it as a legitimate subject for debate, and some people would argue that it justifies a revision of the original text.
    I think one of the most frustrating aspects of RTD’s writing is his habit of reverting to offensive stereotypes under pressure. And the reason is, probably, lack of planning and lack of time. Putting Martha’s family in maids’ uniforms on the Valiant was a similar example. It may have seemed like a bit of fun to him. But to many African Americans it was not funny at all.

  14. I was deeply perturbed by the tone of RTD’s comments on why he did what he did to Donna. In my view they amounted, in themselves, to someone glorifying in their own power to behave in an abusive manner.
    I would love to know what DT and CT thought about it but I doubt if we ever will.

  15. But when literary classics display unconscious racism or sexism, we may still regard it as a legitimate subject for debate, and some people would argue that it justifies a revision of the original text.
    See, I just don’t see Donna’s situation with any sort of sexism. Was the Doctor’s absorbing of the Time Vortex’s power from Rose taking away her agency, or saving her life? I see them as very similar circumstances, except that Rose is able to continue to be around the Doctor et al without endangering herself. You might say “species-ist,” or “not-Doctor-ist,” but I don’t think the fact that Donna is a woman is a factor here.
    ETA: Fair point on Martha’s family in the maid outfits, though.

  16. Re: reply to caz
    This is a slant I’ve been considering for a while; and maybe it’s because there’s just so much grey area that I can’t come to any conclusion. My initial reaction to the nature of Donna’s exit was a bit ragey over the way her loss of agency was forced on her even as she was screaming at him not to do it. Obviously not a new point; people have been railing about this since it happened. But like caz, despite that I never saw it as a subconscious effort on the Doctor’s part to take out the threat to his power, manifested in Donna.
    That being said, it’s silly not to look at it like that, because that’s the unfortunate storywriting trend in Western media: generally, the female serves the male plot. And just because the Doctor is an alien doesn’t mean that we can dissociate him from our own society. He comes from us. That’s why we can identify with him, despite his alien characteristics. That being said, I think there are far too many variables here to pin them all on one writer – also like caz, I think it’s ridiculous to say that RTD wanted to destroy a strong woman. He gave us that spectacular woman, after all.
    But all of that’s on an incredibly removed level. Is it fair to judge the characters on this level? If you’re watching solely at the story level, no. Clearly the Doctor loves Donna. I maintain that he didn’t have the right to do what he did, but he certainly wasn’t trying to punish her, eliminate her as a threat, or control her; and I think the fact that losing her by his own hand drove him more than a little insane says a lot about that. But if you’re watching society, maybe. Fairytales have always been more than just stories characterized by the fantastic, after all.

  17. Re: reoly to topaz
    although they regard TL as crucial to setting up the finale, they regard SITL more as a turning-point, seeing it as the setting up of a pattern of Donna’s passivity
    Perhaps one could go back even further to TRB for evidence of Donna being acted upon, re dosing with the Huon particles. Granted, that wasn’t for her own good, but it does establish a precedent.
    I’m not sure I completely buy that since I think you have to regard that two-parter as representative of SM’s view of women as a whole. She’s hardly the only strong female character deprived of agency in that story.
    Well, yes, SitL/FotD is perfect textbook evidence for SM’s view of women. :-\ But I think it’s fair to say the Library foreshadows the end of JE very well. The Doctor sends her back to the TARDIS to save her–then Donna’s wrenched away from the TARDIS against her will, because CAL thinks it will save her. In the computer world, her first scene with Dr. Moon in the hospital suggests her memory was reset to some degree. Later scenes showed she retained unconscious recognition of her other life.
    I think the difference between SM and RTD in this case, is that SM clearly wrote River’s fate as a good thing, no questions asked. Donna’s fate becomes the Doctor’s undoing–which I see as a pretty harsh criticism of his action towards her.
    Certainly I don’t think he sets out with the intent of neutralising her power. It obviously breaks his hearts to do what he does. But it’s possible that he is so conditioned by his heritage that, under pressure, he reverts to an established behaviour pattern without exploring the alternatives. That makes it a tragedy for both of them.
    Not knowing when he realized the metacrisis was unstable, it’s hard to say how much time there was to explore other alternatives. In the mindwipe scene the Doctor acknowledged before Donna did, that the metacrisis was breaking down–which implied he had thought about it, at least. And once Donna acknowledged it, she knew exactly what he planned. That could mean she recognized the established behavior pattern, being part Time Lord herself. OTOH she’d already demonstrated unique ways of solving problems, e.g. accelerating the growth of the TARDIS coral in that deleted scene. So perhaps that meant she realized no other alternative to the mindwipe either, besides literal death. I think it could be read either way. The outcome is the same, i.e. she protests it.
    I agree, the point comes down to, Donna should have been given the choice of how she wanted to die. Donna, as we knew her, was dead no matter which way, as I said in my essay about Donna and “Midnight.” The effect of her literal death on the Doctor would have been the same. In terms of breaking literary tradition it would have been a braver route. In terms of viewer expectations it’s harder to say. I don’t know. (All I know is that I really, really have to get a copy of this book.)

  18. Re: reoly to topaz
    Good point, that Donna seems very aware of the inevitability of her condition in that last scene, although that would mean that when she asks him not to do it she is acting from a position of informed consent – that makes his behaviour even worse.
    Sorry for the delay in replying – we have the builders in and I lost internet access yesterday, and also today the situation in Japan has somewhat driven other concerns from my mind.

  19. Agreed that the Doctor isn’t overtly sexist – he travelled with Romana, after all! No, I think the point that the writers are making is that the story arc leading to Donna’s fate is suggestive of some unfortunate tropes in SF regarding women and power.

  20. Re: reply to caz
    I wonder if the difference between RTD and SM is that SM tends to treat his female characters according to the storytelling trend in Western media that you mention, and see nothing wrong with it, whereas RTD shows us the tragic consequences of the Doctor’s institutionalised superiority complex? It’s always been my belief that he was influenced by “Hamlet” into giving Ten a very Shakespearean arc in the Specials.
    I’m interested that you specify “Western media”. I don’t know a lot about anime and manga (maybe it’s an age thing, I’m in my fifties) – but do you think the Eastern take on the issue of powerful women in fantasy is fundamentally different?

  21. Re: reply to caz
    There are a lot of things in here I’m not really qualified to talk about. 😀 The first is obviously Eastern media – I’m through and through a Western girl, though the fact that there’s a gaping hole of this size in my world consciousness bothers me. I wish I had a better answer here, because the comparison would certainly be interesting, to say the least.
    The second is Moffat and his view on women. I’ve lurked on a few discussions re: his misogyny, but tbh I need more hard evidence before I slap that label on. I’m fairly meh about Amy, but she got a great story this last season; I don’t understand all the hate. And I also see anger over the way River went out in the Library eps, but I think the same arguments regarding the Doctor’s choosing Donna’s life apply here. (etc etc not getting too off topic) Regardless, I think your observation – especially about RTD – is very interesting. RTD’s Doctor has always been a bit of a tragic figure, but this is the first time I’ve honestly considered it in direct relation to an internalized disharmony in the male/female balance (either on the part of RTD or the Doctor). I think I need to mull that over a little more.
    But back to your original, titular question: I know the discussion here is focused on Donna, but I think Amy’s an interesting point in this line of discussion, because unlike Rose and Donna, she didn’t lose her memory at the Doctor’s hand. And Martha is the only New Who (female) companion who didn’t lose her memory at all: instead, it’s all reversed; she’s the one who has to live with the memories everyone else has forgotten. I’m also wanting to consider why it is that memory seems to be a motif that’s so inseparable from the female companions.

  22. Hi. Hope you don’t mind me dropping in – I got here via . I’m one of the editors of The Unsilent Library, and it’s very pleasing that one of the essays in the volume can spark this sort of debate.
    You might find it interesting to read the Duncans’ essay in connection with my own on Sarah Jane Smith. I felt that as with Donna, if not as drastically, RTD narrowed SJS’s horizons, by taking the independent career-minded woman of the 1970s and making her life all about not having a man and not having children.
    I’ll have a word with the editor who is handling distribution about what we can do about getting copies into the US.

  23. Hi, I’ve just been pointed at this.
    We’re looking for a way to sell the book through a local agent in N America. (The problem is finding a way to do this that’s economically viable.) In the mean time we can sell copies directly for $24 including p&p – please contact me via LJ message for details.
    Simon Bradshaw, co-editor

  24. I am reminded that Tom Baker mentioned re: Leela or Romana 1, I can’t remember which…that no companion could be seen to rival the Doctor. I think that the explanation given here about Donna can be applied equally to Rose. Rose proves herself to be quite dangerous in much the same way that the Doctor proved himself dangerous to those earlier Time Lords. Basically, Rose will not stay where you put her.
    As much as I love Donna, there was nothing intrinsic in her elevation to Time Lady status. A few moments before it happened she was paralyzed with fear and about to die. She had come a very long way on her own, do not get me wrong here, and what happened to her was tragic for the very reasons you’ve quoted. But Donna was not ready to be a Time Lady and her belief that she was proved to be very much like a similar elevation in Flowers for Algernon.
    I feel like RTD was perfect aware of this, which is why he was so gleeful about the audience suffering. What he was not perfectly aware of is how he had set the audience up via Rose and Donna and Jack to believe that elevation WAS possible for mere humans. To then snatch that away on every level…makes him seem less like an insightful genius and more like a capricious, slightly vengeful, god. He holds out the apple, lets them have a taste of its wonders and tells us we were foolish to believe. It is an abuse of an audience to set up a story this way on every front. Though, I suppose he might argue that by allowing Rose to keep her memories and giving her a pseudo-Doctor he came as close as he could to elevating her. He might also allow that in elevating Jack, he removed his humanity and therefore allowed him to kill his own child when that became expedient.
    What RTD cannot allow is any human to rival the Doctor and in that view, he’s keeping company with all of his predecessors. I am wondering about Amy and River at this point, both of whom are cheeky little monkeys when it comes to tweaking the Doctor. But both of whom seem unlikely to really rival him. They are more like the upstart daughters of genius who he is guiding, but who baffle him. River, for example, has the upper hand only because the Doctor, himself, in some future incarnation, gave it to her.
    Rae

  25. I think that you have hit on it exactly. This is part of the geek-guy genre stereotype that has haunted Sci-Fi since it began, despite a huge number of female fans. The archetype of a sci-fi fan is a virginal male math whiz with a basement bedroom full of comic books and video games. He wants a barbie doll girl who can kick the ass of every macho male he’s ever had to deal with in his life, but he doesn’t want her to rival the geeky genius guy. He likes things to blow up spectacularly and he likes to think that his own nihilism is simply an understanding of reality as it truly is. He reasons, quite correctly, that the popular jocks who have ruled his world, will get old and be unable to cope when the true stakes of life and death kick in for them.
    This is why sci-fi is full of kick ass barbie chicks who fall for skinny, glasses wearing genius types (Hello Rose and Ten). They take out the bad guys, but since the geeks don’t have a love interest and would have no idea what to do with the complications of one, they consign those complications to the rubble heap of “Boring” and go on to the next bad guy and barbie, stuck in the same groove of “I must make an impression on this evil world that has, so far, rejected me.”
    What bothers me is that RTD painted the Doctor this way in the end. He made him into a geeky guy in the basement who has to impress the universe, because he is ultimately unable to contend with complications. It was sad.

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