Searching for a Dramatic Moment
There is a consistent problem I’ve been having with Season 7 of Doctor Who: in a constant effort to create the dramatic Hollywood-movie feel Moffat promised Season 7 would have, the writers have failed to create the actual drama of the plot which truly make those moments dramatic. The writing has been rather shoddy, leaving me feeling as if the episodes are ultimately hollow.
Or, to put it in Tumblr form, every time I watch an episode, a day later I’m just like:
There are many, many examples I could give of this, put lets look at the “iconic” moment of this season and how it compares to other comparable episodes to really see where the drama is lacking.
Midway through “Asylum of the Daleks,” the Doctor tricks a Dalek into exploding itself, and in the ensuing explosion, Amy is knocked unconscious, leaving the Doctor to carry her prone body out into a field of destroyed daleks. This image became the “defining” image of Season 7, frequently used on BBC’s promotional materials both before and during the season’s airing and featuring prominently in the Season 7 trailer.
Yet there was nothing truly iconic about the moment. In “Asylum,” that scene was barely important, a minor throw-away scene we could’ve done without. It didn’t progress the plot, nor did it serve as a necessary focal point of the plot. In fact, the whole scene felt rather contrived, as if it were another of Amy’s photo shoots to capture an image of the Doctor carrying his helpless companion.
Now, most critiques have focused on how the image makes Amy seem helpless and is anti-feminist. However, I was mostly dissapointed at how…well…boring the moment felt. Because if done well, the Doctor carrying a helpless companion can be one of the greatest and most dramatic moments of the episode.
Consider Season 2, for example. At the end of “New Earth,” the Doctor catches Rose twice to prevent her from collapsing when she is un-possessed by Cassandra. In this instance, Rose’s collapse was the climax of the underlying subplot: Rose and the newly regenerated Doctor were still unsure about each other, where they stood, and what their new relationship would be like. After both a literal and figurative out-of-body experience, they both finally feel fully comfortable in themselves and in their relationship with each other. The are, quite literally, comfortable in their own bodies.
Or consider the beginning of Season 3, where the Doctor carries Martha’s unconscious body through the hospital at the end of “Smith and Jones.” In this case, there is an element of dualism and reciprocation. The Doctor is willing to sacrifice himself to save the hospital, and Martha finds him prone and unconscious after he is nearly killed by the Plasmavore. Due to her efforts, he survives, but Martha exhausts herself resuscitating him and passes out due to lack of exhaustion. Now the Doctor reciprocates the favor by caring for her while he ensures that the Judoon return them to Earth.
Finally, we have the finale of Season 4, where after having her memories wiped by the Doctor, Donna collapses into his arms, and he holds her up in what is probably the most devastating hug in Doctor Who’s history. As Dalek Caan predicted, by erasing her memories the Doctor has effectively killed Donna Noble; or at least, he has killed the Donna that he knew. She has reverted back into the person she was before she met the Doctor, a shallow, self-absorbed woman with a narrow perspective on life. When Donna collapses, she’s not merely prone and unconscious to the Doctor, she is effectively dead to him. So the Doctor is not carrying her to protect her or save her, he is carrying the burden of what he has done. He is carrying the body of one of his best friends.
It is devastating, it is emotional, and it is dramatic.
Show me the Doctor carrying Amy, and I’ll shrug. Show me the Doctor carrying Donna, and I’ll dissolve into a puddle of feels and tears. It’s as if the writers are demanding that we feel something without adding in the necessary detail to make us actually feel it. A moment doesn’t become dramatic because you have a bunch of explosions and then show a beloved character carrying another beloved character, a moment becomes dramatic when the plot weaves emotion, purpose, and action together. Character’s actions must have emotional depth ad subtext to them, otherwise we are left with a flat moment that leaves us feeling hollow and ultimately disappointed.
Though it doesn’t mention Amy Pond, this video touches on how sci-fi shows continually make prominent female characters pregnant or focus on their reproductive organs. It does mention Gwen Cooper and Martha Jones in Torchwood, but I think it’s highly relevant to the scenes with Amy Pond in The Almost People/A Good Man Goes to War and the situation revolving around River Song’s birth.
Obviously, trigger warnings for violence and forced pregnancy.
Doctor Who women and feminism: Martha Jones
Hi, I’ve been scanning for a bit now and I was wondering if you could explain or link me to why everyone thinks Martha isn’t a very feminist character? […] Anyways, I always considered her one of my favorites, and I’m still learning about feminism, and I can only guess it’s because of her weird obsession with making The Doctor attracted to her? […]
Hey there, and thanks for the ask. Unfortunately, I had to split your questions into separate posts since there are different points of foci here. I’m afraid this is going to be rather lengthy, so I’m posting it under a cut. I just have a lot of Martha feels, ok?