The Doctor on Human Nature

Tonight, a good man goes to war.

If you live in the UK, at least. If you live in the US, you still bite their nails when you wonder what will happen in “The Almost People,” which doesn’t air on BBC America until tonight.

If you live in the US and are too broke to have BBC America—like me—you bite your nails because you can’t go on the internet without being four-by-foured by a spoiler.

Spoilers, people. We should know better.

Because of the spoilers, I’ve been avoiding tumblr and the BBC One website. But I’m still biting my nails. To get my Who fix and entertain myself while working out, I’m running through Series 3, and I’m one-third of the way through the three-part series finale. Though I haven’t finished the series yet, but my suspicions about the series are well-founded.

Series 3 is all about Human Nature.

Freema Agyeman and David Tennant as Martha Jones and the Doctor

Yup, the series featuring Martha the Ravenclaw was written for Ravenclaws. Every episode philosophizes about some aspect of human nature. Although the telly magicians make this most obvious in Episode 9—predictably entitled “Human Nature”—they hold their master theme just below each episode’s silly aliens-on-a-rampage plot, just as the Doctor’s real self hovers just behind his
human persona’s eyes in Episode 9.

John Smith/The Doctor (David Tennant) fantasizes about what his life could be like if he remains human with the woman he loves (Joan Redfern).

I’ll discuss this theory in more detail once I’ve watched the whole season. But here’s the current episode-by-episode summary:

‘Smith and Jones’— Humans will panic when the bizzare occurs, but not so much that they forget their ideals of justice and self-sacrifice.

‘The Shakespeare Code’—Human creativity is a kind ofmagic, which sometimes protects humans better than the Doctor’s alien genius.

‘Daleks in Manhattan’ and ‘The Evolution of the Daleks’—The Doctor continually bemoans humanity’s tendency to kill first and ask questions later; nevertheless, our courage and compassion defeats the Dalek’s hatred. And if you have courage and compassion, you’re human, even if you look like a monster.

‘The Lazarus Experiment’—Humans die. We are most human when we face death with courage, and least human when we run in cowardice.

‘42’—essentially a thematic re-hash of ‘The Evolution of the Daleks,’ but with a strong emphasis on familial loyalty as something that makes us human.

‘Human Nature’ and ‘The Family of Blood’—The ability to love makes us human (Incidentally, this episode’s theme foreshadows the Doctor/River and Rory/Amy plots).

‘Blink’—Carey Mulligan’s exceptional acting enables this entire episode to testify to the incredible power of human courage and love, even in the most extraordinary circumstances.

Clearly, I haven’t yet watched the series premier (‘The Runaway Bride,’ featuring Donna), ‘Gridlock,’ or the second and third episodes of the three-part series finale. From ‘Utopia,’ I suspect that the series-long discussion of human nature will coalesce and conclude in Episode 14, ‘Last of the Time Lords.’ From Netflix’s summary of the final episode, I suspect it will fall to Martha’s human frailty to save the Earth….thus confirming the series’ thesis on the nobility of humanity.

To be continued….

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Filed under British Nerdiness, Doctor Who

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